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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Frugal Kitchens 101 - Kitchen Textiles

Frugal Kitchens 101

There is a rather large number of various textiles (eg. t-towels, serviettes, table cloths) required in any kitchen.  Each serves a specific purpose although some can serve multiple purposes.  As with all kitchen associated items, textiles range in price from free to very expensive, natural to synthetic fiber, plain utilitarian to decorative only, and low to high maintenance.  The number of textiles required is dependent on your cooking style, family size and whether or not you do a lot of entertaining.  Here's a listing of the textiles in our kitchen and how I've dealt with acquiring them frugally.  I should note that all of my textiles are washable, most are natural fiber.  I don't use fabric softener on them as that reduces the absorption nor do I use chlorine bleach as that is a lung irritant that weakens fabric.

  • dishcloths - I use two types of dishcloths in the kitchen.  The first are utilitarian, plain white, 100% cotton wash cloths bought in a package of 24 on sale at K-mart for $3.99 (regularly $4.99).  I use these in place of paper towels whenever possible.  The second type of dishcloth is handmade (either crochet or knit eyelet edge or knit plain edge) using Bernat Handicraft cotton.  One 340 g ball costs $8.99 and makes 4 dishcloths.  I use these cloths for hand-washing dishes, pots and pan.  The heavier texture and durability make the handmade dishcloths are my frugal.  Making them keeps my hands busy while watch television as well.
  • t-towels - I do a lot of cooking and canning which translates into needed a large number to t-towels.  During a canning session I can easily use six or more t-towels.  My t-towels are actually cotton bar mop towels (white ridged with blue stripe) bought at Sam's Club in a 24 pk for $12.88.  These ultra absorbent towels are used for drying hand-washed dishes but see the largest portion of their use during bulk cooking and canning sessions.  I don't worry about staining.  If the staining is quite bad the towel is put into the garage where it is used for washing vehicles and other household cleaning.  I have about a dozen waffle weave cotton t-towels as well.  They are beyond ancient but still in good condition.  
  • oven mitts -  I have a pair of waffle weave cotton oven mitts, a pair of silicone oven mitt and a silicone pot grabber.  I prefer using the cotton mitts while my husband prefers the silicone.  The silicone will outlast the cotton and there is no staining concerns.  The silicone set cost about $20 on sale but should not need replacing.
  • hot pad/trivets - I use padded cotton hot pads at our vacation home but for regular use at home I use cork trivets bought at IKEA about 9 years ago, a package of 3 for $3.99.  Cork is very durable.  I had a large rectangular cork hot pad bought from IKEA back in the 1980's that finally had to be thrown out just last year.  Cork is my preferred surface for placing filled jars just out of the canner.  Both cotton and cork hot pads are subject to staining.
  • serviettes - I use re-usable linen and cotton serviettes but I still use paper serviettes for larger scale entertaining.  Some of the linen serviettes were a wedding gift years ago, others have been acquired at yard sales, and others I have made.  I prefer vintage and handmade.  Fabric ends can be found at ridiculously low prices and it only takes a few minutes to sew up a few serviettes.  The downside to linen is it does need to be ironed.
  • tablecloths - When our kids were young, I used fleece backed vinyl tablecloths that I made.  Most tablecloths hang down around the table edge but I saw this as a safety hazard so put an elastic edge on the tablecloths (sort of like a giant shower cap) so they would fit snuggly on the table with no danger of being pulled by curious little hands.  Most of my tablecloths now are homemade and I seldom use them as I like the beauty of my wood tables to show.  At one time I had a custom cut piece of glass made for the dinning table but gave up using that as well.  While glass is not a textile, it is an option if you want to enjoy the look of your wood table without damaging it through daily use.
  • curtains - I have not had actual curtains in any of my kitchens (19 in total including RV and vacation home) in over 30 years of marriage because I simply do not like curtains.  I have used homemade fabric valances to soften the look of mini blinds and roll down shades but not curtains.  Curtains are easy to make taking only basic sewing skills.  Making them yourself is a way to get a custom look while saving money.
  • rugs/mats - I use a rubber backed, non-slip, low pile mat in front of the patio door but only seasonal.  Our last house opened to the back yard via patio doors making the shiny ceramic floor a slipping hazard during wet weather so I used a runner style mat that spanned the patio doors.  The kitchen in this house opens to the deck via patio doors and the marble tile creates a slipping hazard especially if someone comes in with wet feet from the pool.  I will put a mat down once the deck and pool is being used.  I have found that Walmart and K-mart tend to have less expensive mats for this purpose, usually in the $7 to $10 price range.  I don't use any mats near the counters or other entrances to the kitchen as they present a tripping hazard during canning and bulk cooking sessions.

1 food lovers commented:

LindaG said...

Thanks for the tips and information!