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Recommend budget/bang-for-buck pots & pans

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
So I am moving out on my own soon, and am excited to finally get a decent set of kitchenware that will be taken care of properly and not be fucked with by others.

Looking for recommendations on what pots/pans to get , not only brand/model recommendations, but also insight on which type and size of pots/pans are essential for daily cooking and which may not be.

Nothing high end or fancy required, just stuff that is affordable, yet performs well for the price. As an analogy to knives, I am planning to get an 8" Victorinox/Forschner Chefs Knife, and paring knife, as recommended in other threads in this forum. What are the pots/pans equivalent of that?

post #2 of 27
All-clad is replacing their stainless line with their first update in god knows how long. Very good time to buy imo if you look around. Lots of good sales going on right now as people move old stock. I know that's your typical styleforum facepalm.gif answer given the original question, but still, i've got to put it out there.

FWIW, my first set of cookware was all-clad irregulars from this place: and i'm still very happy with them. The cosmetic defects were MINOR to invisible on the pieces i purchased and prices were up to 50% off retail. MC2 is a bit cheaper than stainless overall, but it's more work to keep clean as the exterior is brushed aluminum and not polished stainless. Definitely qualifies as bang for buck tho. ;p

I lived with a 3qt saute pan, 3.5qt saucepan, 8qt stock pot, and a 1qt saucier for a long time.
post #3 of 27
I own a set of Cuisinart pots and pans; bought them at Macy's when they were liquidating a number of stores. They're tri-ply, they've been workhorses for me, fairly heavy, handles stay cool, I would buy them again with confidence. I paid about $120 I think for the whole set, including 8" and 10" skillets, 10" saute pan, stockpot, two sauce pans, and lids.

At Christmas I found a virtually identical set, but with some slight improvements (more rounded saute pan edges, for example, so better for stirring/whisking and a little less heat concentration), that I bought for my brother. Same general price range: about $130 for a full set.

America's Test Kitchen has done reviews of the stuff on the market and the Wal-Mart line "Tramontina" gets consistently high reviews as well.
post #4 of 27
post #5 of 27
Agree with Tramontina for stainless tri-ply. Very good value.

For enamelled cast-iron, I'd go with Le Creuset or Staub, the class leaders with lifetime warranties. Downside: they're spendy. LC's seconds are fine and can be found at Marshall's and TJ Maxx, along with their own outlets. Get on the outlet's mailing list for coupons, and they'll also ship. Williams Sonoma is offering good prices on Staub. It sounds like you may be cooking mostly for one or two at first, I'd start with a smaller dutch oven - maybe 4.5 quart. Also consider the Staub 2.75 quart braiser from WS. This little guy jumped right to the top of my rotation; I've used it to braise beef short ribs, a beef and onion stew, two big lamb chops, etc.

You should have a cast iron skillet. For plain cast iron, go with Lodge. For enamelled cast iron, Staub at WS seems a good bet. If you get a 12" skillet you can roast a whole chicken in it, so you save the cost of a roasting pan.

Don't buy anything nonstick except a skillet for eggs and fish.
post #6 of 27
go to marshall's/tj maxx... pretty nice stuff for cheap.
post #7 of 27
You can do a lot of cooking for $150 on an 8 piece Tramontina set from Wal-Mart. It's their top of the line set and gets decent reviews. You can even buy it online so you avoid the People of Wal-Mart shopping experience. Remember that the lids are considered a 'piece' in most boxed sets that you buy.

I recently got a Crate & Barrel catalog with an 10 piece, Cuisinart MultiClad set for $200.
post #8 of 27
Thread Starter 
Awesome stuff, this is what I was looking for.

Hopefiully I can find the Tramontina without too much trouble in Canada. No TJ Maxx here, but might check out Homesense which is similar.
post #9 of 27
William-Sonoma often have a decent pan set sale on Calphalons and All-Clads, so you can get a 9/10 inch and a 12 inch pan set for about $120 or so
post #10 of 27
I never saw much Tramontina instore except a couple skillets and dutch ovens, but ship to store was free.

One thing to watch out for with stainless - some lines are tri-ply all over, some have just a thick layered disk on the bottom. The bottom-only type should work OK and is cheaper if you're on a budget, you should just be aware of what you're getting. I've seen both types from Cuisinart and Macy's. Everything All Clad makes is tri-ply all over AFAIK.
post #11 of 27
I got a set of Cuisinart's clad stuff and I have really liked it.
post #12 of 27
Thread Starter 
So sounds like the common theme is that I should be going for clad cookware, minus a non-stick skillet?
post #13 of 27
Originally Posted by sonick View Post

So sounds like the common theme is that I should be going for clad cookware, minus a non-stick skillet?

For stainless steel, yes. But there are other cookware types you might prefer for some uses. And you'll probably want a stainless or cast iron skillet in addition to the nonstick so you can brown things or grill a steak, neither of which nonstick will do well.

Google for recommendations from Cooks Illustrated, which is where I got most of my advice. They're a good source of info.

It's easy to OD on cookware. As someone mentioned above, you can get by with surprisingly little if you choose versatile pieces. Think about what you actually need right now according to what you normally cook and for how many people. Then buy the best quality you can, and add on as your needs change.
post #14 of 27
Another vote for Tramontina tri-ply 8-piece set. This is an on-line only set from Wal-Mart. Bought a set for my mom, and immediately bought a set for myself after seeing them in person.
post #15 of 27
i used to drive for fed ex. and i delivered a lot of pampered chef packages. finally looked into it and picked up a small catalog, because i am also looking for some cook wear. looks like quality stuff.
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