June may be the popular month for weddings, but early spring is a busy time for wedding planning. Some 16% of proposals occur on Christmas or New Year’s, according to TheKnot.com and another 10% on Valentine’s Day.
A major part of the planning process is setting up a gift registry. True, getting married isn’t about the presents — but this is a time when they’re likely to stack up.
The average wedding consists of 136 guests (according to The Wedding Report), and if you multiply that by the typical gift spending of $75 to $150 apiece, depending on the person’s budget and how well they know you, a newly married couple might receive over $10,000 in wedding gifts.
So, when planning your registry, it’s smart to think about what you need.
Not only is this one of your only shots at asking for — and receiving — kitchen investments like stainless steel cookware or a top-of-the-line chef’s knife, but there are also plenty of bridal deals and discounts that come along with the registry game.
Manufacturers offer freebies just for putting certain gear on a registry, regardless of whether anyone gets it for you, and others offer incentives when people purchase certain gifts.
At Bed, Bath & Beyond, for example, just registering for $99.99 of Henckels flatware gets you a wood flatware storage box. Asking for, and actually receiving, $100 in Cuisinart cutlery comes with a four-piece ceramic knife set.
Plus, most registries offer some discounts after the wedding on any registry remnants that weren’t purchased, helping you get a better price on items you need.
So, what’s worth asking for? We talked to chefs and other foodies about goods that should be on your list.
Here are seven kitchen items they say every couple should have on their wedding registry:
Forged Steel Chef Knives
Ask to see some of the high-end knives in the display cases. “A good set of knives will help you prepare for every meal like a pro,” says Chef Mark Dowling, vice president of academics and executive chef of Escoffier Online Culinary Academy.
Poor quality or dull knives can rip food, rather than cut it, making meal prep harder on you. Finished dishes won’t look as nice, either.
“At minimum, [you need] an 8” chef’s knife and a small 4-5” paring knife,” says Anne Maxfield of Accidental-Locavore.com. “My go-to is an 8” Santoku knife and a steel knife sharpener to keep them in good shape. Extras would be a bread knife, possibly a cleaver, a set of steak knives and a block to hold them all.”
Himalayan Salt Block
Offbeat, yes, but chefs like this cooking and serving option that adds flavor to food placed on it.
“You can heat the salt block to high temperatures and sear thinly sliced meats, fish, vegetables and seafood,” says Chef Oscar del Rivero, executive chef at Miami restaurants Jaguar Ceviche, Peacock Garden Cafe and Talavera Restaurant.
“Or you can chill the block in the refrigerator and use it when serving sushi, appetizers, cheeses and cold desserts,” he says.
A powerful stand blender can be used to make drinks, soups, dips and even nut butters. “Look for one that’s capable of crushing ice for summery smoothies and cocktails,” says Dowling.
“Get a decent immersion blender, too,” says Pamela Braun of MyMansBelly.com. “You can use it to make up a quick smoothie in the morning, make fresh whipped cream or just save yourself from having to wash the blender when you need to puree soup.”
You can make pretty much anything in this kitchen workhorse. “You’ll have no more excuses for eating out,” says Kristl Story of TheBudgetDiet.com.
Look for a model that has a range of settings and a timer, so slow cooking doesn’t become over-cooked if you’re running late.
KitchenAid Stand Mixer
“This thing makes life in the kitchen a whole lot easier,” says Braun — the mixer itself can whip up everything from mashed potatoes to cookie dough, and attachments can do tasks like grind meat, roll pasta and prep ice cream.
“Go for at least a 5-quart model rather than a 4.5-quart one,” she says. That offers the capacity needed to handle bigger batches for holidays and parties.
There’s a variety, including copper, stainless and nonstick, so weigh the pros and cons before deciding. Daniel Bortnick, executive chef of Firefly restaurant in Washington, D.C., says his personal preference is All-Clad stainless steel, plus a nonstick skillet for eggs.
Look at multi-piece sets for a sense of which pots and pans you might need, but then register for those pieces individually to break up the cost, he recommends.
“Beyond the basics, a pasta pot, grill pan and tiny saucepan are good to have, says Maxfield.”
Frugal Foodie’s two cents: A high-quality Dutch oven like a Le Creuset is a smart investment, too.
It’s smart to have some cheaper items on the registry for shower gifts and budget-minded folks. That’s where your pineapple slicer and vegetable peeler make an appearance.
Braun recommends adding two pairs of tongs — one with silicon-covered ends for use with nonstick cookware, and a metal pair for everything else.
Also consider a set of wooden spoons, silicon spatulas and a hand-crank can opener.
On Maxfield’s list: a zester, a 4-sided grater, an instant read thermometer and some oven mitts.
Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie http://www.twitter.com/mintfoodie.