Welcome to the kitchen edition of my recurring analysis of trash–more specifically, items salvaged from the trash by myself and sundry members of the Frugalwoods family. Last month, we viewed my sister and brother-in-law’s trash and the month before, we were treated to the refuse discoveries of my parents.

We’re going back to our roots this month with a deep dive into gems quarried by yours truly alongside my trusty bearded tech guru, the love of my life, the father of Frugal Hound, the one and only Mr. Frugalwoods.

If you’re new to my dumpster diving adventures, check out Great Trash Finds: The First Edition where I break down the philosophy behind trash finds. Or I can just tell you: Mr. FW and I take things from the side of the road and/or other people’s trash piles, because folks throw away perfectly good, usable stuff and we like free things.

Every September 1st, our fair city of Cambridge, MA yields trash finds so epic, so impossibly bountiful, and so densely packed that the phenomenon has a name: Cambridge Christmas. The reason? There are approximately 90 million college students in the Boston area. And they all move on September 1! Without fail! Every year! This annual purging of items as folks shed the shackles of their September 1st leases is a veritable harvest for frugal weirdos like Mr. FW and me.

We arrived armed with reusable shopping totes and the Frugalwoods-mobile, ready to partake in this September 1st turnover of tenants. Let me allay your suspense and just tell you right now: we cleaned up.

I share with you today, fair readers, some of the kitchen-related trash we did so happen to find. I got tired of taking photos last night and so not every kitchen implement is represented (also we’ve been using the stuff and I kind of forgot about some of it…).

Kitchen Find #1: Glorious Glassware!

Glassware glory: 3 mugs and 2 margarita glasses
Glassware glory: 3 mugs and 2 margarita glasses

Behold: these coffee mugs are gigantic and have become our weekend edition* coffee delivery devices. I’m currently drinking hot cocoa out of the pirate mug and it is delish. Just as we’ve established that free food tastes better, eating food off of free dishes tastes equally better. We have yet to employ the margarita glasses, but I have no doubt they’ll be indispensable at a future soiree. In my mind, as I flourish my margarita glasses at just the right moment, people say things like: “thank goodness you have margarita glasses, Mrs. FW, I don’t know what we’d have done without you!” Then I bow and exit stage left.

*NPR joke.

Kitchen Find #2: Glass Nested Mixing Bowls

Glass mixing bowls. Pumpkins not included.
Glass mixing bowls. Pumpkins not included.

These are some beauts of bowls. They’re glass Pyrex and in fabulous condition. This photo is a double trash find since the pumpkins were scavenged by me from a work event (no one wanted them and they were destined for the trash bin! the horror!).

Kitchen Find #3: Fondue Pot!

Fondue! For two!
Fondue! For six!

Pictured above is a gorgeous, near-mint condition All-Clad Fondue pot with all the trimmings. We’ve never actually made fondue, so this may be used as a standard sauce pan or in other assorted kitchen applications. Alternately, we could stage a fondue/margarita party and kill two birds with one stone!

Kitchen Find #4: Miscellaneous (aka Mrs. FW got tired of photographing each individual item)

Pictured left to right: Corelle bowl, apple peeler/corer, glass snaplock tupperware
Pictured left to right: Corelle bowl, apple peeler/corer, glass snaplock tupperware

Here we have an art photo taken on our staircase (refinished by us, instructions here) of a few straggling trash finds. The Corelle bowl almost matches our set of Corelle dishes and the snaplock glass tupperware does in fact match our set. The apple peeler/corer made me the best wife ever. I ran down a side street because I thought I spied the apple peeler/corer sticking out of a cardboard box. When I came galloping back to Mr. FW with it in tow, he did a little leap for joy. A mere one day prior he’d been pining for an apple peeler and, lo and behold, the trash delivered.

And with that, we’ve come to the end of another Great Trash Finds. May you be ever inspired to seek out your own trash finds–by looking through other people’s trash.

Clearly we have no qualms about finding kitchen things on the side of the road, cleaning them up, and eating off of them. What about you? Would you drink from a coffee mug of indeterminate origin?

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  1. Wow! That is some great stuff. I’d be on the lookout for items I could re-sell. Wouldn’t mention that I picked it from the trash in my eBay listing though… 🙂

    We did pick up a jogging stroller on the side of the road. Its not of top of the line and we wouldn’t have bought it otherwise, but its definitely nice to have!

    1. Hey, a free jogging stroller is better than none at all. And those things can be really expensive! Nice find!

      We tend to look more for our own use than for resale, but I’m not above flipping something neat that doesn’t fit with our decor.

  2. I read these trash find posts and I think I am ok with wooden furniture but not with ones with soft surfaces, just like for clothing, my brain screams, “bed bugs! bed bugs!” but the glassware and containers are a step too far for my comfort level. I’ve read that if you want a good reliable set of cutlery, second-hand stores is one of the best frugal options but I have never been able to fully commit. That’s only because I don’t know where it’s been but then I ask myself what’s the difference between using cutlery at a restaurant and the second hand ones. Really, I need to get over my fear of nothing and just do it. In full disclosure I would probably need to boil them a couple of times before I felt comfortable.

    1. Hah, well we do clean things REALLY well. I give them a thorough hand washing and then they go through the dishwasher on the sanitize setting. Plastics can be iffy, but glass usually cleans up really well.

  3. I wish we had a Cambridge Christmas, dang! Someone gifted me that very same apple peeler and I looove it even though it won’t stick to the counter anymore, which makes it a little tough to use.

    1. I haven’t actually used it yet, but I’m pretty jazzed to try. It needs some TLC… there’s a bit of rust and it definitely needs to be lubricated, but I think I can get it back in good shape. Glad to hear it works well for you!

    1. Oh yeah, the mugs have quickly become the favorite ones of the house. We use smaller ones for the morning coffee during the week (don’t want to drink that much caffeine) but weekend coffee and nightly tea is perfect for the gigantic mugs.

  4. Lucky you! You do have the best pickings – from our experience, Ivy League garbage is of the highest quality. =)

    Trash is more sporadic where we live now, and tends towards items that old people have gotten tired of. The most recent thing we stopped to check out was a VCR with a note “it works!” We didn’t take it and have no regrets. But we should have taken the canoe from that house a couple of years ago that had a similar note “it floats!” Mr PoP still considers that the trash that got away.

    1. Heh, “Ivy League Garbage”. It’s really true! Lots of wealthy kids dumping amazing stuff. I’d rant against their wastefulness… but it works out really well for us and the other Cambridge scroungers. 🙂

    1. Oops, I fat fingered and hit the post button.
      The locals would be out scavenging in full force. My house only ever got rid of an awful Tupperware collection and the occasional piece of shelving.
      You seem to have done quite well. The apple corer and fondue pots are huge scores!

      1. Yep, I looked inside the paper bag that held the fondue pot and yelped “jackpot!”. Mrs. FW didn’t completely understand why getting free All-Clad was such a big deal… but she got the idea when we looked up the price for a new one online 🙂

  5. I pick up stuff from the sidewalk and flip it on Craigslist. I average about $50 per month, but I have to be sure to make a haul to Goodwill at the end of the month to get rid of everything that I don’t want cluttering up my life. The stuff that sells is mostly furniture.

    My best trash find recently is apparently a spool that probably held cable or an electrical cord. My son plays with it non stop these days.

    1. Totally makes sense that furniture would do well for you. Around here I’ve noticed that some folks pick up old, tired, wooden furniture and fix up the loose parts. Then they paint it a funky color and sell it back on craigslist. The mid-century modern pieces appear to do really well!

    1. Thanks! They are from Ikea from around 8 years ago. They were part of a much larger curtain set that has been re-used and cut apart over the years in the different apartments we lived in. I too really like the allium pattern! Perfect for the kitchen!

    1. I’ve always wanted one but could never justify the cost. When Mrs. FW waltzed up holding it with a grin on her face I was in disbelief! Who throws out a perfectly good apple peeler?!!?

  6. I am so jealous of Cambridge Christmas! We’ve never lived anywhere with such a target-rich environment, so I’ve never gone trash picking. Not above it, though. If you offered me a nice hot coffee in your mug-of-questionable origins, I would drink up.

    I will buy almost anything used, including not only eating utensils but, in recent months, bicycle helmets, a camping pad, and rain boots. And a smart phone! We really wanted to join the 21st century and Glyde and Ting made this possible.

    1. Used smartphones can be a great deal, good work! We have lived in some great trash-picking locales… must be something about young professional neighborhoods in the northeast that produce really good trash…

    1. Thanks! A lot of our glassware originates from our wedding registry years ago. But as it’s fallen victim to life and quartz countertops… we’ve been hodge-podge replacing it the only way we can stomach! 🙂

    1. It’s funny, I don’t think I ever threw out anything NEAR this nice when I was in college. Kids these days… [shakes cane at kids on my non-existent lawn] 🙂

    1. Right! It is nuts! We find that the key is keeping an eye out on lease changeover dates. Around here that’s June 1 and September 1. But we’ve found stuff year round, so who knows. We do look in a lot of empty boxes by the side of the road to find the gems though! We’ll cross the street when walking Frugal Hound to poke through a pile of trash.

  7. I am a person who has searched the free listing on Craigslist and found an antique table (from the 1800’s) as well as a single bed frame and bunkie boards all for free. Many of the best ads for items are around your area which is out of the way during the week for me. Unfortunately, I live south of Boston so trash finds are not as easy to find as living in Cambridge (I did live in Somerville 7 years ago and remember the great finds that were possible).

    1. Nice! We’ve picked plenty of great stuff from Somerville as well. I think the apple peeler was actually a Somerville find… I keep an eye on craigslist free but it seems like the good stuff goes lightning fast. Like you, my schedule doesn’t allow me to drop everything on a moments notice to go trash picking!

  8. Wow, I want to move to Cambridge! What a great event to look forward to. Yep, I definitely use secondhand kitchenware. As long as I can boil something (except for food, no way), I’ll use it. That is a fantastic haul! I can’t say I’ve ever used an apple peeler, but isn’t it so cool when you can get your partner to do a happy dance like that? 😀

    1. Cambridge is a wonderful place! I’m not sure the average Cambridge resident would think to compliment their hometown’s trash selection… they should!

    1. Hah, yeah, we wash the kitchen stuff a couple of times before putting in the use rotation. At least once by hand and once through the dishwasher.

    1. Yah, we try to stick to only things we know we’re going to use. It helps that we have plenty of storage space but it’s always a good idea to be mindful of the all too easy clutter habit.

  9. Ha! Okay, I have to admit that some of these things are awesome, like the fondue pot. However, I am REALLY weirded out by the glassware. I am weirded out in general by purchasing used glassware which is odd because I eat in restaurants so everything is used, but somehow I trust the industrial cleaning mechanisms of the restaurant over those of a stranger.

    1. True, though we wash them really well. I’d actually be more weirded out by kitchen items that we’re impervious. Wooden spoons? I’m not sure I’d take those since I don’t know that you could ever know they were clean. Glass and ceramics, as long as they aren’t cracked or chipped, is easy to verify cleanliness visually.

  10. Damn, you beat me to it! I have a post in my Draft box about this very thing.

    In our old town of Madison, home to University of WIsconsin, they call it Hippie Christmas. I have a ton of great clothes that were rescued from various trash heaps. We would even collect stuff we had no use for and just donate it. Keeps it out of the landfill and gives us a write off. Woo!

    1. Muahahaha… foiled again! I look forward to your post–we can start a trash brags competition. Whose trash is the hottest? Whose trash wore it best?

      I love that you donate unneeded things you find in the trash. My parents do that all the time. I haven’t quite worked up to it yet, but it’s a great thing to do. I am just shocked at what people consider to be trash! It’s certainly a bizarre statement on our consumer-driven, disposable society.

  11. Nice finds! I never thought about how much stuff college students would get rid of on September 1st. I’m surprised more don’t just list it on free Craigslist (or even just list it for a few bucks). Stuff goes on Free Craigslist sometimes within a 1/2 hour of listing, at least in my experience.

    The mugs look great and we love mugs at our house. I would have no problem having a used one, they are pretty easy to thoroughly clean.

    1. Yes! Another person in my mug camp :)! We love mugs too–so much so that we keep breaking them. Something about accidentally dropping them on a wood floor or quartz countertop… not so good 🙂

  12. I do not know if I have mentioned our neighborhood Free Store on here. It has sadly been shut down, but it was the source of quite a few of our kitchen items, including THREE identical 13×9 Pyrex casserole dishes. You might think that a person doesn’t need three casseroles, but we often host brunches and dinners and I really do use them all at the same time on a regular basis.

    I have no qualms about using secondhand dishware. Don’t we all eat off of the same plates as strangers every time we go to a restaurant? This reminds me of the joke about how no one wants to buy a used mattress, but most everyone will pay over $100 a night to sleep on a used mattress at a hotel.

    1. Perfect! You hit the nail on the head with the hotel and restaurant comments. So true. Plus, we do wash the stuff carefully before we use it. Your Pyrex casserole dishes sound amazing!

  13. Living in an apartment building, our trash goes down a chute. Sometimes the neighbours discard old furniture but nothing that was of interest to me. That said, I will say that I’m not close to being there on the comfort scale of dumpster diving but I’ll admit you scored some great finds!

    1. I will say that none of this stuff came out of actual dumpsters. They tend to be too nasty! We go more for the lightly tossed piles of stuff freshly on the curb on moving day.

      I do dive in construction dumpsters for building material. That’s a matter for another post though… 😉

  14. Haha you could come by and pick up a bunch of mugs and glassware we don’t need anymore! Bonus is that they are not from the trash – instead a la courtesy of the Kapitalusts 😀

  15. You found some great stuff! Kudos to you for not being afraid to use it. Not sure I would want to eat out of something found in the trash … does that make me uptight?! lol!

    1. Hah! Well we washed it really well. I figure it’s not any different that drinking out of a mug in a restaurant. Lots of random folks drank out of it before you, but at least with the trash mug you know it was washed really well! 🙂

  16. Nice haul yet again! Have you guys ever looked up the retail value of the stuff you’ve found for free over the months/years? I’d be interested to see how much that stuff would have cost you had you bought it new at the mall, department store, souvenier shop, etc like a consumerist sukka!

    I bet those mugs would cost at least $6.99 new at the store. And just for curiosity purposes, I looked up a fonddue pot on Amazon.com and a brand new Cuisinart Fondue Pot would set you back a cool $50!

    1. Huh, that would be interesting! The exact fondue set we scored is this one:


      So $179! Not that we’d ever pay that, but still fun to look at! It’s amazing that they people who were getting rid of it didn’t bother to put it up on craigslist. I best they could have gotten _something_ for it!

  17. Those are some awesome finds!! I would totally grab things off the road – as long as it can washed or sanitized, I don’t care where it was. I’d skip stuff like mattresses and couches, but I’ve definitely picked up kitchen, coffee and ends tables before. And shelving. I get really excited about free bookshelves.

    1. Soft things are definitely much sketchier. Something made of fabric would have to look _really_ nice before we took it. Though I do have an amazing J. Crew shirt that we found on the side of the road with the tags still on! That was an awesome find! I kept waiting for someone to come out of the apartment and say “Hey, That’s my shirt!”. But they never did. We also didn’t stick around too long to find out!

  18. Oh I want the apple peeler. Awesome. When we were kids my parents used to load us up in the van a go around on “white elephant” night and grab stuff from the curb side. You could start a good eBay business with your finds. Not sure if someone already suggested that. Great stuff.

    1. It’s totally true, some of our trash finds end up as white elephant gifts around the holiday season. My office in particular waits excitedly to see what we bring. We’ve built up a bit of a reputation over the years…

    1. I’ve never particularly wanted to make fondue, but I guess I have to now! The mugs are definitely the family favorite here. Our old mugs must feel shame by being replaced by mug literally pulled off the side of the road 🙂

  19. Haha I think that’s the advantage of living in a college town. You’ve got some great finds. I don’t mind eating stuff off a container from indeterminate origin. I always make sure I clean it thoroughly before I use it though.

    1. College towns are absolute bonanzas for trash finds, no doubt about it. And, agreed on the thorough washing 🙂

  20. Would I eat off of stuff I found in the trash? Hmmm…..that’s difficult. I’m a HUGE fan of cool mugs and those ones are kick-butt….but the trash makes it difficult for me. I can’t even eat food off of my wife’s plate. No clue why not….

    1. Your wife is lucky! Sometimes I have to fend off interested parties (ahem, Mr. Frugalwoods) from sampling my food. And we do wash the stuff before we eat off of it, never fear :).Thanks so much for stopping by; delighted to have you!

  21. I’m jealous of that apple corer/peeler. I would be jumping for joy too if I found one! I’m planning on making apple butter for everyone for Christmas, which is going to involve peeling and coring probably 40 pounds of apples. I’m eyeing a peeler on Amazon right now for $20…

    1. Apple butter sounds divine! I’ve never made it before. I’d totally lend you our trash corer/peeler if you lived nearby :)!

  22. We definitely have picked up plenty of great curb finds! Our coffee table, two office chairs, a classic wooden schoolroom chair from my high school, a dresser, a giant whiteboard, a pink glass casserole dish, sushi dishes, random assorted bowls, an olive dish…all kinds of stuff. We live near Stanford but have yet to go try to take advantage of moving day trash. It would be hard to haul, since we have no car!

    1. Woohoo–sounds like an awesome amalgamation of stuff! Nicely done! The Frugalwoods-mobile definitely comes in handy for the larger pieces, that’s for sure.

  23. Nice finds!! When I was still in school, I would take stuff that my friends left behind. I still use many of the items today. 🙂 We do not live in a neighborhood where people throw away nice things; otherwise, that would really save me money.

  24. great finds, dish soap and hot water will clean the glassware and mugs right up,
    for Thanksgiving we use a set of village scene dishes I alley picked from behind a neighbor’s house, moving days and post garage-sale trash is great

    1. What an awesome find! I find dishes in the trash surprisingly often and they’re usually unbroken too. Way to go on outfitting your Thanksgiving table! Thanks so much for sharing.

  25. Hey, I’ve got that big, blue mug! It’s one of my favorites!!

    I’m curious, now that it’s been a year (hi! New reader stalking the archives!) if you’ve used the margarita glasses or fondue set yet? I used to love free stuff, but now I avoid it like the plague, unless it’s something I actually really need. What do you do with the free stuff you get and find yourselves not using? (or does that not happen?)

  26. Most people I know are fond of picking up things left on the side of the road/trash.
    I try to buy as much used as I can (furniture, electronics, clothes and shoes). But I can’t handle the dishes and glassware. I have hand me downs , which I am totally and 100% ok with. But if it was in the trash/ditched somewhere, my brain just won’t let me. (But I also have some actual diagnosed OCD and taking hand me downs is already a huge step forward). Hopefully I will get there some day 😀

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