When I look at a recipe, it says medium saucepan, small saucepan, large saucepan, large dutch oven, or no specified size at all, etc. maybe its just me, but it is not intuitive what this means. is there a guide(general) to choosing the adequate size for a dish? when i look at the amount of water and other ingredients where do i start? at least I know that if a pot is too big or too small it may affect the outcome of the dish..
your kind responses will also help me buy the appropriate size in cookware for the amounts that i cook.
I think the cookware manufacturers are capitalizing on your very dilemma---this is why it's so popular to buy sets of pans.
I can't think of a hard-and-fast rule, which is probably why I've never thrown a pot or pan away and have so many to choose from. My advice is to try to guess, from the recipe, the maximum volume that will be in the pan at any one time (remember, a cup of sugar plus a cup of water will still only be about a cup in the pan). The pan should be at least twice that big if the contents are mostly liquid.
I just looked at some of my saucepans, and I'd say 1/2 quart is small, 2 quarts is medium, and 3-4 quarts is large. Bigger than that and you've got a Dutch oven or stock pot.