Joanne was once staying at my house when, midway through her visit, an Amazon package arrived for me with a new toaster oven. She just couldn’t understand why my toaster oven, which was maybe 20 years old and needed to be opened with a knife because the handle had fallen off years before, was still in use. So she surprised me with a new one! I had been blind to the need for a new one, and the new toaster oven was a joy. Our family was thrilled! Why had it taken me so long to replace it?!
There are certain items we use super frequently that aren’t in great shape, or a newer/better one may have been invented that we weren’t even aware of. An upgrade of, or the addition of, these items can bring unexpected everyday joy to a household! Just like my toaster oven did 🙂.
Here are our 5Fab (plus a few more) Better Basics Household Items.
I couldn’t keep it at just 5….so here’s my Fab5 x 2, plus a couple of bonus items. I use all of these upgrades ALL THE TIME. They will not break the bank, and they will make you happy.
- Silicone Baking Sheets – If you are still lining your cookie sheets or roasting pans with foil or parchment paper these are for you! Don’t need to pre-coat with anything for it not to stick – these sheets just let items slide right off. Game-changing for baking or roasting. But if you do want to use parchment paper for pan cooking, my friend Brooke raves about precut parchment squares which come in different sizes and are much easier than trying to tear off a piece from a big roll.
- Electric Kettle – I was a tea drinker who used a teapot on the stove to heat my water until a houseguest got me one of these after she left our kettle on too long and it burnt. There was no going back. The water boils so so fast and you don’t need a potholder to pick it up. Plus it’ll shut off automatically so no worries about it burning like the stovetop one did. The Brits have been using them forever – and you should too.
- Magnetic measuring spoons that fit into spice jars – Small item, big impact! One side of the spoons has a regular-sized measuring area, and the other end is elongated so it’s slim enough to fit into spice jars, which is a BIG DEAL when cooking! This is the type of minor change that just makes life better. Plus they are magnetic and stick together in a set so they keep organized in your drawer.
- Our Place Always Pan – I first gifted one of these to one of our kids and then got one for myself after seeing it in action. It’s a perfect-sized workhorse that sautes, strains, fries, boils, bakes and more. Things just slide off of it, and the wooden spoon is designed to fit onto/rest on the handle. And it comes in great colors. And they have amazing customer service. Win win win. It stays out on our cooktop as it looks good and is used every day.
- Big stainless steel mixing bowl, or a full set of sizes– I know this is such a plain basic and we all have mixing bowls. But since I got this large stainless bowl it’s my go-to for food prep. Whether mixing up vegetables to roast, marinating chicken, or tossing a big salad – it’s just easy to use and easy to clean. Not fancy, just practical.
- Airfryer – This is the item that has changed our kitchen usage the most in recent years. I put off getting it until finally one of our sons gave it to us as a gift. It’s a staple of our kitchen now. We use it to quickly and easily cook vegetables (the kale especially comes out so crispy and perfect every time), fish, chicken, and more. It’s so much easier and faster than heating up the oven. Really great.
- Tea Caddy – Do you have lots of tea boxes that always topple over and take up a lot of room in your pantry/cabinet? Then you need this! Organize all your tea bags in this clear acrylic tea organizer, with different compartments for different types. Not only are all the different flavor tea bags easy to see/access but it also saves so much space and makes it easy to offer tea choices to guests.
- Over the Sink Drainer/Strainer Rack – Another thing I love and use every day! This rack lies across your sink for easy draining of fruits you’ve washed or hand-washed dishes that need airing. No need for an extra drying rack that takes up space and needs to be washed. Plus if you don’t want it out just roll it up. You can make it as large or small as you want it given that it’s flexible.
- ‘Electric’ Candle Lighter – I have used long bendable lighters to light candles for years, but recently got the ‘electric’ one and love it. You push a button and a little electric ‘line’ appears that lights candles. It doesn’t get put out by the wind (as there is no flame) and it is rechargeable so it doesn’t run out of lighter fluid or need to be replaced!
- Timer for outdoor lights with a remote clicker – We have outdoor lights that I use to have to go outside to plug in/pull out when I wanted them on/off. Once we got this baby, which goes between the electric socket and the end of the light string, we could easily either put the lights on a timer or operate them with the click of a remote from inside. Makes us use the lights so much more often. Love it.
- Bonus item: Lemon/lime squeezer – We used to squeeze the old-fashioned way…by hand. This squeezer lets you get 100% of the juice in seconds. So easy and efficient. And for some reason, it’s not obvious to everyone…but after you cut the fruit be sure to place the wide half (ie that has the inside of the fruit) facing down as you squeeze (not ‘fitting’ into the bowl of the squeezer with the insides facing you as many seem to think!) to get the juice out.
- Double Bonus item: Whoosh Screen/Glasses Cleaner– This stuff rocks at cleaning glasses and screens (phone, computer, monitor, tablets etc). Rumor has it Whoosh is what all the Apple stores use to clean their screens. I keep the small one in my purse to clean my glasses and the bigger one by my computer. Comes with cleaning clothes.
- Closet. When my closet needed a refresh, I upgraded my hodge-podge of hangers. Not only did these velvet, streamlined, non-slip hangers save precious real estate in my small space, but they also gave my closet a uniform look so it was easier for me to find things. Another closet fave is my folding garment rack. I keep it under my bed and pull it out when I’m trying to organize or pack for a trip. It gives me extra hanging space when I need it. Don’t skimp on this item – the cheap ones can sag and fall and make a mess!
- I recently upgraded my ironing situation! I had been using an ancient iron and didn’t realize what I was missing! I love my new Black & Decker iron with adjustable steam settings and variable temp settings for all types of fabrics and table linens. I also decided to splurge and got a hand-held steamer for clothing and upholstery. This Conair model is great for delicate fabrics and I love it for scarves and smaller items so I don’t have to pull out the ironing board!
- Ice Blanket. Yes, I’m old and have a lot of aches and pains! My go-to icing device was a bag of frozen peas, but while doing PT for one of my many injuries I became addicted to this ice blanket. It lays flat across my lower back and easily wraps around a knee or ankle for much needed icing and recovery! I recommend a 2-pack because my family also loves these!
- I’m a bit of a neat freak about my fridge (ask Chrissie) and I love my refrigerator can holders to keep my seltzers, beer, and other cans from rolling around the fridge. Make sure to measure your cans and order the correct size if you have a variety of can sizes lurking around.
- Are you always trying to find the perfect tape measure? Some are rusted, some are flimsy, and some aren’t long enough. I finally invested in this one and I love it, mostly because it lists out the inches in ⅛” easy-to-read increments! It’s heavy-duty, has bold markings, and is double-sided. Go big and get the 25 foot size so you don’t fall short!
- Everything Clips. Tired of looking for twist-ties to seal up bags of chips and other items? I’ve been using these for years and they are so handy for sealing food items, hanging clothes, and yes, just about everything!
- Wicker Containers. Tissue boxes, oils/spices next to the range, soap dispensers, napkins, dirty laundry and most anything around the house looks better and more intentional when contained in these woven beauties.