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Cookware for the Extremely Broke?

I'm looking to outfit my kitchen with new cookware...but I'm on a very small budget. I know everyone recommends LC, All Clad, etc but I just can't afford it at this stage in my life (single mom in a bad economy). I know you get what you pay for, but I can't afford to invest in really lovely cookware (though I can window-shop and drool!). With that in mind, here's my criteria:

- Entire outfit for $100 or under
- Prefer non-stick
- need not be a set, so long as all the pieces together are at or below $100
- Do a fair amount of cooking, experienced cook, usually cooking for 3-5 people
- It need not be pretty and need not be brand (but I need to know where to get it!)
- Stuff that can be ordered online is ideal, as I don't have a car

I had the Jamie Oliver T-Fal set when I was married, and loved the heft and the way it felt in my hands. I've had Ikea's SS set (incredibly hard to clean) and T-Fal's non-stick set (very very easy to clean, but the pans seem to warp/dent easily, and look like they've been used every day on the line at a busy restaurant after three years). I need something that will look like new after a year or two, so that I can slowly replace it with better pieces as my budget allows.

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  1. Costco's Kirkland sets get good reviews.

    With Bed, Bath, & Beyond 20% discount coupons coming in the mail a couple fo times a month, you could buy several decent quality pieces at decent prices if you acquire them over several months. My workhorse pan is a lidded 4qt nonstick chef's pan, which works as a soup/braise pot and as a skillet. Mine happens to be Circulon, which I do not recommend, since food gets stuck between the grooves. I paid $40 with a coupon. Eventually I'll replace it with a better surface, but would still want the convenient shape fo a chef's pan (a.k.a. saucier)

    3 Replies
    1. re: greygarious

      Just a reminder on the 20% discount coupons from Bed, Bath@ beyond. Even though they have a use by date, by law they do not expire. You can save them up and use them at your convenience.

      1. re: chipman

        I've been a big customer of Bed Bath and Beyond in the past. But I started comparing prices on small electrics and discovered that the 20% off coupon brings the item down only a few dollars. I haven't compared the cookware prices though. I would definately keep this in mind when comparing prices, though.

      2. re: greygarious

        After reading the other's responses (thrift store finds) and the OP's request that it sb new, I'll second the Costco idea. I have a huge wok shaped non-stick pan that I've had for . .pushing 20 years now and it's still in fine shape. It never goes in the dishwasher, it's always hand washed.

      3. This isn't really a tip to get your kitchen equipped now... But whenever you have the chance, I encourage you to check out local secondhand stores for cookware. I've scored some spectacular finds (like three pieces of Le Creuset for $5 total). Look for small, independent thrift stores (as opposed to Goodwill/Salvation Army). They often get their merchandise from estate sales & storage auctions, and just tend to have a different selection from your well-known stores.

        I've used secondhand items to supplement my first set of pans -- it was the stainless steel Cuisinart set from the Spiegel catalog, which is regularly priced at $159 but occasionally goes on sale for around $100. They are heavy, durable, and still beautiful after 10 years of frequent use, though I have lost most of my lids. Spiegel also offers a 10-piece nonstick Cuisinart set for $149, and there are coupon codes all over the internet for 25% off. I've never used the Cuisinart nonstick so I can't comment on their quality, but I'm very happy with the stainless steel and have always been happy with Cuisinart's quality.

        http://www.spiegel.com/shop/product_s...

        3 Replies
        1. re: pixilated1

          Thank you for the suggestion (Ted also), but I should've specified that it needs to be new, unused pieces only, due to the laws of keeping kosher (unless Goodwill has a kosher aisle! :) ).

          1. re: KosherHound

            Can you not kasher second hand pots? I'm not Jewish, but I have friends who are.

            1. re: Paulustrious

              It depends on what the pot is made of and what it's been used for. While it's possible for some pots and pans (all stainless steel being the easiest), the laws are complex and then there is the concern that people I invite into my home may be uncomfortable eating food prepared in it regardless. Buying new is much easier, even if it's less fun or practical than picking out vintage earthenware.

        2. Garage-sale cast iron sounds like the way to go.

          8 Replies
          1. re: ted

            Yes, cast iron is not only inexpensive, it's some of best cookware you'll ever find.

            1. re: thomas64

              Any recommendation for where to pick up (new) pieces?

              1. re: KosherHound

                What is the definition of new and used? Since many "new" cookware are made from recycled materials and many "used" cookware can be revived by burning the heck out of it.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  new just means "new in the box"; ie, nobody's cooked anything in it. While it's true that some used cookware can be kashered by various methods, oftentimes it ruins the cookware, and it's not something I'm comfortable with doing. A pity, because there is really some beautiful vintage cookware out there!

                  1. re: KosherHound

                    I bought a lot of Calphalon on eBay last year for up to 50% off, "New In Box," not used at all. All the new in box pieces were shipped to me in the original packaging. I bought individual pieces that I wanted but you may be able to get a set, or a set of another brand, for under $100. I have Calphalon One, which I believe has been discontinued. If you're interested in cast iron, eBay has plenty of that, as well, much of it new.

                    1. re: KosherHound

                      That's kind of a bummer. The best place for new, cheap cast iron is the Lodge outlet outside Chattanooga, TN. But it's cheap to start with. The Ace Hardware stores around here tend to carry some.

                      All the suggestions for restaurant supply stores, TJ Max/Marshall's, and Tuesday Morning are good ones.

                  2. re: KosherHound

                    You can find new cast iron for very little money at a hardware store. Probably one of the biggest bargains around.

                    1. re: KosherHound

                      I'm pretty sure Wal-Mart carries the Lodge Logic pre-seasoned line, but if they don't anymore I know that Bass Pro, Cabela's, et al. carry them at good prices.

                2. Ditto on the other poster's ideas. Also, I think checking out places like TJMaxx, Ross, and Tuesday Morning. I've gotten some great deals on high end cookware at those places, particularly if you don't care about them all being the same brand.

                  1. look at qvc's website -- clearance cookware -- where there is a decent price on a set of two enameled cast iron skillets. there is paula deen enameled cookware on clearance, too. rachel ray hard anodized saute pans, etc. http://www.qvc.com/cgen/render.aspx?q...

                    beall's in florida has a great cookware line called florida marketplace in stainless steel. my mom had a pot and it kept the heat so well -- i was very impressed. pretty, very high shine on the stainless, too. if i didn't have too much cookware, i'd jump at this set for $80: http://www.amazon.com/Florida-Marketp...

                    you may want to take a gander at this link, too, for other offers: http://bestcookwaresetsreviews.blogsp...

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: alkapal

                      Hasn't Paula Deen's enameled cookware been recalled recently? Thanks for the links.

                      1. re: KosherHound

                        There was a recall on Paula Deen enameled cart iron items that were shattering. AFAIK, the stuff was sold via TV and online so those who purchased it could be identified. One hopes the stuff available now is an improved version.