Baking sheets: half sheets 13″ x 18″
A good baking sheet is heavy so it doesn’t warp in the oven. It will last a lifetime. My recipes are designed for a half-sheet, which is 13 x 18 inches.
Now and then COSTCO has baking sheets at rock bottom prices. I just bought two high-quality half sheets there for $5 each (you have to buy two). Another place to buy good quality half sheets is Sur La Table. On sale as low as $10 per sheet. And the internet is always a good bet, but these are heavy so watch out for the shipping charges.
These are a must have in your kitchen. Melissa Clark at the New York Times in “Behold, the Sturdy Sheet Pan” writes “Please tell me you have at least one of these professional-grade, heavy-duty pans. Of all the fancy kitchen equipment in my prodigious collection — the copper gratin dishes, the pressurized siphon, the multifunctional immersion blender — it’s the humble sheet pans I reach for most often. It’s more than a staple. It’s a workhorse. And for home cooks, it offers one of the most low-tech, convenient, inexpensive solutions to that age-old kitchen conundrum: what’s the quickest and easiest way to get a fresh, entirely homemade dinner on the table”. It’s hard to substitute: cookie sheets are not so good for roasting myriad small objects, which fall off when you give them a stir, and a roasting pan with taller sides inhibits browning and is best for large hunks of meat, not smaller pieces or vegetables.
Silicone mats – half sheet 11-3/4” x 16-1/2”
COSTCO recently (August 2013) had 3 silicone mats for $15 (two of them for half-sheets, the other is for a toaster or smaller pan).
I did an internet search for silicone half sheet mats and found some for as little as $8 (but beware of shipping charges).
My favorite silicone mat is silpat, but over the years other brands similar to silpat have appeared at cheaper prices. Silicone mats clean off so easily, and last for thousands of uses, I can’t imagine living without one. I still haven’t thrown a 4-year-old mat out and I bake with it at least every other day–not just chips & crackers, but vegetables, fish, chicken, sliced potatoes — anything that goes in the oven I try to put on a mat, because it makes cleaning up go so quickly.
Bed, Bath, & Beyond sends me 20% off coupons year-round, and I’ve bought silpat silicon mats for as little as $16.
I’ve also bought silicon mats from amazon.com when there’s a good deal.
I haven’t had any luck at Crate & Barrel, Williams-Sonoma (way overpriced), Macy’s, and many other stores, but that could change, especially once the DIY-crackers movement gets going.
After reading Ehrenreich’s “Nickled and Dimed” I can’t bring myself to shop at Walmart, but I bet they have good deals.