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Old 08-21-2007, 04:56 PM   #1
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Bed, Bath, and Broke

I, an aspiring amateur chef, find myself always in need of new gear. Ramekins for my cremé brulée, a pie pan, a stand grater, etc. However, I find myself paying far more for these items than I think I should. And when I'm not, I find myself questioning the quality of the gear, such as the terrible drying racks with swing-out legs I bought a Meijer (because that's all they had).

Let's take small, ingredient holding bowls, for example. I'm just looking for something to hold half a cup of various ingredients so that I may do all of my prep without keeping my cutting board full of stuff. So I just want some small, glass bowls. Or perhaps a larger cast iron griddle, because the one I bought at Macy's is, while decent, too small to be of general utility. I know I can find these things at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, but I have a feeling I'll pay a great deal more than I should, and they might be more gimick than good. I've checked a few thrift stores as well, but they don't often seem to yield what I'm looking for.

So my question is, where is the best place to buy quality kitchen products for not a lot of money? I hear Alton Brown mentioning kitchen supply stores, and there is one near me which I shall soon check out. But do I need to actually be part of some restaurant union or something, or can I, lowely individual would-be chef that I am, shop there as well? And if so, is this recommended?

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Old 08-21-2007, 05:02 PM   #2
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first of all, try and get them for free:
I was fortunate to receive a ton of items from family, friends, looking to downsize or get rid of items. Keep your ears open for people moving, retiring, downsizing or getting rid of stuff.

There's also a yahoo group here in northern NJ called "Freecycle." People post all kinds of stuff there - wanted and offered. It's for people who are about to throw away items that they no longer want but don't want to throw it away - kind of a greener way of getting rid of things.

If that doesn't work:
Yard sales and garage sales
newspaper want ads
Craigs List
Ebay (not a fan)

If you are still looking for items:
personally, I like target - quality is pretty good for most items
Walmart I find is really cheap, but there aren't any near me and so I don't know the quality of their stuff.
JC Penney White Sale - usually in January, have a lot of household products on sale
Overstock.com

just listed a few, I'm sure there are lots of others. hope this helps!
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Old 08-21-2007, 05:03 PM   #3
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For some stuff, such as the mise en place bowls, it doesn't much matter where you get them. I have some that can double as a small bowl for a dipping sauce as well as for mise en place. For this type of stuff, you'd be surprised what you can find at Walmart that is acceptable. Walmart is also good for better prices on brand names. I bought my 12" cast iron skillet there for $5 less than BBB.

The internet is also a good source of low priced supplies.

You do not generally need to be in the business to get stuff at a restaurant supply store.
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Old 08-21-2007, 05:07 PM   #4
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anyone can shop at a restaurant supply store. Also check out overstock stores like Marshalls and TJMax,
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Old 08-21-2007, 05:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CyberSlag5k View Post
Let's take small, ingredient holding bowls, for example. I'm just looking for something to hold half a cup of various ingredients so that I may do all of my prep without keeping my cutting board full of stuff.
Just re: this one example, I have a smaller cutting board that I put across my larger cutting board and pile ingredients up on that, then take it to the stove. This way, I don't have so many little bowls to wash.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CyberSlag5k View Post
So my question is, where is the best place to buy quality kitchen products for not a lot of money? I hear Alton Brown mentioning kitchen supply stores, and there is one near me which I shall soon check out. But do I need to actually be part of some restaurant union or something, or can I, lowely individual would-be chef that I am, shop there as well? And if so, is this recommended?
There's a shop in my town that DH affectionately calls the junk shop - it's a resale store and the owner shops estate sales, etc. The stuff is incredibly cheap, but good quality. I've also shopped at Salvation Army thrift shops, a local thrift shop benefiting the local children's hospital, and another second-hand shop in a very nice neighborhood - these people have great stuff they don't want anymore It's also a great neighborhood for cruising yard sales.

Hope this is helpful.
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Old 08-21-2007, 05:11 PM   #6
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This may not help in the short term but long term would. I use my American Express card for everything (groceries) and pay the bill monthly. I then use my points to buy usually kitchen stuff. Bought all my All-Clad pans, new parts for my grill.
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Old 08-21-2007, 05:11 PM   #7
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For most of your kitchen gear, I would suggest Le Gourmet Che at the Prime Outlets Mall in Jeffersonville. For the types of bowls, ramekins, or whatever you need for your mise en place requirements, I suggest Cost Plus World Market, many of which you can find in both the Cincinnati and Columbus areas. I have never seen any other place with so many reasonably priced glass and ceramic containers.
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Old 08-21-2007, 05:13 PM   #8
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Thank you for all the suggestions. I'll check a lot of these places out :).
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Old 08-21-2007, 05:15 PM   #9
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Yes, Cyber, restaurant supply stores are great places. We're fortunate to have two in our area and we've purchased a number of things from them.

As someone else mentioned, Wal-Mart is a good place to get some of the basics. Our Wal-Marts have plenty of pinch cups, small bowls, etc.

Freecycle is all over the U.S. and three foreign countries. It's a wonderful resource for getting and getting rid all kinds of goodies. Just go to The Freecycle Network to find a group nearest you.

Another resource would be thrift stores. I visit Goodwill and Salvation Army ones regularly. Two weeks ago I bought an almost new Pyrex glass pie pan for $.50, which is far less than the cost of a new one. Also a couple of years ago, I bought a Salton rice cooker/veggie steamer for $2. and a wonderful Welbilt bread machine for $3.

Don't know if you have Hobby Lobby stores in your area, but every 2 weeks they have a 40% off coupon good on regular-priced merchandise. I've purchased quite a few heavy-duty Wilton round cake pans using the coupons.

Just keep your eyes open, you will be amazed at what you can find.
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Old 08-21-2007, 05:37 PM   #10
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As far as small mise en place type bowls, I just use the small pyrex bowls - which are great because you can use them if you need to melt or heat an ingredient in the microwave. I have stacks of both the tiny (approx. 1/2 cup) & slightly larger (maybe 3/4 cup) sizes & they work perfectly. Inexpensive & sturdy - available nearly everywhere (even supermarkets) - what more would you want.
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