Which size dutch oven?
For a family of 7 would you get the 7, 9 or 13 qt?
DH is going to order one for me for Christmas
The size would depend on your needs. All of those are very large. I have my mother's dutch oven that is about 5 quarts that fed a family of six beef stew regularly. That seems to be a good size to start with.
But you need to figure out how you want to use it. Do you want one to braise? Make a stew? Soup? Do you use something else now (I used to use a 4-1/2 quart pot w/ heavy bottom) -- if so, do you want something that size? Or do you want to be able to braise dishes for which an oval pan would suit you better? Or a big pot for soup?
I'm a family on one and I use my 7.25 quart all the time, even more often than my 5 quart--soups, beans, stews, roasts. If I were you, I'd probably go for the 9 quart--just make sure you know where you're going to store it. I don't think the 9 quart would fit on my cabinet shelves. Although I've never lifted one, I'd worry about the 13 quart being difficult to lug around, even just getting it down off a shelf but more importantly, out of the oven when it's full of food.
I mainly want it for stews, chili, etc. My itty bitty 6 yr old DD can eat more than some grown men I know lol so I plan on making a lot of large batches and then hopefully freezing some.
We have no storage space in our kitchen anyway so Im not sure where it will go.....but good point about it being heavy when coming out of the oven etc
Ideally, the meat should fit in the pot without much room around it.
However, Paula Wolfert says that if your pot is oversize, you can trim a sheet of parchment paper to the circumference of the pot and lay it over, touching the meat and the liquid. I tried this with a smallish pot roast in a large Le Creuset pot, and it worked very sell.
Before you start, put the paper on the counter, invert the pot over it, trace around the pot with a pencil and trim the paper to shape.
Thus, if you have only one pot, it should be a big one.
You should be able to lift it comfortably empty and with not much effort when filled. I would not go over 9 qt. and that may be a stretch.
I agree with Candy. Also, I bought a giant Calphalon frying pan with lid and it's too big for the burner. When I do use it, seldomly, I have to keep moving it around. Take that into consideration.