As many of you know, learning to cook real food not only takes a whole new set of skills, it usually requires a whole new set of tools, too.
Unfortunately, when you are first trying to squeeze that raw milk and grassfed meat into your already tight budget, the last thing you’ll be thinking of spending those hard-earned pennies on is new kitchen gear!
But it’s summer time and believe it or not, yard sales can be a treasure trove for the real foodie. I’ve found I’ve become slightly addicted to the “high” of a good yard sale find. Getting a much needed item for a buck or two is thrilling to me!
Here is a list of items to keep an eye out for this summer:
1. Glass Jars. What is it about food in glass jars? Something about them makes me so incredibly happy. And judging by a recent thread on my facebook page, a lot of you love your glass, too! Yard sales are an ideal place to find canning jars and other random glass. I use them for everything in my kitchen: raw milk, granola, canning, whey… They are so elegant and never go out of style. I can never seem to have enough of them!
2. Cast Iron. I’ve snagged several lovely cast iron pieces second-hand. It seems that sometimes people are a little intimidated by cooking with the heavy pans, so they will end up in the yard sale pile. Keep in mind that you may need to give the pieces a good cleaning and re-seasoning. But cast iron is quality cooking gear that is worth learning how to use!
3. Serving Bowls and Platters. I’m a big believer that you eat with your eyes first. I really enjoy presenting my food in an attractive way, especially when serving guests. I love flashy serving trays, platters, and bowls. They can add that thoughtful touch to a special meal. I have been able to snag several gorgeous platters for $1.00 each and even the above bowl for only $3.00!
4. Appliances. This is one area where I’m a little more cautious (electric appliances can be broken inside or hard to clean), but keep your eye’s peeled for appliances that can make your real food endeavors easier. A few items that you should consider adding to your yard sale hunt list:
- Food processors
- Bread machines
- Ice Cream Maker (I found our ice cream maker for $5.00 last summer! We’ve used it countless times since!)
- Dehydrator (not as common, but you never know!)
- Grain mills/coffee grinders (I use a small yard sale coffee grinder to grind dry herbs and flax seeds)
- Canning Equipment (people often purchase the big canning pots and gear, only to never use it!)
5. Crocks. Though I’ve yet to venture into the world of lacto-fermentation, I’ve heard many people online talk about finding the perfect crocks for fermenting sauerkraut or other foods at thrift stores or yard sales. Sometime you have to think outside of the box a little bit, but those treasures are out there!
6. Canisters. I often see glass or ceramic canister sets second-hand. These can be used for a bazillion different things, just like clear glass jars. I prefer classic white canisters, but the sky is the limit when it comes to colors and styles, and you are sure to find something that would fit in your kitchen. I found the large canister below for $2.00 and it now is the home for my sourdough starter. It looks decorative and classy sitting on my kitchen counter- and it serves an important purpose at the same time.
A few items to avoid while yard saleing:
1. Plastic– I am always a little grossed out at the thought of buying someone else’s used plasticware. Not only can it be hard to deep clean or disinfect, you have no idea if it was heated to high temps (which can cause the chemicals to leach out) or if it has some strange smell lingering in it. Besides, I am slowly eliminating the plastic from my kitchen anyway. I prefer using quality items that will last.
2. Chips and cracks- Closely inspect your finds. While a small chip might not be a big deal on the edge of a platter, you don’t want to bring home cracked canning jars.
3. Non-stick cookware. I am always amazed at the amount of non-stick pots and pans I see at thrift stores and garage sales. Stay away from non-stick stuff, whether it’s new or used. There is much concern about the safety of the fumes that are emitted while cooking on non-stick, plus those pans are usually cheap and easily scratch. They don’t last. Spend your money on things that you can pass down to your children someday instead, like cast iron.
(I love this elegant platter. It was $1.00!)
I’m looking forward to hitting a few sales this weekend and seeing what I can find. What’s the best real food item you’ve ever nabbed at a yard sale?
This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday