HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >


Inexpensive cookware recs?

I recently convinced my mother that she shouldn't continue using her old cast aluminum pots and pans. She went to Bed Bath & Beyond to look at the basic sets of cookware and, as you might know, found a wide range of prices. She isn't going to spend more than $200 for a 10 piece set, and my attempts at research on what is available in that price range has been incredibly unreliable. Half of the ratings are a one star and half are a 4 star for the same set.

I'd appreciate input from your experience with this range of cookware. she seems to be interested in clear lids and the pots need to stack.

Thank you!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. So does the material matter? Are you getting rid of the pots because they're old or aluminum?

    1 Reply
    1. I would not get a set. It is a better value, I think, to get a couple of good-quality pots of the types you find most useful, than more pots of lesser quality in a set. I also wouldn't stop using an old pot I liked without a good reason.

      1 Reply
      1. re: GH1618

        I would agree about the set if it was for me, but this is my 75-year-old mother and she isn't a chow-type cook. Her every day pots are all very old Club aluminum and she didn't know that certain foods reacted with aluminum. She now knows what will work in her old favorite pans. She would like to get a set of pots in her price range. That's all I was asking

      2. I suppose the first question is are you replacing the aluminum because you are alumaphopic? If that's the case you are probably PTFE phobic as well. Can't really make a recomendation unless we know the details. You are going to be hard pressed to get a decent set of pots and pans for roughly the cost of one good pan. That's probably why you see ratings all over the board, those with great expectations will be dissapointed with a cheep pan. To a certian extent you get what you pay for, however there are some moderately priced cookware brands with good performance, just none that come to mind, at least not my mind, for less than $200 for a set.

        3 Replies
        1. re: mikie

          Thanks for your input. This is for my 75-year-old mother and she just wants a little set of pots now that she knows that her old aluminum ones aren't great to cook with daily. You need more details than mother wants help on choosing cookware set under $200?

          1. re: Terrie H.

            What I was looking for is the problem aluminum, which appearantly it is from your post above. Because if you are concerned about cooking with aluminum, which you shouldn't be, then you would probably not want a PTFE coated non-stick either. But if those two are out based on composition, then there is no reason to reccommned one of the sets.

            You should be able to find a small set of try-ply cookware that is adiqute for the price you are looking at, just not a big set. There should be a small set similar to this that would fit your price range, these are a reasonably good value: http://www.amazon.com/Calphalon-Tri-P... This is a bigger set than your mother likely needs but a smaller set should be available and more in line with the price point you have in mind. Again, unless you are looking at $200 a pot, you are not going to find all 4 and 5 star reviews.

            1. re: mikie

              Thank you, mikie -- this is very helpful.

        2. OK, to clarify... we are looking for a small set of stainless for $200 or less and would like to know if anyone actually has experience to suggest what might be the best choice.

          1 Reply
          1. A "set" for under $200 is a bunch of inferior pots, in my opinion. If price is a big consideration, the best value might be to keep the pots you have. I see no point in replacing a good pot with an inferior one. A SS pot will be inferior to an aluminum one unless it is SS clad over aluminum (usually called tri-ply), in which case it will cost more than you want to pay for a set, or will be junk.

            It doesn't have to be a lot more, however. Cuisinart French Classic is only $300 for a set from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. You might consider that.

            1 Reply
            1. re: GH1618

              She might go for that price range if there are good reviews. Thank you GH.,

            2. Is she using Club Aluminum? Unless the pots are falling apart, I don't see why she couldn't just add couple of stainless pots to her collection. As I recall the Club Aluminum pans were pretty good, but maybe they are worn out?

              http://tinyurl.com/7p9ley5 Kohls Cuisinart

              You can find a Cuisinart set for under $200 at Kohl's now. See the above link. The bases are encapsulated aluminum, and they aren't for induction, but I imagine your mom doesn't have induction if she is using aluminum.

              I've never handled these so I can't recommend them. but there are Kohl's just about everywhere, so you should be able to put your hands on them. I'd let your mom handle them to make sure they aren't too heavy or not right for her.

              And you can find individual stainless pots at Home Goods for good prices, if you decide to replace only a couple of pots. Good luck.

              1 Reply
              1. re: sueatmo

                Thank you Sue -- this is a big help.

              2. hi. i don't have a good recommendation but for the experts out there i suggest keeping in mind that for 75 going on fabulous, i would consider recommend light-weight pots and pans. my grandparents had switched over to enameled steel pots and pans (like ones used for camping) and plastic dishes at a certain point due to weight and excessive dropping and chipping.

                2 Replies
                1. re: redbeanbun

                  This is a good point. The heft of the pots is going to be something to consider. Thank you.

                  1. re: Terrie H.

                    If your mother is cooking for 1 or 2 most of the time, you can get smaller pans, such as a 9.5 inch fry pan rather than an 11 inch. The other thing that is quite helpfull is a helper handle, this makes controling larger or heavier pots and pans much much easier.

                2. My well meaning but non-foodie uncle once bought my grandmother some lovely new pans which had plain rims with no lip of any sort. She found them very hard to pour from. Soup, hot milk, draining vegetables etc. all made a real mess. They were expensive too:


                  1. Let us know if you put her old pots on eBay!


                    These are nice...