For the budget-minded shopper, Swedish superstore IKEA offers a treasure hoard of inexpensive basics. I'll admit to seduction by cinnamon roll, drifting starry-eyed through aisles of glassware, piling my delightfully maneuverable cart high with kitchen goods... then coming to earth with a bump, realizing I brought home a few too many $3.99 goodies. When it comes to IKEA, inexpensive doesn't always mean a smart buy.
I still consider IKEA one of my top sources for quality kitchenware; you just need to know what they do best. Today we have 15 picks for you — kitchen goods that have stood the test of time, or are best found at IKEA — all things that are both smart and inexpensive.
This is of course a somewhat idiosyncratic list (everyone has their favorites!). At IKEA I look for their very simple basics, the things that their economy of scale lets them do with both quality and good price.
And this is only kitchen goods — we're not even mentioning their kitchen cabinet systems, of which I am a major fan.
You can read about my experience with buying IKEA kitchen cabinets here:
And you can see the final result here:
All right, on to the goods! What would be on your own list of IKEA favorites?
Cookware & Tools
Here are a few pieces of cookware and kitchen tools that we've found to really be worth their price (and more!) at IKEA.
- IDEALISK Whisk Set, $2.99: Two whisks for three bucks, but the price isn't the point here so much as the inclusion of the hard-to-find sauce whisk, a flat-bottomed whisk that makes short work of lump-free gravies and puddings.
- ÄDELSTEN Black Marble Mortar & Pestle, $14.99: A good marble mortar and pestle is usually a pricey investment, but not here. The black marble is handsome and durable, and you can even flip the mortar over to crush smaller amounts of spices in a shallower bowl.
- TEKLA Dish Towels, $.79: The price of these towels may have gone up twenty cents since we first bought them years ago, but they're still a steal of a deal. We even use them as napkins.
- SENSUELL Sauteuse Pan, $34.99: Who says heavy-duty cookware has to be expensive? We love sauciers — wide-bottomed saucepans that can hold a batch of meatballs in sauce or act as a frying pan in a pinch. This one has a clad bottom (aluminum between two layers of stainless steel), is heavy yet comfortable to hold thanks to its ergonomic handle, and it even has volume markings inside.
- STABIL Double Boiler Insert, $5.99: Like the IDEALISK sauce whisk, this is a tool we don't often find elsewhere. Instead of buying a bulky double-boiler set, use this handled bowl that sits inside nearly any pot.
- RÖRT Beech Kitchen Spoons, $1.49: One place IKEA's economy of scale really shows is in their solid wood furniture and cooking tools. These beech spoons are quite beautiful and well-made.
- APTITLIG Butcher Block, $14.99: A big cutting board will usually set you back some cash, but this option is so economical yet thick and well-wearing. Be sure to keep it oiled!
Storage & Organization
Beyond cookware and tools, there are some classic pieces that make storage and overall kitchen organization much better.
- KORKEN Swing-Top Bottles, $3.99: It's easier to find swing-top bottles these days, but for a long time these were the most available and economical options we could find. We love them for everything from storing homemade syrups to serving water at the table.
- KORKEN Jars, $2.49 to $4.49: Another good buy from the KORKEN line. Solid quality jars with airtight seals and lids.
- GRUNDTAL Rail & Accessories, $9.99: Even rental kitchens can be improved by this economical storage system. Hang a rail and use the S-hooks to put spoons and other tools within easy reach.
- FÖRHÖJA Kitchen Island, $99.99: IKEA offers a lot of options in kitchen islands. This one is at a good intersection of price point and solid wood construction (we've also expressed our love of the $200 GROLAND island).
- RATIONELL Flatware Tray, $12.99: This solid birch flatware tray is both sturdy and handsome, and a great deal at this price.
And then there are the colorful little details that IKEA does so well. These will be more general, as these things tend to change every season.
- Colorful Trays, such as BÄRBAR, $6.99 - We appreciate IKEA's flair for design as much as we like their low prices on basics. They come out with a new crop of colorful trays every year and we use them for serving everything from cakes to cookies to summer cocktails.
- Dishware, such as IKEA 365+ set, $34.99 - IKEA is a great source for dishes, whether you need very basic whiteware, or the more luxurious bone china of the STOCKHOLM line.
- Unique and Colorful Paper Napkins, such as LÅNGVARIG and FLYTANDE, both $1.99 for 30 - We use cloth napkins most of the time, but for summer outdoor entertaining, paper napkins are great, and we love the unique options that IKEA brings out every season.
What are your favorite, most long-lasting, well-wearing kitchen buys from IKEA? We'd love to hear your picks!
(Image credits: Faith Durand; IKEA; IKEA)