A shopping guide
Discount dinnerware means different things for different people. Some consider it to be inexpensive reusable tableware, while others think first of disposable dinnerware. Since both have their merits, let's take a look at each one, starting with reusable dinnerware.
If you are looking for discount dinnerware that doesn't have to be tossed in the garbage after one use, consider the wonders of melamine. Melamine came into use in the 1950s, and some of the early pieces are highly sought after on the collector's market. For everyone else though, there are a variety of choices for far less money.
Check secondhand stores and yard sales for cheap pieces. I found a set of 1960s picnic ware with four plates, four bowls, and four coffee mugs for $1 at a yard sale and it had an adorable red checkered pattern.
Another option is to look at your local chain store like Target or Wal-Mart. During the spring and summer seasons, the stores are loaded with fun melamine-like dinnerware at very low prices. After the season ends, most stores discount their prices at unbelievable rates. A whole set can be found in the fall for around $10. The pieces are extremely durable, easy to use, and can be used everyday.
Similar to melamine are the hard, molded plastic pieces manufactured by several different companies. They are sturdy and lightweight, can go in the microwave, and are easy to clean. They are especially good for homes with small children as they won't break, even from high distances.
If you are looking for one-time-use discount dinnerware, stick with mass-produced plastic pieces. These are cheap enough that you do not feel bad about tossing them after one use, and they come in a variety of colors and styles. Most grocery stores carry their name brand products for slightly less than the large corporations, and they work just as well. The one thing to avoid, though, is paper products. They are often inferior to their plastic counterparts, and won't hold up to even one meal.
Most stores carry the basic colors for plates, cups, and bowls - red, blue and an occasional white or black, while silverware usually comes in a basic color or clear. But, a visit to a party supply store can open your eyes to a whole new world of possibilities. Almost any color you can imagine is available in a party supply store, from pink to yellow, and if they don't carry it, they can probably order it for you. If you have kids, they will love the line of plates designed to look like animals - they come in packs of 40, and can be tossed after one use.
If you are looking for discount dinnerware, look no further than plastic pieces and melamine - they'll see you through any occasion, all for an affordable price.
By Jennifer Eblin