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Looking for a lifetime set of cookware

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Hi everyone! This is my first post here so bear with me if I am naive.

My parents have a set of Revere Ware copper clad pots/pans that they bought 35 years ago. To this day I can go over to their house and see my Mom whipping up something fantastic in the same pots that fed me when I was 5. There isn't really anything "fancy" about them, they just are quality pots that have lasted and will last for a long long time.

This year for Christmas I would love to get my wife of 3 years something similar. A set of pots and pans that will last a long long time. To my eye, too many of the sets I am seeing are overpriced "art". Of course they are nice pots that will last a long time but my salary can't pay for a $500 set.

I also don't need a 57-piece set. I would like to get something like 3 pots (sm, med, lg), and a skillet or two.

Does anyone have any suggestions for a high quality budget set of pans?

PS. My wife LOVES the copper clad stuff

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  1. Hi Syvmn! Many, many, years ago, when I was a student sharing an apartment, one of my roommates had a Revere Ware saute pan with the copper on the bottom. It worked nicely for me. So, I can understand why you would want something like what your mother uses as a gift for your wife.

    However, you should know that Revere Ware is NOT copper clad. The copper on the bottom is very, very thin. (I think it is plated, as opposed to a separate piece of copper that was joined to the body of the pan.) The cookware is pretty but the copper is too thin to affect the cooking characteristics by very much. So it probably makes sense to think of Revere Ware as being decent quality regular stainless steel cookware with some copper for looks and branding.

    If you have a Costco membership or know someone who does, I suggest you take a look at the current Costco stainless cookware set. What they sell varies over time, but it is always excellent quality and a very good value (and attractive, even though it doesn't have any copper on the bottom). Here is what they have on their website today, for $169:

    http://www.costco.com/Kirkland-Signat...

    Looking over the set, I bet every piece would get good use in most people's kitchens.

    Whatever you do buy, best wishes for many happy years and meals together.

    13 Replies
    1. re: PinchOfSalt

      I've bought two sets of Circulon induction-capable cookware at Costco for about $200 and think they're super. And, yes, all the pieces get used.

      1. re: c oliver

        Hey c!

        How long have you had the Circulon and what do you think of it, aside from super? Do the grooves ever bug you? There are so many lines, which do you have? I presume you keep heat around medium, yes? Maybe med-high once in a while, but not for long or very often? Any buzzing? How does it perform compared to your other pans?

        Since I'm looking to avoid heavy stuff, I've been lately thinking that maybe I should think outside the clad SS box, that aluminum might be the ticket, but you know that's hard to find, except for Scanpan and Swiss Diamond. I just tonight found Mauviel M'stone and am trying to get more info.

        But I'm so not sure about spending the bucks if it won't last. I'm very gentle with my nonstick frypans and they do last a long time, but I only pay about $75 for 3 of them. My current pans are 3 years old, and going strong. So I think I could do well with nonstick saucepans, but that would be a whole new world for me. I've never used them and it's a little scary to think of leaving my clad stainless behind.

        What's your best advice? A Try Me piece perhaps, but beyond that? Anything to look for or avoid?

        This is the current Costco offering: http://www.costco.com/Circulon-Premie...

        1. re: DuffyH

          You can trash the good stuff and it'll hold up and still look good. No point in babying cookware IMO

          1. re: Sgee

            Well, I've sure not babied my clad stuff, preferring the DW for my pots and even taking SOS pads and oven cleaner to the stuff when called-for.

            But to preserve a good nonstick coating, I'm willing to, and do, treat it more gently. With my Tramontina Professional aluminum, I don't worry about the outside looks, and they're pretty ugly, with lots of caramelized gunk. But the cooking surface is pretty much pristine, and still quite nonstick.

            Still, when all it takes is a swipe with a soapy sponge to get it looking like new, I don't really call that babying it. Where it's treated most gently is on the stovetop. I routinely subject my other pans to high heat, but not my nonstick.

            1. re: DuffyH

              My apologies missed the nonstick specific reference.

              I've resorted to buying cheapo nonstick pans from restaurant kitchen supply stores assuming they have to be replaced every few years.

              They nonstick surface never seem to last irregardless of brand or price

              1. re: Sgee

                <They nonstick surface never seem to last irregardless of brand or price>

                Mine are still great after 3 years. I expect that, if I weren't switching to induction, I'd be able to use them for at least 3 more, possibly much longer. That's why I think I *might* be able to get long life from a good set.

                I've trashed my share, boy howdy have I, but since I began treating them as recommended, I'm amazed at how well they're holding up. Who knew? :)

      2. re: PinchOfSalt

        I've got the Revere Ware set that my Mom got as a wedding gift over 60 years ago and it's still going strong. These are the pots and pans that I learned how to cook on, so the nostalgia factor is really high. I think of her, and our kitchen time together, often.

        I also have a Circulon set that I really like. It's oven safe, easy to clean, and nonstick. Everything gets used, but the small pan is really wonderful for eggs so gets lots of use.

        I also have some Le Creuset cast iron. Unless you find a great sale, discontinued colors, or perhaps an outlet, it can be very pricey. Cast iron is wonderful to cook with, though. My dutch ovens (I have 2 sizes) and 10 inch pan get lots of use. The dutch ovens are especially great for long, low and slow braises - wonderful for winter cookery. The only down side is their weight, but you adjust to that. The Dutch ovens, when filled with food and liquid, can get pretty heavy. I wouldn't recommend them for anyone with arthritis, but for anyone else I'd suggest getting one and seeing how you like it. Many people collect them one piece at a time in different colors.

        1. re: KailuaGirl

          If weight is the issue Emile Henry makes Flame ceramic that cooks like enamel clad steel with just a portion of the weight and the gentle heat retaining properties of clay. You can seer on the stovetop with them, put them on the BBQ grill, oven braise, etc. They do everything and do it well.

          They don't seem to have taken over the culinary world but I LOVE them. Breakage is an issue. I've replaced a few pieces but I never hesitate to.

            1. re: rasputina

              Just to be clear, their ordinary red clay pieces with the white glazed interior are fine but can't take strong heat. I'm ambivalent about them.

              But the grey ceramic Flame that's glazed in various colors with the same interiors and exteriors is what I'm enthusiastic about.

              I also have a piece I bought 40 years ago that I wish I had bought in every size. It's very, very thick red clay. It was a greyish glaze inside and out. That thing is a workhorse! But then they started thinning out their walls and producing things that starts splitting above 450˚ or when the broiler even gets turned on. ::sigh::

              Look for Flame or the vintage stuff. ; >

              1. re: rainey

                I only have the Flame myself. ok that's not true, I do have a pie pan and that obviously isn't flameware.

        2. re: PinchOfSalt

          She may not want disk bottom though. I had Costco's set of Stainless, it ended up getting donated.

          1. re: PinchOfSalt

            I purchased that set for my son a couple of years ago. A lot of quality for the price, and all are useful pieces.

          2. Unfortunately the options are so many, it's a bit overwhelming. Revere Ware isn't what it used to be, and I doubt your wife would be very pleased with the new, made in China, very thin and almost copper free Revere Ware of today.

            Honestly, $500 a set won't buy you a work of "art", but it will buy you a reasonably good set of All Clad MC2 10 pcs. (2 fry pans, saute pan w/lid, 2 sauce pots w/lids, and 1 stock pot w/lid). Or for $350 you can get a 5 piece All Clad d5 set with a fry pan, saute pan and sauce pot w/lids. Note, most sets include the lid as a seperate piece, so a pot with a lid is 2 pieces of the set. Or you can spend that same $350 and buy one sauté pan from Demeyer, or Falk, or Mauviel, or All Clad Copper Core.

            There are a ton of other sets available that are good cookware. So much depends on personal preferences, cooking style, what she cooks most frequently, and the specific things she likes to cook. Just about any pot will work to boil water for pasta and it will likely last for ever at that task, but other cooking techniques require more from the cooking vessel, so quality and construction are more of an issue.

            1. My Mom had Revere Ware from probably the late 40's, so I understand the nostalgia, and it really is pretty much indestructible. However, lots of stuff has scorched in it because stainless is not very good for even heat distribution. But if I wanted it, I would look on Amazon or Ebay for used Revere Ware, make sure it is the old stuff. (para) If looking for new stuff, rather than a set I would get a cheap pot 6-8 qt, (SS w/aluminum disc in the bottom is fine), a cast-iron skillet 10" or 12", and spend a bit more for a fully clad sauce pan, 3 or 4 qt. Plus a cheap nonstick fry pan if you cook eggs. Happy hunting!

              1. I have some pans I love to use - some that were very reasonable (Tramontina) and some I paid a lot for (Magnalite), but I'm moving to a new home where I can't get gas, so I'm transitioning to induction cooking. I bought an induction burner to try it, and I like it much better than gas, which I thought was the best until I tried induction. Most of my favorite cookware won't work on induction, as the pans need to be magnetic, so...lifetime cookware might not be lifetime after all. My new favorite pan is Italian - TVS Galattica - which is wonderful. Good luck in your quest.

                1 Reply
                1. re: CapeCodLorrie

                  For my new induction cooktop I have liked these:

                  http://www.dvorsons.com/sitram/Profis... Sitram Profiserie

                  I bought a chef's pan and a rondeau from Amazon and both pans are responsive. They clean up well too. If I had any extra dollars floating around, I'd buy a couple more pans. Maybe next year.

                  These are professional type pans with thick aluminum disk bottoms.

                  I would recommend this line to anyone who is buying for induction.

                2. Decide on your budget, and give your wife the money to pick out her own pans, especially if she is the chief cook in the family.

                  Otherwise, I'd recommend one of the Cuisinart sets. You can find them at several price points. Have a look at the complete lines at the Cuisinart site, and then price them out on Amazon. http://www.cuisinart.com/products/coo...

                  Stay away from non-stick for longer life. Pay attention to handles, which can be uncomfortable. (A good reason to let your wife choose what she wants.)

                  For about $200-$250 you should be able to get several pots.

                  I recommend stainless for dishwasher capability. Be sure to get induction capable pots because at some time in your life you might have an induction range. Induction gains in popularity all the time.

                  Another brand that produces value cookware in stainless is Tramontina.

                  I don't think you will be able to buy a very extensive set of stainless for under $500. You might have to settle for three good pieces.

                  Good luck!

                  (Really, you should let your wife pick out the pans she feels she would use the most.)

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: sueatmo

                    I'd repeat not wasting money on non-stick. I've thrown out tons of non-stick over the years.

                    Better to pay attention to the proper heat of the pan. I do eggs in my stainless sauté pans with just a fork and a bit of butter and only have to run some hot water and a towel over them when I'm done. It's all about the temperature when the food hits the bottom not the surface.

                    1. re: rainey

                      I buy the cheapest non-stick skillets I can find...consider them almost disposable, but they still last a few years...and I use them only for eggs. I think the last one I bought cost $10 at B,B & B...and if I were really a bad dude, I could return it to B,B & B when it wore out! For eggs and omelettes, IMHO nothing beats non-stick. I use non-stick for nothing else!