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What to buy at Ikea: top five beautiful, practical, frugal kitchen finds

Ikea has a great reputation for one thing:  attractive, low-priced furniture.  The "low-priced" part is great, but unfortunately, their furniture is also famous for having a life span of about 3-5 years, until it falls apart.  I had some great modular Ikea furniture in my first post-college apartment, and if anecdotal evidence means anything, it too fell apart after about three years.

So if you're a few years past the post-college stage, maybe you should think about foregoing the furniture departments at Ikea.  I'm not saying all of their furnishings have short life spans, but I've yet to meet anyone with an Ikea bookcase that is twenty years old.

That said, a well-kept secret of Ikea is their fantastic housewares department.  I love love love Ikea housewares, kitchen stuff, cooking utensils, glassware etc.  They do seem to be well-made and you can purchase many of them for a song.

Ikea recently opened a new store in the Denver area, and last week, I reacquainted myself with their fabulous housewares department.  Here are five Ikea kitchen/table items, priced between $3-$10, that I have bought from Ikea and would recommend buying, based on 1) aesthetic beauty, 2) practicality and 3) unbelievably low price (the frugal trifecta).  You cannot get these online;  you can only purchase them at an actual Ikea store.  Here goes:
This large glass "Trygg" serving bowl is $2.99. I have never seen a glass bowl this size or quality for such a low price. Major steal.  It's actually prettier in person than in the picture, because the shape is more striking.  I picked up a few and set them aside for Passover.  I don't think you can ever have enough large glass bowls.  Mixing bowl, serving bowl, salad bowl, fruit bowl, you name it, this will do it.
This Rektangel glass vase for $4.99. A few years ago, I donated all of the two-dozen ugly florist vases I'd been saving to a wedding gemach and replaced them with four of these Rektangel vases.  They are beautifully cut, easy to clean (they go in the dishwasher), substantial enough to hold a large bouquet, and if they break, I'm out a mere $5. (Of course, many of the florist vases have reappeared over the years...I need to be better about giving them away.) 
Pruta Food Savers, 17 in a set, $3.99, BPA-free clear tupperware-type containers. They stack up inside of each other and they beat out the price of Ziploc or Hefty containers by more than five times.  I did pick up an extra set of these for Passover as well.  The value here is unbelievable.
Tokig salad spinner for $2.99  I have never, ever seen a salad spinner priced this low. Ever.  Search for a salad spinner on Amazon and you'll see what I mean.  I've had my Ikea salad spinner for about 8 years now and it still does the job.  And these things are absolutely essential when you'll be cleaning and drying large amounts of lettuce (Passover seder anyone?).

6 Mjod beer glasses with stems, $9.99. A selfish part of me didn't want to post this one and almost hopes you won't buy these, because I love to put out unique, singular items on my table. But because these are such interesting glasses, I wanted to share them with you. We have three sets, and we actually set them out each week on our Shabbat table (except when I want a more formal table) instead of regular water glasses. They have such an unusual, low-slung profile and they mix and match with any kind of china or table setting. 

Those are my current favorite top five Ikea frugal kitchen finds for now.  What are yours?


  1. do you know what the perks are for joining the ikea family i was there yesterday but the line to sign up for that was way too long

  2. We love our glasses from IKEA! Only one has chipped in four years, and that's only because it was accidentally knocked into the side of the sink. (It only chipped! It didn't fully crack!) Another great find--I bought a spatula set, 2-3 nylon pieces, maybe $2 total. I use them daily, and they are still in near-mint condition four years later.

  3. Cheese grater. Non-split on the bottom, grate cheese, etc right through the top, stick a lid on when you are done and stick in the refrigerator.

    Glasses for casual dining. The short ones wash great in the dishwasher. Can't say the same for the tall one.

    Containers that hook onto a towel bar. Great for sorting stuff in the bathroom. Great for sorting art supplies too if you have the right setup.

    Mini utensil set for cheap. Bought for Pesach dairy.

    Storage that nests. Great for Pesach too.

  4. Rifky S.8/01/2011

    Sorry to disappoint (or pleasantly surprise) you, Susie, but my bro put together a bookshelf for his study (seforim, pretty heavy stuff). He's got it for 10+ years and even made it through a move. I got a dresser for my daughter about 3 years ago, and it's still holding up; guess time will tell on that one. And we have a few of the metal bookcases that we use for inventory. But I enjoy just walking through the store & buying (or just looking at) interesting housewares, just like you. Must be in the blood.

  5. Sompo1126, you can sign up for Ikea Family here (and it lists all the perks): http://info.ikea-usa.com/FAMILY.

    Caroline, I saw that spatula set in Ikea...it was $1.99. It was a close choice for the top five in the posting.

    Orthonomics, great suggestions all. I might need a second post. ;)

    Rifky, like I said, my opinions are based solely on anecdotal evidence. Glad to hear that the furniture is holding up. Could be also that the durability of their furniture has improved over the years. It's definitely some good looking, inexpensive stuff.

  6. went to the site and signed up but still have to pick up the card in store so a waste of time? sort of

  7. Sompo1126, since you have to go into Ikea to buy anything anyway, it's not THAT much of a waste of time. :) At least now, you can just go up to the desk and pick up your card without filling out any forms.


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