I’m in a season of my life where I take immense pleasure in — perhaps even love — cooking. Just last week, I scoured my local Indian supermarkets for spices and whipped together a hearty potato chickpea spinach curry and chicken tikka masala. (Thank you, Food with Chetna!) Similar to gardening, preparing ingredients helps me relax when my brain short-circuits after processing life’s many trials and tribulations. Even the repetitive aspects of cooking have started to feel more therapeutic than tedious — all this time I could have been distracting myself from my anxiety by peeling garlic and potatoes!
Since I’ve been cooking more often, I’ve made a habit out of rummaging through tableware and kitchenware at the thrift store. You’d be surprised to find out how cheap kitchenware is at secondhand shops. To give both avid and novice thrifters an idea of what’s out there, here’s my guide on the best kitchen items to thrift.
Note: I’m aware that there might be a bit of an ick factor with thrifting stuff with things you use for eating and drinking, but I promise that everything will be okay with a Scrub Daddy/Mommy sponge, Dawn Powerwash spray, and Lysol disinfectant! Also, remember to keep your eyes peeled for products that are in like new or gently used condition.
An additional note: I am also starting to do research on lead strips for dishware. While I’m not typically drawn to super vintage items, it’s worth considering potential hazards, and it’s something that’s been on my mind as someone who grew up around Prop 65 warnings everywhere. I recommend searching for maker’s labels to see where and when your piece was made.
Thrifting cups, mugs, thermoses, glasses, and other drinkware
My dad and I can’t seem to quit collecting cups and mugs from the thrift store, much to my mom’s chagrin. Our Goodwill sells drinkware for a quarter, and other local thrift shops usually have them for $1 to $3. My mom is partial to thick glass mugs and cups — you can also find gorgeous crystal glasses for wine, but no one really drinks in our family.
If you’re someone who’s always on the go, you can also track down thermoses, insulated tumblers, and other portable drinkware at the thrift store. I’ve seen Stanley cups and Hydroflasks at Goodwill, so keep your eyes peeled for these brands instead of shelling out $40 to $50.
My mom and I also love browsing for teapots at the thrift store. Mom likes them for displaying her succulents out in the garden, but I personally enjoy having one around for brewing jujube and lavender tea, so I’m partial to pots with built-in infusers. Recently, I found a gorgeous Padma Lakshmi Easy Exotic glass teapot for $7 at the thrift store, and I’ve been using it every other day to steep floral tea and chai.
Thrifting measuring spoons and cups
A nice set of Pyrex or KitchenAid measuring tools always ends up costing an arm and leg — think $15 to $20… or more. While the plastic Betty Crocker measuring tools at Dollar Tree get the job done, they aren’t necessarily very durable, and the print fades over time. I always find sturdy metal measuring spoons and thick glass measuring cups collecting dust at the thrift store, and they’re usually under $10 a set.
Thrifting bowls and plates
You may not always come across cute clothes at the thrift store, but you’ll almost certainly always come across beautiful bowls and plates. Sure, you can pick up your dinnerware at places like Dollar Tree or Target. But for roughly the same price point, you can find tableware from reputable brands like West Elm and Crate and Barrel at your local thrift shop.
The thrift store is also a treasure trove of decorative plates — I like hanging them on the wall or placing them on plate holders. I’m particularly fond of plates with gold edging and flower or animal illustrations. They’re very elegant for seasonal displays, especially for the holidays!
Thrifting casserole dishes
I love a good, thick glass or ceramic casserole dish. You can pop it into the oven and the fridge, so you don’t have to do extra dishes. It’s easier to clean and maintain than a metal dish or tray, and it often looks nicer, too. Since I hate scraping gunk off of metal trays, I love using casserole dishes for roasting veggies, baking desserts, and prepping fish.
Thrifting food containers and jars
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you probably know that I love cute cottage and farm animals on my home decor pieces. I enjoy a practical minimalist glass container as much as anyone who came of age in the late aughts, but I also absolutely adore treat and cookie jars with ducks, cats, dogs, and flowers on them. No matter if you prefer plain or kitschy containers, the thrift store is likely to have them in stock.
Honorable mention: Kitchen appliances
I don’t usually look for kitchen appliances at the thrift store, but my dad has found excellent deals for everything from immersion blenders to ice cream makers at Goodwill and Savers. If they’re not boxed, it’s a good idea to see if they work before you buy them. The good news is, secondhand stores usually have an outlet that you can use to test electronics. For Christmas, I bought my dad a new mini Crockpot for $10! (No picture here because, er, I already wrapped it up.)
It’s tempting to hoard all of the beautiful (and inexpensive) vintage kitchenware at the thrift store, so definitely be discerning during your thrifting exploits! Have an idea of kitchen pieces that fit your practical needs and personal aesthetic. I recommend keeping a checklist/wishlist of kitchen items that you’d like to find at the thrift store — it may take some time and digging before you find the perfect pieces. I’m personally on the lookout for more Pyrex measuring cups and casserole dishes, but I’m instating a personal ban on buying cups and dishes. (You’re welcome, Mom.)