Stocking the Kitchen
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sat, 1 Nov 2014 09:24:34 -0700 (PDT)
An off-list question on what to buy for the kitchen prompts this reply:

On small appliances: we still have donations so we haven't purchased many of 
these. Some people also contribute things that they can use in the CH instead 
of at home. Things they rarely use but want to have available. 

I would focus on the largest sizes of rice cookers, food processors, etc. Or 
have two sizes. We often have the need for a small food processor for onions or 
part of the ingredients for a larger dish. A sauce or something. The blenders 
we have are donated and regular size, but a Vitamix would be nice and would 
last a long time. But we have had plenty of blenders floating in. I just 
donated mine in favor of a tiny one for home.

At 14 years we are at the trickle end of donations and have just started buying 
more things. As a new community, I suspect you will have lots of donations, 
particularly if you put out the call for things as people anticipate 
downsizing. People who haven't moved in many years will have lots of extra 

Beyond that I look at Consumer Reports, though they have a bias against high 
end products. They are people who never valued the advantages of Apple products 
since Windows products were cheaper and did basic things they believed people 
wanted to do. One time they reviewed the Mac as obviously superior in terms of 
functions and software but it was too expensive so they wouldn't include it in 
their ratings.

Look for "Professional Quality" or "Professional Grade" to find the best 
products for large group cooking. Find a store that chiefly sells to designers, 
contractors, building managers, and architects because they will have a full 
line of products and will be more honest and knowledgable because their 
business is volume and return customers. 

Another is to find a restaurant supply. They often have used products from 
restaurants that have failed and sold almost new equipment. A wide variety of 
kitchen implements like stainless cooking spoons and trays. Large trays, heavy 
weight, are important and have lot of uses. In the kitchen and out. They will 
often sell new products in bulk -- a doze glasses or 6 trays.

There may not be a kitchen supply near you but they are worth looking for. In 
NYC, for example, there are great places. When my children were small -- 40 
years ago -- I bought a dozen restaurant quality glasses and they still have 
them in their own kitchens.

One piece of advice is to start out not expecting the tableware to match. We 
bought a few dozen place settings when we moved in but the quality was low. You 
can get much better quality at thrift shops. The person who was in charge of 
the kitchen at first insisted that it match and put "extras" on the 
take-it-or-leave-it table. Gradually we have given up. Now you can tell which 
were donated or found and which were purchased -- a dozen recently purchased 
soup spoons, for example, are very tinny. But they do disappear so good 
quality, unless it is used, isn't economical.

One thing I wanted to do when we finally replaced all the donated furniture was 
to furnish the CH like the independent coffee places and restaurants with 
eclectic mixes of interesting pieces. Instead we did Crate & Barrel so it looks 
like Crate & Barrel. Very nice but not the same.

People do complain about bad knives. To carve turkeys bring their own. But 
people believe that expensive knives will disappear. We do have outside groups 
and caterers using our kitchen. It's easy to just gather everything up and 
leave. Some system of locking them up with people who might use them, having 
keys might work.

One thing that saves tons of space is purchasing serving and mixing bowls in 
graded sizes so they nest or stack. We need half the storage space under our 
kitchen island than we needed when everything was donated or purchased piece 
meal, and it is easier to find the size you need. It was worth the money. And 
looks nicer since we have an open kitchen.

Also design a place where the mixers, etc, are stored where they can be used. 
We have had tall women take an active interest in our kitchen. Hand choping 
onions is easer for some of us than getting the food processor down from the 
top shelf. A logical storage space since they aren't used as often as other 
things, but it also ensures they won't be.

The rice cooker is used very often. We don't have slow cookers, but a large 
one, I think, would be used often.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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