Sep 082010


I love my local restaurant supply store, Food Equipment Company. It’s a big ole, no frills warehouse, but they have a huge assortment of kitchenware and much of it is dirt cheap. I’ve got a post (or 2) in the works that tells you how to navigate a restaurant supply store, but in the meantime I thought I would share the four kitchen essentials that I wouldn’t buy anywhere else.

1. Ice Cream/Cookie Scoops

Cookie Scoops

2 of dozens of scoops for sale

At Christmas time, I make A LOT of cookies. We’re talking in the thousands. Cookie scoops (called Dishers at the store) are essential because this way each cookie is the same size and cooks in the same amount of time. I have different sizes of scoops depending on how big a cookie I want to make. (I have a note on my chocolate chip cookie recipe to remind me how long smaller cookies bake.)

I use the smallest scoop when I want to stretch a recipe or give people little tastes of several different kinds of cookies – or if I’m making mini muffins. Medium scoops for regular sized cookies when I’m serving only one or two varieties. I use the largest scoop to portion cupcake and muffin batter – scoop out 24 cupcakes in under 2 minutes!

Here’s a great tip: Make a double batch of your favorite cookie recipe, bake half of it, and freeze the rest scooped out on a cookie sheet. Once the balls are frozen, put them in a freezer bag and you’ll have cookies ready at a moment’s notice for a couple of months! Just add a few minutes to the baking time. (My husband is in heaven when I surprise him with fresh-baked cookies. I can do no wrong for the week. Cookies are very handy to have in the freezer.)

Oh, these work for ice cream, too, but I use the scoop that has antifreeze stuff in the handle for that. Makes life a little easier, and it’s in the same section of my restaurant supply store.

2. Flour Storage Containers

Storage Containers for Flour

An assortment of storage containers - great if you bake a lot!

Actually, I use them to store flour, sugar, dry beans, rice, chocolate, etc. I have separate containers for self rising flour, bread flour, all purpose flour, brown sugar, white sugar…you get the idea.

You can never have too many of these puppies. They’re airtight, so I don’t get any creepy-crawlies in my grains. They stack beautifully. You can get round ones, but the square are more space efficient. I use a label maker to identify what’s in each container, but a Sharpie would work just as well.

Yes, you can buy these on Amazon or the King Arthur Flour website, but I can buy them for 1/3 to 1/2 the price at the restaurant supply.

Just make sure to buy the lid too – those are sold separately.

3. Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls

Stainless Steel Bowls

A bevy of shiny stainless steel bowls

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. I own SEVENTEEN of these bowls, multiples of each size, and they all nest into one leeeeeetle stack. They’re prep bowls, batter bowls, sifting bowls, salad bowls, mixing bowls, serving bowls, bread rising bowls, marinating bowls. I could use them around the house if I could bear to let them leave the kitchen. Lighter weight than pyrex, just as easy to clean, I use them every day, often multiple times a day. The only drawback I can think of is they’re not microwaveable. But I don’t use them for anything I’d need to microwave, so it’s never bothered me. Unlike glass or pyrex bowls, if I put raw meat in a stainless steel bowl, I can sanitize the bowl with boiling water and not worry about thermal shock.

Note: When purchasing these bowls, my supply store has two gauges of stainless steel bowls – a lighter weight and a heavier duty. I buy the heavy duty. You should be able to tell when you pick them up which one is sturdier. It’ll cost a little more too, but it’s worth it. I’ve given these as Christmas presents and wedding gifts. An essential kitchen item.

4. Half Sheet Pans

Half Sheet Pans

They say that eight is enough, but I could always use more...

Technically, these aren’t cookie sheets because cookie sheets are rimless to allow air to circulate blah blah blah. To me, they’re cookie sheets. And pizza pans, roasting pans, bread pans, cake pans, brownie pans, you name it. Heck, you can call them toasters because I make toast under the broiler every morning (often on a Quarter Sheet Pan, but same difference).

And do you see the price in the picture? FIVE BUCKS! I own 8 of these pans that I bought over the last 10 years (the price does fluctuate, but between $4-6) and I don’t know which are newer and which are older. If you use parchment paper you barely have to clean them. (But if you do have to clean them, don’t put them in the dishwasher or they’ll go all matte and weird looking. Still usable, but not shiny like mine. My sister-in-law did that.) They nest so 8 don’t take up that much more space than 1. And yes, I can easily use all eight at once, especially during the holidays.

Want the ultimate test of these pans’ durability? My mom owns a beach house. Renters do who-knows-what to the cookware in that house. These pans are so far nearly indestructible, though obviously some people put them in the dishwasher. When they look too matte because of the dishwasher, Mom replaces them for aesthetic reasons and takes the ugly pans home to use.

One more note: When you go to buy them, make sure you get the half or quarter sheet pans, not the full sheets. Those won’t fit in most home ovens. My store has a new 2/3 sheet pan, but I don’t think that’ll fit in my oven either. At least, not and allow air to circulate around it.

So there you have it. Four kitchen items that I couldn’t live without and wouldn’t buy anywhere else. These alone should make it worth the trip to your local restaurant supply store, but they have a gazillion other temptations, too.

Do you have a favorite local supply store? What’s the name and where is it? What’s essential to you?

Storage Containers for Flour

An assortment of storage containers - great if you bake a lot!

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  12 Responses to “Four Essential Kitchen Items To Buy At A Restaurant Supply Store”

  1. I never really thought about using a scoop to make the cookies. Good idea. The stainless steel mixing bowls are the best. I work in a restaurant and we use them there and I actually bought three for the house. They are such a a great investment.

    • Once you scoop cookies you’ll never go back! Sooo much faster and easier. I will say that the bare metal can wear on your hand a little after the hundredth cookie. I may eventually buy cushioned, ergonomic scoops, but it’s only at the holiday that it bothers me. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I LOVE using my scoops to make cookies. I splurged once and got a Pampered Chef one and then got another smaller one free after having a party. We’ve only been in this area a couple years and I’ve had 2 babies in that time, so needless to say, I haven’t explored much. I NEED to find our supply store! I have an oversupply of flour and am keeping it in the freezer to prevent buggies until I can get it in my plastic storage.

    • Aren’t scoops awesome? I bet the Pampered Chef ones are pretty good – they make some great products. (I love a whisk they make, or used to make.)

      I should mention that whole wheat flours should always be kept in the freezer because they have more oil in them and they can go rancid if kept out at room temp. I keep my whole wheat and whole wheat pastry flour in freezer baggies so they take up as little freezer space as possible. But if you have an excess of AP flour, then yes you need to find your store! Good luck!

  3. I have never heard of using scoops for cookies etc! That is awesome. I don’t bake a ton but I wish I could. I like the idea of making cookie dough and freezing it into small scoop sizes the pull it out of the freezer and cook. This sounds like a Sunday bake-o-thon is in order for me. First I want to go buy some scoops – it just sounds so fun! Maybe my 3 year old can help me scoop (for the first 5 mins at least).

    • It’s absolutely great for a Sunday afternoon project. I’ll actually do several recipes in a row, and if I make them in order of flavor intensity, (say, sugar to chocolate chip to coconut chocolate chip), I don’t have to wash the bowl in between!

      If your scoop handle is small enough for your 3 year old’s hands, then they can certainly help. Until they get bored. šŸ™‚

      My husband said he was just telling a coworker today about the frozen dough and how nice it is to come home to fresh baked cookies. I think there was a hint in there somewhere, so I may have a Sunday afternoon project myself!

  4. I recently went to my local restaurant supply store and bought a Lincoln half sheet pan along with a wire rack that fits inside it. It was pricier (I think $20+ for the pan) but worth every penny. It’s so solid, no twisting or warping. I’ve roasted chicken and vegetables in it, cooked bacon (on top of the rack – excellent,) and made a sponge cake for jelly roll. This pan is now my go-to sheet pan and I can’t believe I’ve gone so long without one.

    • Yay, Nancy! I l don’t know the brand of my half sheet pans but none of them have ever warped or even dented. My store sells the wire racks, too (I own 2 of them) but I didn’t take a picture of the price so I don’t remember how much they were. I think around $5-6.

      If you want to get a second pan at some point, I would see if there’s another supply store in your area that might have them cheaper. One store in my town has these same sheet pans for $12-14. It probably depends on the volume they sell – they’re a much smaller store compared to Food Equipment Co. Many cities have more than one restaurant supply, so it might be worth shopping around. Thanks for commenting!

  5. These are great tips! I learned about shopping at restaurant suppliers when we were shopping for my daughter’s wedding. It’s also a great place to buy inexpensive glassware if you need specialty glasses like martini or margarita.

    I can’t wait to look around your blog a little more. I’m pretty sure I’ll be a regular here.

    • Yes, I’ve bought silverware there, too. The only thing to keep in mind with plates and glassware is that you usually have to buy a case. For larger items, like dinner plates, that’s a dozen, which is okay. For salad plates, that might be 3 dozen! So I’ve looked at dishware, including glasses, but haven’t committed yet.

      Thanks for stopping by! I hope you’ll get lots of great information out of this blog. I’m off to check out yours!

  6. Now I want cookies. Perfectly shaped cookies. I never thought of using a scoop for them and may have to look into it, for the times I make cookies.

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