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Your Frugal Cookware Finds

Many years ago when I bought one of those fill in the blank alon products the lady at Macy's convinced me I needed a special high temp proof spatula that won't scratch my pan. I think I spent about $10 for it (big bucks for me then). Works great and I love it but I needed a smaller one (my dog stole my old one). I saw a knock off just like it at Target for $1.99. I decided to give it a flip. Works just as great just like my $10 model. I know at CH we love to talk about Le Crueset and KitchenAid but let's face it we can't always buy high-end (or even mid-range). So what are some of your frugal finds that are must have, true blue friends for the kitchen?

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  1. About a hundred years ago (at least!) in NYC Chinatown I bought a pair of flat wooden tongs for about $.35. They are still in daily use in my kitchen to grab toast out of the toaster...

    1 Reply
    1. re: fauchon

      In DC's Chinatown, I bought a HUGE stainless stockpot with a thick bottom for about $15. A comparable name-brand pot was over a hundred. Also some beautiful, dirt-cheap ceramic bowls that I use for everything from soup to mixing eggs.

      dealnews.com usually has great postings about cheap kitchen items.

    2. I bought a salad spinner 15 years ago at a flea market junk place for five bucks. Use it all the time.

      1. Well, I love poking around in the kitchen section of IKEA....I bought a frying pan that I love for $3.98! Now the handle is not too sturdy but if it goes...I can go buy another!. Lots of interesting gadgets, dishes pans etc there that you don't mind spending a little on.

        2 Replies
        1. re: AnneM

          IKEA has a good silicone-coated wisk

          1. re: pitu

            I brought a great butcher block chopping board from IKEA 36" by 24" and 2" thick for 25 dollars. Plus 3 diffrent size cast iron pans from Wanger Made in the US for 15 bucks I have had them now for over 16 years .

        2. I stop by Marshall's when I can and have picked up some high quality pans, baking dishes and bowls for not much money. I bought a Cuisinart heavy duty enamel roaster for about ten bucks.

          2 Replies
          1. re: NYchowcook

            Marshall's/TJ Maxx and the like are GREAT sources for cookware finds. I've aded some great pieces to my Polish stoneware collection there (faves are a loaf pan and a slightly larger & shallower rectangular baker which have both become favorite baking pans.)

            1. re: Allstonian

              I am on a small budget and I had to outfit a kitchen this week. Just now I found the most gorgeous cuisinart 2 qt saucepan with a lip and (necessary for me) a glass lid) for $25! Also found a really perfect silicone spoontula for $2. Both were at Marshalls.

              I also just found a gorgeous red ceramic (white on the inside) 9x13 pan for $7 at Grocery Outlet in Berkeley, which also has a deal on wearever muffin pans ($5) and some sheet pans as well.

          2. I have found TONS of great deals, on expensive items and cheap items.

            My husband brought me home a huge box of Calphalon Commercial and Professional Hard Anodized cookware he found at a garage sale. One piece had been used; the woman didn't like it because it was not non-stick (she didn't know how to cook on it). Total retail value of the 25 pieces he brought home was well over $1500. Cost? $10.

            HomeGoods/Marshalls/TJMaxx consistently produce good deals. Got a 6-3/4 qt oval LeCrueset for $80.

            I have several spatulas (silicone), wooden spoons, bowls and miscellanous gadgets that probably cost less than a buck that are used all the time.

            1. I bought a claypot from a Chinese grocery for Asian claypot cooking but it's also turned out to be perfect for all kinds of braises either on top of the stove or in the oven. Most recently I made a panade in it. Cost was about $7.

              1. Bought a beautiful German tea kettle reduced from $100 to $18 at Homegoods. The whistle sounds like a steam locomotive.

                We also have a chain around the Boston area called Building 19. They were selling professional quality cookware at ridiculously low prices. Unfortunately I couldn't justify a 3 foot tall, 50 gallon stockpot.

                1. I have bought a fair amount of cast iron at the French equivalent to our Goodwill Stores. They exist in most cities in the south of France and are a gold mine for kitchen treasures. The only problem is getting them back home. Beautiful pots, for a maximum of $5.00 per piece.

                  I recently found a 1960's Danish enamelled iron pan at a local Value Village, for $3.00. Saw the same pan in NYC antique shops for $30.00 and up.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: andreas

                    omigod, flashback!
                    $5 for a large used Le Creuset in SW France!
                    YES, we dragged it home.
                    NO, we somehow avoided overweight charges.

                  2. My best cookware buy ever:

                    Was working for a big retailer and they decided to clear out the Le Creuset in white that they were carrying.

                    After the markdown and employee discount I took home a 9qt for $27.00!! It almost felt criminal it was such a good deal!

                    1. I bought a flexible fish spatula at Costco's business center for $3. Ther normally price around $20 at William Sonoma. I also bought all my ice cream scoopers for cookie dough for under 10 bucks each in various sizes, smallest size under $5.

                      Both Target and Ikea sell oversized white platters and dishes for baking and serving.

                      All my teapots and spiders come from an oriental market or Chinatown.

                      My everyday Correll dishes (that have lasted for many years now) were sold by piece at the outlet. The plates and bowls were $1.50 a piece, and I only bought what I needed at the time. Haven't broke one since either.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: rumgum

                        Corel doesn't break as far as I know.

                        1. re: wally

                          It does, just not as easily as the average dish.

                          1. re: Kiyah

                            Oh and when you manage to break Corelle, it shatters, shatters, shatters. Huge mess. You just need horrible luck like me to happen twice. But they are much more durable than most dishes.

                            1. re: vsoy

                              You aren't kidding about those shards of broken Corelle! Once you see it break, you realize that it's just laminated glass.

                              1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                When I was in college, I remember walking out of a class and into a circle of people who had gathered in the hallway around a girl with a piece of Corelle. She was passing it around and everyone was taking turns flinging it down onto the ceramic tile floor. The Corelle would bounce right up, time after time, miraculously intact. When it was my turn, though, it hit the floor and instantly exploded into smithereens.

                                I was mortified (I didn't even know the owner of the Corelle), but she was entirely nonchalant. She said, "Don't worry, I'll write to them and they will send me a new one."

                                1. re: Pumpkinseed

                                  I had a big set of off-white corelle dishes that I used for picnics and stuff (hate paper plates.) I got them at a clearance sale at a corelle outlet that used to be located near us. So I had about 50 of them. Well, DH managed to stack the box they were in on top of some much lighter boxes (in the basement), the box fell, and, smash, there went about 1/2 of my corelle dishes into a million little pieces. I loved those dishes and was seriously heartbroken. I can't really replace them because the reason they were so cheap in the first place was that they were a color over run - the color that was made in between white and cream plates.

                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                    We recently bought a stack of those here... the outlet has piles of them... "off white" -- some more off than others ;-) Use them for entertaining all the time. But we need more, and are off to pick up more.... so, they are still available here.

                          2. re: wally

                            We had this when I was a kid, and the vegetable bowls break quite
                            easily. Also if the baby flings a piece directly at a cement floor
                            from a highchair, there will be breakage :)

                          3. re: rumgum

                            what is costco's business center?

                          4. Afew weeks ago, I picked up a 7-quart Lodge cast-iron dutch oven for $29; they normally go for double that and up.

                            1. My first Le Creuset piece i got over 30 years ago at a church rummage sale. 2qt. round in flame for $5.00

                              1. Three heavy, beautiful cast iron pans for a total of $12 in New York fifteen years ago; also a $10 wok from Chinatown. Martha Stewart dutch oven from Kmart. Lemon juicer for $.99 from somewhere. This little $1 plastic device (looks like a plastic can opener of sorts) that helps open jars. Glass plates and bowls and lots of silverware from the dollar store - ALL $1 each - that I pull out for parties only.

                                1. When we remodeled our kitchen a few years ago, I uncovered a cast iron skillet that had been stored behind the old stove for god knows how long by my wife's parents. Not just any cast iron skillet: this guy is about 18 inches across. After a good naval jelly soak, wire-brush scrub and re-season, it mostly just sort of hung around taking up space for a couple of years until I realized that it would do a better job on most stir-frying applications than any of the three woks in the house. It's large enough that the sides have the same effect as a good large wok in keeping the cooked food out of the way of the direct heat. However, unlike a wok, when you move the cooked food to the sides, it *stays* there while you're finishing the rest! I use this skillet at least a couple times a week, more often in summer.

                                  Total cost: bought at a garage sale about 25 years ago for, as near as anyone could remember, 75 cents.

                                  1. Oh, I forgot: $1 electric crepe maker at a yard sale. I wanted one of those since my high school French teacher made us crepes and I use it every weekend.

                                    1. The best bargain in my kitchen is a Faberware forged knife set (5 knives, honing steel and block)picked up for $25 at Ross and now used all the time. Not high-end stuff, but still a surprisingly good bargain (I've seen the set listed for $75 or more on Amazon.) The other one worth noting was a little metal spatula I picked up for something like $6 at the grocery store one day. When I bought it, the checker asked what I was ever going to use it fot, and even though it's not the biggest bargain ever, I somehow end up using it almost every time I cook while all the OXO and Kitchenaid stuff sits in the drawer. It works great for stirring, scraping (I don't use nonstick, so it works with almost all my pans) and pulling stuff out of cans (it even fits into the tiny little tomato paste cans) and even a bit of light chopping.

                                      1. Back before all the Williams-Sonomas looked like each other, you used to be able to get some great deals after the big holidays. One time I picked up a set of kitchen cannisters for $10, instead of their original $100-something, while another time I bought a full set of white porcelain dishes for four, for about $25.

                                        1. At garage sales: Four cast iron frying pans - $10.00. A complete set of stainless steel cookware (dutch oven, frying pan, small and large sauce pans, and double boiler, with lids) that can go from stove top to oven - $40.00. Assorted canning jars, from 1 gallon to half pint, various prices, various ages, most pre-1950s, now used for food storage, most under a dollar. Assorted bakeware, all lovingly seasoned, with patina, to which I've added more patina, under a dollar each, usually around 50 cents.

                                          Best cheap new buys: Stainless steel serving plates/platters, Canadian Tire, $8, silicon spatulas - about $8 each when I got them, but as a value for money item, priceless.

                                          1. I buy cheap Kiwi brand knives from Thailand at a local Asian market. While I love my "status" knives and my cleavers, these are the knives I turn to over and over. They'll take a great edge, they're extremely thin and light (a plus, with arthritic hands), and I've paid between $2.99 and $4.99 per. I'm going to give some as (cheapskate!) gifts.

                                            1. A seasoned 12" cast-iron skillet, yard sale leftovers left on the sidewalk, absolutely free.

                                              A cast-iron chicken fryer (tall-sided skillet) at a yard sale for I think $5. I remember thinking it was expensive and almost not buying it. Idiot. Wonderful pan.

                                              A huge set of gimmicky stainless serrated knives from I think Sabatier, at a yard sale for $5. Best tomato slicers ever, should last my lifetime plus. So cheap (and many) that I can take one to potlucks etc. and not be devastated if it disappears.

                                              Off-brand enameled cast-iron pots bought on sale, with discount coupons, from a now-defunct dept. store. Have lasted as well as my Le Creuset (so far) and way way cheaper. And if they croak tomorrow, I'll have gotten my money's worth. No way I could have afforded LC at the time.

                                              Chef's Choice knife sharpener at a church rummage sale, $5. Yes I use it, my knives aren't that fabulous. Had to sneak a peak at the instructions in the fancy kitchen store, though.

                                              1. An amazing Braun automatic citrus juicer that my Mom bought me at a garage sale for $2 >10 yrs ago! This thing takes every last drop out of a lemon or lime in 30 sec or less and is a breeze to clean. I never would have bought it on my own, but I use it all the time and it's going strong! (It must be close to 20 yrs old!)

                                                1. Just picked up over $300 worth of various Emile Henry products at Bloomingdales for almost 2/3 off--already discounted plus a special 20% off card for last weekend.

                                                  1. Look at this cute little pan I got this weekend for $2.95: http://i90.photobucket.com/albums/k25... I don't know what I'm going to make with it, but I love it!!

                                                    1. Marina Market in Fremont had a single burner induction hotplate for $59. Great for a lot of my one pot cooking and tabletop stuff.

                                                      1. Thrift shops can have a great selection of the smaller utensils. They are often crammed into drawers in the housewares section of the store, and you never know what you will find. I have a collection of vintage copper and aluminum measuring cups, so I have plenty of extra 1/4, 1/3 and 1/2 cups. Tin cookie cutters, also vintage, were found - and incredibly cheap. All these old tools bring back memories of my Mom's kitchen - and I seldom had to pay more than a quarter for any of them. I also like they have pilsner glasses - not always easy to find, and certainly not that cheap!

                                                        1. Two Calphlon non-stick pans for $29. Most beloved cheap find was 1979 in Chicago, bought twelve Galloping Gourmet spurtles for $1. Still have all of them.

                                                          1. Used to have a Pfaltzgraf outlet here and I bought a big stack of "seconds" ceramic rectangular dishes that were used by the airlines for entrees when they still cooked food on flights. 29 cents each and have been terrific cat food dishes.

                                                            Another cheapie must have is a stack of pyrex custard cups. Great for the mise.

                                                            1. My best purchase was a 9x9 square baking pan purchased for ten cents at a yard sale 20 years ago. Just used it two weeks ago to make an upside down pumpkin cake with cranberry pecan topping. Still love it and use it often.

                                                              1. Asian markets have great prices on glazeware, finger bowls, nesting bowls, cooking utensils, wooden tools, woks.

                                                                For some reason they are displayed in the back of the store...but those who venture back the deals are spectacular and far less expensive than say BBB, L&T, W-S.

                                                                1. One of the local grocery stores had branched out to include kitchenware. I guess the high end stuff wasn't selling, because I saw a silpat for $9.00 on clearance. There were 3 sitting there, i bought them all ( much to the chagrin of the lady behind me in the checkout who asked "where did you get those?")

                                                                  1. Not fancy, but I love the stainless steel kitchen sink strainers from Chinese markets for 99 cents. They trap everything and always look new.

                                                                    1. Silicone bakeware from crate and barrel outlet in woburn ma.. $1 or $2 for pans, sets of silcone mini pans...same price.
                                                                      Silicone mats from christmas tree shop...about the same price.

                                                                      1. Mine is like many others' here - a cast iron frying pan, 8", that I cook with almost daily. Found at a garage sale for about a buck. Also love the inexpensive black enamel roasting pans - can get really good brown gravies off of chicken and pork roasts when using these. Lots of specialty things can be had at garage sales, like wineglasses (which are specialty for some people) and fondue equipment.


                                                                        1. oh, gosh, where do I start? I love vintage kitchenware. My best, best, best deals were items my grandmother gave me that she used in her kitchen for decades, most since the 30s & 40s. She did a lot of jelly-making and canning, and I got almost all that equipment, including my absolute favorite item, a deep-bowled wooden spoon that is irreplaceable and that I'll only use for jams/jellies. Also a gorgeous enamel roaster, a citrus juicer/press (running for $80+ even at flea markets), jelly strainer stand, and food mill.

                                                                          Probably my best personal find(s) at a neighbor's friend's garage sale, for which I paid $3 total - vintage Le Creuset items in a great aqua blue color:
                                                                          1 small saucepan with lid
                                                                          1 2-quart with lid
                                                                          1 small frying pan

                                                                          They're my only Le Creusets -- for now!

                                                                          1. #1) My husband brought me a heavy aluminum stockpot that he found in an alley during "junk pick-up" week.

                                                                            Runner-up: I love the rimmed half-sheet pans from the restaurant supply store. They always have stacks of them for $4.95 each.

                                                                            1. Well, I once got a great deal ($50, originally $150) on an VillaWare electric wok from overstock.com. It was a couple of years ago, and it works great, I use it all the time.

                                                                              Also, Alton Brown has made many "specialty" cookware items from household items, generally from unglazed ceramic flower pots. One that comes to mind is a smoker that he used for beef brisket, I think he bragged that it cost him about $12 total from the hardware store. Also, a cardboard box fish smoker comes to mind. The only one that I can find on his website is a "turkey derrick" for safe insertion of a turkey into a deep fryer -
                                                                              - he does have some good ideas if you ever watch his show.

                                                                              1. My Joyce Chen 14" Carbon Steel wok with helper handle for $19.99. It didn't have a lid to it, so I used the lid from my old wok which had two short handles. I replaced it with the JC wok and I love it. Got it at Smart and Final in CA.

                                                                                1. I found my dream cutting board - a 3-inch thick end-cut maple Boos chinese chopping block - at Tuesday Morning for $40. It not only raises my counter height to a much more comfortable height for me, but it will outlast me!

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: Divamac

                                                                                    Now i'm jealous - what a great find!

                                                                                  2. i was cleaning and sent stuff to the thrift store. at the store "out of the closet" (is that the name?) i rummaged around and found a new kitchenaid spatula that is huge, about 5- 6" long. used it to move some cake we got today and it slid right under and moved it without me worrying about stuff dripping or falling. $2! I was all excited and went to the goodwill to see if they had anything but pickins were slim.

                                                                                    1. I find loads of Sitram and Tramontina at homegoods for next to nothing.

                                                                                      1. I went to Barnes and Noble the other day because I have a precious $100 gift card that I am wanting to spend, but cautiously of course! I saw "Taste of the Midwest" and really wanted it, but decided to wait. Then, I went to The Dusty Bookshelf (a used bookstore) and found it for $4.00! It's new too! While I was at B&N, I checked out the bargain books and found "Marcella's Italian Kitchen" for $9.99, but when I went up to the register, it was $4.99! It was a good day!

                                                                                        1. i just discovered a new Tuesday Morning store (at least new to me, I have a feeling I have passed by it a million times) in Berkeley. A bunch of things were half off. I spied a gorgeous fancy bundt cake pan for $7! If I had more time to bake things like bundt cakes I would have bought it. I ended up buying a Calphalon spatula which was lauded in Cook's Country as the best spatula ever and I must say it's very good for pancakes though I still love my huge ass Kitchenaid spatula (see previous post on this thread). $2.50.

                                                                                          1. I have an acrylic citrus reamer that I bought at Big Lots years ago for maybe 49 cents. I use it all the time.

                                                                                            1. A 10 inch Wustof carving knife that I got at an SPCA rummage sale in Virginia for $5 and my ceramic baking dishes from Ikea that I picked up for about $2 each.

                                                                                              1. whoah just got a le creuset 9" frypan for $2.50 at the thrift store.

                                                                                                1. Wish this had happened to me! A gal I know agreed, reluctantly, to accompany her mom and grandma to some fundraiser (I think it was a church thing). Well it was her lucky day, I guess. One of the events was a silent auction. She bid on and won a brand new 7pc All Clad Copper Core set for $220. Why can't I find deals like that?

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: foodstorm

                                                                                                    well, just tried it out and apparently it's one of the satin finish ones that nobody likes. It's basically an unseasoned cast iron skillet that i will have to season (it's still gray). still, for $2.50 it was cheaper and slightly lighter than a lodge pan. i can see why the original owner dumped it if they were expecting the black enameled innards though.

                                                                                                  2. 10" Lodge Logic skillet at Marshalls for $8.95. My first cast iron skillet, and now a beloved friend. I can see why everyone raves over these skillets--EVERYTHING just tastes better out of the that darn $9 pan, I swear...!

                                                                                                    All-Clad 7pc. Copper Core set, mismarked at Tuesday Morning for $199.99. I had to argue with the manager for 15 minutes, but it's the law! She had to sell it to me at the price as marked!

                                                                                                    1. I am a HUGE fan of Cast Iron cookware!

                                                                                                      My find of a Lodge Pro Grid/Iron 20x10 Cast Iron griddle/grill for $8 at Goodwill retails for $63 and it is the top of line with the grease gutter!! How lucky did I get?!

                                                                                                      I was so excited to get this home and check it out...I actually found after closer inspection that the condition has to be near new/perfect. Slight use...that I thought I would need help getting it clean...but a scrubbie, hot water, salt and a wee bit of soap cleaned it right up!

                                                                                                      Still so tickled with my find and its condition that I decided to fry up a pound of bacon to season it up at 2pm. My son was confused and asked if this was dinner or a snack!!

                                                                                                      For the record...I am NEVER this lucky in thrifting...ever!!