How often do you have to buy new plates and glasses: Musings on breakage

We recently stopped at Target and bought some new glasses and a Corelle set to replace those that have been broken lo these past few years.

How many years, you ask?  I can actually tell you that because deciding to buy Corelle caused some internet drama when I realized it would be foolish to get a nice set of Lenox or Wedgewood to replace the brave floral plates that had fallen over the years.  That post was up in Summer of 2014, so it seems like it takes 3 years for 2 children to force replacement purchasing.  Given that purchase happened in 2014, I can also calculate that it takes 6 years for one child (and two sleep deprived parents) to force replacement purchasing. (We initially had another set that we got rid of because life is too short to live with dinnerware that is not microwave safe).

Last time we picked out tumblers that were most like our previous glasses.  Fortunately for us, this newer style is still in stock after 3 years.  So we’re down to one tall glass and two shorter tumblers in the old style along with 8 tall ones in the new style and too many of the shorter tumblers to fit in their special place in the cupboard.  I guess the tall ones are more likely to break even though we never give them to small children.

For china, last time we bought more we decided we wanted plain white easy-to-replace difficult-to-break Corelle.  Even if we could afford something fancier.  Corelle is nice because it is much more likely to bounce safely than our previous higher quality porcelain.  Sadly, when it does break it shatters into a zillion thin shards rather than the two or three large pieces that nicer china falls into, which means after sweeping and vacuuming we still have to mop the floor just to be sure.  The choice of plain white seems to have been a good one as it is still available and I didn’t shed too many tears getting a new set.  Of course, now we have way too many coffee cups as they never seem to break and they come with the Corelle set.

My parents would just pick up bits and pieces from other people’s former sets at garage sales and didn’t buy a new matched set until both children were off to college and no longer washing dishes by hand.  We don’t really have time for garage sales, so $40 every few years at Target seems like a reasonable purchase for us.

How long does your china and glassware last?  How do you replace it (new sets or single pieces?  same design or different?)?  Is your cupboard full of mismatched former sets waiting for the final piece to break like ours is?


34 Responses to “How often do you have to buy new plates and glasses: Musings on breakage”

  1. Leah Says:

    Wow, I have never broken a piece of Corelle. We also still have all of our wedding dishes — a set of every day china from Crate & Barrel in plain white that we love. Granted, my kid is still fairly small. She sometimes eats off of plastic IKEA plates (delamination with the bowls is our only issue there, but our bowls are tons older than our kid) and sometimes off our Crate & Barrel wedding dishes. We are lucky to not have a thrower.

    So, it’s been 5 years with the wedding dishes, and I think I’ve had my few random Corelle pieces for about 8 years. I also had a previous set of Corelle with no breakage that I had all through college and grad school. I gave it away when moving and still regret it.

    We have yet to break anything other than wine glasses here *knock on wood*. We use heavy pint glasses or plastic glasses. But, in grad school, I bought a set of 8 IKEA glasses, and my roommates managed to break several. I think I broke 1 (maybe?). Pretty sure I only had 4 left to give away by the end. It appears that I am fairly cautious with dishes too.

    I did break lots of my parents’ Pfaltzgraff china growing up. That was their wedding china. My mom bought the Corelle because of that, I think.

    • Ally Says:

      My parents still have all the Corelle that they’ve had for the past at least…32 years at least? (based on the fact that I can’t remember any other dishes aside from actual breakable plates I can remember from my childhood). Granted, it’s only been in the past few years that they haven’t had vinyl in the kitchen so…

      • Leah Says:

        We never had tile, so maybe that’s the difference. We’ve always had some sort of vinyl floor (or wood now in their house). This is actually why I prefer vinyl or laminate or something like that. Same with counters — I have a high-end laminate counter now and actually prefer that to granite, as I always worry about breaking stuff on my parents’ granite countertops. Or ruining the countertops . . .

  2. Hypatia Cade Says:

    I think breakage does also depend on the type of dishes — so 3-6 years with 1-2 kids with corelle makes sense to me. We use stoneware. It breaks when dropped. I anticipate when kids start doing dishes we’ll be replacing fairly rapidly. (Though I don’t like what we have so I won’t be terribly sad about that).

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I really liked the stoneware we naively got before DC1 was born. It had pretty flowers. :/

      It has been pointed out to us that if we replaced the kitchen tile with linoleum we wouldn’t be having so many shatters. Though to be fair, some things break in the sink. We are multi-talented.

      • contingent cassandra Says:

        I’ve definitely broken more dishes (and glass/pyrex cooking vessels) since I moved into an apartment with a tile-floored kitchen. Linoleum and vinyl tile are much more forgiving.

  3. monsterzero Says:

    Heh, I still have a plate and two small bowls from my dorm cafeteria 25 years ago. They totally bounce when dropped!

    As you may have guessed, we have kind of a jumble of things in our cupboards. We don’t have company much, so four of each thing suffices. Our forks keep disappearing and I don’t know why, so we need to get more of those. I also need to get a nice sharp knife, mostly for chopping vegetables; any suggestions?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We like our Shun knives, but they are way more expensive than you need. The “best” knives on the market are much cheaper… I can’t remember off the top of my head what they are, but I got them for my sister for Christmas not too long ago so I’m sure they’re in my amazon thing (or you can look up “best cooking knives”). Generally if you only have one kitchen knife, you want it to be a utility knife. If you have two, then you should get a chef’s knife if your hands are big or a santoku if your hands are small (I love my santoku). If you get a third knife, it should be a bread knife if you like to eat a lot of bakery-style bread, then maybe a paring knife (we never use ours though). And that’s really all you need unless you want one for carving turkey.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        bread knife:

        Will need to dig more for the other two knives…

        Aw heck, I’m gonna do this as a future ask the grumpies.

      • First Gen American Says:

        I have some expensive knives but I also love my cheap ones that I bought from the restaurant supply store. If you have one near you, go there and also buy a knife sharpener. My butcher just sharpens his knife before use and uses the restaurant grade ones.

  4. Leigh Says:

    I got a set of 8 Corelle big, medium, and small plates, bowls, and mugs back in early 2010. So far, one bowl has broken and I think one medium plate. At the same time, I got 8 wine glasses, tall glasses, and short glasses. I think 1-2 wine glasses have broken, as well as 1-2 tall glasses. When my husband moved in, he brought a full set of cutlery, glasses, and dishware with him. Last summer, we sold his plates, bowls, and mugs (they were really heavy and big) and bought an extra set of 8 big Corelle plates and large bowls to match mine and we are still good. Some of the plates have started showing knife marks at this point, but I assume we can still get at least another five years out of them.

  5. gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

    I got one set of plates about 30–35 years ago. Of the 6 plates, one is chipped and used just to sit underneath the compost bucket—the rest are in almost daily use. The Fiestaware we bought at antique stores 25 years ago is almost all still with us, except for a couple of small pieces. We did lose a couple of wine glasses and a vase in the Loma Prieta quake of 1989.

    We have a terra-cotta tile floor in our kitchen, so if we drop things they are likely to break. I would estimate that we break a bowl, cup, or glass about once every two years and we have far more than we need, so I don’t think we’ll need to get replacements until we get so old that we can’t hold plates any more. Note: we used plastic plates and bowls with our son until he was around 10 years old.

    For knives, I like my Japanese usuba knife for vegetables, a Chicago cutlery bread knife, and very cheap Harvest Forge Chef’s knife and paring knife. My wife prefers her Global knives (classic chef knife, boning knife, utility knife, and paring knife). We have a lot of other knives that don’t get used much.

  6. bethh Says:

    I’m a mishmash in the same color family, so mostly blues and yellows when you look in my cabinet, with a bit of white and green. I don’t host dinner parties and live alone, but I can easily serve 2 from matching dishes, four from a nice-looking mix, and when I recently hosted brunch for 10 (!) everyone had to eat off of small plates and just go back for seconds. (I also needed a folding card table!) I used to host a soup night sometimes and had people bring their own bowls so I didn’t have to limit invites to match my cabinet supplies.

    The only things I actually break are wine glasses, but I HAVE started getting rid of stuff if it’s chipped – I go back and forth between “it’s good enough” and “I can afford to have non-chipped items” and when I’m in the latter mood I tend to do Goodwill drop-offs.

  7. chacha1 Says:

    We don’t have kids, so any breakage is our own fault. We broke several wineglasses before we upgraded our kitchen faucet to a high-necked one. The DH has broken several plates/bowls, and I’ve broken a couple of coffee mugs, mostly by bashing them around in the sink. Our everyday dishes, bought 15+ years ago, are super-cheap pressed-glass “banquet ware;” we still have, I think, nine out of twelve large plates, ten bowls, and eight or nine small plates. I also have a set of eight Black Willow stoneware plates from World Market.

    Our “good” china is a vintage service for twelve that we handle with extreme care. It’s been used quite a lot and we haven’t broken any pieces since we got it in 2000.

    When we move this summer, we will be in a house without a dishwasher so we may use the vintage china more often, but I’m also going to replace the glass plates/bowls with melamine because we’ll be eating outdoors a lot more often.

  8. contingent cassandra Says:

    I bought myself a decent set of Crate and Barrel stoneware in a pattern that I liked when it was discontinued about a decade ago — 18 place settings, so it would last a while (realistically, most of it will probably last my lifetime or beyond). I haven’t broken much (a couple of tea cups and one saucer which I glued together for use under plants, if I’m remembering correctly), but there are some chips (I wash dishes by hand, in a bar-size studio-apartment kitchen sink, so opportunities for chipping are plentiful). I’m also finding that the bowls (the wide flat kind), but only the bowls, are showing a good deal of wear, mostly in the form of chipping/crazing on the interior. So I’ve been checking ebay for replacements for those. I’d also like some tea/coffee mugs. If I replenish a bit, it seems likely that one of the nieblings (or the local thrift store) is going to inherit a fairly complete set of early-21st-century stoneware one of these days.

    Glasses go more quickly, and I’ve never actually bought a set, just used up leftovers from grandparents (which is also what I did for china in grad school). I just pulled out a few painted peanut butter/jelly glass jars that go well with the china from the stuff-from-grandparents stash, and I may supplement those, too, via ebay. I also need a plain set of glasses — that’s on the list for the next trip to Ikea.

  9. Debbie M Says:

    No kids here. No pets. No tile floors. No granite counter tops. No earthquakes. So we have minimal breakage, in spite of us being ourselves.

    When the water gets turned on after a disruption, it tends to do nothing at first and then blast out. Once I was holding one glass over another glass at the time and both got broken. But now I am wary of this, too!

    Plates: We used to use mine from after grad school (~1988) but then found a prettier set and gave my old stuff away (some bowls were missing). The prettier set, however, started developing cracks and was made in China, so we tossed it out of fear and got Corelle. We don’t get sets. My boyfriend had some from before and we got extras of things we liked at the Corelle outlet, which is not that cheap (except one time they had a sale!!), but at least you can buy by the piece.

    Our philosophy on glasses is that we like mismatched ones so long as they’re all clear. (Admittedly, one did have bats on it.) These break more often, maybe one or two a year, though I don’t remember any breaking recently. I remember being so excited to get to drink out of glass instead of plastic when I was a grown-up that it’s worth having to replace it occasionally.

    Also, we had way too many mugs and when we were downsizing, we got rid of all the matching mugs and just kept our favorite one-of-a-kind mugs. (Exception: we are using four matching mugs to hold up the microwave on the counter. This lets us open the microwave door even if we have a bowl or something in front of it. And then we can also store something underneath it, like a food scale.)

    I’m on my second set of silverware. I got some after college; then my sister was getting rid of her nicer ones that stack well. We have not accidentally thrown any of these away with paper plates, as my mom theorizes happened with her silverware, partly because I have been careful, but mostly because we don’t use paper plates.

  10. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    I’m excessively proud that we still have a nearly full set of Corelle nearly six years on. Or is it four? More than three, anyway. And the one piece that we’re missing was because PiC shattered it into a kajillion pieces, not me. As the resident klutz, I’m way too happy not to be the culprit.

    We still have all our cups and mugs, going into year eight. JuggerBaby still primarily uses plastic but is allowed to use glasses on occasion with adult supervision. Ze has only destroyed one glass and that was at an airport. Whoops.

    I assume this happy state of affairs won’t last much longer as ze gets bigger though.

    I’m not sure if we’ll be motivated to get a new set or if we’ll make do with a mix of the old, heavy glass plates that are already heavily chipped along with the surviving set. It’s really nice to have the Corelle – it’s so light and easy on my hands the way that glass is not.

  11. Rosa Says:

    I had acquired a “set” of mismatched but same color scheme plates I really liked.

    Then we got a dishwasher. Half the plates were too tall for the dishwasher rack. The bowls were too thick for the spaces in the rack. The child was taking a toll on all of it (we got a dishwasher when he was a toddler).

    So now I have a bunch of old school corelle, that stacks nicely, that I picked up here and there. Most of it is plain white. I like the old cereal bowl size and shape. I don’t think it was cheaper, overall, than a set, but I didn’t want the larger plates or the teacups and whatnot.

    I figure, by the time the child is out of the house either I will want a nice matched set of something or we’ll be ready to minimalize down to, like, 2 plates and 2 bowls and 2 pint glasses. And some nice knives, ours are pretty crap.

    (Also, heathens that we are, we mostly drink out of mason jars. They build up in the kitchen til I have enough to pack a dozen into a box, so there are always some.) We have a stack of all the same plastic cups for when many children are in the house at once.

  12. CBS Says:

    My husband had blue stoneware dishes in quite a classic middle class English brand and I’ve added new pieces. I’m not overly fussed about perfect matching so just buy things in shades of blue, teal and white – polka dots, florals, stripes. I love Polish pottery and these tend to fit my colour scheme quite well, and I pick up Le Creuset baking dishes at TKMaxx. I operate on a survival of the fittest strategy – nothing that can’t go in the dishwasher or so expensive that I’ll cry if it breaks.

    Baby is coming soon so we’ll see what changes.

  13. Katherine Says:

    We recently replaced my grad school dishes with white Fiestaware. We hadn’t broken any of the old ones (they were stoneware) but they didn’t fit well in the dishwasher, they were getting lots of grey silver-ware marks on them, and they mostly weren’t flat on the bottom, so they always wobbled on the table.

    I wanted to get fun colors of the Fiesta, but my husband really wanted white, and I think white is less likely to look dated than a color – we did get six different-colored mini pie plates, though. We chose Fiesta because we think it’s less likely to break than other things (I’ve seen it in college dining halls) and it will be easy to replace pieces in the future if they do break or we want/need a larger set.

    We also really like that there are several different sizes and styles of each kind of piece. We chose 9″ lunch plates instead of 11″ dinner plates to help us control portion sizes, and we chose a style of cereal bowls that looked like they would fit easily in the dishwasher. We didn’t get mugs, since we already have a bunch of white mugs and we never really use them anyway.

    • Leah Says:

      I love having smaller plates to control portions! I had to get the large dinner plates in our wedding set because it was a set, but we pretty much use those for serving and eat off of the “salad” plates instead. Plenty for me! If we ever buy new dishes, I’ll buy them by the piece instead of in a set, and we’ll do something similar — same with bowls and mugs too.

  14. tracylee Says:

    We have tile floor now in our renovated kitchen. I had dishes bounce off​ hardwood floors in our old house that now shatter. We have a mismatch of dishes from my stuff, his stuff, stuff given to us, inherited stuff. So I’m not really tied to anything. My father-in-law gave my husband dishes from Bennington pottery that are heavy and not kid friendly, so they’re mostly stored (except the bowls, which have an awesome rim that makes them great for salads and soups). We didn’t get a wedding set of dishes. Our drinkware doubles as storage (mason jars). Only thing I’ve been sad about breaking is my 1980s smurfette glass. Someday I’ll find a replacement.

  15. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    I got the red-bordered corelle ware that you can kind of mix and match and then filled it in with a couple other designs, on the grounds that then it wouldn’t be so mismatched. That was four years ago; naturally, we haven’t broken a single thing. We also have red and white ramekins and a bunch of pyrex dollar store water and wine glasses, of which we’ve killed two wine glasses in twelve years, all to stems snapping off once dropped. We have a linoleum floor now (though granite counters) which reduces breakage some.

    I did accidentally murder my favorite blue wine glasses while pregnant, by dropping stuff on them. They were from a tiny pottery in Ohio and maybe I’ll find some more one day, as I’m unlikely to go back.

  16. First Gen American Says:

    We break dishes often and I hate eating off of chipped dishes.

    We never bought China. All my dishes are white from the same brand I can buy in sets of 4 of each kind of thing off amazon and it’s cheap. The dishes changed some over the years so my small plates and bowls are a little different batch to batch but they are close enough. More importantly I don’t have to buy a set of something because I mainly have needed to replace the bowls and wine glasses the most. Wine glasses were from target and super cheap. Expensive wine glasses don’t fit in my dishwasher or cupboards easily.

    We eat from the lunch plates and cereal bowls the most. My dishes look like they match because they are all white.

    Plus as a cooking snob, the plate should not take away from the presentation of the food so it seems high end when it’s totally not.

    I don’t like eating off of Corelle or paper or plastic plates.

  17. Grumpy Rumblings 2020 year in Blogging | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured) Says:

    […] How often do you have to buy new plates and glasses:  Musings on breakage April 2017 (I don’t know why this suddenly became popular, I totally didn’t […]

  18. Grumpy Rumblings 2021 year in Blogging | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured) Says:

    […] How often do you have to buy new plates and glasses:  Musings on breakage April 2017 (I don’t know why this became popular last year and continued this […]

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