In a landscape of dwindling storefronts, it’s becoming increasingly hard to find specialty items, and sometimes even average products, in person. It’s rare that I even come across a rolling pin for sale. When I need a new kitchen gadget or piece of dishware, the first place I turn to is the internet. And I hate it. I end up doom scrolling reviews for “research,” and still wind up receiving something disappointing three days later. Although I’ll never be completely free of this song and dance, I’d like to avoid it. My latest tactic is to do all of my cookware and dishware shopping at the supermarket.
Find affordable and unexpected gems
Table of Contents
The kitchenware section in big box stores, like Shoprite, Publix, or Fred Meyer, have surprisingly affordable tools and dishware. While Amazon is selling glass pitchers for $20 or $30, the grocery store has them for eight American dollars. It’s like treating yourself to a faux clearance priced item, because you’re so used to being overcharged. Aside from manual gadgets like garlic presses, lemon juicers, and grill tongs, you can usually find affordable electronic appliances, like rice cookers, Instant Pots, ice cream machines, and blenders. If you have the stores “club card,” you can sometimes get these items at an even deeper discount. Grab a set of nesting Pyrex casserole dishes, nonstick springform pans, Mason jars, colorful ceramic pie plates, and even kitschy-cute items like little green Coke glasses. I’ve started to make 6-inch pies for the winter holidays so I could have more variety with less leftover pie. Guess where I found my perfectly petite pie plates.
Shipping myself kitchen items makes me impatient. This soon develops into full-blown crotchety if something goes wrong. If I need a kitchen tool, I probably need it now. That’s the biggest benefit of finding it in the grocery store. The chances are good that I’m heading there for ingredients anyway. It’s generally a convenient time saver, but in the most dire straits, grocery store finds are everything. I’m talking about the 11th hour, Thanksgiving day, 20-guests-are-depending-on-me kind of desperation. No one’s delivering anything to you. The supermarket probably has what you’re looking for, or something passable that you can replace it with.
Know what you’re getting
This is a general advantage to in-person shopping. Using an inferior product can really mess with your food, and it’s important to check out your cooking tools and appliances before you commit. You may need a 10-inch pie plate for a recipe, but unsure if you need a “classic” or “deep dish,” and seeing and holding the item in your hands can help you make that call. Until I poked around at the store, I didn’t realize that disposable aluminum pans came in different thicknesses. Choosing lightweight instead of heavyweight material can lead to overcooked cornbread or spilt roast chicken juice. Ordering online without knowing what to check for can doom you to cooking with flimsy metals or substandard materials. Before you blindly order those ice cube trays or an exorbitantly priced deep-fryer skimmer online, stop by the local supermarket. They might just have exactly the thing you’re looking for.