New pots and pans - moderate budget
I need a new set of pots and pans. To be honest, we were fond of the set we have - but they're worn out. Don't laugh, but it's a pampered chef set that we got a good deal on for hosting one of those parties. They've served us well and lasted 8 years through heavy use.
We're looking for non-stick set that has the basics, and could buy some suplimentary pieces if necessary. But, we can't really afford a $600 box of cookware. At the same time, we can manage to purchase something nicer than a $79 box set of farberware from Walmart.
We've been eyeing up the cookware at Ikea as we've had good luck with their knives recently. We do have some decent restaurant supply stores in our area, so can get decent deals on the usual brands availible at slightly higher department stores.
We're also looking into Kitchen-Aid, Calphalon, and Cuisinart sets.
Any advice or opinions?
I'll say here that in the new Cook's Illustrated they did a Rating on Dutch Ovens. The Chef Mate Enamel coated Cast Iron came out with very high rankings. It was up there with Le Creuset. It only costs about $40 compared to the $200 range equivalent from Le Creuset. Not sure if thats what you're looking for but it might help and it certainly is cheap..
re: Produce Addict
Target sells the Chefmate products-- and possibly produces them as well. I can't find the dutch oven online though.
I've bought some miscellaneous products from the line (measuring spoons, a colander), but that is pretty high praise for their dutch oven. I'll have to keep an eye out.
We got nonstick Anolon Titanium from Macys, in a set if I recall - here are some items reviewed at Cooking.com:
Love these pans as they're durable and *relatively lightweight* - I nixed the idea of Calphalon after lifting those heavy suckers and then thinking how heavy they'd be full.
My favorite piece is the wok - definitely get that - it's so versatile.
Macy's has some bonus offer on this set and other individual items:
I have several different manufacturers lines. I really like Cuisinart Chef's Classic line as well as the Multiclad line. You can pick up individual pieces pretty cheap on Amazon.com or at TJ Maxx/HomeGoods.
Calphalon is great stuff. I have both commercial and professional lines. Again, you can get some of that pretty cheap on Amazon.
Lodge cast iron products are great! You can pick up most of the pieces really cheap (again, Amazon is a great source) and perform really well. They are heavy, especially the 12" pan.
Of course, if you can afford it, treat yourself to some LeCrueset pots. A good 5 qt or 7 qt pot will serve you well over many years. I got a 7 qt oval at HomeGoods for the rock bottom price of $60. You really have to watch for those bargains.
Tramontia makes a decent pan too. Good weight and balance. Even heating (I have a 1qt sauce pan) with a tight sealing lid.
Also, don't overlook your restaurant supply stores. I have a couple smaller non-stick saute pans (forget the manufacturer; Vollrath is most commonly seen) that are holding up well after 8 years.
I am not sure if this is your kind of thing, but I have bought a lot of my kitchenware second hand. Much of my cast iron comes from flea markets, Salvation Army stores or general junk shops. I recently picked up a 1960's Danish enamel cast iron pan for $3.00 in a local Goodwill store, the same model retails in NYC antique stores for $30.00 an up.
If you don't have the time, or inclination even, to trawl through antique/junk stores then ebay is a great place to pick up cast iron at a reasonable price. Just make sure you don't get stung on the shipping.
Re non stick: There's been recent research pointing out the toxicity of the material bonding the non stick surface to the metal. I haven't got a link handy, but I believe it was written up in the Globe and Mail (http://www.globeandmail.com). I don't want to scare anybody - I try and run a kitchen that's as free from chemicals as possible but that's only my personal schtick.