01/17/2012 04:11 pm ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

The Unsung Hero Of Kitchen Tools: The Box Grater

My box grater is about five inches tall, has four sides -- each with different sized holes -- and a small black handle. There is no container to catch ingredients, and no hinge to fold it up; there are absolutely no bells and whistles on this small and unassuming kitchen tool. And yet, it is one of the most prized possessions in my kitchen (that is, of course, after my stand mixer).

My box grater set me back $9.99 when I bought it nearly 10 years ago, and it is still as good as new despite all the mileage it has amassed. It was one of those items that I just picked up when setting out to stock my first kitchen in college. I grabbed it thinking it would be useful for grating cheese -- but little did I know how integral this tool would become in my kitchen.

Believe it or not, I turn to my box grater nearly everyday. And no, I am not grating that much cheese. Over the years I have discovered that this little gadget is capable of so much more, which is why I have it purposely positioned in my kitchen. I can easily reach it whenever in need. It is such a versatile tool -- and a sturdy one, too.

During the weeknights, when I have a limited amount of time to throw dinner together, I use my beloved grater as a mincer. It does wonders to cloves of garlic and peeled ginger -- and in just a matter of seconds. When I want fresh grated cheese, I use the side with the largest holes -- I find it much easier to use than one of those fancy wheeled graters, and makes for a much easier clean up.

Those large holes are also great for quickly grating carrots for salads or zucchini for fritters. And it doesn't end there. The smallest holes of the grater are perfect for getting the last bits of fragrant parmesan that is left close to the rind, and also nicely grates up fresh nutmeg to top mashed potatoes. The possibilites go on and on -- and I'm sure that I still have many to discover.

All in all, this box grater is one item in my kitchen that will never see a donation box. Even with the incorporation of the microplane into my set of kitchen tools, I still turn to my trusty grater for most jobs I need done.

What is your favorite kitchen tool? Let us know in the comments below!