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How to Set Up a Kitchen on the Cheap Without It Looking Cheap

How to Set Up a Kitchen on the Cheap Without It Looking Cheap

After living and working in Shanghai for 6 years, our oldest daughter and her partner decided it was time to return to Canada to pursue new careers and educational opportunities. They each had only a few boxes of personal items that had been stored at our place and his parent’s place.

Setting up their apartment kitchen could have been prohibitively expensive if they’d purchased everything they needed new. But with the cost of return flights and having to buy furniture as well, they wanted to set up their kitchen on the cheap.

To that end, she and I have been scouring thrift stores, Facebook Buy, Sell, Swap groups and Kijiji (online classifieds) to set up their kitchen without breaking the budget.

This is what we’ve managed to buy cheaply in only a few days time.

Dinner plates, salad plates and bowls:

How to Set Up a Kitchen on the Cheap - dinner plates, salad plates and bowls

Coffee mugs:

How to Set Up a Kitchen on the Cheap - coffee cups

We weren’t able to find a complete matching set but the dinner plates and coffee mugs are close enough in design to the salad plates and bowls that it makes it look like she deliberately chose to mix and match them.

Soup bowls… great for cold summer gazpacho in addition to soups and stews for those cold days we have all too many of living in Canada.

How to Set Up a Kitchen on the Cheap - large soup mugs

A set of 6 drinking glasses:

How to Set Up a Kitchen on the Cheap - drinking glasses

2 coffee mugs… the teacher one is for her partner, the flower one is for her:

How to Set Up a Kitchen on the Cheap - two coffee mugs

A canister for coffee complete with wooden scoop, half pint mason jar (for spices) and reusable lunch containers:

How to Set Up a Kitchen on the Cheap - coffee canister jar and freezer containers


Teapot, sugar bowl and creamer:

How to Set Up a Kitchen on the Cheap - teapot sugar bowl and creamer

And if you’re going to make tea, you need a kettle:

How to Set Up a Kitchen on the Cheap - stainless steel tea kettle

Aren’t these ceramic mixing bowls fun!

She said the honey pot was just too cute to resist.

How to Set Up a Kitchen on the Cheap - mixing bowls and honey pot

This casserole dish is large enough to make one meal to eat and one to freeze for nights when they don’t feel like cooking.

The two ramekins for making individual quiches and casseroles for lunches to take to work or simply heating up leftovers.

How to Set Up a Kitchen on the Cheap - casserole dish and 2 ramekins

A microwave and toaster, both in perfect working order:

How to Set Up a Kitchen on the Cheap - toaster and microwave

And finally a set of knives:

How to Set Up a Kitchen on the Cheap - knife block set

All these items, with the exception of the microwave, toaster and knife block of course, will be put through the dishwasher on the sanitize cycle and they’ll be ready to use.

So far, she’s spent just under $100. I’ll update this post as we find items on her list of things they need.



Set Up a Kitchen Without Breaking the Bank




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  • Leanna
    August 12, 2017 10:52 pm

    Great frugal choices. When your first setting up there are so many things you need. Being able to find good quality items second hand that can be cleaned is a great way to stretch the budget. It must be nice to have them home again. Congrats.

  • wilma
    August 2, 2017 3:27 am

    Loved this post so much. I love thrift shopping for the thrill of finding things that are rare and on top cute too. My favorite is the honey pot, mixing bowls and their personal mugs and coffee canister with that spoon hanging on the side. when you go thrift shopping and post it here I enjoy it the most. Where I live we don’t have it at all so I definitely envy anybody who can do it. I believe in recycle and passing on anything reusable that someone else can enjoy. Yes I do find the dinner set matching in a cute way like it was intended that way for the set. Had you not mentioned i would think you bought that way. I have seen sets like that in stores before.

  • Deborah
    July 31, 2017 10:48 pm

    Great buys all round and the smartest way to set up a kitchen when you are just starting out and want to save money. I love thrift and charity store shopping I always find something interesting, vintage or just the piece quirky enough to bring a smile to my face. when I am done with things I no longer have use for I donate them to local charity shops. I love the dishes and they go well together.

  • mary
    July 31, 2017 7:37 pm

    It ALMOST makes me want to start all over again.

  • Mary Anne
    July 31, 2017 5:10 pm

    My kind of shopping!! I don’t know which I like more – saving money or the thrill of the hunt.

  • Rachel
    July 31, 2017 1:29 pm

    They other thing, of course, is to get absolute basics and only get other things when you know you want them. Starting with hunting in charity shops/thrift stores, as you say!

  • CathieJ
    July 31, 2017 7:25 am

    There is a problem with your comment section. You can’t see what you are typing as you type it. It goes blue with now letters.I hope this is alright.

    • Super Mom No Cape
      July 31, 2017 1:01 pm

      Hello Cathie… thanks for letting me know! It’s been fixed. 🙂

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