You could eat off paper plates, but you’d be tossing money in the trash can. You can get by with a cheap set of plastic or melamine, but probably shouldn’t put them in the microwave. Stoneware looks good and grown-up, but it weighs a ton and chips easily. Porcelain is fragile and laughably expensive for a fledgling.
You need something that is inexpensive, lightweight, durable, dishwasher-safe, microwave-safe, good-looking, and versatile. Seems impossible, doesn’t it?
I grew up with Corelle dishes, and I can not recommend them enough.¹ Introduced in 1970, Corelle dishes are made of a break-resistant glass called vitrelle. Because they are glass, they are microwavable, dishwasher-safe, and stain resistant. They are also thin, lightweight, translucent, and inexpensive. Corelle dishes can be bought from almost any store which sells home goods, including Walmart, Meijer, Kroger Marketplace, Target, JCPenney, Kohl’s, and Bed Bath & Beyond. Several of these retailers also carry select open stock pieces, as well, so if a plate does get broken accidentally, it can be easily replaced. You can also buy directly from the manufacturer.
For your first dishes, purchase solid white pieces only. White dishes are easier to clean (you can tell when they ARE clean) and coordinate with almost everything. Later, if you want to add in more decorative pieces, your existing solid-colored dishes still have a place in your cabinet as (un)accent pieces. My initial purchase was for Winter Frost White pieces from the Livingware collection. If you prefer a more contemporary look, try Pure White from the Square collection (it’s a little more expensive, though). For a more decorative look (but still solid white), there’s Enhancements from the Vive line.
The two dishes I use the most are the 28-oz. bowls (large enough to fit the contents of an entire can of Progresso soup!) and salad plates, so if you’re pressed for cash or just want to give the dishes a try without much investment, purchase one or two of each of those pieces open-stock. If you’re one of those picky eaters who absolutely can’t stand for your foods to touch, Corelle offers divided plates.
Currently, I own eight pieces each of the Winter Frost White dinner plate, salad/dessert plate, bread-and-butter plate (perfect for a slice of cake!), 28-oz soup/cereal bowl, rimmed soup/salad bowl (my favorite for spaghetti), and 18-oz soup/cereal bowl. Unless all your meals come from the microwave, you may want to purchase some serving dishes, as well. I currently own two pasta bowls, two 1-qt serving bowls, one 2-qt serving bowl, and a platter.
There are dozens of other sizes and shapes available in Winter Frost White alone, plus you can buy lids to turn some of your bowls into storage containers.
You can certainly find dishes out there that cost less than Corelle, but nothing else compares for versatility, availability, durability, and lots of other “abilities”. In later posts, we’ll discuss selecting drinkware, flatware, cookware, and more, plus cover good dishwashing and food safety practices.
If you’re already an owner of Corelle dishes, what’s your favorite pattern?
¹ I have no financial connections to World Kitchen, manufacturer of Corelle, Corningware, and Pyrex products, nor to Corning, Inc., which developed vitrelle.