My unlikely kitchen treasures.

It was the best 50 cents I ever spent. Correction: the bowl with little skulls around the rim was a whopping $2.95 at K-Mart during Halloween season. I found its bargain mate at the thrift store a month later. This high-end kitchen tip proves to me that I must have been a home decorator in a previous life!

Now I’m not known for my kitchen skills. Everyone knows that Carol’s assignment for a dinner party is to bring the bread. I got the bright idea to write about these silly bowls after seeing that magazines targeting women were devoted to making sure we all had the latest and greatest in our kitchens. I’ve tried them all over the years. Maybe prep got easier, but what about cleanup? What about storage? In the end, my favorite knife is easiest to use for slicing and dicing. And cleanup involves swipe swipe.

Back to bowls. These Halloween purchases eight years ago have morphed into the most useful implements I’ve ever had. Light as a feather and endless function. One of them gets used every day, sometimes both. I do have other “beautiful” bowls with official uses, but none are as indestructible and easy to use. indestructible is a requirement.

King Sized Bowls: Ultimate Multi-taskers

Cheap crap is underrated, and here’s proof from my kitchen:

♣ First and foremost, a salad bowl, or anything that needs mixing or tossing about. Before I had this king-sized opening, spilled greens littered the counter during salad making. I used to think the bowl was too tacky to put on the table so after the toss, salad was transferred to a beautiful wooden bowl made for show. But when guests would comment, “Great idea!”, I didn’t bother anymore. Everyone likes the whimsey of passing the novelty around. Then again, I’ve never had Prince William and Kate at my table!

♣ Cookie dough: When I actually do some baking, an extra big batch of Chocolate Chip cookies is always required.

♣ Popcorn: Movie night on Saturdays wouldn’t be right without it.

♣ Potlucks: It holds a full bag of potato chips or a giant load of potato salad.

♣ Dishwashing: Filled with soapy water, it’s perfect for washing what won’t fit in the dishwasher.

♣ Last but not least, Halloween: This candy bowl is big enough so that little zombies, minions and super heroes can root around to find their favorites. They like having a choice.

You’ll never see my bowls on Oprah’s Favorite Things list, but they’re #1 on mine. You might call them flimsy. I call them fabulous.

SECRET: Make life easier by paring kitchen wares down. Re-evaluate what you use NOW, because needs change over the years–according to family size, house size, and how much time you still want to spend in the kitchen. Donate discards to thrift. At the very least, put separators in drawers so you don’t have to rummage through a 50 utensils to find the whisk or garlic press when you need it. Stand spatulas and cooking spoons up in a colorful container on the counter so you can find and grab in a hurry.