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Dishes and Tableware on a Budget for Your First Set of Dinnerware

Updated on November 7, 2017
Nancy Owens profile image

Nancy has been a licensed business owner and freelancer since 2010.

Creating Your Own Style With Dishes

Mix and Match complementary styles, patterns, and colors.
Mix and Match complementary styles, patterns, and colors. | Source

Tips to Remember

  • Mix and match used dishes in colors that work well together and within your color scheme.
  • Mix and match complimentary styles of dishes.
  • Check for the items you need at second hand outlets before buying new.

Dishes and Tableware

This category includes things like plates, bowls, silverware, and other items you would use for eating your food. Also included in this section are things like place mats and table decorations. As you have money and time, you can add to your collection and table décor.

Create a Second-Hand Set of Dishes.You need not spend a lot of money on your first set of dishes. You can create a lovely set by mixing and matching pieces that you buy from second hand stores, flea markets, and yard sales. To make it attractive, look for dishes that fall within complementary color tones and styles.

To begin pulling a starter set of dishes together, you will need to ask yourself how many dishes you want or think you will need. It is a good idea to think about how often you expect family members to drop by, and how often you have company. You may need more dishes than you think. If you plan on hosting dinner parties, girls' night, guys' night, or even holiday dinners, it is suggested that you invest in a set of eight to twelve of each kind of dish.

However, if you do not expect to be doing more than basic cooking and entertaining, a set of four of each thing should be enough.

A Western Themed Table Setting

This western dining table is an example of how place settings are laid using more than one serving plate.
This western dining table is an example of how place settings are laid using more than one serving plate. | Source

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Colorful Potholders

Pot holders do double duty.
Pot holders do double duty. | Source

Starter Set of Dinnerware What You Need

Dinner plates. These are the largest plates you would eat from, not to be confused with a

Serving platter.This way, when friends come over you should have enough. If you have a goal of entertaining larger groups, and feel the investment is worth it, 12 dinner plates should be enough for most dinner parties. If you think you will only occasionally have large gatherings, you may want to consider renting the tableware for the event.

Salad plates. These plates are the medium sized plates. Traditionally, dinners have been served in courses. First soup was served, then a salad, followed by the main course, and desert. Meals were commonly referred to as "four-course" "Five-course" and "Seven-course". A four-course meal consisted of soup, salad, main dish, and desert. A five course meal included only one appetizer. A seven course meal would usually be an elaborate display and tasting experience with either multiple appetizers or the main course broken down into single servings.

Saucers. Saucers are the smallest plate in a typical set of dishes. Typically and traditionally they are placed beneath cups, as well as being used for serving desert.

Soup or Cereal Bowls. Cereal and soup bowls get a lot of use whether you have a lot of company or not. They can also double as serving bowls for dip and other needs. When purchasing your first set of dishes, you may want to avoid the trendy, over-sized bowls in favor of the traditional size. The larger bowls are not as versatile, unless used as a serving bowl for family meals. They really are a little too large for every day eating as they typically hold nearly a quart, which is 32 ounces of liquid.

Cups or Mugs. Here, you may want to have both the traditional sized mugs, as well as a few over-sized mugs. If you are going to entertain a lot, it pays to remember that filling the super large mugs can get expensive very quickly. By serving your guests in the traditional size of mugs, your entertaining dollars will go farther and you can have more fun. Many people will refill their mug, and take only a couple more sips before leaving. The rest of the hot chocolate goes down the drain along with your hard-earned money.

Beverage Glasses. A standard-sized beverage glass typically holds between 12 and 16 ounces. Use these glasses to serve cold, or room temperature beverages such as water, soda, iced tea and more. Again, you may want to keep a couple larger glasses, but when it comes to entertaining, the standard size is typically what you will want to use.

Flatware. Flatware is often called silverware. A basic set should include and equal amount of dinner forks, salad forks, spoons, soup spoons, desert spoons and Possibly even the tiny cocktail forks which are commonly used to eat shrimp cocktail. In addition, you will need the same number of table knives. Steak knives are a nice addition here, but those can come later.

Dining Table Decor

As time goes on, add your own unique table decorations.
As time goes on, add your own unique table decorations. | Source

Place mats add polish.

Buy enough of the same place mats to have one for each dinner plate.
Buy enough of the same place mats to have one for each dinner plate. | Source

Cooking and Serving Items Needed

Serving Picher. This item gets used a lot in most households. Even if you live alone and do not entertain, having one that holds a half-gallon of liquid is a good investment. Especially in the summer time.

Serving Platter. An attractive serving platter comes in handy even when hosting casual gatherings. Just put a bowl of dip in the middle and surround it with crackers and you have an attractive snack.

Serving Bowls. Serving bowls have traditionally been used in family-style meals where the food is placed on the table and people serve themselves. Two or three serving bowls is a good idea. Again, you may need double the amount if you intend to entertain and cook for more than very small groups.

Covered Casserole Dish. The single person's best friend. With one of these, you can bake up a casserole and store it in the same container until you are ready to divide it up to put in the freezer. Just let it cool off a little before putting it in the frig so that the hot pan doesn't melt anything.

Cookie Sheets. Invest in at least one. Even if you do not think you will be doing much baking.

Baking Pan Rectangle. A baking pan that is rectangular in shape comes in handy for potlucks at work and company picnics.

Cake Pans Round. You never know when you might want to make a cake. Buy two of these so that you can make a two-layer cake with frosting in the middle. A standard cake mix from the store will fill two of these pans about halfway full. As the cake rises in the oven, the pan will seem more full.

Muffin Pan. One of these should be enough unless you plan on cooking for others frequently. With two of these muffin pans you can produce quite a few muffins in one day of baking.

Serving Utensils. Large serving forks (one is enough to begin), vegetable serving spoons that allow the fluid to drain off (two to three of these spoons is a good starting number), and two or three serving spoons that do not have drain holes for serving things like potato salad, casseroles, or thick stews. A pancake turner. One is enough. There are many more serving utensils but this should be enough to start with.

Pot Holders.and Placemats. Get several potholders in complementary colors. You can often find these items at farmers' markets, yard sales, and second hand stores. Use them to protect your dining table and kitchen counters from hot dishes as well as for protecting your hands. When choosing placemats, buy enough of them all in the same style. If you needed eight, but bought only four thinking you could come back after payday, it is likely they will be gone.

Cooking Pots and Pans. To begin basic cooking activities, you will need one large skillet, sometimes called a frying pan. Use it to cook stir-fry, eggs, and pancakes. In addition, you will most likely need at least one cooking pot that holds two quarts, and a small saucepan that holds about half that much to use for soups, sauces, and even reheating vegetables. Each item mentioned here should have a lid to match it. If it doesn't have a lid, skip buying it and look somewhere else for a pan or pot with a matching lid.

You Now Have Your Basic Set of Dinnerware and Cookware

While this list does not cover everything you will need to fully furnish your first kitchen, you are off to a good start, and will be able to handle most basic cooking and serving tasks. Below you will find handy hints for cooking pasta.

Dry Pasta
Dry Pasta | Source

Pasta Cook Time

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 5 min
Ready in: 10 min
Yields: Approximately double the volume of dry pasta.

What you will need:

  • Pasta
  • Cooking Oil
  • Salt, Sea or Iodized
  • Water
  • Cooking pot large enough for pasta to double in size.

Instructions for Cooking Pasta

  1. If this is your first time cooking pasta, use a pot that will hold double the amount of pasta your recipe calls for.
  2. Fill the cooking pot half full. Bring water to a boil.
  3. Add a 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt per each cup of dry pasta.
  4. Add 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of olive or canola oil for each cup of dry pasta.
  5. Slowly pour the pasta into the boiling water containing the oil and salt. Stir pasta while pouring, or shortly after adding.
  6. Allow the water to continue boiling, stirring often. Reduce the heat if the bubbles come up too high.
  7. Continue cooking the pasta until the pasta is soft, yet very slightly chewy.
  8. Drain and add pasta to your recipe, or cool pasta for a pasta salad.
  9. Helpful Hint: After adding the pasta, make sure the water level in the cooking pot covers the pasta with about 2 inches of water. This is important because the macaroni will expand. If you need to add more water after adding the pasta, do it right after adding the past and bring water to a full boil again while stirring.

Approximate Nutrition of Pasta Via Calorie Counter Dot Com

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 2 Ounces Dry Pasta
Calories 211
Calories from Fat9
% Daily Value *
Fat 1 g2%
Saturated fat 0 g
Carbohydrates 42 g14%
Sugar 1 g
Fiber 1 g4%
Protein 7 g14%
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 4 mg
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

© 2013 Nancy Owens


Submit a Comment
  • Nancy Owens profile imageAUTHOR

    Nancy Owens 

    7 years ago from USA

    Thank you, Michael. When I was just starting out, I had been such a tom boy farm girl that I actually burned up a pan trying to boil water lol! I was thinking about college kids starting out, and people in their first apartment while writing this.

    I am so glad you found it to be helpful!

  • cleaner3 profile image


    7 years ago from Pueblo, Colorado

    Nancy ... awesome article .. I don't know a cup from a saucer but you have put together something all women can relate to the arrangements you show and the pasta recipe will come in handy ..(I love pasta).. well thought out my dear..! Michael


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