Garlic Press - I have this one, the kuhn rikon. It is the ultimate garlic press made of quality steel. A garlic press makes chopping garlic a breeze. I find myself using more garlic when cooking now.
Immersion Blender/Stick Blender - This is a very versatile kitchen appliance. Every cook should have one in my opinion. This can be used to puree soups and baby food and blends smoothies and shakes quickly. Cleanup just takes a minute versus taking out the hand blender or food processor. I use this all the time to puree squash soup, make mayonnaise and blend smoothies. Recently, I have used this to blend eggnog for the holiday.
Steamer Basket - I don't have a steamer but I already have all the pots I need; so this is the perfect item that will store easily in a cabinet after use. Now that I have a baby who will be eating solids, steaming and then pureeing baby food is in my near future. Steaming keeps all the nutrients in the vegetables, so healthwise, we should already be steaming our vegetables. Just be sure to get stainless steel as aluminum will leach into food.
Chef's Knife - Every cook needs 1 good quality chef's knife. I got the Wustof Classic Santoku knife as a wedding gift and I absolutely love it. It cuts through everything with ease and no more squishing tomatoes while trying to cut them!
Pepper Grinder - Freshly ground pepper tastes so much better in foods than the already ground stuff. I never realized the difference until I got one myself. Every house should have a pepper grinder. They make these in all shapes and colors to match anyone's kitchen or dining table.
Well there is my list of budget friendly gift ideas for the cook in your life (well the knife is a splurge but well worth it!) Some of these I already have and some are on my wish list.