Thrift Store Score Collections: Vintage Picnic Plates

I’ve been wanting to show off some of my thrifted collections in an effort to promote a good life using thrifted items in every day life. As much as I love vintage I’m not much for putting things on display. If I’m going to collect something I need it to be useful and to add something to my daily life. Today I’d like to share my collection of vintage melmac picnic plates.

I don’t remember when I started collecting these but it had to have been around the time Isobel started eating solid food. As useful as these plates are for picnics and outdoor entertaining, they take on a whole new dimension of usefulness when you have a child with the opposite of a Midas touch–babies don’t turn things they touch into gold so much as they render them sticky, and quite often, broken. We still regularly give her lunch or dinner on these trusty melmac plates because she loves the beautiful design and I love that she can literally throw them in the sink without serious consequences.

Plastic plates like these are still pretty cheap at thrift stores. You’ll find a mark up at antique stores or estate sales, but usually only if you are buying a set. Personally I’ve drooled over sets on ebay before but ultimately I love the haphazard mix-and-match look of our eclectic collection. I have several plates with the blue flower design and those were made in Israel according to a faded sticker on the back. It made quite a journey from there to my kitchen cupboard, and I love that. The only item that wasn’t thrifted was the adorable pink cat holding a daisy. That was mine from back in the day. My mom, cat whisperer extraordinaire, could not bear to part with it so she was glad to finally pass it on to Isobel.

I brought these plates with us for our picnic lunch at the cabin. That’s where all these photos were taken. My family was staying in a cabin with some relatives when Anthony, Isobel, my dad and I went up for the day. We didn’t want to put a strain on their dishware reserves so we brought our own. I brought lunch for all of us which is always a challenge because my dad has type-II diabetes and must carefully monitor what he eats.

I decided on making what I call White Girl Tacos: the day before I slow-cooked seasoned beef in a salsa braise and loaded up on veggie toppings packed in individual containers along with pre-made crunchy corn tortillas. I also packed a jar of peanut butter, wheat crackers, carrots, apples, dried fruit and nuts, grapbes and strawberries. Hiking through the hills and swimming in an ice-cold river build an appetite so we all had several tacos along with the snacks. Everything was delicious, even the meat which we didn’t bother to heat up, and I could relax in knowing that I didn’t have to monitor my dad’s carb intake.

When we were done eating I rinsed our plates in the sink and tossed them in the ice chest with our leftovers. I’m not sure if this is recommended for all vintage plates, but I regularly put mine through the dishwasher, which is what I did when we got home. Our picnic plates are also our everyday plates.

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