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What inexpensive piece of cookware do you love?

Ours is a recent purchase--a $10 8"x10" from roasting pan from Ikea:

I thought of getting getting the Petite Roti from All Clad (14"x11"), but wanted something even smaller which could easily fit into the sink for cleaning.

The idea pan has been great for roast chickens, beef, and oven pork shoulder. Since there's no rack, I've improvised with our metal skewers (both across and sticking off the end alternating, to create a V-like rack).

Don't get me wrong, I love my good stainless and enameled cookware, but this was a great find.

Anyone else?

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  1. I'm crazy about the little plastic scrapers with 3 straight edges and 1 curved edge that I buy at Surfas for a dollar and change. I use them for everything!

    5 Replies
    1. re: mnosyne

      Sounds interesting, but I have no idea what this could be .... can you link to an example?

      1. re: razkolnikov

        My mother always called it a French spatula. They are fantastic.


          1. re: mnosyne

            Those do work great. Really helps to get every last little bit of batter out of the bowl and into the pan. I have a similar one, but this one looks like a better design.

            1. re: flourgirl

              I also use one to scramble eggs in the pan. Helps to get a nice soft curd.

    2. Enamel steel tapas pans from CostPlus and Spanish stores, for under $10. Serve as cooking pans, serving dishes, spoon rests, food prep dishes, etc.

        1. the $5 non-stick fry pans from ikea,love em!!

          1 Reply
          1. re: im hungry

            The $4 non-stick pan I got from Ikea well over a year ago is still in heavy use without a scratch on it, and it's bar none the best egg pan I have ever used, and yes, that includes cast iron.

          2. Cooking chopsticks, 16-20 inches long, connected with a little string, cost @ a buck, used more in my kitchen than all else put together.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

              What do you use them for? Stirring/lifting? They might be a good alternative to the (metal) barbeque tongs we can't use in the enameled cast iron or HA aluminium

              1. re: Soop

                soop, get silicone-tipped tongs: http://images.google.com/images?clien...
                these are neat for potatoes, boiled eggs, bulky things you don't want to damage/pierce:

                also, i've used metal tongs (not banging around, though) in my le creuset -- though typically i'm using a wooden spoon or a silicone implement.

                  1. re: alkapal

                    I also use the silicone-tipped tongs for getting tea boxes from the top of the cabinet when I don't feel like unfolding the step stool.

                    1. re: Caralien

                      I just have metal tongs, but I also use them all the time for getting things that I can't reach, including wine glasses (that I do very carefully).

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        I thought I was the only one who does this :)

                  2. re: Soop

                    Stirring, 'tonging', lifting, turning, everything but cleaning the pot

                1. Not cookware but I have a 6 cup plastic measuring cup I got from IKEA nearly 20 years ago now. It probably cost me $2 or $3 back then. It has imperial and metric measurements on it. Is just the right shape and fits in my microwave easily.

                  Sadly after so many times through the dishwasher it's getting time to replace it and I cannot find one that works as well as this one. I've been looking for a year. It's just this cheap measuring cup but I use it all the time.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: ziggylu

                    Have you tried the Anchor glass batter/mixing bowls? I inherited one, which after at least 30+ years chipped at the spout (I tried gluing it back). I ended up purchasing a duplicate on eBay for $8 (I used to make a lot of flan in it, in the microwave, including the burnt sugar). It's bigger than 6 cups, but great, and had both imperial and metric measurements.

                    1. re: Caralien

                      I"m reluctant to get a glass one actually. Typically I abhor most plastic items but I use this so much and it gets tossed around my kitchen so much I think I want to stay with plastic. Plus it's lightweight when full of liquid.

                      IT's a great cylindrical shape as well. Everything else is I'm finding is too wide.

                      I was at IKEA this past weekend but the closest thing I could find was only 4 cups.

                      I'm driving myself crazy with this. I've never had an inexpensive purchase be so hard to make! LOL

                      1. re: ziggylu

                        I thought sciplus.com might have them, but only found this:
                        (a wierd site for odd items)

                      2. re: Caralien

                        I cherish my Pyrex 8-cup batter bowl with measuring markings. Had it forever.
                        The 4-cup one had lost almost all the markings and I couldn't find a replacement. The ones in stores were all plastic and the markings were so hard to see. I melted a few of those with hot drippings from roasting pans.
                        I jumped on an Anchor version recently and didn't even look at the price. Only about $5.
                        I think they're so much easier to use because they have handles, and the clear glass makes seeing the measurements so much easier.

                    2. my chromed griswold cast iron skillet from my grandfather

                      1. Not incredibly cheap, but in the $40 range: A Calphalon Kitchen Essentials nonstick 2 1/2 quart saucepan. It isn't the same pan that you see by the same name, so I can't vouch for the current model's performance.

                        But wow, I never appreciated how useful a nonstick saucepan could be till I got this one (a last-ditch effort to fill out a Christmas list one year when I didn't think I wanted anything). Its nonstick surface is the best I've ever seen - worlds better than my All-Clad frying pan, in fact. For quick pilafs, it couldn't be easier: Sweat the aromatics, add rice and stock and proceed. For sauces, especially roux-based ones, it's also perfect. Just have to get some silicone-covered whisks.

                        Not cookware, but a 99-cent citrus peeler and strawberry hullers are two of those things that you don't remember how you got by without once you own them.

                        1. My large graniteware roasting pan. It is lightweight, was very cheap and is made of thin aluminum. The bottom has built-in ridges to keep a turkey off the bottom. I love it because it makes handling a 20 pounder possible without requiring several weeks of weight training to prepare for it.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: RGC1982

                            I thought graniteware was a speckled enamel on a steel base. The steel does not need to be thick like cast iron, so these pans aren't that heavy. Enamel is a decent cooking surface, easy to clean, and relatively low stick.

                            1. re: paulj

                              You may be right, but I could swear that it is aluminum because it is SOOO light. On the other hand, it is also so strong,,, never warps. Hmm. I didn't buy this one, it was hand-me-down from Mom. Maybe it is steel? How can I tell?

                          2. My Bialetti 3-cup moka express stovetop espresso maker for $23. The coffee is *superb* and better than the very expensive espresso machine I had before it.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: sobriquet

                              I had one of those--inherited from my parents, from when they were first married. Unfortunately, an ex stole it from me. Grrr.

                              1. re: Caralien

                                I know it won't have the sentimental value, but they still make them. You should buy another.

                                1. re: sobriquet

                                  Another friend gave me his 6 cup model, so while it's not as cute, it works really well.

                                  1. re: Caralien

                                    I have a 6-cup too, but the resulting coffee is different. The 3-cup yields something very close to espresso while the 6-cup is somewhere between french press and espresso.

                                    1. re: sobriquet

                                      I thought that was the case too, but questioned whether it was visually inspired or a textural reality. I may still be nuts, but thank you so much for confirming this!

                                      1. re: Caralien

                                        I really wish I could find a way to overcome this, but I think it's just the way it is. I have tried both the original aluminum version and a stainless steel model. Both suffer the same problem.

                                  2. re: sobriquet

                                    Not only does Bialetti still make moka pots, but they pop up regularly at Marshall's/HomeGoods/TJMaxx. And the Bialetti style of moka pot (with the octagonal cross-section) has almost become generic. Similar pots made in Italy and South America are widely available for less than half the cost of a genuine Bialetti, and (in my experience, anyway) they work just as well.

                              2. Caralien, this might not count as "cookware" since I mostly use it for prep... but Pier One (right now) has a mini-bowl called "Pea Pod"(I asked the salesperson to look up the name) for two bucks a piece. Very thick, white, diner style sturdy porcelain... built to last and made in 'Chine' . Perfect for Mis en Place, about two inches to three inches in diameter at the rim. Micro and Dishwasher safe.

                                I went in and saw them, bought six, used them while cooking twice, and rushed back to get eight more. These are awesome and I suppose won't last for long there!

                                I imagine they could be used to serve 'on the side' dips, sauces, etc. as well.

                                I have good stainless "pinching bowls" for mis en place, but these are the best small prep bowls I've found so far and at an unbelievable price!

                                1. An 11" aluminium non-stick wok at about $25 gets more use than any other pan in our kitchen. We use a cheap universal lid, and this week it's been used for Scampi Provencale, Bolognese sauce, ratatouille and chicken curry. I wouldn't be without it!

                                  1. My wife and I received an 8" double boiler as a wedding gift 29 years ago. Over time it has been relegated to being used every morning to boil eggs for me and my two Shih Tzus. I sometimes look at that bottom pot and think of it as a metaphor for my marriage... dinged up enamel and all, but thank the Lord, it is still there and used every day.

                                    2 Replies
                                      1. I have this same little roasting pan from Ikea and I use it in my convection toaster oven. It's the perfect size for that. I have to agree that it's a surprisingly good deal for the price.

                                          1. I suppose inexpensive is relative, but I have a pair small, enameled cast iron dishes from the Martha Stewart line at Macy's that I love and adore. I bought them for half price, which I think was $20 total. They're the perfect size for making a pair of quick enchiladas for a quick dinner or a teensy little casserole, or just for using as dishes to eat from.

                                            1. i got a 11" "tools of the trade" "cookright" non-stick deep skillet with a glass lid made in indonesia and purchased at macy's that i use all the time -- plus i got it for a great price. i bought several for gifts, and everyone has loved them.

                                              this is the current version. http://www1.macys.com/catalog/product...
                                              mine does not have sloping sides, nor a stainless exterior. mine has straight sides (very slight curve, for stirring, etc.) and a matte black exterior. maybe it was "hard anodized -- but it isn't dark gray, as i think of hard anodized. mine looks EXACTLY like the covered skillet in this set: http://www.amazon.com/Tools-Trade-Coo...
                                              <or maybe this is the truer analogy to mine: http://www.amazon.com/Tools-Trade-Bel... > but i don't want sloping sides! i get lots of room with the straight sides.

                                              it has held up really well to lots of cooking over several years.... oh, i see this new stainless one has a metal handle to make it fine for the oven. mine has a plastic, stay-cool handle that would not work in the oven.

                                              30 bucks. worth it!

                                              1. I have found so many cool, inexpensive pieces of cookware over the years at places like Marshall's. TJ Maxx, Amazon etc., that I can't list them all here. But the ones that immediately leap to mind include the following:

                                                1) a tall,narrow, beaker-like measuring cup made of very thin, blown lab glass, with a handle. I don't actually use it as a measuring cup because it only has metric on it (I only do metric on the ktichen scale) but I use it almost daily to froth my coffee milk in. It's the perfect height and just darn cute. It cost $3.99. I also use it as a pitcher for OJ etc. But this brings me to the second item on my list:

                                                2) my aerolatte. Bought this on Amazon a few years ago. Works great.

                                                3) Two beautiful stainless steel footed colanders in different sizes with lots of holes that I bought on Amazon dirt cheap (and usually sell for much higher prices - just got lucky.)

                                                4) A very large pizza knife with a rolled handle that usually sells on Amazon and WS for around $18 - found the exact same one at Marshall's for $2.99.

                                                5) Forschner 10" chef's knife

                                                6) Silicon spatulas

                                                7) Y-peeler I just found at Marshall's for $3.99

                                                8) the baking stone I bought about 9 years ago on clearance for $18 that's still going strong

                                                9) All my whisks - I just have a thing for whisks. :)

                                                10) Wooden spoons

                                                11) Wooden reamer for juicing citrus fruit

                                                12) A set of 4 graduated little glass bowls with pouring spouts - also made from very thin blown glass like that used for lab equipment. Got them on clearance form Crate and Barrel a few years ago. I LOVE these bowls and won't let any one else wash them so that they don't get broken (same with the glass pitcher listed above. I've never seen either of these things before or since and I don't think it would be easy to replace them...)

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: flourgirl

                                                  Flourgirl, am so glad someone finally mentioned the Pink Elephant in the room :-), T.J.Maxx, Marshall's and Home Goods... they carry all the name brand cookware that didn't sell in the past season; my best pots, the first microplane I bought, the best mandoline, peeler, specialty pans (omelette, crepe, etc.),the silicone spatulas and cabinet protectors, Wusthof Knives, the chafing dishes, spice mills and loads of gourmet spices/jams and jellies which are two years away from being out of date, nearly everything outside of my basic cookware set bought all at once, is from one of those three places (everything for at least half of department store prices)! Even William's Sonoma cookbooks!

                                                  My KA baking stone from there was also about twenty bucks, but has changed the environment of my oven for the better, no matter what I'm cooking!

                                                  Kudos to TJ, Marshalls and HG!

                                                  1. re: ideabaker

                                                    I forgot about the cookbooks - I particularly like the selection at Home Goods (at least in my area) although I can often find the books cheaper on Amazon. But I have picked up a few gems that way, including some WS books.

                                                    Yep, I buy spices, vinegars, oils, specialty salts, etc. at these places all the time too. I have read that some other CHers have had bad experiences buying food stuff at these places, but I have yet to bring home a stinker.

                                                    I've also purchased lots of bakeware, including very cool cookie cutter sets, and an awesome cupcake carrier.

                                                    These stores have really helped me round out my kitchen collection for a very reasonable amount of money. I don't know what I'd do without them anymore.

                                                2. A drum sieve that I bought for about $8 at a Chinese restaurant supply. I have high end conical sieves etc. My go to for the quick job is the drum..

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: hankstramm

                                                    wooden chopsticks and an oil splatter screen

                                                  2. A pair of pliers that i use to pull out pin bones from raw fish fillets.
                                                    A turkish coffee grinder that makes perfect fresh ground black pepper.

                                                    1. Wooden spoons

                                                      $3-4 instant read thermometers

                                                      The cheap adjustable wire roast rack that I've had for years and is way better than the non-adjustable heavy roast racks that seem fashionable these days

                                                      The $6 iron wok grate that replaces a regular grate on most gas ranges.

                                                      1. My seasoned cast iron pan I got for $2 @ a yard sale

                                                        1. http://www.twinsupply.com/vollrathfoo...

                                                          I have all kind of expensive pans, but this probably gets the most use. a Volrath 11" carbon steel stir fry.


                                                          1. My quarter sheet pan, bought in a restaurant supply store for $5.00.
                                                            Perfect for broiling fish. Works really well for the width of a sheet of aluminum foil so clean-up is easy.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Stuffed Monkey

                                                              My Calcaphalon(sp?) skillet that DH got on clearance at Amazon for twelve bucks. If you ever see it on sale, get one! It's great for stove-to-oven stuff, like the upside-down caramelised french toast I made on the weekend.

                                                            2. The cheapest "cookware" item I use and love is a rock. Found on a hike. I use it daily to smash garlic cloves before removing the skins. It lives on the counter despite spouse's continual attempts to get rid of it by tossing in the yard.

                                                              Also, inexpensive wooden spoons and cooking chopsticks from various asian grocery stores. And cast iron, like others. I have two skillets and a round, flat grill pan all purchased at the now defunct Marin County flea market more than 20 years ago. All three for less than $10 and going strong.

                                                              1. my $25 terra cotta Cazuela... stove, oven, grill ... the best
                                                                oh, and my 12" cast iron skillet

                                                                1. My pedra de panella, a soapstone casserole with top bought in Ouro Preto Brazil. Cost very little, and is one of the things l would carry out if place was burning. Have 2, a 5 quart, and a 16 quart. Better cooking than my Copper or my descoware.

                                                                  1. I got a nice big s.steel bowl from ikea last week, and since then I've used it loads, for mixing dough and the like. I think I've probably used it more than anything other than knives.

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Soop

                                                                      I bought a huge stainless steel bowl for a $1 at a garage sale a few years back. I love that bowl and use it all the time. I also have a huge maple bowl that my mom picked up for me as a second. It has one edge that is not completely in the round - and I could care less. It's a fantastic dough bowl as well as a terrific salad bowl when I'm having a lot of guests. It's one of my favorite pieces of kitchen equipment, defect and all.

                                                                      1. re: flourgirl

                                                                        Donna bought a nice wooden bowl as a fruit bowl - but I'm going to tip the fruit out and use it as a salad bowl :)

                                                                      2. re: Soop

                                                                        i have that bowl, too, and love it! my niece likes to use it as a darth vader helmet. so versatile!

                                                                      3. 15.00 cast iron square grill pan from le cuistot comes to mind as I had tried and rejected other grill pans and despaired of finding a great one until I found this. Also stainless steel bowls - I keep lots in different sizes. They are cheap and they get used constantly for food prep. They also make fantastic bain marie pans for keeping food hot.

                                                                        1. My Lee Valley stainless steel rasp/zester.I think I paid about $6...it is $15 now without the stand.

                                                                          I use it to zest lemons and limes for macerating for my special margueritas and for pies, sauces,cakes, oranges and lemons for osso bucco and to grind nutmeg for eggnog, cookies etc.and prep spices for garam masala....also for a very fine grind for chocolate for toppings.

                                                                          1. At two separate garage sales about 3 years apart, I bought a Kitchenaid Standmixer for $10 and at the other a Robot Coupe at the same price. I've used both of them so much, I can't imagine ever not having either.

                                                                            1. A very fine-mesh stainless steel skimmer about 3 inches in diameter I found at one of the Chinese grocery stores in Manhattan for under $2.00. The best thing ever for skimming scum from stocks, etc. The cookware parts of those stores have a lot of interesting things, including cheap and nice bamboo spoons, etc.

                                                                              1. hey caralien, i have that same roasting pan and i love it!

                                                                                i like a lot of my Ikea cheapie cookware, actually, esp. the cast iron saucepan, grill pan, and ginormous stock pot.

                                                                                i *love* my cheapie Forschner knives and don't worry so much about treating them tenderly as i would my Wusthoffs (i.e. i can wait 'till after dinner to wash off the Forschners without feeling guilty)

                                                                                i think i acquired my no-name brand crockpot through some sort of rewards program (where you earn points for using a certain search program). i've had it for four years and use it all the time for ribs and braises. it was essentially free. can't beat that. (if you were to actually buy it, it'd be about $20, probably.)