Originally Posted by SField
I like the stainless and the copper-core. Can't go wrong. All-clad is a bit expensive but I think you'd be happy.
You should also look into Le Creuset for pots and dutch ovens. I think they're essential to the home cook. (soups, stews, braising).
Whatever you do, only buy a couple pieces. There's nothing worse than some douchebag with like 12 pieces that he only uses one or two of. You only need a large pot/dutch oven, stock pot, a good 12" frying pan, maybe a 10" non stick, and a smaller sauce pan.
As one of the aforementioned douchebags, I agree. In my defense, though, the number of pans I wound up with was due to a couple of false starts out of ignorance. Some extremely low sale prices may have played a part also.
In my experience, these are good recommendations, with a few comments:
Follow the manufacturer's temperature recommendations to start with. If you don't get good results gradually raise the heat. Should only take a few meals before you figure out what's what, and at least you won't burn anything.
If you go stainless steel, watch for all-over tri-ply pans (layered SS and aluminum) vs cheaper pans that only have tri-ply in the base. Base-only is OK for a large stockpot, but I'd get tri-ply all-over for skillets and saucepans.
How many people are you cooking for? An enamelled cast iron dutch oven is essential, and I don't think a large and a small one is overkill if you cook for varying amounts of people. I agree with the Le Creuset recommendation, many people like Staub as well.
10" non-stick for eggs is a good idea. You'll have to replace it every few years so factor that into your buying; AC is expensive but they have lifetime replacement, I think.
You want something you can roast a chicken in. I usually use an enamelled cast iron 12" skillet. Or...
You may also want a roughly 10x14 roasting/lasagna/casserole pan (stainless steel, stoneware, whatever.) I use a SS lasagna pan from Calphalon, All-Clad makes one too. Good for roasting chicken on top of vegetables.
For baking, good old cheap Pyrex is fine. 10x14 pan to start, could also be used for casseroles. You might also want a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet; in addition to baking, it's also good for roasting potatoes and other vegetables.