To figure out the item in the kitchen you really need to buy, Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen advises having a wish list that you update every time you find yourself frustratedly wishing you had some tool. Perelman uses her own example of buying ceramic pie weights, which she never uses but spent too much on to throw away -- you can probably identify with a similar purchase you made.
Picture: Kristen Taylor/Flickr
Every time you're like, "Argh, I wish I had a _____," write it down. Keep a list and make the next thing you buy the one that you've checked off the most. When you're actually cooking it becomes much more clear what you need than when you're wandering through beautiful Williams-Sonoma.
So use a chalkboard on your fridge or your smartphone, but make sure you write it down.
Smitten Kitchen's Deb Perelman Explains How to Cook in a Small Space [America's Test Kitchen]