Our plastic mesh strainer, bought years ago in a dollar store, gets used almost every day. It hangs on the wall in our kitchen so that it's always close at hand. We most often use it to sift flour, or wash rice and other bulk grains. We just measure a cup of rice into the strainer and run it under cold water for a minute or two. This washing not only cleans the grain, but also helps with digestion, believe it or not. The strainer makes it easy: pour, rinse, and drain.
Strainers are also great for incorporating a paste into a larger pot of liquid such as soup, sauce, or gravy.
Tonight when we were making Tom Yum Gai, a spicy Thai soup that calls for a couple of tablespoons of hot and sour paste, we heated four cups of stock (veggie or chicken). Then we added some tofu (you can also use shrimp or chicken, or omit the protein altogether), mushrooms, and mung bean sprouts. When those ingredients had softened, we added scallions and then used the strainer, dipping it almost fully into the liquid, to incorporate two tablespoons of the hot and sour paste.
The strainer keeps the paste from getting lost as a blob in the bottom of the pan. You know whether it has been incorporated, because you can see it in the strainer.
Finally, sprinkle chopped cilantro on the top of the soup and serve.
This is not only a wonderful quick dinner but also a good tonic when you feel yourself coming down with a cold.