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Thrifty Nifty–Stocking your kitchen, cheaply

In the last two months I’ve noticed a strong desire to go on a restaurant revolt.  This is not to say that Chicago doesn’t have fabulous restaurants (we do and all seem to be on the

Whew! I'm pooped. Tearing up stuff is just draining.

North side. Grrr) but on a part-time salary, mixed with a love to shop for kitchen gadgets and dine out, it has turned into an all out war on my pocket book. And to be honest, it’s winter.  Too cold to be traipsing around on the C(rappy) T(ransit) A(nyway) to find cheap eats and return home to angry dog who’s destroyed half of the house because he’s been cooped up all day.

In my attempt to cook for one as means to stretch the budget, I’ve learned over time it can be easy but it does take some good tools (an excuse to shop!) and discipline. Once that adjustment period (part II here) of cooking has past,

I “gar-on-tee” you’ll have it down to a science. Best place to start is in taking stock on what supplies you have. After several transatlantic moves, and throwing a few good pieces of cookware, I’ve finally discovered the benefit of a good second-hand store. (That’s if you can’t swipe from relatives’ house). Also, don’t discount appliances from ethnic stores—if anything that’s where you can really get creative!!

Heaven is on Earth. It's here!!!

Unique Thrift Stores—My Lawwwd!!! This is a shopper’s paradise. Yes, one’s woman’s trash is my treasure and 90 percent my kitchen has been supplied by this “trash”.  The last time I was there, I found a three-piece cast iron set for $21. Prior to that I found a “barely used” Krups ice cream maker for $5.95. I’m on my second batch of frozen yogurt.

Tuesday to Friday they put ‘newer’ stuff out. Monday’s is 50 percent off ALL DAY and Thursdays is 25 to 50 percent off until 1 p.m. Now, I’m warning you that grannies, and women who have a black-belt in shopping for bargains tend to flock to these sales in full force, so arriving the earlier the better.

Did the Rat Pack even know how to boil water?!?!?!

Home-cooked Mexican? May scare Rick Bayless, so try it at home.

Further down on Halsted St. in Bridgeport is a little ma and pa thrift store. Jonie’s What Not is—err eclectic—to put it mildly. There’s not much here by way of kitchen gadgets but if you’re looking for stuff for your house, it’s pretty good for that.  Newer stuff comes in on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, so the store isn’t open until after 2 p.m.

Jonie’s What Not

3263 S. Halsted


Open: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 9 –until

The key to keeping your sanity when living abroad is measured by your ability to eat “home” foods when you’re fed up with the local stuff.  It was in the last few months of living in Asia that I finally put two and two together and realized that Asian range tops were calibrated to cook at a higher temperature.  Mix that with a good wok and I was able to finally make some decent fried foods.

But my discovery didn’t stop there. I’ve found clay pots have been great for roasting poultry (compared to a roasting pan which can start at $22).

CL Housewares & Gifts has a few things I would defiantly say are necessary for a kitchen. Their clay pots range from $5.99 (Cornish hen size) to $19.99 (Chicken), pickle pots (perfect for storing dry ingredients) from $17.99 and stone bowls starting at $5.99(from Korea) are perfect for boiling for extended periods of time and making stews.

pickle pots and cheap dishware!!

Clay pots

CL Housewares & Gifts

3419 S. Halsted



So,  those are the facts, jack. If you have any favorite stores, post them. Or follow me on Twitter for news updates, or tidbits. I’m also on Facebook.com


About Author

A visual journalist living in Chicago.


2 thoughts on “Thrifty Nifty–Stocking your kitchen, cheaply

  1. Great post! Saving is a key attribute for any person..especially restaurant owners and the like! I’ll forward this info to my customer base! Thanks for the great post!

    Posted by kitchen supplies | June 17, 2010, 2:16 am
    • Thanks for the compliment. As you can see I’ve fallen off the blog bandwagon but your comment and visit has encouraged me. Thanks again for the visit!!

      Posted by Namahottie | June 18, 2010, 3:23 am

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January 2010
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