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Recommendations for cookware for vacation rental

My friend owns a country home that he rents out on weekends. He does not stay there during the week. In a typical month, the place is rented out for 3 long weekends, and he uses it himself the 4th weekend.

He's looking to replace his pots and pans, and is trying to figure out how to balance some conflicting needs. The cookware has to be easy to use, easy to clean, and relatively resistant to abuse and neglect (metal utensils, food left for a few days, spillovers, slightly burned food, dropping). Because of the cost of the rental, it should also not look or feel cheap.

Any ideas on what he should get ? This is one of those situations that I don't think throwing a lot of money at will solve, since most expensive cookware requires careful handling.

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  1. We're in this situation also and there are a couple of approaches he might consider. One thing he can do is have the stuff HE uses and store it in a closet or a trunk that locks. And not so much the stuff he uses but the stuff that a tenant can damage. He can also get rid of ALL metal utensils and have only silicone and wood. I just bought a set of Circulon cookware from Costco that I bought because I just switched to induction. It was $200 and is 10 or 11 pieces, divided between various sizes of saucepans, skillets and lids. It's got a nice weight to it and is ovenproof to 400. I also leave written instructions for people. I get VERY specific. For example, "nothing that is wood or plastic can go in the dishwasher." "No cookware can go in the dishwasher." The people who use our places aren't slobs but they just don't know everything that we know. Right??? If I can provide further advice/opinions, let me know. As I've refined my instructions, it's gotten better :)

    Edit: Forgot to mention that the cookware is nonstick.

    3 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      Having stayed in numerous vacation homes, I'll give the opinion of the renter. Ignore the assumed need for non-stick and just get stainless - it doesn't have to be great quality heavy weight All-Clad, but it should be something that can take the metal utensils and the dishwasher . . . no matter the instructions you leave, you should really assume that people are just looking for the easiest to use. And, you know what, they are on vacation they can put some fat in the pan. If not used properly, even "non-stick" will stick, and you should assume people will scrub the hell out of them if that happens. I always really appreciate it when I get to a home and find stainless cookware, because I know I'm not going to have to dig for that one pan that doesn't have teflon peeling up all over the place due to the misuse by previous renters. He can get decent looking stuff that doesn't look cheap without spending a fortune, and with stainless it doesn't have to be replaced every year or two due to abuse.

      Oh, and can you please tell your friend that if there is a microwave in the house, then he should have microwavable cookware around -- such a pet peeve of mine.

      My dream rental would have one basic, cover all the bases, set of stainless cookware. One set of Corning Ware that can be used in the microwave or oven, and one or 2 aluminum baking sheets (again, no non-stick surfaces and not those cookie sheets with no sides). That would really allow me to do almost all the cooking I'd want to while on vacation.

      The real problem is knives... there's really no way to keep those in good shape. Not worth getting good ones. Get cheap and know you have to replace them often.

      1. re: centralpadiner

        I always bring my own non-stick fry pan and griddle, because I assume whatever is in the house has been trashed by other renters. I need a big lobster/corn pot, a smaller spaghetti pot, some pyrex baking dishes (9X13 for sure, and a couple other sizes, for oven an microwave use), and a couple of cookie sheets.

      2. re: c oliver

        Second the Circulon idea. The non-stick surface on our one Circulon piece has far outlasted our All-Clad non-sticks. As a regular condo renter (some times high end), a full set of Circulons would be way better than the crud we usually see. Personally, I think a stainless set would get thrashed by the majority of renters.

      3. Agree with stainless. I would keep an eye on estate sales where you can often get great deals on high end pots.

        2 Replies
        1. re: mountaincachers

          I agree with all of this. Knives ARE hopeless; I always pack my own. I'd add a good cast iron skillet to the list, well seasoned (yeah, some folks may wreck it but others will thank their lucky stars, to see it). Don't get TOO good, though. We have a little stone cabin we like to stay in on the edge of the Boundary Waters, in Minnesota. Time before last, we arrived to find a new sink and counters (yay!) and a new fridge (yay) and a wonderful, old, smooth as glass antique cast iron skillet (a Wapak). YAY!

          Next time we came, a year or two later, the skillet was gone. I'm pretty sure it was pinched by a renter...Boo hoo.

          1. re: Beckyleach

            We've never had a problem but, yeah, don't have irreplaceable kitchen things. And lots of cheap, serrated knives are great. I use them regularly.

            We do exchanges actually rather than rent our homes. We and our exchangees always jump for joy when we get a well-equipped kitchen.

        2. From a renter's viewpoint, I'd also say to skip teflon. No matter how clean it is, it skeeves me out, because it's almost always worn, scratched, or worse.

          I'd also suggest some sort of knife sharpener be handy. Not everyone will use it, or care, but even a cheap, dull knife could be helped a bit by one. There's nothing worse than trying to cut a lime for your gin and tonic and having the knife bounce off the skin. What I would have given to sharpen that piece of crap.

          1 Reply
          1. re: irishnyc

            "From a renter's viewpoint, I'd also say to skip teflon. No matter how clean it is, it skeeves me out, because it's almost always worn, scratched, or worse."

            Completely agree with this.

          2. dump123456789, our best friends own a vacation rental (time-share) at a very, very high end resort. Their house rents out for $600/night. You would think that renters who pay $600/night would be high class, right? Wrong. Anything left there gets trashed.

            My suggestion: Tuesday Morning regularly has Made in China Berndes cookware on sale. It is cheap, nearly indestructible, and looks classy.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Politeness

              Sorry to be so cynical, but if it looks too good, it might get "liberated..." (old old phrase!)

              1. re: Politeness

                Your friends' experience is the same as my friend's. The high nightly rate does not filter out guests who would trash things. In fact, I suspect they feel entitled to do it BECAUSE OF the high rate.

                Doesn't stainless steel get nasty looking if stuff is burned in it, and it's either not washed properly, or it's washed in the dishwasher ?

                (Silicone and wood utensils wouldn't eliminate the metal utensils issue, since it appears some guests are using the metal cutlery as supplementary utensils.)

                1. re: dump123456789

                  Does your friend use a property manager who can monitor damage, collect deposits and "ding" the a$$holes who f$$k up his house???

                  1. re: c oliver

                    I think damaged pots and pans (up to a certain point) count as "cost of doing business", and are covered by the rental fee. Dinging people would probably drive renters away and create bad word-of-mouth, unless the damage was serious enough.

                    Having said that, he would still like to reduce this cost if at all possible.

              2. We vacation at rental homes all the time, and mostly fly there, so packing our own knives, pots and pans isn't much of an option! This might sound weird, but 'making do' can make for some fun memories. I will never forget my mother, insisting that 10 pounds of live crawfish be rinsed before cooking. No colander to be had, so she used the plastic-coated dish drainer. The sight of her screaming and laughing as we pried off the clinging claws of those little crustaceans - priceless!

                Many more great memories from this renter's side. Provide the best you're comfortable with and don't sweat it.

                3 Replies
                1. re: southern_expat

                  I travel with a chef's knife, microplane grater and a few other "necessities" in my checked luggage all the time.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    We ship a box three-four days before we leave, with all of the niceties from home that we want (good nonstick, a griddle, lobster crackers and hammers, cloth napkins, etc). It's pretty cheap (under $25 each way usually) and has always been waiting for us in the rental office when we check in. We're not the only ones to do this - there are usually a couple of other boxes waiting for just checking in renters. I put my chef's knife and good paring knife in my checked bag.

                    1. re: jeanmarieok

                      you know, we ship our fishing gear when we fly to a rental, I don't know why I never thought of shipping a knife. Everything else I can make do with, but a lack of a knife that can actually cut drives me insane. Thank you for the lightbulb moment!