How to Shop for and Buy Quality Cookware on a Budget

October 9, 2020

I’ve been pretty lucky in that my family has gifted me a lot of cookware over the years. When my grandmother was still alive there wasn’t a Christmas or birthday that she didn’t give me something to fill my kitchen with. At the time I was barely an adult and would often look at what she’d given me thinking, “Wtf am I going to do with a roasting pan? You’re the one who makes the turkey, Grammy.” Of course, she knew she wouldn’t always make the turkey, and here I am a decade and a half later, still roasting in that same pan. 

However, not all of my favorite pieces have come as gifts or hand me downs. Many pieces I’ve bought over the years on my own and on a small budget. Today I’m going to share with you some tips on how to find the best deals on quality pieces. 

Thrift stores 

There are a lot of things I wouldn’t buy second hand. Underwear, hairbrushes, and back massagers come to mind specifically (I shudder to think about the person who buys any of those things second hand, if that’s you, please email me your cash app). Cookware is not on that list. 

Thrift stores are a treasure trove of quality cookware. Especially cast iron skillets and griddles. Not sure why these are always well-stocked but they are. 

And not only is the thrift store a great place to shop for secondhand kitchenware, but it’s also so affordable. You obviously don’t get the guarantee that what you need will be available, but it’s always worth taking a look there first. 

Find a local cookware store and check for closeouts and sidewalk sales

The local cookware shop in my city, Sparrowhawk Cookware, always has amazing sidewalk sales and deals. Sometimes there is some overstock they need to get rid of; sometimes they were just able to secure a great price on otherwise high ticket items (like earlier this summer when they were able to get special deals on Le Creuset pieces). 

Follow those local shops on social media and pay attention to when they might have sales. You may find a deal of a lifetime on an heirloom-quality piece of cookware. 

Seach restaurant wholesale stores

This is kind of my special secret but there are a few online restaurant suppliers that have great prices on cookware. On some of the less expensive items you can expect pieces that are a bit more utilitarian than stylish, but they do the job and it’s affordable enough that you don’t necessarily care if they get messed up, dinged, or broken. This is a great place to look if you’ve recently moved on your own and need to replace or build your cookware collection from scratch. I’ve used Webstaurant before but there are others out there. Just be sure to look out for the materials and keep in mind that aluminum is lightweight and also a little on the flimsy side. But it works. 

Check discount stores

My favorite discount stores are Kohls and Overstock. Overstock is a great first place to check especially if you’re looking for kitchen appliances. I purchased a Kitchenaid Professional Series standing mixer a few years ago for less than the price of the not professional one. It was still a splurge but it was like half the regular price. I use it all the time and it was worth every penny. 

Discount stores are all over a great place to shop for deals. Kohl’s has an awesome selection of smaller kitchen tools like whisks, spatulas, and knives. In my opinion, they tend to be of high quality and lower in price, just the way I like it. 

Homegoods, Christmas Tree Shop, and TJ Maxx are also great options to browse, but I also think you’re more likely to find lower quality items at all three of those stores, versus Kohl’s or Overstock. 

How to tell if it’s good quality

Some items, you’ll be able to tell just by looking at or holding it. But to be sure you’re instincts are up to snuff, I recommend going to a high-end store and just checking stuff out. Pick items up and inspect them. Make notes about the materials of the whisks; the weight; the size. Check how the handles are attached to the pots. 

With some of the lower quality items, you’ll notice that the pieces are smaller and more flimsy. Or that handles are looser or feel less sturdy. 

It’s best to just go looking for the expensive stuff in a store where you can get your hands on it so you can compare. You don’t really need to spend the kind of money they’re asking for if you can shop for kindly used second-hand or clearance items. 

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Some of the links posted above are an affiliate link and may result in my being compensated in some way (either through cash money or through a free product). All opinions are still my own. 

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