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Looking for good low-to-midrange cookware

I know that the best pots and pans cost hundreds of dollars each but we can't possibly afford them so I don't need to know about them... we've been using a set of non-stick pans from Target and I liked them (nicely heavyweight) but they haven't lasted that well - the teflon coatings are very nicked and beatup, and I broke the lid of the large saucepan! DH has promised me a nice set of pans to replace them... If I was to go to TJ Max or Homewares to buy them, what brands/items would you suggest looking for? I'm thinking of stainless-steel rather than non-stick - it lasts better...
PS. This apartment has a VERY SMALL KITCHEN! I don't have room for a hundred pots and pans - I only have room for one larger saucepan and two or three smaller ones... the stainlesssteel steamer has to live in the closet in the livingroom because there isn't anywhere to put it!

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  1. I am getting rid of worn out Calphalon and Magpro, they were very expensive and even though I only used wooden and silicone spoons and forks in them the anodization wore off and in many cases the metal has pitted. I was searching on Amazon for new stainless yesterday and decided to forgo ordering any until I had a chance to go to T J Maxx this afternoon. The 2 qt. Cuisinart all stainless that Amazon had for $49.95 I picked up for $24.99 at TJM. My first test drive of it tonight was rice. It seemed to cook evenly and with no hot spots. I'll be watching for some other sizes and also to replace my 3 qt. Calphalon saute pan that warped.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Candy

      Candy, Calphalon proudly advertises a lifetime guarantee. Have you thought about returning those pieces to the store?

      1. re: AmandaEd

        I sold them to myself and the store no longer exists. Clean stainless which is not going to have the finish wear off will make me happy. I also don't want to payy the postage to ship the stuff back.

        1. re: Candy

          Try Going to a Calphalon Store, most large cities will have one somewhere, so They should be able to point you in the right direction.

    2. I have a number of different types of cookwear, from a cast iron skillet (purchased on ebay) to heavy stainless steel saucepans with sandwiched cores to inexpensive costco nonstick to old enameled iron, but my go-to cooking pot is an aluminum caldero I bought in a 99cent store 25 yrs ago. It has a solid matching cover and is just perfect for sautes stews, pilafs etc.
      The calderos come in various sizes and can be found in chinese and indian groceries as well as hispanic stores. Mine is probably about $12 in across, enough to cook full recipes or a big pot of pilaf. Their best point -in addition to thick aluminum construction and cheapness is the rounded sides. I highly recommend this multiuse, durable item which probably wont cost more than $20.

      3 Replies
      1. re: jen kalb

        The problem with aluminum though is that you don't want to cook acidic stuff in it, like tomatoes, wine or vinegar.

        1. re: ctl98

          Have you ever actually had this experience? Ive been seeing this statement made as long as Ive been cooking, but have never had this problem with my caldero. I make wine based braises, use tomatoes, etc.

          For that matter, my Dad has always cooked chilli and his other awful (to my taste) tomato concoctions (slum gullion) in his aluminum dutch oven to no ill effect, and they have a set of aluminum saucepans that theyve been using for everything for 60 years.

          No sign of any reaction to acid in either case. (for that matter, my Italian juice squeezer is cast aluminum and is doesnt react noticeably when I squeeze lemons (unlike my marble countertops) Id say this issue (if true) is totally overblown.

          My only problem with aluminum cookware is that it cant go in the dishwasher because the strong detergent turns it black/dulls it. Otherwise, it works just fine.

          1. re: jen kalb

            yeah. I have had aluminum pit.'Course i don't use tomatoes in chili and have been mindful of acids in aluminum cookware

      2. I feel your pain - our kitchen is tiny! I can't live without my anodized wok, as we cook a lot of Asian food. I think you also need a stock/pasta pot for large soups/stews, and a non-stick saute pan. I love my Calphalon omelette pan and my All Clad saucepan.

        1. Amazon has a 10 piece set of Cuisinart's Chef's stainless cookware for only $109.88. It has a good mix of pieces. Good reviews on it there. It's a beautiful looking set that should last a lifetime. If you add something else to bring it to $125 or more they give you $25 off, and there's free shipping on it too. You also get a free $50 Mini Mate chopper with it as a send in rebate. That's the lowest price I have seen that set. If you want it hurry, as Amazon changes prices very quickly!

          Do a search for Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless 10-Piece Cookware Set

          1 Reply
          1. re: blondelle

            I have a single Cuisinart non-stick pan I bought at TJMaxx, and I absolutely love it. I would definitely buy more of their pans.

          2. Just recently at Tuesday Morning I snagged a 2-quart saucepan and a 3.5-quart sauté pan, both Cuisinart stainless with lids, for $23 and $30, respectively. I haven't even tried them out yet, but if they perform half as well as the similar Cuisinart pans I have used almost daily for over 25 years now, I will be delighted. I never use my old Calphalon anymore, and, like Candy, will look for an opportunity to get rid of it.


            1. I bought this set at Sam's Club last month and love it... may be more pieces than you want, but you could freecycle/craigslist what you don't need!

              1 Reply
              1. re: wookyluvr

                Thinking of getting this myself, consumer reports rated it a best buy. It's fully clad. The Kirkland anodized at Costco was also rated a best buy.

              2. while I was waiting for responses concerning Wolfgang Puck cookware...I was going back thru some threads that talked about the Member's Mark cookware at Sam's Club. I kept reading and reading all the while getting a bit more impressed with each new piece of information I found. When I learned that it was FULLY CLAD; I almost fell out my chair. I dug a little further and I kept reading all the positive comparisons to All-Clad. I couldn't take it anymore...I left my hubby and son watching the New England/Colts game and I took off for Sam's. I almost wept when I saw how beautiful the pots looked and felt in my hands! LOL! Needless to say I grabbed a set..OMG, they are fantastic! 21 piece set (includes spoons and measuring cups)for 179.00 yippee! Did I mention gorgeous??? I made a white sauce in the 1 1/2 quart just to test it and it came out wonderfully!!! Cleaning was a breeze! I boxed up all of my non-stick except the 14in skillet and now I'm good to go. My husband made oatmeal in one of the pots this morning and I almost fainted..lol! my pots are waaayyy too pretty for oatmeal. Thanks to all the previous posters that turned me on to this...can't believe I've walked past it for years thinking it couldn't be any good.

                1. I've gotten a bunch of cast iron from the hardware store. My fabulous non-stick skillet came from a restaurant supply store. I highly recommend seeing if there is a restaurant supply store in your area.

                  I'd look for a three-quart saute pan and 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 sauce pans. Those are the pans I use most in my cooking and those which will give you the greatest amount of flexibility. I'd also add an inexpensive non-stick pan which is a pretty useful item.

                  TJ Maxx has great deals on cookware, but you have to keep shopping because it isn't always available.

                  1. From your O P, it sounds like you want a few not expensive peices. For pots, try Revere Ware. Just buy the ones you need. I mean, Amazon has a ten piece set for $85, but that's not you, right now. For pans, cast iron is great if you want to fool with it. Otherwise, buy T-Fal non-stick where ever you find them cheapest. That might be Wally World. Figure on a couple of years and toss them. The idea of expensive non-stick is just not on. When the non-stick surface is shot, they're just not usuable. Just a couple of ideas. Hope they help.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: yayadave

                      well, that depends on the pan. I have a couple of Club pans I got 16 years ago, and the nonstick has been completely gone out of them for at least half that time. They're reasonably good, heavy pans, and I still use them. They have no nonstick stuff whatsoever left in them anymore, so none's getting into my food.

                    2. If you can only get a few things, versatility is key and I would say stick with 18/10 stainless steel. I have a older set of Cuisinart that has just been wonderful, and I started out using the old Revereware many years ago. The Cuisinart was much better because it was heavier and didn't have obvious hot spots. If you can only have a few pots, go with saucepans and a small Dutch oven and don't buy a set. Start with a non-stick fry pan -- it will handle most things just fine. It takes a lot of room to store cast iron cookware or enameled cast iron because of weight and the fact that nesting is never a great idea, due to chipping and/or rust concerns, so wait until you have room to add to the basics.

                      1. I just found some that I am lov'in!! I also am really lov'in the price. The brand is Tramontina. They have them at Tuesday Morning, but the best place to get them is online at Walmart. I have one all clad,at a very heafty price (it was a gift), and I cant tell the diiference between them. You order online and they ship them to the store for pickup, so no shipping charge, and the prices are way below Tuesday Morning.

                        1. I like Macy's Tools of the Trade line of cookware for what you describe. Their 18/10 sandwich bottom stainless steel is just as good as brand names that cost five times as much. They also do their store brand versions of a lot of other name brand pricey things. If you do not have a Macy's in your neighbourhood, look around for the Tools of the Trade name in other stores, it pops up in the oddest places.

                          1. I recently got a couple of these http://www.farberwarecookware.com/ind... and love them. Approx. $20 each. Can't tell you yet how they last over time, but after 2 months they are working & looking great.

                            1. I can't see it mentioned, but IKEA actually do really good pots & pans if you're on a budget. I still have most of the original set I bought 7 years ago and can't complain.

                              in fact it wasn't until i (we, I say I b/c i use them most) was given a scanpan set as a wedding gift, and the quality of the pan does make a difference to both the cooking process, and even better, the ease of cleaning. whatever you do start off with a set as they are usually good value and then you can add to it as you get richer! if you have a small kitchen then you probably won't need much more than the set anyway.

                              i still use the ikea ones to heat things up, etc. the starter kits are v. cheap and they do come in s/steel.

                              cheap teflon pans always seem to lose the teflon. apparently its carcenogenic when this happens but what isn't? i have heard that it's best to let a teflon pan cool before adding any water to it for washing up. having said that, the scan pan wok is some non stick material and its fab.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: kmh

                                I have an IKEA enamaled cast iron fry pan and really like it. They have a couple cast enamaled ovens that I am looking at for a decent price.

                              2. After many years of heavy cooking, and searching for the perfect cookware, I have decided that for me, it's best to have a good three-quart sauce pan with sloping sides, a good large enamel-on-cast-iron dutch oven, a heavy duty aluminum or cast iron fry pan, and a mid-sized and a large non-stick pan that are fairly heavy duty, but that I can plan on replacing after a couple of years. I have yet to find a non-stick surface that lasts for more than that, but I'm guessing there is something really durable out there. I've just decided that until I actually find a nonstick surface that lasts through my heavy duty cooking, I'll go with a variety of cookware rather than a complete set, and just plan on replacing the non-stick pieces every few years.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: bear

                                  I agree with you on your selection of cookware, but I also discovered a nonstick that I found at TJmax. It is called Berndes, which I have had good luck with. I've picked up about three or four pieces, at a very low price. They are not there all the time,but worth a trip if it's close by. I am enjoying cooking with the stainless again, after many years of ignoring them.

                                  1. re: Mother of four

                                    For all of your non-stick uses out there, I highly recommend Analon - I have found it to be the toughest and longest lasting non stick. It is great with eggs and potatoes..... They have a "try me" size out there 8" usually can be found for about $19.00. I absolutely love it. It is the only pan I have found that I can flip fried eggs using just the pan.

                                2. i would get at least one cast iron frying pan and forget about all that teflon stuff. If you season it properly, very little will stick to it, and you'll never have to worry about the teflon plastic coming off. Except for frying, you probably do not need non stick anyway.

                                  1. We have pieces of Farberware for over 40 years! My wife still uses and loves them.