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Low-Cost or No-Cost Kitchenware
Ever wish there were an easier way to buy dishes or cookware than getting a whole set? If you don't care that they match, there is. Even if you want to have matching dishes, you can still buy them cheaper than at the stores. Here's a few ideas how:
Watch for giveaways
Many grocery stores have promotional giveaways at Christmas, Easter, and other holidays. If the item required for the giveaway is something you'll use, it's worth it to get the plate, bowl or glass.
Other places give away kitchen items, too. A&W restaurants have a deal where you get the mug if you buy a certain size float. McDonald's periodically has plastic children's plates and glass Coke glasses. Chuck E. Cheese has plastic drink cups, plates, and place mats available as ticket prizes.
Children's cereal boxes are also a reliable source of plastic silverware, plates, and bowls. Be sure to save all the required UPC symbols for the purchase.
Go to garage sales
Garage sales are the best source of matched sets of dishes, stovetop and oven cookware, and serving platters. Look in the local classified ads or drive around to see what's out there. Inspect everything for stains, chips, rust, and crazed glass. Negotiate prices if there is something lacking in a set or if there are minor stains. Always ask to plug in kitchen appliances if you are buying them from sales, even if the people say they work.
Shop at thrift stores and discount stores
Thrift stores and antique stores are excellent places to get full matched sets of dishes, as well as silverware and other kitchen utensils. Goodwill and Value Village often also have cooking ware. Be sure to check everything for stains, chips, cracks, rust, or crazed paint (spiderwebbing in the glaze). Only buy items when they are in "like new" condition.
Dollar stores also have silverware (often matched sets), kitchen utensils such as measuring cups and mixing bowls, and place mats. They sell matched and unmatched cups, mugs, plates, and bowls also.
Pay attention to packaging
At the grocery store, pay attention to what you buy. Welch's jelly periodically has collectible jars, which make great small glasses. Hormel dried beef comes in a glass jar with stars around the top, which makes a great glass and has a reusable lid. Pom juice has varieties which come in tall glasses with reusable lids.
Around each major holiday, check the stores for gift packages. There are often cheese boards, teapots, mug sets, sugar/creamer sets, fondue sets, cornbread and muffin pans, and cookie cutters. If you use the associated products, this is a wonderful way to save money while getting kitchenware. If you are a collector of certain brands or designs (Campbell's, John Deere, fruit patterns, hearts, Norman Rockwell), you can buy gift packs every year for a nice assortment.
Use eBay, Craiglist, and Freecycle to your advantage. Set a budget for the item you're looking for, then search the auctions or classifieds for it. Put a request on Freecyle for it, in case anyone is giving it away. This is especially helpful for discontinued patterns, hard-to-find items, and ovenware.
Go directly to the manufacturer's website to save on store markups on some products. There are also sometimes coupons or other special offers listed that you may not know about.
Check the Betty Crocker website and compare it to other prices. The points catalog has been discontinued, but there are still deeply discounted items on sale there.