I am not a cook. I have never owned a restaurant. And yet, some of my favorite kitchen purchases come from restaurant supply stores.
Before I braved any of these stores, I assumed shoppers needed some sort of food industry ID to be allowed in. I didn’t realize that many restaurant supply stores were open to the public.
From my experience, I can guarantee that no one will ask you about roasting techniques before letting you in.
There are two main types of catering establishments. The types overlap somewhat when it comes to their products. Both are fun to visit for everyday home cooks:
- Restaurant supply stores usually sell kitchen furniture, kitchen utensils, appliances and gadgets. You might find a squeeze bottle for $1 or a five-figure professional gas stove.
- Catering supply stores, as others call themselves, can carry food and drink in large Costco-style containers. They also carry take-out containers, wraps, straws, napkins, and many other supplies.
Read on as I share my favorite purchases from restaurants and food service supply stores.
1. Parchment paper
What did I do without parchment paper? It keeps pans clean and prevents baked goods and roasting foods from sticking to the pan.
You can get a good deal at Costco, but you’ll have to buy it in rolls. For me, that means I have to tear a sheet and wet the edges of the mold so the paper lays flat.
Restaurant supply stores sell parchment paper in large, flat sheets and in several sizes. I buy half sheets because I don’t have chef size pans.
2. Mixing bowls
The shiny metal mixing bowls your mom might have used back in the day don’t make pretty decor, but they’re stackable, unbreakable, and easy to clean. Restaurant supply stores sell them at low prices and in many sizes.
I like bowls with non-slip silicone on the bottom. They don’t come off the counter if my fuss gets a little fiery.
3. Compostable take-out containers
Here is one of my favorite articles. You’re most likely to find them at a catering supply store, but some traditional catering supply stores also sell them.
Years ago, I bought a huge pack of compostable clamshell containers — the kind your favorite burger joint might give you for your leftovers.
I bought these because every Christmas I have a cookie swap for friends. Everyone takes home dozens of cookies. But not everyone brings a container large enough for transport.
I’ve set up a bunch of compostable clamshell containers at the cookie party so departing guests can pack all the treats their sweet teeth can handle.
Even though I bought the clamshell containers over five years ago, there was so much in the package that I’m still not about to run out.
I appreciate a clever craft cocktail.
Setting up a home bar can be expensive, however, especially if you’re seriously considering purchasing specialty fixtures.
Restaurant supply stores sell everything you’ll need, from glassware and shakers to shot glasses. They may not be fancy, but they’re generally durable and inexpensive.
I’ll drink to that.
5. Cake and candy decorating supplies
Hush. Don’t tell the nice woman who once tried to teach me how to decorate cakes, but I never mastered the art of making a rose out of frosting.
My talents flourished elsewhere. I love using pastry bags, nozzles, cake stands, dipping tools, and other baking supplies.
You’ll find stylish displays of cake decorating supplies and candy at craft stores and gourmet shops, but investigate restaurant supply stores for a different selection and better deals.
6. Cutting boards
After paying for purchases while visiting a restaurant supply store in 2019, I came across a huge rack of cutting boards. I had to double.
I use at least one cutting board every time I cook. They come in a rainbow of colors and a variety of sizes, and they come at a price to move.
Take a close look at your favorite cookie sheet the next time you take it out to bake a batch of snickerdoodles. Is it getting a little seedy? Is it time to recycle it?
Restaurants and foodservice supply stores carry industrial-grade pans in all shapes and sizes. You’ll find one to fit your oven, whether it’s huge or so small the Keebler elves could use it.
8. Fancy serving trays
Restaurant supply stores are where caterers shop, so you can find an entire aisle of embossed silver trays – the kind a butler might carry around Buckingham Palace.
Well, psst! Here’s a royal secret: These pans look fancy, but they’re probably chrome-plated stainless steel. They will impress your guests without draining your bank account.
Take a few home and fill them with elegant cucumber sandwiches or country pigs in a blanket.
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