I love kitchen gadgets as much as any cook. I walk into a kitchen supply store and have a hard time keeping myself from buying one of everything. I do sometimes cave in and buy fun things that aren't really necessary. But, there is an essential tool I would give up all the gadgets in my kitchen for. My good knife.
I started out years ago with that wooden block full of knives you can find in most home kitchens. My husband and I probably got it as a wedding present. It currently resides in the back of a cabinet. Now I do 95% of my cooking with one knife, and I would go into a tizzy if anything happened to it.
My knife of choice and yours may be different. A person's perfect knife depends on many factors – the size of your hand, your comfort level with the length of a knife, its weight, and what you primarily cook. My favorite knife is not the expected classic chef's knife. My one good knife is a 7” Henckels Twin Pro-S Hollow-Edge Santoku. I have one in my home kitchen and one I carry with me for work. When I pick it up, I feel like I am holding hands with a friend. I have a callous on my forefinger where the spine of the knife rubs against my skin.
Of course I do use other knives. I have a smaller all-metal knife that I use exclusively to cut raw meat. It is very sharp with a thin blade for trimming fat and slicing through soft tissue. I can put it through the dishwasher without worrying about damage. It is perfect for its purpose, and having a separate knife for raw meat helps prevent cross-contamination, a food safety concern.
I also use very small, cheap, and ultimately disposable knives for fine work. You can buy them in packs of 4 for $1. They are perfect for tasks like trimming strawberries, pitting cherries, and trimming green beans. My latest set have lasted about 2 years, but they are ready for replacement.
If you are on a limited budget and wondering how to spend your money for greatest benefit in kitchenware, I encourage you to bypass all the gleaming rows of mixers, food processors, and fancy cookware sets. Invest first in one good knife. You won't be sorry.