This Reddit Tip Will Help You Save Money on Pots, Plates, and Other Kitchen Supplies

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Credit: Hayley Lawrence

Pots, plates, and cups generally don’t cost an awful lot on their own, but by the time you’ve bought a kitchen’s worth of them, it’s surprisingly easy to spend a small fortune. But there’s another way to buy kitchen supplies—without straining your bank account. When Reddit user Insanitanium12 asked fellow Redditors, “What simple life hack should everyone know?” the Redditor FenwayFranks mentioned restaurant supply stores—and got a ton of upvotes and replies. Turns out, restaurant supply stores are a well-kept secret among keen home cooks looking to stock up on quality kitchen supplies. 

The reason you should shop at restaurant supply stores is simple: Massive cost savings. As FenwayFranks put it: “Those $8.99 tongs at a box store are like $1.30. A 16-ounce Mason jar glass that sells for $3 to $4 apiece can be bought as a 12-pack case for $8.55. Oneida China plates that sell for $345.84 a case for $57.84. I just bought a 2-foot by 2-foot wooden butcher’s block cutting board that would have been close to $400 for $55.” Redditor businessbee89 seconded this, saying that the wok they found online for $60 cost them $14 at a restaurant supply store.

Ready to get in on the action? Here’s everything you need to know about shopping at restaurant supply stores.

Finding a Restaurant Supply Store

If you like to inspect your kitchen supplies in person before you buy them, Google “restaurant supply stores” along with your area code. For example, Chefs’ Toys is popular in Southern California, whereas Gordon Food Service stores are open to the public in the Midwest (both offer online delivery, too). If you’re based in Canada, take a look at Williams Food Equipment. Those that live in the U.K. recommend Nisbets, and people from Ireland praise Hugh Jordan.

Although many brick and mortar stores are open to more or less anyone, some restaurant supply stores will offer discounted prices only to restaurants that have an account with them. These stores might even require paperwork from the Secretary of State to prove that you are, indeed, a business. However, in the majority of cases, you can get a membership with your local restaurant supply store even if you’re not a restaurant. The best way to find out if you qualify is by asking the staff what membership options they have for everyday cooks.

Alternatively, try joining a local food-centric organization. If you live in Kansas, Redditor NoNotTheDuo suggests joining the Kansas City Bar Barbecue Society; one of the benefits is free access to Restaurant Depot, a popular restaurant supply store chain. An extra bonus? You’ll be able to bond with people who are as into cooking as you are.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many restaurant supply stores have suspended their membership requirement in exchange for a small markup. That said, if you’re not sure whether a restaurant supply store near you is members-only or not, call ahead and ask them.

If you prefer to shop from your couch, you’ll want to check out WebstaurantStore, an online restaurant supply company that comes up time and time again on Reddit. The only caveat is that WebstaurantStore does charge for shipping, so you’ll want to buy more than one item from them. 

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

What to Prioritize When Buying From Restaurant Supply Stores

Pots and pans, large baking trays, specialized plates and bowls, cutting boards, tiny tongs and forks, real heavy-duty aluminum foil, wooden spatulas, and enormous lidded storage containers are just some of the things that Redditors report buying from restaurant supply stores. 

The best thing about kitchen items from restaurant supply stores is that they’re built to last for years in a commercial kitchen. So, using them at home, you’re unlikely to have to replace them any time soon. Redditor Jaydenel4 backs this up: “My knife was $35 [two or three] years ago and I still haven’t had to sharpen it,” they wrote.  

Other popular items include cleaning supplies. In another thread, the Redditor CaverZ said she bought elbow-length rubber gloves from a restaurant supply store to clean her shower with. “Unusually shaped brushes for cleaning [the] insides of glasses” caught her eye, as well. 

Some restaurant supply stores also sell edible goods in bulk. The selection will vary from store to store, but you can buy basics like eggs, meat, and flour for good prices. Indeed, one Redditor bought 150 pounds of flour from a restaurant supply store when all his local stores ran out of flour at the start of the pandemic. 

Are Some Items at Restaurant Supply Stores Too Good to Be True?

Because most of the items at restaurant supply stores are designed for industrial use, they might not be as pretty or trendy as the items you’ll find at retail stores. If you’re committed to finding a blender with a colorway that matches your kitchen exactly, you might save time by adding it to your cart elsewhere. And sometimes saving time can beat saving money, especially if you’re spending it on something you truly love. 

Also, some restaurant-grade appliances don’t have key safety features that come standard in a lot of residential appliances. For example, commercial ranges are not insulated in the same way as residential ranges. And since “most homes are not built to safely house commercial appliances, […] most insurance policies do not cover you if you have them,” says the Reddit user Chapesman. And although laughably cheap, commercial fridges can be pretty loud—it probably isn’t worth losing sleep over (literally).