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By the author of The Faithful Prepper and Zombie Choices.
What’s the cheapest way to stock a kitchen on the cheap? Get married! That’s what half your gifts will be! Just kidding (kinda). If you’ve just moved into your own place for the first time and are trying to figure out a way to keep your kitchen prepared for kitchen tasks, how can you do so on the cheap?
What do you need? How do you find these items without breaking the bank? Let’s take a look…
Every kitchen needs a couple of cast-iron skillets. They’re healthier to cook with compared to non-stick pans, they give you additional dietary iron, they help your food to taste better, and they last forever! There’s no reason not to have cast-iron cookware.
Thankfully, as pointed out, cast-iron cookware lasts forever. And it’s everywhere. Not only is more and more continually being produced, but that which was crafted 100 years ago is still around as well. It’s because of this that there’s no reason whatsoever to pay sticker price for a brand new set of cast-iron skillets from Lodge.
You can always find cast-iron at flea markets, yard sales, and antique stores for just a few dollars. People practically throw this stuff away. You can go out and easily come back home with a skillet and a frying pan here for right around $10.
Spatulas, ladles, and other kitchen utensils
Don’t be gross. Buy these new. You have to have the means to dish out meals, cook eggs, and stir soup as it’s on the stove, and that’s where these utensils come into play. The best place I’ve seen to pick these up on the cheap is at the Dollar Store. You can walk out of the Dollar Store having spent $10 and with 8-9 different utensils in your bag that will help you to mash potatoes, serve soup, and the like.
You have to have these, and that’s the best place to get them.
Technically, a toaster isn’t really a necessity – I make most of my toast with my cast-iron skillet – but if you’re looking for a toaster, I think you need to buy brand new. I don’t like the idea of buying a used toaster unless I know the seller.
It’s possible to spend quite a bit of a toaster, which is rather ridiculous, but if you’re looking to pick up one for as little money as possible, I recommend checking out this model here.
You’ll spend $20 for a toaster that can toast two pieces of bread at a time, and that gets the job done. And that’s what you’re looking for, isn’t it?
You pretty much have to have a microwave. Thankfully, you can often pick these up for free from a friend who is moving and have found themselves in possession of an extra microwave. College campuses are a great place to find microwaves for free if you’re willing to walk by the dumpsters in May. Oftentimes you’ll see them sitting on the ground nearby.
That’s a bit of an extreme method to finding a microwave, but it is a possibility. If you find yourself needing to buy one, check out this one here. It’ll cost you around $75, but that’s about as cheap of a brand-new microwave that you’re ever going to see.
There are a host of uses for a blender, and I often end up using one of these rather than a food processor. If you’re on a very tight budget with setting up your kitchen, I personally would start with a blender first and then save up for a food processor in the future. Food processors are typically around $70, so they’re not insanely expensive, but a blender can do a lot.
If you are deep into cooking dishes that really benefit from a food processor, then you need what you need. If not, a blender will do just fine, and you can pick up one of these for $30 or so.
I don’t think that plastic utensils save you money in the long run. If you’re buying a box of plasticware once a month, eventually, it will have been cheaper for you to have just purchased actual silverware. The three places that I would look for silverware would be yard sales, online sales forums, and Amazon.
I see old silverware sets for sale regularly at yard sales for very cheap, and you can regularly find them on Craigslist, Facebook marketplace, and other online peer-to-peer sales forums as well. If all else fails, this set from Amazon is very inexpensive and will allow you to entertain your friends without being short of forks and spoons.
While you could technically get by with a whisk, a bowl, and muscle power just like grandma, having a mixer will make your life much, much easier if you regularly do any type of baking. I would go ahead and buy one of these new ones so that you know what to expect with the lifespan of the tool.
This one is available for $20, and you’re not going to find one out there cheaper.
The most convenient and inexpensive means I know of for making coffee is with a French press. Keurigs or any other type of coffee maker that requires a K-cup is exorbitantly expensive compared to a cup of French press coffee. There are no filters to buy or anything with a French press. You spend $20 for your French press, you buy your coffee grounds, and you’re good to go. That’s all you need.
A kettle is another item you can find at any antique mall, flea market, or yard sale out there. I use mine on a daily basis to make oatmeal, coffee, and tea. You can get by without one – we grew up using a glass pot to boil water to make tea – but a kettle is a little less primitive. You can pick up a brand-new one for right around $20.
The easiest place to pick these up is at your local Dollar Store. Mixing bowls are a necessary tool in any kitchen, and you’re going to need at least three. Three dollars later you can be set in this department.
A cutting board
Again, the Dollar Store is your hero here. You can make your own if you have some wood laying around (NOT pressure-treated, chemically stuff), but for a dollar, you can easily pick one up at the Dollar Store as well. Don’t buy used ones of these. Overtime, these can end up harboring bacteria, and you don’t want somebody’s grimy cutting board in your kitchen.
What are your thoughts?
Obviously, this isn’t a complete list of every kitchen tool out there, but this will help you to cook and bake the great majority of meals out there. What are your thoughts, though? Are there other items you think should have made the cut? Are there other sources for cheap kitchen tools? Let us know in the comments below.
Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has two published books, The Faithful Prepper and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.