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Advice for the Purchase of new Cookware

Long time lurker, 2nd time poster.

My husband and I are building a new house. I've convinced him to let me put most of our upgrade budget into the kitchen. As a result we're getting some really great new appliances, including an induction range (Electrolux, slide in, with the new wave controls).

I do all of the cooking in the house - my husband will cook a grilled cheese or make Kraft dinner for the kids when I'm not home. He *might* re-heat soup once in a blue moon. I would consider myself a decent cook - learned from my mother and grandmother and then from various ethnic roommates throughout university. Like most people, I have dishes that fail from time to time, but I also like to think that for the most part, I do okay.

The thing is, up until now, I've only ever cooked on gas or electric. We got new pots and pans for our wedding 5+ years ago, but they aren't magnetic. They're also all non-stick - see here: http://www.amazon.com/Anolon-Allure-1...

So we're faced with getting new pots and pans for our new stove. I've read with interest all of the posts about All Clad and the like, as well as Le Crueset and other enameled and non-enameled cast iron.

What I would like is recommendations regarding what pots and pans you would suggest I purchase to make a set. I would like a variety of different things, likely a set of stainless steel and then some add-ons - maybe a 4.5qt dutch oven, and a non-stick pan or two, or?

The range we've purchased has elements that are 10", 8", 7" and 6" in diameter. I understand that I can go up to 1" beyond the stated size and still have the stove top work okay.

Any and all suggestions are welcome - including your favorite brands and the pot or pan you can't live without and why.

In terms of price, I've likely got about $1500 to spend (Canadian) on the basics - and will be able to add non-essentials on in the future.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. The very best advice you're ever going to get is never to buy a set. You end up using a few pieces constantly and the rest never or almost never. Think about how you cook, what you use most often now, and what you most often wish you had. Then buy them individually, and different materials and weights for different uses. For stove top, I find large, medium and small skillets get used a lot around here. They are All Clad (very large covered saute pan), cast iron and copper sandwich stainless (discontinued Revere Signature collection I've had 30 years and love). I use my Dutch ovens constantly in fall and winter. Would probably only have one if I'd bought a less huge one first, I like my 5 qt Staub better than my Le Creuset but both are great. I won't have anything non stick in the house, not necessary, and not healthy, I believe. You can use the Dutch ovens for soup but it's heavy, so depending on your habits, you might want a heavy bottomed stock pot for pasta, and for soups. And saucepans, size and number depending on your needs. I've never owned or needed a small sauce pan, but I get a lot of use out of my medium and large ones.

    Congratulations and good luck with your new house!

    1. I sell cookware in a small independent shop so I am not bound by what a suit wants to push. My first choice for induction is Chantal with the copper and carbon steel lining. It is extremely efficient and faster than any other cookware I have tested. Allclad seems to be about 95%+/- . Creuset is good. Regalware is on a par with Allclad. Swiss Diamond has recently introduced induction pieces. Just some good old cast iron with a flat bottom will work well too. Some of my customers who have been worried about scratching the surface have told me that they put down a piece of parchment between the pan and burner. Since the induction process is magnetic, the parchment doesn't even get scorched.

      Do not buy a set. I rarely stock them unless it is a really good deal. You will have to decide if you really want and will use pieces in a set. If you won't then it is not worth the deal (that applies for all sets, flatware, dinnerware cookware etc).

      2 Replies
      1. re: Candy

        I don't have induction, but I can vouch for the quality, durability and performance of my 20 y.o. Chantal stock pot.

        1. re: Candy

          Thank you for mentioning that about the parchment!

          I have an induction cookplate and I was a bit worried about my cast iron pan scratching it but putting baking paper down underneath it is a great idea. My husband suggested putting a wash cloth down under the pots, which I've just tested and it works too. He thinks it might even make the cookplate more efficient because the pot would waste less energy heating the glass.

        2. Although we all have individual needs and preferences in the kitchen, I'd recommend that you consider the following items as a good core set of induction-capable cookware. I won't recommend sizes, because that will depend on how many you cook for. The specific brands I mention are ones that I have found to work well on my induction cooktop.

          Frying pans:

          Cast iron frying pan(s) [I like Lodge (especially Signature) and Iwachu from Japan]
          Maybe a cast iron grill pan or square griddle [same brands as above]
          Carbon steel chef's pan(s) [I use a Japanese commercial brand, but De Buyer is widely recommended]
          Induction-capable nonstick aluminum frying pan(s) [De Buyer CHOC induction, Swiss Diamond, Infinite Circulon]
          Fully clad stainless steel frying pan(s) [All-Clad, Le Crueset Tri-Ply, Mauviel M'Cook, De Buyer Affinity]

          Saucepans:

          Fully clad or disk-bottom stainless steel saucepans [Mauviel M'Cook, Tramontina, Fissler, Calphalon Contemporary, Le Creuset Tri-Ply]
          Stockpot(s)/pasta pot(s), with pasta and steamer inserts [same brands as above]

          Cast iron dutch oven or chicken fryer [Lodge]
          Enameled cast iron French oven [Le Creuset]
          Enameled cast iron brasier [LC]

          Induction-capable tea kettle

          I'm also a big fan of Silit Silargan cookware from Germany. It's ceramic-coated stainless steel. They make everything from frying pans to saucepans to Dutch ovens. Silit Silargan cookware is a lot like Le Creuset (heavy, relatively nonstick surface, easy cleanup), but is tougher and can be used at high heat.

          Other brands that I haven't personally tried, but which are often said to be good for induction cooktops are Demeyere (Atlantis, Apollo, Proline), Cuisinart Muliclad Pro, Calphalon Tri-Ply, Viking, Berndes, Scanpan CTX, Staub, and many others.

          Enjoy your cookware shopping spree!

          1. mcf is dead on. In most circumstance (except a very few), buying a preset of cookware with the same construction is a poor way of spending money. You said you have been using gas and electric. Are you going to ever use induction? If not, then don't worry about about induction capability. If yes, then you should plan ahead.

            Since you have only cooked with nonstick cookware before, I would advise you to try out something new. At the same time, I also suggest you to move out slowly. Some people learn to love other types of cookware, while some people have trouble beyond nonstick cookware. It would be a waste of money to buy a brand new set of stainless steel cladded cookware to only find out you hate them.

            Nevertheless, here are some very basic good cookware to consider:

            A cast iron skillet or a carbon steel frying pan (maybe two sizes). Both of which can take on very high heat and can acquire a nonstick-like surface overtime. Brands are not so important as long as the construction is good. You can start with a Lodge cast iron skillet or a DeBuyer steel fry pan

            A Dutch Oven. Either go with a bare cast iron Dutch Oven (Lodge) or an enameled cast iron Dutch Oven (Le Cresuset, Staub, Lodge Color, Tramontina). Both have their advantages and disadvantages. The list of pros and cons are long for this one, but there are numerous past posts on CHOWHOUND discussing their differences in details.

            A saucepan. A triply stainless steel construction is nice. Calphalon Triply, Calphalon Contemporary, Tramontina, Cuisinart MultiClad and many other brands.

            A stock pot if you like to make stock -- this one the requirement is not so straight. Stainless steel triply or anodized aluminum are good choice.

            By the way, there are many many more choices.

            1. You'll get a confusing range of ideas. I'd certainly
              go along with those who advise against buying
              a set. FYI Consumer Reports tested pans a few
              years back and rated Cuisinart as best. Personally,
              I love my Cuisinart Multi-Clad.
              Sizes depend on how many people you cookfor,
              but you'll probably want up to 6 saucepans with varied
              capacity, and perhaps 4 frying pans. Note that
              cast iron dutch ovens are very heavy when full.

              9 Replies
              1. re: mpalmer6c

                "I love my Cuisinart Multi-Clad"

                Interestingly, the few local Bed Bath and Beyond stores stopped carrying the MultiClad.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I've been using the Cuisinart Multiclad Pro for three years now and I love it! I just convinced my mom to order a set and we found it on amazon in less than five minutes. It was just over $200 and the set doesn't have *too* much extra junk. I use all my pieces, except maybe the tall, straight sided fry pan. I would normally use that as a braiser, but now I use my Le Crueset. I prefer the Cuisinart to the other options because I like the steel lids better than glass. As far as non-stick is concerned, I would go with Scanpan. They are the only ones that are PFOA free, and the non-stick surface is baked on instead of glued. They say that you can even use metal utensils, though I would still stick with silicone and wood.

                  1. re: MelissaMachete

                    My All Clad saute pan has a steel lid, not glass. If that's what you were comparing to.

                    1. re: mcf

                      Woops, I wasn't comparing the Cusinart Multiclad Pro to the All Clad. I was comparing the Cuisinart to the other fully clad cookware that are also less expensive. Many of these other less expensive options have glass lids, which I personally don't like. Sorry I wasn't clear!

                      1. re: MelissaMachete

                        Can I ask why do you like steel lid? Is it for cleaning? for safety? for what?

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          I'm sure Melissa will be along with her answer, but for me it's: lighter weight, unbreakable, and (because lighter and unbreakable) can easily be stored on back of cabinet door with my jerry-rigged "hillybilly Hafele" of small bungee cords strung between pushpins.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Sort of all of the above. The lids are more durable, less noticeable hard water stains (in my area that is important), but mostly ease of cleaning. There are fewer parts with the SS lids, which maker for easier cleaning and more durability. After culinary school I guess it's what I got used to. Another bonus is that with a hanging rack, your SS lids can be hung with your pots via the handle (lid handle around the pot handle, hanging from the rack) which saves so much space and clanging around.

                            1. re: MelissaMachete

                              If it were me, it'd be because I like to see what the food's doing while it cooks. :-) But I don't find even very large metal lids heavy or hard to clean or store, either.

                2. I know several on here are saying stay away from a set, but I did just replace almost all of our pots and pans with an All Clad set that I got from Williams Sonoma this week. I do agree that if you are not going to use all of the pieces, then it may not be worth it. In my case, it was almost a piece-for-piece replacement of the non-stick pieces that we had.

                  The set I bought is listed on their webpage for $1249.95 (item number number 97-3972791). However after doing some searching for coupons, I was able to find the exact same set for $937.46 (item number 83-3972791). Plus they throw in the lasagna pan, oven mitts and cookbook with the current offer that is going on.

                  As it is currently backordered on the web, I called the local store. Turns out the store price was even lower at $899, for the 15 piece set, plus the free lasagna pan. The sales clerk stated that Williams Sonoma is not going to carry the Tri-Ply any longer, instead replacing it with the D5 line (made exclusively for them). When you compare the cost of purchasing these individually, it does result in some fairly good savings.

                  Hope this helps.

                  1. We've just gotten an induction cooktop for our kitchen remodel. After surveying all the various options we went with Emrilware ProClad 12pc set which we got on Amazon. Rolled lips, good handles, glass tops. The pieces are all useful for us. We already had a pressure cooker which was magnetic so that was a nice surprise. We've been adding deBuyer steel pans for non-stick use. First was a 9.5" crepe pan used exclusively for eggs. Second was a 12.5" Mineral fry pan.with similar shape. Also added a 4.5qt AllClad cassarole for pasta etc. Just bought a 3qt sauce pan Emrilware Proclad. We also found a nice big double handled pan by Tramontina at Sam's club which has been quite useful.

                    We find we really like the set as it had things we often used and was a good deal. We've only added pieces as we found we needed them.

                    Really enjoying the induction cooktop!

                    Have fun

                    Jim

                    15 Replies
                    1. re: mdgolfbum

                      Thanks for the above suggestions. We don't take possession of the new house until March 15th, so I have some time to seek out deals and check out various options.

                      I'm thinking that I will go out this week and purchase a single stainless steel frying pan to play with to see if I can get used to cooking without teflon. I've already warned my husband that it's going to be ugly since I've never done it before.

                      There is a part of me that wants to stay with non-stick because it's so easy, but I also worry about the health issues around it (I have young children) and would like to think I can adapt with time to stainless steel.

                      Provided that I can learn the basics to stainless steel in the next 10 weeks, based on my personal needs, uses and input above, I think I'll end up purchasing the following to start with, and then add on as needed:

                      - two saucepans (SS)
                      - one stock pot (SS)
                      - one pasta pot with insert (SS)
                      - two fry pans (non-stick) - 10" and then something smaller - 7" maybe
                      - two fry pans (SS) - 10" and 6"
                      - large saute pan with lid - not sure if this should be SS or? I do use this particular piece a lot now
                      - an enameled dutch/french oven - for sure a 4.5 qt. LC which I have been lusting after

                      I've been researching the brands people have mentioned above, and have been considering my intial impulse to buy a set.

                      There is a part of me that thinks I might buy a small set - two saucepans and two fry pans with lids - as that seems to be the best bang for your buck for the quality SS. For example, many places sell the 6-piece All Clad for less than the cost of buying three of the pieces open stock - so it's like getting the 4th piece free. I can see how buying the 11 or 15 piece set might be a waste of money for someone starting out like me.

                      That being said, I'm in sticker shock over some of the costs of certain pieces - swiss diamond sounds like a great pan - and for $150 per fry pan it had better be! I don't know anything about it, though, so I am slightly concerned about paying that much for a single pan. Has anyone used their warranty for the non-stick coating? With my luck, my in laws or husband would flip pancakes with a fork. .....

                      1. re: NicoleJones

                        We've used teflon coated frypans since they came out (we've been married 42 years) and have had no problem with the steel ones. It took just a few minutes to do two seasonings with olive oil. No drama.

                        AllClad does have a sticker shock associated with it but that's not why we didn't select it. My wife hated the handles on the AllClad, even the new ones.

                        I have no idea why EmrilWare ProClad (made by AllClad) has better handles. Mind boggling.

                        We bought 1qt sauce pans from several different brands and tried them out. The EmrilWare ProClad had the best combination for us including rolled lips on the pans.

                        BTW, steel frypans are dirt cheap and should last forever.

                        Jim

                        1. re: mdgolfbum

                          The Emerilware has other problems, though. A lot of consumer complaints after the honeymoon period.

                          To the OP, I agree with another poster that an insert or colander will suffice for pasta straining, etc. if you have a stockpot already on hand. If you don't have a stockpot, consider buying a heavy bottomed pasta pot with strainer so you can use it for more than one purpose, like soup and sauces. That's what I do, anyway. We don't eat pasta, but for years, used our Chantal stock pot for boiling it, and a colander (which I have to have anyway) for straining it.

                          Another note, 4.5 qt on the Dutch oven is going small in terms of limiting what you can make in it. I have huge one (too big and heavy for much of what I use it for, but still very versatile) and a 5.5 qt one... teh 5.5 is still pretty small, but will get a lot more use, it's just right for two of us. If you'll be cooking for a growing family, you might want to go to 6 or 7 qts if it's your only one for a while.

                          Hope that helps.

                          1. re: mcf

                            Haven't seen any complaints on the ProClad line. It has the same full ply construction as the AllClad. The only complaints I've seen is for the bottom plate version.

                            jim

                            1. re: mdgolfbum

                              Read the one, two and three star reviews here. Not surprising, given Chinese manufacturing, sadly: http://tinyurl.com/6n4y3ns

                              It doesn't have the huge backlog of consumer complaints that the other line has, but give it time, which is what the dissatisfied reviewers did, typically. If there's a quality celebrity line of cookware, I've yet to hear about it.

                              1. re: mcf

                                Actually if you read those reviews the negative ones are about the seller not the product or about a different line of EmrilWare. I had already read all those before buying.

                                You need to read past the subject lines to discover the details.

                                Jim

                                1. re: mdgolfbum

                                  Edit erroneous review, replace with this...

                                  You're right, that was not the right set. This apparently was. I''ll edit the previous out, since that's not fair to leave.

                                  "4 of 12 people found the following review helpful:
                                  2.0 out of 5 stars What a shame, January 11, 2010
                                  By A. Johnson "grad student girl" (Columbus, GA) - See all my reviews
                                  (REAL NAME)
                                  This review is from: Emerilware Pro Clad Stainless Steel Tri-Ply 12-Piece Cookware Set (Kitchen)
                                  My husband & I have a nice set of all-clad pots that cook very well but were frustrated we had to hand-wash them all the time. I told him go out and buy a good set of pots and pans that were stainless steel which would also go in the dishwasher and this is the set he brought home. We have had it for one week and one of the pans has rust on it!

                                  We plan on returning them today. I guess I need to go back to our old all-clad because even with the hand-washing they still cook amazingly."

                                  These may be better than the dismally poor regular Emerilware, but when a company demonstrates such lack of quality control in the first place, I don't know why I'd trust them in the second place. I'd want to see a solid, long track record. AFAIK, there are no celebrity chefs with a good quality product line of cookware. Mario Batali has at least hooked up with a superb pepper mill maker, though. :-)

                                  1. re: mcf

                                    The complainer had no clue since the ProClad series does not have copper anywhere in them. Many other posters responded highlighting the complainer's cluelessness.

                                    S/He was obviously confused. They did not in fact have Emrilware Proclad since it is a fully triply rather than a slug bottom.

                                    jim

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      I also read that review. It sounds bad, except the Emerilware Pro Clad Tri-Ply cookware doesn't have bonded copper bottoms. The description says that they are fully clad tri-ply (stainless/aluminum/stainless).

                                      PS. I've noticed this before in Amazon reviews. Every now and then it seems that the reviews don't match the actual item listing. I don't know if this is a problem with Amazon or with folks posting reviews in the wrong place.

                          2. re: NicoleJones

                            How many people are you cooking for? I see you say for your children so I assume at least two! What sorts of food do you cook and how do you cook it? That sort of information is important to give/receive good recommendations.

                            That aside, I might suggest that you re-consider some of your cookware in terms of duplicates.

                            1) If you get a stock pot that can accept a pasta insert, you don't need to get both the stock pot and the pasta pot. Most meals that I cook don't have both stock and pasta cooking at the same time, so combining these pots is not a problem for me. Of course it may be different for the meals that you cook, but if you can then you can save the money and put it to the sauce pans if you use them more (or just... save the money...)

                            2) four fry pans and one saute pan seems to be a lot of overlap. If you need the non-stick (I don't have any, but it definitely has it's place in most family kitchens) fry pans, do you then really need the same/similar size fry pans and than a saute pan about the same size as both of the larger fry pans? If you could get just two non-stick pans in the ~10 and ~7 inch, and a large saute pan, you could save yourself from buying two fry pans and invest in a nicer induction saute pot since you say that that is a piece you use a lot.

                            1. re: khuzdul

                              I can't sear and finish steak off in the oven with Teflon. So I think I will need some overlap.

                              1. re: NicoleJones

                                That is true, but you can sear and finish the steak in the saute pan. If you need to sear/finish the steak while using the the saute to make another dish this is not a valid point.

                              2. re: khuzdul

                                I should have said that I cook for 4, but often host dinner parties, and, of course, hope to host family holiday dinners, which can get up to 25-30 guests (We're french catholic.....)

                              3. re: NicoleJones

                                SS pans are super easy once you learn not to touch it until its ready. It's called sear and release. If the food doesn't want to move, it's because it isn't finished searing. Also, any misshaps are easily cleaned with a little Bar Keepers Friend. I still use non-stick for eggs and fish.

                            2. I've never cooked with induction either. My preference is gas for the fine control is provides. Most of, if not all, of my cookware would probably be useless if I bought an induction cooktop. Including my favorite cast iron pans and dutch oven.

                              Is natural gas or propane not an option for you? Is there an overriding reason that you really want induction? From the little that I know, the cookware can be pretty pricey.

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: jkling17

                                :: Most of, if not all, of my cookware would probably be useless if I bought an induction cooktop. Including my favorite cast iron pans and dutch oven. ::

                                Cast iron cookware, including enameled cast iron, works fine with induction.

                                So do the not particularly expensive steel frying pans that, when seasoned, make excellent crepe/omelet/egg pans.

                                Regal's American Kitchen tri-ply stainless frying pans are U.S. made and very reasonably priced, with long, comfortable handles.

                                I love the proportions, weight, balance, and finish of the 2-quart Cuisinart Multiclad Pro line. I'd have the 3-quart, but it has taller proportions that I don't find as easy to work with.

                                I'd never give up gas, but I am very glad to have gotten a portable induction unit. The main pieces of cookware I use on it are the two parts of a Fagor pressure cooker set, 4-qt soup pot and 6-quart boil pot. They're used as often as regular pots as they are to do pressure cooking, particularly the 4-qt. They're stainless with a thick aluminum disk in the base.

                                1. re: ellabee

                                  I didn't know that, but I did find this link: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/580865. Scratching issues ... Hmmm. Something to think about.

                                  Again, I know very little about induction. I can't wait to redo our kitchen and install that used 36" thermador cooktop that I picked up over the holidays. I'll finally get away from using 2 portable butane stoves (my electric coil range blows - except as an oven).

                                  1. re: jkling17

                                    The base of my 40-year-old Copco enameled cast iron Dutch oven (and the one just like it only pristine that I snagged on ebay for $30, less than I paid in the 1970s) is bare iron, but machined smooth.

                                    There are two workarounds for those worried that their cast iron skillets or Dutch ovens might scratch the induction surface: put a sheet of parchment paper between the pot and the cooktop, or sand down the cookware. Parchment is a better move for enameled-bottom Dutch ovens with a ridge of bare metal, and sanding for all-iron pieces.

                                2. re: jkling17

                                  :: My preference is gas for the fine control is provides.

                                  A commonly cited advantage of induction cooktops is the fine (and instantaneous) temperature control they provide.

                                  I'd suggest you give induction another look.

                                  1. re: tanuki soup

                                    Yes, most of the folks I've read extolling the virtues of induction are converts from gas, in fact.

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      No thanks. I like gas and solid grates :-) Any cooktop that might need protection with parchment paper from my cookware isn't tough enough to be in my kitchen.

                                      1. re: jkling17

                                        I like gas and grates, too. But a lot of the folks I've read over the years who love induction were the same way. In any case, the argument about fine, infinite control response clearly does not apply to induction, whatever preferences are.

                                        1. re: mcf

                                          Does NOT apply to induction? I don't understand.

                                          1. re: NotJuliaChild

                                            Induction is, by all reports, as sensitive as gas is to infinite small adjustments, unlike other non gas type stoves. See the comment I was referring to, for context.

                                3. For searing meat and finishing in oven, the least expensive and in many ways best option is a 12" cast iron frying pan with a lid that fits (tempered glass or stainless). Used, well-seasoned ones can sometimes be found for a song, but new ones can be seasoned easily (just start off with a lot of bacon and/or cornbread-in-skillet sessions).

                                  If you need/want a really large-capacity saute pan for induction, the Sitram Profiserie 7-qt would work well on your 10-inch cookzone. It's heavy-duty stainless with a thick aluminum disk base (with enough magnetized steel coating to work on induction). It's around $130 at online restaurant supply places, so worth checking with some restaurant supply places in your area. It gives you a full 11" interior frying surface -- great not only for browning / searing, but sauteing down a big volume of greens (the vertical side walls keep them contained until they wilt). This is an absolutely indestructible piece, which your fork-wielding in-laws can jab away at to their hearts' content.

                                  The cast iron skillet is likewise very durable -- you just have to keep other users from running cold water over it when it's sizzling hot, or ruining the seasoning by soaking it in detergent-filled water.

                                  1. In cases of starting out or starting over with cookware, my thinking about the order in which to get pieces of equipment is the list below. In brackets are materials that work with induction or can be found in models that do (Tramontina Lyon, Swiss Diamond Induction, etc.)

                                    1 - medium skillet (9"-11")
                                    [stainless tri-ply, cast iron, carbon steel, induction-capable heavy aluminum nonstick]

                                    2 - boil pot (5-8 qt)
                                    [enameled steel, disk-based stainless {incl pressure cooker}, tri-ply stainless]

                                    3 - medium saucepan (2-2.75 qt)
                                    [stainless tri-ply if you do any amount of whisking sauces, etc.; for plain heating-up you could get by with disk-based stainless or even enameled steel]

                                    4 - large frying surface (10"-12" interior surface), fairly vertical but shallow walls
                                    [cast iron skillet, disk-based stainless saute pan, heavy aluminum nonstick saute/sauteuse]

                                    5 - medium-large Dutch oven (4-7 qt)
                                    [enameled cast iron, induction-compatible heavy aluminum nonstick]

                                    6 - small casserole, fairly vertical walls (2-3 qt)
                                    [enameled cast iron, induction-compatible heavy aluminum nonstick, induction-capable ceramic]

                                    7 - larger saucepan (3-4 qt)
                                    [stainless disk-based or tri-ply, heavy aluminum nonstick]

                                    The list can be cut down to five if some pieces do double duty: The Dutch oven can handle all boil pot tasks, and the small casserole can act as the larger saucepan.