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Help return peace to our kitchen: cookware recommendations

I cook. I cook a lot. I spend enough time doing it that I've learned (sometimes the hard way, sometimes the easier way) how to take care of my cookware.

Don't add ice water to a hot pan lest it warp.
Don't use steel wool on a non-stick pan.
Don't scrape away burned bits with a knife and scratch away the coating to crumbs.

The trouble is, my husband is a much less experienced cook, and although he's actively trying to improve, my pots and pans are suffering greatly from his efforts. I've already had to throw out three irreparable pans, and I'm on my way to another.

What's the best solution here? Is there cookware out there that is virtually indestructible but still enjoyable to use for a more advanced cook? Or should I just give up and let him keep trashing my pans, while keeping a secret set for me?

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  1. <Is there cookware out there that is virtually indestructible but still enjoyable to use for a more advanced cook?>

    Different cookware have different weak points. For example, cast iron cookware hardly warp, but can rust. Aluminum cookware do not rust, but can warp. If you are creative enough, you can always find a way to damage some cookware out there. Your best bet is the heavy duty stainless steel cladded cookware like All Clad and Demeyere. They are as durable. Due to the stainless steel surface, these cookware do not rust, and can endure minor scratches from steel wool (though not recommended). They are also thick enough that they are fairly resistance to warping (again, not recommended). Nonstick cookware are the most vulnerable.

    <Or should I just give up and let him keep trashing my pans, while keeping a secret set for me?>


    1. How receptive is your husband to "learning" how to take care of cookware?

      First, avoid the non-stick and anodized aluminum pans. Lodge cast iron is pretty hard to really mess up but, you can let them rust away. Same for DeBuyer Mineral pans.

      I have 5 layer "Spring" pans from Switzerland and Demeyere Atlantis from Belgium. While not totally fool proof to out right abuse, they can take a beating and still work well.

      1. Hi, sailrox:

        As others have pointed out, any pan can be ruined through misuse.

        What I would humbly suggest is an amicable division of cookware: You get yours, and he's not to touch it. He gets his to ruin or take care of as he sees fit.

        I would start him out with a Lodge skillet and one bare aluminum saucepan or casserole of appropriate size, budget-priced from a resto supply store.

        I went through this with Wahine and knives. She now has hers and I have mine, and we have a tipless expensive chef's knife stuck to the wall as a permanent reminder to keep her hooks off my knives.


        1. If you're really looking to share cookware with your husband, I'd suggest checking the restaurant supply houses, as commercial cookware is usually very durable and reasonably priced. Based on the condition of my Sitram Catering saute pan when I found it at a flea market, I'd say that particular line is pretty close to indestructible. But while commercial cookware is high on performance, it does tend to be low on esthetics.

          1. Maybe your husbands talents would be better served in an outdoor kitchen. Grilling and smoking. Your cookware is saved and peace reigns supreme.

            1. Carbon steel, especially the heavyweight De Buyer Mineral line, is difficult to damage. But if he wants to cook and is doing such abuse to your pans, he should get his own and leave yours alone.

              1. A spouse that diligently cleans up?

                I feel that the cost of cookware is minimal compared to what your husband is contributing.

                Hope you are not telling this to the neighbors, or somebody will try to steal him from you.

                2 Replies
                1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                  <I feel that the cost of cookware is minimal compared to what your husband is contributing.>

                  Hmm, I guess there is good to be said about this.

                  1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                    I thought something similar when I saw this post!

                    My husband does not cook and truly mean he does not cook ANYTHING. He recently learned to use the microwave to warm things up though...

                    I have tried getting him in the kitchen as I always had the desire to cook side-by-side, feeding each other from tasting spoons...sorry, getting off track here ;) But alas it is not to be. he stands over my shoulder asking, "Why are you doing that? What's it going to taste like? Don't you think you need to stir this? Is that enough seasoning?" So I put him to use chopping veggies. Bless his heart, he has an OCD which makes for the best, most uniform chopped and sliced veggies/meats/fruits you have ever seen!

                    I would either invest in some very durable cookware (as suggested here) or toss out the ones he trashes knowing he is sweet enough to cook with you. Good luck!

                  2. I bought a set of stainless cookware at Macy's a few years ago -- it's attractive, has heavy-duty composite bottoms, and the best part? It was cheap -- using a newspaper coupon, I walked out with a full set (1 qt, 2 qt, 3 qt saucepans with lids, 8" and 10" saute, 8-qt stockpot with lid, and a 16" wok with lid) -- for something like $79.

                    It's their Tools of the Trade (house brand) Cookright line -- 5 years later it still looks like new, and it's darned near bulletproof.

                    I looked for someone else not too long ago, and they don't have that exact set, but they're still making the same pans....

                    ...failing that, you can always threaten to beat him with every pan he destroys....

                    1. I limit myself to one non-stick pan (skillet) at a time ... the rest are either stainless or enameled cast iron. The best way to damage enamel is to drop the piece, and I have done that ... but I haven't destroyed anything, just made it less attractive. The stainless is pretty tough to mess up, unless you count scratches.

                      Possibly you should be the only one cooking in non-stick? Eggs are an advanced task anyway. I agree that division of labor may be the answer. Can he just leave the cleanup to the dishwasher (i.e., the machine, not you)?

                      1. Agree with the comments suggesting division of labor. I learned to stock the utensil jar with plenty of wooden spatulas and spoons, appealed to DH's sense of accomplishment by teaching him how non-stick a well-seasoned CI pan is, and happily do the cleanup if he's cooking. For the few pieces I fret over, I have assured him that I am FINE with hand-washing, if he'll just please leave it for me.

                        1. I feel your pain. After 20+ years, we have settled into a division of labor - I cook, he cleans up.

                          If that won't work for your house, my All Clad has held up very well for many years. Mr. CB doesn't cook but he has committed all sorts of sins against my AC in the name of "cleaning" and hasn't ruined a piece yet.

                          1. I feel your pain also. I now somewhat regret that I didn't save the anodized for my husband and daughter to use. It's been years since I tossed it and there has been a heavy learning curve, lots of reminders from me and some mishaps but none of them fatal.

                            Now the knives are another story. He has managed to completely ruin 4 of them. In one case he broke the end off my santoku. I replaced it and he is forbidden to touch it now.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: rasputina

                              oh, yes -- my cookware I'd be upset about, but knives are a special thing, like a favorite pair of shoes.