The Plum Street Pottery dinnerware buying guide is a must read for those just starting out. Make the choice that works best for you!
Place Setting for One
Dinnerware is often sold as individual place settings—all the pieces you’d need for a single person’s seat at the table. The most common is a 4-piece place setting that includes a dinner plate, salad plate, soup bowl and a mug. A popular and versatile option is adding a second small all-purpose, also referred to as a rice bowl or fruit bowl, to create a 5-piece place setting which works equally well for ice cream, fruit, rice, pudding and gelato. Four (4) four piece place settings equal a 16-piece dinnerware set and four (4) five piece place settings equal a 20-piece dinnerware set.
The dinner plate needs to be generously sized for a protein (meat/fish), a starch (potatoes, rice, couscous) and a vegetable. The typical dinner plate ranges from 10 to 11 inches and is perfect for any main course meal. Another consideration when deciding on the size of the plate is the dishwasher. The larger the plate the more difficult it will be to keep the plates from tipping over.
For example, the Dansk Bistro Christianshavn Blue dinner plate is 10 1/8 inches round and fits perfectly in the dishwasher without tipping during the wash cycles.
Dinner plates are available in a variety of shapes … the traditional round coupe, round rimmed, square and soft square. The dinner plate shown below is the 11 inch round rimmed Noritake Colorwave Raspberry.
The salad plate generally ranges from 4 to 8 inches and is a terrific dessert plate as well. The salad plate is not only the ideal size for salads and desserts, it is also handy for the casual breakfast muffins and croissants or your favorite sandwich at lunchtime. Salad plates are also available in the same variety of shapes as the dinner plates. The Denby Heritage Terrace 8 Inch Accent Salad shown below is a great example of a functional salad plate and a beautiful accent for your table.
Soup / Cereal Bowl:
The soup/cereal bowl will be one of the most used dinnerware items in your cabinet. Many manfacturers call it an All-Purpose bowl for good reason. It will handle a lot more than soup including chili, stews, rice, pasta, oatmeal, fresh fruit and salads just to name a few. The Dansk Bistro Christianshavn Blue All-Purpose Bowl holds a generous 24 ounces and is a perfect example of the ultimate in versatility and design.
Save your cups and saucers for formal dinners. Today’s casual dinnerware designs feature generously sized mugs of 8 to 16 ounces. All mugs hold coffee, tea, hot chocolate and broth. The larger 16 ounce mugs are also great for your favorite soup. The Spice Cayenne Red 12 3/4 ounce mug is part of D&V Fortessa Spice Collection that includes Cilantro Green and Saffron Yellow. Spice is designed to mix and match any or all of the three coordinating colors.
Small All-Purpose Bowl:
One item often overlooked is the small all-purpose bowl. Like its bigger brother the soup bowl it is equally versatile but will hold smaller amounts. The bowls will run from 4-inch mini bowls and 5 inch rice bowls to 21 ounce small-all purpose bowls. The addition of this bowl makes a very popular 5-piece place setting. The 16 ounce French Perle Fruit Bowl is a great example.
A single set of dinnerware is made up of multiple place settings. The most common are 16- and 20-piece sets, which offer service for four. What’s in them? The 16-piece set includes four each of the dinner plate, salad plate, soup bowl and a mug. The 20-piece set typically includes a small all-purpose bowl that is used for rice, ice cream and gelato . Gibson Elite Cafe Versailles 20-Piece Dinnerware Set is an excellent example of a 20-piece dinnerware set that includes an extra small all-purpose bowl.
Open Stock Dinnerware
Last but not least, any dinnerware buying guide must review the ultimate in customization. Open stock dinnerware allows you to pick and choose exactly which dishes, plates and mugs you want and need. Sometimes they are sold as a mix-and-match collection; you can choose from coordinating designs and colors within the same pattern. A great example of open stock mix-and-match dishes is the Spice Collection from D&V Fortessa. There are four Spice colors, Cayenne, Cilantro, Saffron and Salt. In addition, Spice has round and square dishes so you can not only mix colors but you can mix shapes.
No dinnerware buying guide would be complete without discussing the dinnerware materials. Every dinnerware material has its advantages and disadvantages. For a complete review visit the Plum Street Pottery Dinnerware Materials page.
Please be sure to send us a comment if we missed or overlooked any information that should be covered in our Dinnerware Buying Guide!