Sunday, May 29, 2016

Where is the cheapest place to buy dishes?

I seem to know a lot of people who are using disposable dishes for every meal, because they say they can't afford dishes. When I first started working, I had one set of dishes that I washed for every meal like I was at summer camp or something. I had to wait until I was making decent money before I bought my first big boxed set of low-end dishes from a housewares store, because I wasn't aware of places like Dollar Tree and we didn't have an IKEA here yet.

This inspired me to do a rundown of all the places you can get dishes for the price of a week or so worth of disposable stuff; I think this is a worthy investment not just to save money in the long run, but because having dishes is one of those things that helps us keep up the appearance of someone who has a furnished home where we can make ends meet. But you don't actually have to have a spare hundred-plus bucks lying around to get yourself some dishes.

So, to start with the absolute cheapest: that would be free, right? Try the free section on craigslist, or freecycle, for people who are giving away dishes. Don't worry about them being used; you can run them through a dishwasher if you have one, or boil them in a pot to sanitize.

If no one's giving away free dishes, move on to the cheapest. The absolute cheapest are usually at thrift stores. Goodwill on Harrison Ave and Boomerangs in Jamaica Plain both have dishes for 25 cents to a dollar per piece. Some at Boomerangs will be pricier if they appear to be more of an antique/vintage item rather than a "secondhand" item.

Didn't find anything acceptable there, or don't have the time/desire to piece together your own set? Next cheapest are IKEA and Dollar Tree. IKEA has this set which is a dollar per dish, and this line that's sold separately for 89 cents per dish. If you go with the separate ones, you can buy one size of plate and one size of bowl for now, then expand later to have small and large plates and bowls. They also have 20-piece flatware sets starting at $7.99, which is service for four people. And remember that it has two sizes of forks and two sizes of spoons, so you could actually have up to 8 people using the set before washing it, assuming not everyone will need a butter knife for most meals, but will need a fork. IKEA also has some ridiculously cheap glasses, including sets that are 50 cents per glass. Most of their glasses are 99 cents, including some really cute designer-looking ones. During the spring and summer they also sell plastic glasses that look like glass, which some people might prefer. Similarly, Dollar Tree's dishes are all a dollar per dish. Their flatware is two pieces for a dollar, which means service for four (spoon, knife, fork) would be $6. Glasses at Dollar Tree are all a dollar a piece.

So, yeah, assuming you go to IKEA or Dollar Tree, you should be able to get place settings for about $5 per person. This should pay for itself in about 12-20 meals in which you are no longer using disposable dishes. So, come on, quit looking like you aren't an adult who provides for your family, and go buy some dishes!

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