How to Outfit a Kitchen On The Cheap
A well outfitted kitchen doesn't have to cost a lot of money

When I moved into the place I am living now, I only had the barest kitchen essentials. Just a few old beat up pots & pans and a few basic utensils. My new place has a nice, big and well designed kitchen, and I wanted to do some serious cooking. So I needed to outfit my new kitchen with lots of stuff. I was a little tapped out in the money department though, after moving expenses and having to buy lots of furniture. So I had to outfit my kitchen on the cheap. Fortunately, I know lots of sources for picking up stuff cheap. In only a few months I had a kitchen outfitted to the point where I could make pretty much anything I wanted to.

How did I do it? Auctions, estate sales, yard sales and thrift stores. Now these places have a reputation for selling junk. To be honest, there is a lot of worthless junk out there. But, in among the junk, there are a lot of treasures too. Iíll even buy a broken appliance as long as it isnít broke beyond repair. Once purchased, I purchase a replacement parts from these guys and, presto, I have a like-new appliance. Sometimes people are just desperate to clean out a house or clear out an auction hall, and don't care what stuff goes for, as long as it just goes away. And these aren't once in a lifetime deals either. I see them so frequently that I now buy and resell a lot of kitchen equipment. It's become a lucrative side income for me.

If you need kitchen equipment, but don't have a lot of money, go to auctions, go to estate sales, go to yard sales, go to thrift stores. There are insane bargains out there for the taking.

Are you creeped out by the thought of using food preparation equipment that belonged to other people without knowing how clean they were? Don't worry, just clean them thoroughly. My dishwasher has a "Sterilize" cycle. I run all my new acquisitions through that. Afterwards I don't care who owned it or what they used it for. No dishwasher, or don't trust yours to get things really clean? Give all your new acquisitions a soak in a bucket of bleach water. After an hour or so they will be sterile. Then just wash them as you ordinarily do your own utensils. They are your own utensils now.

My Kitchenaid Stand Mixer and Accessories I may as well start with the big gun of my kitchen first. This is a Kitchenaid Model K45 stand mixer with just a whole slew of attachments. I have had several of these. They are the greatest kitchen tool on Earth. It mixes, beats, whips, kneeds, slices, dices, grinds, chops and extrudes. I can do anything with this thing from kneeding some bread dough to making my own sausage. Go to your local big box store and price one of these bad boys and the sticker shock will probably knock you over. The total cost for a setup like this, with all the accessories you see here, would be well over $300. Probably more like over $400. I got this unit and all the attachments for $30 at an estate sale. That's less than 1/10 the retail cost.

I have photos of this unit because I actually sold this one on Ebay for $115. Not a bad profit on my $30 investment. I sold it because I already have a K45 mixer with all these same attachments and more. It is the pride & joy and workhorse of my kitchen. It is a slightly older unit than the one seen in the picture, but the color is almost the same. Being older, the attachments are all made of metal, rather than plastic. They will last forever. By the way, I bought my mixer and all its attachments for only $15 at an auction! One of my most insane auction deals ever.

A set of professional-grade cookware Here is a wonderful set of professional-grade cookware I got at an estate sale for $25 Most of it is in like new condition. I don't think some pieces were ever used. I threw out a lot of my old beat up pots & pans I had been dragging around with me since college after I acquired this set.

My toaster oven Here is a toaster oven I picked up at an estate sale for $15. I've seen them even cheaper, but this one was almost brand new, had the original manual with it, and matched the color of my kitchen. So I bought it.

My $5 blender Here is a brand new in the box blender I got at an auction for only $5.

My crockpot This crock pot was part of a box lot I bought at an auction for $5. I bought the lot for the other things in the box. The crock pot was a bonus. It works great.

My waffle iron This is my $2 yard sale waffle iron. It works great and makes big, round waffles like at the Waffle House. Check out my recipe for Waffle House Waffles.

My cast iron skillet I got this 10 inch cast iron skillet for $2 at a thrift store. It had some rust in it. I sanded it down to bare metal and re-seasoned it. It works great and will last forever. I may eventually add a section to this web site on how to properly season, use and care for cast iron cookware.

Also, check out my recipe for quick & easy skillet cornbread.

My knife block and knives Here is a knife block and knives I got at an auction for $5.

My table utensiles When I first moved in here, I had almost nothing. Not even a decent set of table utensils. These utensils and the plastic caddy were part of a box lot from an auction that I bought for $5. There was a lot of other good stuff in the box too.

My table utensiles When I first moved in, I would have had nothing but paper plates to eat off of. Not very elegant. Fortunately, I found this set of china in a large plastic bin at an auction for only $5. It was originally a service for 8. There are a few missing pieces, so it is more like a service for 6. Also in the bin were several large mixing bowls. They have come in very handy too.

Some of my kitchen tools Here is just a small selection of my kitchen tools. I have a lot more than these. Most of these items were acquired at yard sales and estate sales for less than a dollar each. Most cost me only a quarter or 50 cents at the very most.

Some more of my kitchen tools Here are some more of my kitchen tools. Most of these items were also acquired at yard sales and estate sales for only a quarter or 50 cents at the very most. Even the container came from a yard sale for 50 cents. The blue plastic cutting board behind it was in a box lot I bought at an auction.

My knives and cutting board Here is a collection of large knives and a Farberware cutting board I got as part of a box lot at an auction for only $3. My favorite bread slicing knife is one of them.

My bread slicing guide I like to bake my own bread. I'm pretty good at slicing it by hand, but when I saw this bread slicing guide for only $3 in a thrift store, I couldn't resist.

Check out my recipes for white bread and honey wheat bread.

My Kitchen Timer This is a digital kitchen timer I picked up at the dollar store for $1, of course. It is amazingly loud for it's tiny size. I can hear it beeping even several rooms away with the TV on and the washing machine running. The timers built into my microwave and range aren't nearly as loud. A good loud timer is essential or I guarantee you will get distracted and forget about whatever you have in the oven until the smoke alarm eventually reminds you of it.

A set of storage canisters Here is a set of canisters I got at an estate sale for $5. Behind them, on the bar, is one of a set of placemats I got at Bed, Bath & Beyond on sale for $1 each.

Inexpensive plastic containers Here are some cheap plastic containers you can pick up in just about any large grocery store. They are usually in the same isle as the plastic bags and aluminum foil. Glad makes a line of inexpensive storage containers, but most large grocery chains have their own store brand containers that are even cheaper and work just as well. Here are some of the containers I use for storing bulk ingredients. I label them with magic marker on all sides for easy visibility in the cabinets. In this case, BS=Brown Sugar, AP=All Purpose Flour, BF=Bread Flour, and WW=Whole Wheat Flour.

All together, I only have a little over $120 invested in my kitchen equipment. But I have built a very well equipped kitchen. There isn't much I can't do. My skills usually let me down before my equipment does.


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