Create an efficient and low cost kitchen by taking advantage of price breaks found by secondhand shopping at thrift shops and yard sales.
Whether we’re starting out in our first apartment or expanding our cooking skills, we need to stock our kitchen with the essential equipment. In some cases that equipment can be expensive investments that lifetime. In many cases, however; secondhand shopping can provide many of the basics at a fraction of the cost of new. Build a low cost kitchen by taking advantage of deals found at thrift shops and yard sales.
Mixing spoons, wooden spoons, soup ladles, and more can be found for a deal at the thrift store. Look for items that are heavy and stainless steel whenever possible. Avoid plastics that tend to be in terrible shape by the time they get to the thrift store. Rather look for quality secondhand items that will last for a long time. Choose wooden spoons and utensils that are free of cracks and nicks. Give those wooden items a little sanding and treatment with homemade wooden spoon oil to make them last longer.
Choose dinner flatware that is heavy and free from bends, knicks, or dents. Don’t worry about matching sets instead focus on heavy pieces that look like they’ll last the test of time.
Good quality knives are likely to be a rare find but do bring them home if found. Sharpen them well at home. Knives are something to save money towards. Good quality knives tend to be expensive but are worthwhile investments over the long haul.
Mixing & Serving Bowls
Bowls of every shape and size are likely just waiting to be found. Look for ceramic or glass bowls free from nicks, scratches, or chips. If you can find stainless steel bowls make sure they’re free of dents and grab them up. A variety of small bowls is handy for having ingredients measured out for involved recipes and cooking processes. Find large bowls for raising bread, serving popcorn, and making up large batches of cookie dough.
Many canning supplies can be found for a deal at thrift shops and yard sales. Look for canning jars, always inspect for chips or cracks. Jar lifters and funnels too can often be found cheaply.
Water bath canners abound, check for rust and holes before purchasing. If you luck out and find a pressure canner, be sure to read a few Appliance Reviewer articles about that brand and to have the gauge tested at a local extension service and check the gasket and replace when necessary.
Pots & Pans
Good cookware should be an investment that will last a long time but until the funds are available, look for medium quality items used. Find soup pots and skillets that are heavy. Avoid items heavily scratched or dented. Cast iron cookware can sometimes be found – look for items that are not pitted or too rusty. While cast iron can be seasoned, if it’s too rusty it must be sandblasted and that ruins any frugal gains.
Glass cake pans, pie plates, ramekins, and bread pans can often be scored. Avoid items with chips, scratches, or cracks. Vintage pieces are often beautiful and functional at a fraction of the price of new. Gather these in the variety of sizes for everything from cake to casserole.
Look for jars and bottles in a variety of shapes and sizes. Jars to store dried herbs and spices. Larger containers for storing dried beans and grains. Bottles for storing homemade drinks, cordials, and medicines.
Make sure glass containers are free from cracks and chips. If the jars have lids, make sure they fit tight and well. Rubber gaskets can be replaced so don’t skip a nice jar if the gasket is bad. Corks for glass bottles can be purchased in a variety of sizes at hardware stores.
Look for colanders, mesh strainers, measuring cups, measuring spoons, graters from this buying guide etc. Having a variety of these around are always handy but what is the point if you don’t have any counter space to use them on?
Again, don’t worry so much about matching sets as about having what is needed to make life in the kitchen easier and more efficient.
Bringing Used Items Home
When the items get home, give everything a good washing with soap and water. Be sure to clean everything well and store them for long-term usage just like any new item.
The great thing about using thrifty items is that an eclectic kitchen can often be made. A kitchen full of artistic and beautiful pieces that reflect your general style and approach to DIY living. Hit that thrift store and take your time walking through the kitchen section for a frugal and functional kitchen.
What’s your best-thrifted kitchen find?
Friday 20th of January 2023
The majority of my kitchen is hand-me-downs with lots of memories attached. Love the old ways.
Thursday 15th of November 2018
I love how there is a resurgence of respect and appreciation for the simple arts....simple ways of living and partnering the earth as a living and breathing thing. Im so proud of this new generation who honor their parents and grandparents by learning how they lived the saying "If you want something right, do it yourself." One of the most hopeful generation that has come in a long time...
Tuesday 4th of December 2018
Very well said. We're really proud of them too.
Tuesday 4th of April 2017
I found a coffee press at Goodwill for $3.00 still in the box and had the Receipt in it from Macy's where it had cost $40.00. I found an antique blu speckled metal tea kettle with wire and wooden handle at an antique store for $10.00 and it looks and works perfect. I was given a brand new Rival 18 quart Roaster oven that had never been used. I found a 7 tray dyhydrator for $17.00 at a thrift store. It works perfect. I've also found a big assortment of hand mixers, old graters, sifters, big and small wooden rolling a pins, metal ladles, metal small antique white pans all for less than a dollar at yard sales over the years. My best prize was inheriting my grandmas old metal pots and pans. They are not cast iron but they are thick and things cook faster in them because they really hold the heat in good.
Tuesday 4th of April 2017
Wow - those are some sweet thrifty finds!
Monday 20th of March 2017
My parents received Revere Ware pots and pans (with the copper bottoms) for their wedding in 1981 and they are all still going strong. I've been collecting some for myself throughout college and they've been great! The trick is to get the ones with the double circle on the bottom and/or double rivets in the handle--these are the oldest ones and are thicker metal than subsequent ones, especially those made today.
I also randomly stopped into a church rummage sale over the summer and I found a vintage food processor for $4. It still even had the manual, so I think I was right in assuming it was well taken care of. Some soap and water got it sparkling new and if it's lasted this long I'm sure it will last longer than any made today. I also found an old mini food processor at Goodwill, but it has a feeder on the top, unlike the little choppers made today. It's perfect for shredding cheese quickly!
Friday 24th of March 2017
You seem to have a knack for finding deals! My parents also have a set of those old revere ware pots. They are till going strong.
Saturday 18th of March 2017
Corningware percolators! I wanted on for the longest time, Couldn't find one for the life of me! Then in the course of a few weeks, I found three at the local thrift store. Snagged them all, gave one to my sister in law, and kept the other two for myself! I hesitate over wooden and plastic items though. My kitchen (and home) are stocked well with thrift store items!
Monday 20th of March 2017
What great scores!