HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >

Discussion

cookware tips?

  • 78
  • Share

I am thinking about upgrading my pots and pans, in other words replacing the crap I now own.
The easy answer is of course All Clad. Is this the way to go?
Most restaurants put out quality food without all clad. Do I get to a restaurant supply store or shell out for All Clad.
A penny for your thoughts!!!!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. I have some All Clad, some Calphalon, some cheap target brand. I use them all. Honestly. Some of my best dinner are made with my cheapest pots and pans. However my roasters and dutch ovens are descent quality. By no means the best but good quality. I love cast iron for some. A simple non stick for others. To me it is the cook who makes the food not the cookware. My grandma used crap to cook with and she was great. Also a friend who ended up being a chef at a 4 star restaurant in Austria learned and still has sub par cheap cookware. It may makes things easier, but still the cook is what makes the meal. I would go mid range and buy what looks good to you. Don't buy the name!

    1. My penny's worth is to suggest that you look into Sitram, rather than All-Clad. Many years ago, when I started to teach myself to cook, I called Bridge Kitchenware to ask if they carried All Clad. The estimable Fred Bridge replied, "Madam [I was 24], we do not carry junk." He followed up by suggesting that I come in and look at Sitram. Mr. Bridge has died, and the store has moved to New Jersey (www.bridgekitchenware.com), but I have several pieces - both from that era, and purchased later - and have been very happy with them.

      26 Replies
      1. re: MMRuth

        $200 for the stock pot and then you have to pay another $38 for the lid???? I agree with kchurchill.... it's the cook that make the dish, not the pots

        1. re: janetms383

          Thx janetms383. Yes my pots are good not great. But damnit I make great food and so do a few of my friends. I would love the best but hey, my pots have served me for years. Here's to ya!! The cooks rule!

          1. re: kchurchill5

            a while back Mark Bittman wrote a piece in the NY Times, I believe, about how tiny his kitchen is and how he can function with the most basic tools. Having nice cookware is cool, but a good cook can do wonderful things with crappy equipment and a poor cook won't ever make anything great using even the best equipment. Check out the restaurant supply stores, you'll save some money and have very functional equipment. You might not want to hang it on your wall, but if you're a good cook or at least willing to invest the time and energy improving your skills, you can do quite well.

            1. re: chuckl

              I think my grandma if I remember had 4 cast irons pots or pans each and 1 roaster.... that is it. She was a cook at a great restaurant back in Detroit for years. She never bought a new pot in her entire life. I still have some of them and swear by them.

              1. re: chuckl

                I agree in principle with this, but some people are willing to work with crappy tools, whether cooking or repairing their house. I've found that cooking with good tools is a much more enjoyable experience. Mr. Bittman apparently does not share this view. He is a good writer, but I have not eaten his food.

                A lot of restaurant supply store cookware is awful quality because the restaurants are 1) cutting corners wherever they can; and 2) dealing with employee theft issues (this is especially true when it comes to knives)

                1. re: taos

                  Many times the knives are locked up and leave with the chefs, and better cooks, as they're personal property.

                  A decent cook can cook anything with any type of cookware, it's not all about cost cutting. But bad knives? Unless you want more clipped fingers and medical bills, they're definitely worth the investment. Dull knives are both useless and dangerous, while tedious. You can't get things done with crappy knives! But this is not always a cost issue--any crappy store in Germany sells paring knives which are sharper than 90% of the paring knives sold in the US, at about a tenth of the cost, and I regret leaving mine there when I left the dorm.

                  1. re: Caralien

                    It's been about 20 years since I worked in a restaurant kitchen, but it bothers me to hear the argument that cheap cookware or knives can be used because restaurants used them. The stuff used there is often cheap just because it's, well, cheap. The top guy may have his own knives locked up, but he's not the one spending all day chopping buckets of carrots.

                    The knives weren't dull, obviously. But they are often of poor quality.

                    There's a video online where Bittman takes a tour of a restaurant supply store to tell people what they need to cook. Half the stuff is crap. Yeah, you can cook a marvelous meal in it. A talented woodworker can also build a beautiful bookcase using crappy construction tools. Both of these tasks will be easier and more pleasant using better tools.

                    And to carry on with the grandmother story .... my grandmother also cooked marvelous food using what looks like from our 21st cent. perspective to be very crude tools. I guarantee, though, that if she came back to life now she'd be hopping in the car (after she learned to drive) and heading out for a food processor, a microwave, and a few nice mutli-clad pans.

                    1. re: taos

                      My grandma is still around and still cooks with the same pots. I only have a couple of hers. No micro and no nice pots. 97 and still kicken and makes some kick ass food. She still cooks daily.

                      She was the chef of a great restaurant back in detroit for 35 years. Wouldn't use their pots. He used her own. She still has the same old pots and knives. She does however use a food processor with hessitation.

                      1. re: kchurchill5

                        both my mother and paternal grandfather used ancient knives, and there was even the spinning stone knife sharpener outside at my grandparents' house. Nothing was wasted, and new pans weren't often purchased, although there was a seldom-used microwave.

                        1. re: Caralien

                          I think my grandma would die vs using a micro, lol. Her knives ... OMG, I have 2 and love them but most people would never even try to use them. They are still great. I find it amusing. I have to laught when she tries to use the food processor. I have to help every time :)

                  2. re: taos

                    Another reason restaurants buy cheap cookware is the very high heats warps pans badly. Even the multi-ply ones. I'm reading more and more reports on the net of All-Clad pans warping even used on a standard home stove. I've read that some restaurants have to replace their most used pans twice a month because of warping on very high BTU stoves.

                    1. re: blondelle

                      Good point, Maybe I am just lucky and cook electric vs gas. I use my cast irons for high temps usually. Good mention however.

                      1. re: blondelle

                        I am honestly continually baffled by stories of what people manage to do to cookware at home.

                        1. re: blondelle

                          I've never had cookware warp (bakeware yes, cheap jellyroll pans do in the oven). Cheap, expensive, ancient, brand new. Even from the cheap nonstick pans when they were left on the stove so long that the place smelled like burnt rubber. Never saw it in my parents' or grandparents' houses either.

                          I don't doubt that it happens, but that's the exception.

                          1. re: Caralien

                            I had a (original '80's) Calphalon Saute pan warp.

                            1. re: Candy

                              Same here, not my saute but one of my small pans warp too. I still have one which is fine. Used them all the same.

                          2. re: blondelle

                            I really wonder if the "standard home stoves" that are causing warping are the higher BTU cooktops. It's really, really easy to find a 16K+ BTU burner on any higher end basic brand cooktop now (like a Kenmore or Whirlpool, for example), and if someone is going to drop the money on All-Clad pans, they likely spent the money to upgrade the cooktop if they replaced it.

                    2. re: janetms383

                      Well, my stock pot is a cheap one, not by Sitram - I wouldn't spend that kind of money on a stock pot. But the several sauce pans that I have, as well as the saute pan, have served me well. That said, I agree that one can cook wonderful meals in cheap pans.

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        And, FWIW, the All Clad four quart stock pot is $250 - http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...

                        Edit:

                        As compared to the 14 QT Sitram one, also with a copper core, for $172 (plus lid).

                        http://www.bridgekitchenware.com/brow...

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          I have a 40 year old cast iron... not sure but for 172 I could feet me and my son for 2 weeks easily and put some gas in the car and my pot works great. I know. Maybe a bit too thrifty. But I truly believe in my ol' pots and pans. They have been good to me.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            That just so happens to be the most expensive 4qt piece that All-Clad makes. Look at a 4.5qt MC2 pan, $150-$160 -- the OP is coming for reliable information. A sitram catering 4.5qt is $102 without the lid, so it's another $25 or so for a lid. That comparison is starting to look a little fuzzy. My all-clad stock pot was $119 (disk bottom, similar to the Sitram -- minus the copper), but it came with a steamer insert, pasta insert and lid.

                            I'm certainly not going to tell you that all-clad is worth every penny -- you're certainly paying a decent amount of money for the name, but they do make some nice cookware.

                            Is sitram copper just on the bottom, or is it clad?

                            1. re: mateo21

                              The Sitram copper layer is wedged between layers of stainless steel, but it's not covered on the outside - i.e., you see the layer of copper - if that is what you mean by clad. I had picked the all clad pot that I did b/c it does have a copper layer as the Sitram does, and therefore seemed the more appropriate comparison, but of course AC does sell one for less money w/o the copper.

                              1. re: MMRuth

                                So the Sitram line is a disk bottom then? Just want to get my cookware right :) I don't know anyone around here that carries it.

                      2. re: MMRuth

                        OMG! Sounds exactly like the crusty/curmudgeonly Fred. I bought Paderno cookware from him 35+ years ago & those pots & pans are still going strong. I also bought my first decent knives (Wusthof) from him & still use those, too. This was the time before brand extension, when things were made well & for daily use. Fred knew whereof he spoke! I miss him.

                        1. re: fauchon

                          I know - I became v. fond of him. I love his book on cookware and consult it pretty frequently. He signed it for me, which was sweet.

                        2. re: MMRuth

                          That sounds like pure, classic, Fred Bridge all right. However, as in so many things, technology has changed the equation from the days when Fred held sway. Sitram is great stuff, but there are many other ways to go that are a lot less pricy and will do the job. As always there is no "right" answer---it just depends on one's own values and preferences.

                        3. My All-Clad stainless (not brushed) is beautiful. Our favourite french oven is a retro enameled Copco. Calphalon--never liked any of it, eventually gave it all away. Inherited cast iron--we love these. Steel 2.5C measuring cup w/handle and tiny roasting pan from IKEA, used at least weekly. Inherited Revereware--with the domed, tight fitting lids, make better rice than the pricier cookware lids which allows too much water to escape.

                          We have a hodge podge of stuff. As pretty as the All Clad is (and some will argue for Calphalon, Le Creuset or Staub...), you may worry more about the pretty cookware than what you're cooking, at least until you forget about the pan and burn it twice in one week which gives it that well used patina.

                          Restaurant supply stores are a great bet for getting great, working pieces at a fraction of the cost of premium "professional quality" items. There was a post about this recently, but I couldn't find it.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Caralien

                            Perhaps it was this Mark Bittman article:

                            http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/09/din...

                            1. re: mpalmer6c

                              not exactly, but check out this one

                              http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11...

                              1. re: mpalmer6c

                                Yes, that's the video and accompanying article I was referring to. What bothered me was the statement that because restaurant kitchens buy cheap chef's knives by the dozen, they're what a home cook should buy. Not necessarily so. As I mentioned, restaurants buy these because they're cheap, cheap and easy to replace and if they walk away, it's not a big loss. If you're looking to buy one knife that will last you for decades, you're better off spending a little more and getting a better qualify product. It will cost you less in the long run.

                                Also, I can't be sure, but I'd bet his cheap thermometer won't last as long as a more expensive one and will have to be replaced more often, again, costing more money in the long run.

                                I've been to restaurant supply stores and found that the stuff is a mix of quality stuff that's not much, if any, cheaper than at a regular store (I'm not talking over-priced cooking specialty stores), and a lot is just poorly-made junk, meant to be used and abused quickly and then replaced again and again.

                            2. My wife and I have quite a few pots and pans from a handful of makers but the backbone of our cookware is All Clad stainless steel. We have several sauce pots, a couple of saute pans, a couple of skillets (one with a non-stick interior) a roasting pan, a soup pot and some straining basket inserts. We never have any trouble with any of it, it looks nice, works wonderfully (heats evenly and quickly and holds heat well) and cleans up easily.

                              I think it's worth a bit of money for high quality cookware. It is not an absolute requirement for turning out good food by any stretch. Restaurants often use much cheaper and lower quality cookware and turn out good food. Of course, some of the best restaurants also use very high quality cookware. And many restaurants don't turn out good food regardless of the cookware. Most restaurants are also using ovens and ranges that pump out heat at a much higher rate/capability level than many home ranges which can make up for pots and pans that don't heat up quickly or retain heat well. Over time, whatever cookware you get, you'll learn how it works and how to compensate for whatever deficiencies there are between it and your ovens and ranges. If you've already got crap, though, why buy new crap? For the penny, I'd buy some long lasting high quality gear.

                              Check out http://www.cookwarenmore.com/ for discounted All Clad factory seconds. Sale prices on Amazon are also usually good deals.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: ccbweb

                                I too buy from factories or kitchen warehouses/outlets. Got some great deals for the good stuff I have.

                              2. It depends on whats important to you, performance, looks, brand name, quality? And how much you're willing to spend.

                                I replaced all the stainless clad cookware in my kitchen with copper.

                                I really like the way it cooks, heats faster and more evenly and retains heat better than stainless and somewhat better than aluminum. Most of all I like the look and feel of copper cookware.

                                Take a look at copperpans.com

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Demented

                                  I have two all copper plans from my grandma. Old and all scratched up but love them.

                                2. Not believing that expensive gourmet store
                                  cookware produces better meals, I just order
                                  from Web restaurant supply places, including
                                  Surfas, Restaurant Source, and Webrestaurant.
                                  It all works fine.

                                  1. It depends on your perspective. I'd like to think I was a pretty good cook before I upgraded from my cheap Revereware to Demeyere, Le Creuset, Staub, Mauviel, Falk, Sitram, Paderno, Cuisinart and All Clad. Yes, I own all of these, plus a few others, like Calphalon and cast iron skillets. I became hooked on cookware, but it is not nearly necessary if all you are trying to do is turn out a great meal. You can save a bundle by looking for All-Clad quality in brands like Tramontina (not the Walmart line, check out 125West for what I am referring to) and get beautiful looking pots too. I am also really pleased with the way enamel-coated cast iron works. I only have LC and Staub, but I read here on this posts regularly that there are other really nice alternatives out there.

                                    So, decide you want to become a collector/cook, or just a cook, and then make up your mind. If I couldn't afford these things, I would have made different choices in many cases.

                                    1. If you're prepared to spend the money for All-Clad, why don't you check out Demeyere, which knows how to attach the handles without bolts that go through to the inside of the utensil? That is a higher quality of construction, and it makes the stuff easier to clean.
                                      And whatever you do, don't buy a "set". Get one piece at a time, and if you need another, then get it.

                                      20 Replies
                                      1. re: bcc

                                        I sell more Swiss Diamond than All Clad. SD is relatively new to the US market. It has been available here for about 3 years. It heats more evenly than All Clad, it browns beautifully, clean up is a snap. You can use metal utensils in it, I don't, but you can. It has a lifetime guarantee and their customer service is terrific. In the shop we carry All Clad, Mauviel, Emerilware, Le Creuset, Chantal and Swiss Diamond. The best sellers are SD and LC. If someone asks for All Clad we sell it to them. If someone asks for asuggestion we show them Swiss Diamond. No, we get no sales incentives from Swiss Diamond. We all use it and like it.

                                        1. re: Candy

                                          I should have mentioned I want to stay away from non stick due to health concerns. I like my cast iron fry pan for some stuff, but cleanup and rust can can sometimes be a pain. I'm thinking stainless steel may be the way i want to go. What brands make sense. If All clad is best and most expensive but another brand cost much less and will last for 10 years rather than for generations like AC. That is fine for me, in 10 years I will be bord and want something else any way. Maybe in 10 years my Pepin A1000 robot will cook for me?

                                          1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                                            Can I borrow Pepin A1000?

                                            1. re: kchurchill5

                                              Jacques says Oui.

                                            2. re: GodfatherofLunch

                                              The process by which the diamond coating is applied removes all of the POFAs. There are very slight ghosts of PTFEs. I have spoken to the Swiss Diamond company about the issue. Living in a university town I get lots of questions about those issues. i try to learn as much about the cookware I sell as possible

                                              1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                                                I don't trust that info at all. So don't buy it but don't spread nonsense about a good product either.

                                                1. re: Candy

                                                  sorry to have upset you. Two points first I know that you have spoken to the Swiss Diamond company about the issue, what did expect that would tell you and secondly anyone including you can elect to ignore the article I posted. I myself will not ignore it, I will opt for another brand without these health concerns. That is just what I have decided is best for me. Of course everyone can make there own decisions.

                                                  1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                                                    not upset. I just refuse to buy into the fear mongering of some of these off the wall groups put out.

                                                    There was also an article and photo someone posted with a picture of a SD pan with LIAR gouged into it probably with a chisel. Sure it will scratch and the surface will come off if it is abused. Not buying that article either.

                                                    My MD uses SD and loves it. If it is good enough fior him it is good enough for me.

                                            3. re: Candy

                                              Never tried, how is the price. I may invest in a piece. I need a new dutch oven. My handle after 45 years is cracked. It was grandmas.

                                              1. re: kchurchill5

                                                Just a little less than All Clad. They do make some stew and soup pots. If i wanted a dutch oven i would go with Le Creuset. That is just my personal preference.

                                                1. re: Candy

                                                  Thx

                                                  1. re: kchurchill5

                                                    My fave too is my inherited cast iron. If you're going to buy cast iron, I'd recommend buying it used (resale shops, garage sales) than new. But that may be more of a hassle than you're willing to do.

                                                    That said, I need a handle that's comfy in my dinky little hand and I don't want too heavy. I also want to be able to put it in the dishwasher. So, I guess my recommendation is to go to the store and handle it and see what you like best. January/February are great times for sales on housewares.

                                                    1. re: Whosyerkitty

                                                      Ditto my cast iron is great. However there are times for a simple non stick skillet or grill pan. I buy what feels good and cost effective. A combo. I check sales and lots of places. I for one ... sorry don't buy the best. Just realistic and practical.

                                                      1. re: kchurchill5

                                                        Sets are for chumps.

                                                        Get one large Cast Iron skillet.....or 2

                                                        Some Aluminum or Stainless stock pots.

                                                        A good sauce pan.

                                                        And if you must a non stick skillet.

                                                        1. re: EscapeVelocity

                                                          Amen to that. Pretty much what I have. Love my stock, love my cheapy saute, medium saute and grill pan. my irons I live by and the in between work great..

                                                          Maybe just lucky, no problems with hot or cold spots ... they all work just fine. My dutch oven I do have to replace. I won't spend a fortune, probably lower end but ... I think it will work just fine.

                                                          1. re: kchurchill5

                                                            Why do you need to replace your dutch oven?

                                                            1. re: ccbweb

                                                              The handle broke in half and a hairline by the joint. I have to use the top, bottom and the other handle to pick it up. It is probably 45 plus years old. Thought of getting it fixed but having a hard time finding someone to fix it.t

                                                              1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                I had a small griddle that was part of my inheritance and the handle cracked, so I feel for ya, sister (?). I guess cast iron really isn't INDESTRUCTIBLE.I had never heard of that before but it was older than God and I was shocked! Shocked I tell you! Man, I miss that little pan ::sniff::

                                                                1. re: Whosyerkitty

                                                                  In the casting process air pockets can occur. Cast iron is breakable as evidenced. If you drop it and it hits a vulnerable spot say good by.

                                                                  1. re: Whosyerkitty

                                                                    I guess the fact that I dropped it once coming back from a party on the sidewalk probably didn't help. That is how the originall crack happened. I think now the stress has weakened the joint. I am pretty much at fault but can't find anyone to fix it. Oh well. It has served me well. As the post below ... maybe I don't feel that bad ... DAMN that air pocket.

                                                                    Still very usable, just difficult to pick up with one handle, lol. I'm still keeper it around.

                                            4. Mostly, the feed back I am receiving has me confused than before. I now have cheap tefal stuff and I want to move away from nonstick. Please spare me the lectures about me being a sucker and how non stick has no health risks, I just decided to go another way. It sounds like stainless steel is the way to go. Recommendations of brands that I can check would be very appreciated.

                                              18 Replies
                                              1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                                                Godfather,

                                                Costco has a line of “Clad” stainless cookware they sell under the Kirkland brand name. The set I had years ago (my first decent of cookware) was made in Italy, it held up for years without any problems at all.

                                                I don't know where or who makes cookware for them now but a full set of stainless cookware for under $300.00 is a deal any way you look at it.

                                                Google Kirkland cookware.

                                                1. re: Demented

                                                  I believe that they have also carried the less expensive Sitram line at one point as well, if that helps.

                                                  1. re: Demented

                                                    You can by the posts how passionate people are about their pots and knives!

                                                    Consumer Reports thought very highly of the Kirkland brand. They have a nice heft and balance and would be a nice step-up from your tfal. I'd easily buy this set for a second home.

                                                    I too have a diverse pot and pan collection selected over time to meet the general pupose of the dishes I make. I have copper lined with silver, cast iron, enamel, stainless (without and without copper), and an cheap frypan. I grew into each of them and since I have a Bittman-sized kitchen, I purge what doesn't work.

                                                    I recommend the Kirkland and then replace/add to that.

                                                    1. re: alwayscooking

                                                      Do you use the Kirkland yourself?

                                                      1. re: ccbweb

                                                        No, I've already have my definitive collection (yeah right!) but would definately buy these if I needed an entire new set to start from again. They remind me of the all-clad with the copper bottom ply.

                                                        1. re: alwayscooking

                                                          I guess I'm confused about why you'd definitely buy pans you don't use. Have you had the chance to use them somewhere that convinced you they perform well or is it based on the Consumer Reports testing? (Not necessarily a bad thing on which to base something like this, but I'm curious.)

                                                          1. re: ccbweb

                                                            Hit or miss for me. I try to buy a quality pan on the amount of time I use it. My dutch oven all the time, so I bought a mid priced nice pan. No need for me for top of the line. It would be nice, but hell I can't afford it. Saute pan, 1 nice which was a gift the other cheap. Cast iron hand me downs. Otherwise, I don't buy much. Even catering I make do with what I have. Again ... I think you should be able to make do with anything if you are a good cook. I buy what I use, otherwise, just wing it. Always seemed to have worked.

                                                            I would love a few thousand dollars plus selection of pots and pans, but it just ain't gonna happen. And so far ... so good.

                                                  2. re: GodfatherofLunch

                                                    I'll echo my post from earlier in this thread: All Clad stainless is excellent cookware. The kitchen supply store in my town sells All Clad and KitchenAid's 5 ply line of stainless cookware. I haven't used the KitchenAid, but I have had very good experiences with everything this kitchen supply store has suggested to me, so I make an educated presumption that the KitchenAid would be worth checking into as well.

                                                    For an example of the KitchenAid - http://www.amazon.com/KitchenAid-Gour...

                                                    1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                                                      I've used sitram and all clad stainless and can attest to the quality of both. Pedrano, from what I've heard, also makes quality cookware. Others will have their own opinions. Be aware that unlike your previous pans, stainless will stick. You can minimize the sticking by getting the pan hot first and adding cold oil. Another option is a seasoned cast iron pan, which, if properly seasoned will stick less, though still not as stick-free as non-stick. What kind of cooking do you plan to do mostly?

                                                      1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                                                        The true, top-of-the-line stuff is either stainless lined copper or Demeyere. I regret that I do not own anything of either one. I do have one Sitram frying pan. I do not like it, and do not use it. I do have some restaurant-quality Swiss professional pans that are not, to my knowledge, sold in the US. The brand is NSN. Great stuff.

                                                        If you want the ultimate, go for Demeyere or stainless-steel lined copper. But go for individual utensils for the cooking you do. If you now have Tefal, what you want is something heavier. Copper may be too heavy, But you want something thick and solid enough to heat well and cook well. Go to the stores, pick up the stuff, judge how thick the bottoms are, consider how it feels in your hand. Then buy one piece and see if it performs the way you want.

                                                        I myself have a few pieces of clad stainless steel, a couple of raw cast iron, a couple of Le Creuset enameled cast iron, and even a couple of tinned copper. I do not recommend tinned copper, because you have to be very careful about cooking temperatures, but all the others are great, although they all have different uses.

                                                        I think you'll be happier if you choose one piece at a time for one specific need that you have than if you plunk down big bucks for a bunch of pieces of any one type or brand.

                                                        Good luck!

                                                        1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                                                          My response to your OP is simple. All-Clad is fine but you simply don't need to spend that kind of money to get good performance. Look for decent SS stuff at a restaurant supply house or at one of the cheap retailers such as Costco, Target, Wal-Mart, etc. If it's SS, heavy, and has an aluminum bottom then it should satisfy your needs for most tasks. Buy one or two pieces and try them out. If you like them, buy a few more. If not, try something else. Add a plain cast iron skillet, an enameled dutch oven, and a good iron omelet pan for eggs and that should be all you need for life. The whole thing can be had for less than $300.

                                                          1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                                                            It depends upon which heat source you will be cooking with. If you use electric, disk-bottom will suffice. If you're cooking on gas, you may want to go with triply. I upgraded from Emerilware disk-bottom cookware when I began cooking on a pro-style gas rangetop because I found that the thin stainless sides on my saucepans, skillets, etc. were scorching from the gas flame's heat and I was getting uneven heating. I switched to triply cookware. After looking at the top lines (All-Clad, etc.) and gasping at the prices (even at TJ Maxx, etc.), I tried to buy the highly-rated Kirkland triply set at Costco (made by Tramontina) but found it was no longer offered. I then shopped around some more (and researched online) and ended up with a SurlaTable triply set for under $300 that is very nicely constructed (I can see no differences, performance or appearance-wise from All-Clad; I've cooked with my sister's All-Clad). I finished out my set with a cheapo non-stick skillet, a couple of cast-iron skillets, and dutch oven and tall stockpot from the LeCreuset outlet.

                                                            FWIW, I also recently bought a REALLY inexpensive Tramontina triply set from the Walmart website for our beach condo and I think it performs about as well as the Surlatable for only $140. They also carry the Tramontina tri-ply line by the piece and I've supplemented with a pasta stockpot with insert. I bought an off-brand enameled dutch oven at Target that works well for $40 for the beach as well, although I don't think it has quite as nice a finish as the Le Creuset (but then again it seems to perform about the same). It's entirely possible to fit out your kitchen with great pots and pans without spending a fortune.

                                                            1. re: koigirl

                                                              I am looking around and here is what I am considering. Cosco has a Calphalon, Tri - Ply stainless steel 13 pc set for $329.99 Sounds like good stuff features include - Tri-ply construction uses 18/10 stainless steel interior and exterior with an aluminum inner core,Polished exterior,Fine satin interior finish maintains its like new appearance through years of daily use,Ergonomic design cool V™ handle for cool comfortable stovetop cooking,Dome tempered glass covers offer convenient see through cooking,Oven and broiler safe,Covers are oven safe to 450°F,Dishwasher safe. The included pots are 1 Covered stock pot: 6 qt, 1 Pasta insert: 6 qt, ,1 Covered sauce pan: 4.5 qt, 1 Covered sauce pan: 3 qt, 1 Covered sauce pan: 2.5 qt, 1 Covered sauce pan: 1.5 qt, 1 Omelet pan: 10" and 1 Omelet pan: 8". Maybe at some point I will want a 12" pan that I can pick up as an open stock item. What do you guys think?

                                                              1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                                                                I have the 3 qt Calphalon stainless saucepan and like it fine. It is sturdy, conducts heat well, and cleans easily (dishwasher safe). Not sure I'd buy a whole set, however. For things like omelet pans and sautee pans, I prefer the performance of annodized steel (ie. Calphalon One).

                                                                1. re: masha

                                                                  For omelets I will probably us non stick, but the rest of the set sound like useful pieces.

                                                                2. re: GodfatherofLunch

                                                                  Rule of thumb never buy sets ... unless you don't have any cookware and just starting. If that is the case ... sounds descent. I got a set when I got married ... I had 3 favorites and I could of kept those 3 favorites and nothing else along with my cast irons I had handed down. I suggest revisitng what I would use the most and get those 2-3 pots. Then slowly add pieces as you require them. Sometimes I use a pan which isn't perfect for what I need but works just fine.

                                                                  1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                                                                    It sounds like a deal, if it will serve your needs and you like.

                                                                    What does this set sell for other places?

                                                                    1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                                                                      I have one Calphalon tri-ply saucepan and I love it. As for buying a set vs. individual pieces, It depends on what you want and how much time you want to spend searching for individual pots and pans. If you're getting a terrific price on the set, you have plenty of stoage space, and you'll use most of the pieces, I'd buy the set. You can always fill in around it and you will save precious time not spent bargain-hunting individual pieces. You'll probably come out even/ahead on cost.