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Starting Anew in the Kitchen

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
We are moving, and decided to scrap all of our junk. I'm not at all wealthy, but I love well made 'things.' I'm sick of owning stuff I wouldn't re-buy so I want to start saving my money and only buy quality items that will last me the rest of my life. I want to start in the kitchen since I cook a lot. I need a few knives and cookware. I currently have one saucepan with a lid that I like, one Le Crueset baking dish, an amazing pizza stone (ceramic coated good to 700f) and some Polish bowls and cups (I love the heft and durability, my wife likes the silly look).

So the first thing I want to buy is a 'frying' pan, a chefs knife a 4.5" pairing knife and some utensils, I won't be able to afford more than $300 total. Do you know of cooking utensils that not only perform well and last but are considered exceptional values???

I had a couple of Calphalon pans a few years ago that I really liked (gave em away because we went to the Peace Corps), are they considered to be high quality?

I've been reading a lot about knives and most of it seems contradictory, is there a high quality knife that everyone can agree I should buy and only costs around $75, for an 8" chef's knife?

What cookware do you enjoy using? I've found the Le Creuset piece extremely easy to clean and doesn't chip easily, is there something of as good or better value out there?

Thanks for the help on this, let me know if this is even possible, also consider that I make a VERY lousy salary but I love my job.
post #2 of 11
Cooks Illustrated likes the Victorinox Fibrox line - the 8" chef's knife is $30 online.

For enamelled cast iron, Staub is a little less expensive alternative to Le Creuset, available at Williams Sonoma among others. Some pieces go on sale occasionally, right now they have a Staub 4-qt. dutch oven for $80 instore only, a bargain. Both Staub and LC come with lifetime guarantees.

For an all-around skillet, regular cast iron is very inexpensive yet lasts forever. Downside is that it's heavy and requires light maintenance.

Utensils? Peeler, tongs, slotted spoon, non-slotted spoon, spatula. Try Marshalls/TJ Maxx for these.
post #3 of 11
You might find some additional useful information on this topic in the Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel forum. I've seen it discussed at some length in threads there.
post #4 of 11
Sabatier carbon steel knives are amazingly sharp, with better edge retention and sharpening than typical stainless knives.

They discolor a bit, but are very very good at cutting things (which is what a knife is for, after all.) We love ours.
post #5 of 11
I was kind of in the same position as you when I started out on my own a year ago. I really wanted All-Clad cookware, but found out that both Cuisinart and Calphalon make high quality triple ply alternatives that many actually prefer. Just make sure you are actually getting the triply stuff though and you will be fine. For knives we splurged, but you could probably find a nice wusthof used on ebay. Actually someone was trying to sell one on here and I bet it's still available.

I have really enjoyed this nonstick pan. It heats up quickly and seems to be high quality.
post #6 of 11
I also second the TjMaxx Marshalls suggestion, I have found quite a few nice things there. They often have Le Creuset and All Clad at mine and decent knives.
post #7 of 11
post #8 of 11
+1 on the WalMart Tramontina set and the Victorinox Fibrox Chef's Knife.
post #9 of 11
Originally Posted by BrianVarick View Post

This is actually a pretty decent price for a really good price.
that is a pretty good set at a very good price. usually when you guy pans in sets they stick in a couple stinkers that are sizes youll never use. these all look pretty solid. i would definitely add in a nonstick skillet (cheapest heaviest you can find ... you'll probably go through them).
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
I'm certain that I haven't bought the best stuff around, but most of it seems like high value.

I bought a Calphalon Anodized fry pan-10", a Medium sized wok that is ceramic coated (it cooks really well if I don't over-load it). For bakeware I've only bought a Le Creuset 10" pie pan and a $7 Pyrex 9" pie pan (both are easy to clean). I've purchased one bamboo cutting board that seems like it is really well made and was only $12. I also bought an Iron wood cutting board that is heavy and cool looking along with some really cheap knives that my friend recommended, they are Kiwi Knives from Thailand. The cheap knives are good cause I want to learn how to sharpen knives and my friend says he's had his for 5 years, and despite looking solid they've lasted him and stay sharp for a good amount of time. I also bought a Zhen-Taiwanese made chef's knife made out of VG-10 steel, the handle on it is gorgeous and it cuts everything like it was made out of butter! For a sharpening stone I went with a Kotobuki King 250+1000/K-80 Combo which gets good review despite the $30 price tag. A few other things: a Panasonic Rice Cooker (supposedly the most popular rice cooker in Japan), an Emile Henry ceramic coated pizza stone (THAT SHIT IS AMAZING!), a bunch of kitchen towels, and a few wooden utensils and a stainless flipper. So far I'm loving my tools, maybe in 5-10 years when I'm making a whole lot more I can afford Shun/All-Clad and other Williams-Sonoma level cookware, but I'm certain that 75% of this stuff will be in use-able condition come 5 years from now.

I bought most of it via TJ Maxx and Amazon.
post #11 of 11

If you can only afford $300 right now, but want a really good set, I would buy cookware little by little and add onto what you have over time.  I cook with All Clad. They are easy to clean and stainless steel, which is probably what you want if you are going to do any serious cooking. Start with a saute pan and a larger pot for pasta. Those are the two I use on a daily basis. 

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