Quality cookware can be really expensive…but it doesn’t have to be!

I love to cook.  My cookware is really important to me, and I’ll be honest–I’ve got some quality stuff.  Some, I got for my wedding, and some I got when I wasn’t a broke teacher.

Not all, though.  Some of my best and most prized cooking gear I got for much less than I should have paid–or free!

Consignment Stores


I need Corningware.  It’s a classic American staple.  It goes from stovetop to oven to fridge.  It comes in tiny to family sized, and whether you’re bringing it to a pot-luck or simply putting it on the table for Sunday dinner it’s attractive enough to hold its own.

It’s not cheap these days, and it’s one of those things that falls into the “they don’t make it like they used to” category.   Today’s Corningware cannot go on the stovetop and it’s not cheap.

What do you do?  Go to consignment stores.  There’s plenty there, really, really cheap.  Pick op a few sizes and shapes you like.  Turn them over and look for the Corning mark.  If it has this mark, it’s the old-school Corningware that’s good to go on the stove as well.

Cast Iron

Here’s something you should pick up at the consignment store as well–cast iron’s everywhere in consignment and antique stores.  I can’t live without my cast iron.  Cast iron cookware is some of the most useful cookware in my kitchen.

In the South, this stuff’s passed on in wills–it’s serious.  I got mine from my grandmother because we’re in the North and nobody fought me for it.  If you don’t have any, go foraging and pick up at least two good frying pans, but if you see a dutch oven, snap that up and run!   If you don’t get lucky on your hunt, you can get a new pan at the camping store for fifteen or twenty dollars.  I’d take an old one any day over a new one, though.  The reason is this–seasoning is everything with cast iron, and one that’s been around a long time is usually properly seasoned.

When you get your cast iron, don’t wash it traditionally–you’ll want to avoid soap, scour it if it’s rusty, and use a little vegetable oil to seal the pan.  Heat it on medium on the stove or put it in the oven when you’re baking something else.

Don’t be picky about colors and details… choose used!


I have this amazing Kitchenaid Professional mixer I couldn’t live without.

“But wait! You’re a broke teacher!” you say.   There is a way even a broke teacher can get chef-like appliances.   I got the $600 Kitchenaid for just over $200.  There was a sale on one color–merengue.

“Merengue?” I shrugged.  For $400 off my dream mixer, I didn’t care if it was polka-dotted.  Merengue turned out to be a lovely muted shade of white.  I don’t know why I was picturing a lemon pie color.

I got my amazing dehydrator by checking “reconditioned,” on Amazon.  Lots of used or returned items get cycled through the Amazon warehouse at amazing discounts.  Do I care if someone didn’t love dehydrating, taped it up, and sent it back?  Nope.  Not if I’m getting half-off a top of the line piece of equipment.

Shop the world!


I bought my Henckel knives in from a Swiss company when the exchange rate for the dollar to Euro was in my favor.  That’s not going to work really well today, but certainly at times it does.  Still, the ability to shop the world is a huge price-savings.  This was before Google translate owned the Internet, so I actually had to read the Swiss and pay the right amount, which wasn’t easy.  Today, a couple buttons takes care of that, the money converts itself, and I can shop anywhere I want in the world.


Whether you consignment shop, sale shop, or shop the Amazon returns, you’re bound to get a deal on top-shelf kitchen equipment if you just put in the research.   You don’t need a lot–our pioneer ancestors used very little.  With a few pots and pans, you can create miracles.  With a crock pot, a food processor, and a good mixer, you can do it effortlessly while you drink coffee.

If you’re a broke teacher, you’ll be doing a lot of cooking.  Invest in a couple good pieces of cookware that will help you bring joy to your meals.  You’ll save in the long run, because you’ll never want to go to a restaurant again!