I will admit that I was an odd young adult. While most people were scrounging up money to go out on a Saturday night, I was setting money aside to get the perfect set of pots. Yet that slight obsession for pots means that most of my friends are on their second or third set and I've still got the pots I purchased over fifteen years ago.
It's hard when you are first setting up house because money is tight, but it is possible to get high quality things that are going to last a really long time and save you money in the long run.
Fiestaware became popular again in the early 90's when they started re-releasing it with new colors. I knew that's what I wanted because I love the style of the place settings, they are incredibly durable, it would be easy to find replacement pieces and I loved the history of the pieces. I went with white because I wanted something timeless. It took a coupe of years of my family buying me a couple of place settings each Christmas, but I now have fourteen sets. I keep twelve in the cabinets and I have the other two just in case something breaks.
I found these amazing green depression glass wine glasses at an antique store years ago. I think I started with six that cost $3 each and every time I'm out shopping I try to find another one. Each glass is a different pattern, but they are the same color and shape. Finally after fifteen years of searching I have twelve. I only pull them out for special occasions. Maybe if I found a couple of spares I'd be willing to use them more often!
Here are a couple of tips on how to set up your first kitchen:
- Iron skillets are your friend. You can often find them at thrift stores and they are pretty cheap. You just have to season them and you can cook almost anything on them. If it is a little rusty give it a good once over with fine steel wool before seasoning. Just don't use soap on them (it strips the seasoning) and don't leave water sitting in them because they rust. The trick to cooking with a cast iron pan is to oil the pan and let it heat up until a drop of water will bounce across the pan.
- Invest in high quality cookware. It will save you money in the long run.
- Use what people will give you. People will often want to help out and give you things. Use those items until you have the funds to buy what you want.
- Thrift stores and antique stores are awesome. It may take a little bit of searching, but you can often find high quality goods.
- Get at least one really super good chef's knife. While I have a paring knife and some other medium sized knife that I don't know what it's purpose is, I almost always use my chef's knife. Also, get a knife sharpener. It doesn't have to be super pricey. Here's a nice little one. Having a sharp knife can make all the difference in the world.
- You may not need twelve sets of dishes. I love having dinner parties and I have set the table for twelve on more then one occassion.
- It is quite all right to mix and match dishes. Especially if you are finding your dishes at thrift stores, you may not be able to find one set. I'd suggest keep dishes in one colorway and go crazy and mix it up.
What steps did you take to set up your kitchen?
Originally published 9/9/14