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Dec 10, 2013 07:13 PM

Need new cookware on a "sort-of" budget

I currently have a set very similar to this one, except instead of a saute pan mine has a 2 qt covered saucepan (and my large skillet is long gone):

It is coming up on 5 years old and the nonstick surface is all but gone in all but the medium (2 qt) saucepan.

I have this Lodge Logic Pre-Seasoned Combo Cooker (purchased January 2013):

I love the Lodge pieces, but I still haven't gotten them seasoned well, but that's another post in itself. Let's say for now that I am definitely keeping them. They brown meat better than anything else I've ever used or seen used (I grew up in a family where no one really *liked* to cook, whereas I *love* to cook!).

So I'm in the market for replacements for, well, all of my nonstick pieces. I really only need a large-ish stock pot (mt 5 qt is just a little bit too small sometimes), one or two saucepans, a saute, and a skillet/fry pan or something similar -- I think.

I'd definitely like to avoid Non-stick, but other than that I don't have strong feelings. I don't have the money for All-Clad, but I think that type (SS) may be what I'm leaning towards.

Suggestions for individual pieces, please?

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  1. <I'd definitely like to avoid Non-stick,>

    Well, if you are into stainless steel surface, then one of the best budget priced cookware set is the Tramontina triply cookware from Walmart. There are the 8-pieces sets and the 10-pieces. You can get the 8-pieces set for $130.

    If you want something better, then you can pay more and get the Cuisinart MultiClad and the Calphalon Triply sets.

    Usually, I am not a fan for buying a set, but the Tramontina set is fairly inexpensive.

    What is your budget anyway for your stock pot, two saucepans, a saute...etc.?

    11 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      I'm hesitant to purchase Tramontina. I've heard good things here, but I cannot stand Walmart and don't want to give them my money.

      I don't really want to spend more than $300 or so.

      1. re: actuarialchef

        In the same price ballpark as Tramontina, I like the Cuisinart Chef's Classic SS pans. I've never used a Tramontina, so I can't compare directly, but I've been happy with my Cuisinart for the past year or so.

        1. re: Scrofula

          I have actually been looking at the Cuisinart MultiClad Pro (

          Not sure if I want the "set" or individual pieces though.

          1. re: actuarialchef

            Usually cheaper to get the set, especially since you are basically starting from scratch. That plus a clad 12" fry pan or skillet would probably do it for most of your cooking needs.

            1. re: actuarialchef

              I have a the 12pc set of MCP plus some pcs that I thought we might need (get the 6qt pot, most used pc we have) and they are great pans. Add a LC or Staub and you need nothing more. But you will always covet more cookware.

              1. re: actuarialchef

                <Not sure if I want the "set" or individual pieces though.>

                That is something you will have to decide. Usually, it is a good idea to buy a set if
                (1) you need 80% of the cookware in the set. You may need to reconsider if more than 2 pieces of cookware in the set are useless to you.
                (2) you like this specific construction in the set. In other words, you like most of cookware made with stainless steel cladding.

            2. re: actuarialchef

              Mixed sets can be good. If you like the MCP, you could perhaps save by going with the disk bottom Cuisinart Chef's Classic for the sauté and stockpot where fully clad isn't needed. Maybe split the saucepans between the two lines, and pick up a 10" or 12" frypan in the MCP.


              If there's one nearby, you might do well to visit BB&B. I'm finding their prices + a 20% off coupon is often about the same as what's available from online stores, and they can be nice about exchanges, if you find out you hate the stuff. They can also help you put together a custom set, and sometimes offer a discount on that, too, especially if you talk to the department head. They can be pretty helpful and know the lines they carry.

              And if nothing else, they've got a lot of stuff on display so you can handle it for yourself. Mine currently has the both Cuisinart lines above, plus several Calphalon lines, some All-Clad and a few others.

              1. re: DuffyH

                That's a good point about BB&B. I have gone there to handle several different things (mostly towels and sheets) before purchasing them online. And I *always* get their 20% off coupons in the mail. (Did you know that their coupons never actually expire?! If you save them up you can use them in successive transactions, at least at my local store.)

                1. re: actuarialchef

                  <Did you know that their coupons never actually expire?! If you save them up you can use them in successive transactions, at least at my local store.)>

                  There's a new policy now. The coupons that they send, from newspapers and snail mail, never expire. The ones we print from email and website offers do. If you print them at home, use those first. Policy may vary by store, but ours is now enforcing it.

                  And ALWAYS ask for coupons. We forgot ours yesterday and Mom still got 20% off the highest item and 5% on the rest.

                  1. re: DuffyH

                    I didn't even know you could print them haha. I get $5 off and 20% off coupons in the mail practically every other week.

              2. re: actuarialchef

                Also consider cuisinart French Classic line-made in France. The TJX stores have many if these pans discussed that you can pick up piece by piece. You just have to be patient.

            3. Demeyere Atlantis is priced like All-Clad but much better for ME. Plus, they have good handles ;-)

              My Tramontina experience has been good though I do prefer my Calphalon Tri-ply cookware. My Demeyere pieces are even better.

              Don't overlook Sitram and De Buyer either. Both offer some really good cookware pieces at moderate prices.

              10 Replies
              1. re: Sid Post

                Sid Post, I recently received the Demeyere Proline 9.4" pan, and the handles aren't welded well to the pan -- i.e., there's a pretty big gap between the handle and where it attaches to the pan, and you can see the spot welds in between holding the two together. My 11" Proline isn't like this -- the handle fits snugly against the pan with no visible gaps and no spot welds showing.

                Is your 9.4" Proline like this? Wondering if it's a defective pan or if all the 9.4's are like this, given the pan's smaller diameter relative to the 11". Want to make sure the handle doesn't fall off given there's very little metal attaching it to the pan (this is also a note to the OP in the event he is interested in the Proline line..)

                Otherwise I love the pans.

                1. re: iyc_nyc

                  I would return the pan. This is unacceptable in a premium pan IMHO. The handle should be firmly attached without an air gap to collect crud. I think your pan missed its Quality Control inspection.

                  1. re: Sid Post

                    Ok, thanks so much for this. Have had several QC fails with recent items..

                  2. re: iyc_nyc

                    *she :)

                    I'm not interested in buying something priced like All-Clad haha. I can't wrap my head around the fact that they are so expensive. It just seems excessive, when it appears that you can get something almost as nice, if not equally as nice, for 1/3 the price.

                    1. re: actuarialchef

                      Hi there, sorry about the gender mix-up! I hear you re: the expense. I am one of those that ended up upgrading all my kitchen gear and wishing I'd just invested in the right pieces from the start. That said, my mom cooks 10x better than I ever could, and she still uses thin SS and aluminum pans from decades ago.

                      1. re: iyc_nyc

                        Not a problem :) Just figured I'd clear it up haha.

                        I definitely want to upgrade my cookware, but I just can't see the benefit in spending *that* much haha. I currently have a cheap-o nonstick set that I got as a gift when I lived in my first apartment in college. It's now chipping and looking awful, partially because I wasn't strict about not using metal utensils. (Don't worry, I have since learned.)

                        1. re: actuarialchef

                          <I definitely want to upgrade my cookware, but I just can't see the benefit in spending *that* much>

                          There are benefits going from a cheap Tramontina Stainless steel pan to an expensive All Clad stainless steel pan, for example. Do these small benefits really make bottleline impacts to your food -- that is up for debate. You just need to look at your budget and go from there.

                          For most people, we are lucky to live in an age that most cookware are more than sufficient.

                          If your neighbor made a horrible shrimp gumbo, you know it is your neighbor, not the cookware.

                      2. re: actuarialchef

                        Hi, AC: "[Y]ou can get something almost as nice, if not equally as nice, for 1/3 the price."

                        Yes. Yet this is *exactly* what happens with Le Creuset and Staub versus "lesser" brands. I examined a Lodge Color dutch oven, looked to be about 7Q, last week--good build quality, nice handles, SS knob, $79. The only thing you miss at 1/3 the price is the trendy color.


                        1. re: actuarialchef

                          Now, I agree that you can get something equally nice as All-Clad for 1/3 the price. Demeyere, IMO, provides the extra value. Their stainless pans are without peer.

                          But I've found that I don't really need stainless. My well-seasoned de Buyer "Carbone plus" pans are everything I would want in a skillet, and I've never had an issue with acidic food reacting with the pan. But they are thoroughly seasoned, inside and out. Reasonably priced, as well. THere are a number of good sources, one being .

                          1. re: seattle_lee

                            <My well-seasoned de Buyer "Carbone plus" pans are everything I would want in a skillet,>

                            Same here. For a fry pan or skillet, carbon steel or cast iron cookware have the attributes I value the most in the cookware, not aluminum or copper based cookware.

                    2. Sur La Table currently has the Demeyere Industry5 9.5" skillet on sale for $79, great value if you want a 9.5" SS skillet. 5 ply, welded handle. Amazon has the 7 ply version, also 9.5" for $150, also quite a good value.

                      1. A skillet / frying pan that looks as if it will be very responsive at relatively light weight, with a comfortable handle is a new W-S line that sandwiches a thin layer of copper between layers of aluminum, which is hard-anodized inside and out.

                        That anodized surface is non-stick of a kind, but not the PTFE kind. It also provides a barrier that prevents reactions between the aluminum and acid or sulfur-y foods -- so you can do pan reduction sauces with lemon juice or wine after sauteing a piece of meat.

                        The surface won't last long if you use metal tools, but silicon-tipped tongs and a blunt wooden spatula should keep it intact for a long, long time. The 9.5" size, the most useful in my kitchen, is at a 'try-me' price (especially during the next two days, when all cookware is 25% off).


                        2 Replies
                        1. re: ellabee

                          "It also provides a barrier that prevents reactions between the aluminum and acid or sulfur-y foods -- so you can do pan reduction sauces with lemon juice or wine after sauteing a piece of meat."

                          Can you not do a reduction in All-Clad or All-Clad knock-off cookware? Or are you just saying that you can't do it in regular aluminum cookware?

                          1. re: actuarialchef

                            Aluminum. Obviously you *can* do it in aluminum, too, as most restaurants do, but it discolors the pan.

                            A sandwich of thin copper in aluminum makes a lot more sense to me than the same thin copper in stainless, from a performance-for-weight perspective.

                        2. To be honest, I hit the restaurant supply store and never looked back. 2000 on and still my favorite set of pans.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: Crockett67

                            "2000 on and still my favorite set of pans."

                            Do you mean you spent $2000 on them?!

                            1. re: actuarialchef

                              Could be year 2000.... I will let Crockett speaks for herself.

                              1. re: actuarialchef

                                If you're looking for carbon steel pans, West Elm Market has a good sale right now:


                                Free shipping, too.

                                1. re: actuarialchef

                                  I purchase them in the year 2000 and they are still my favorite pans even 2013 and on.

                                  1. re: Crockett67

                                    Gotcha ;) That's good to hear though, 13 years and still love them. Do restaurant supply stores sell brand-name cookware? What did you buy?

                                    1. re: actuarialchef

                                      Don't remember the name, but if you have ever worked in a restaurant, you will recognize it. Just don't broil them if they have the rubber handle, it's not made to be put under direct heat. My rubber handles actually pull off if I want to broil or bake.

                                      The place in C-bus and Dayton only had one "set", you buy each piece individually. But it's that or the Teflon, and that never lasts. Go for the non-Teflon and trust me you can't hurt it. They were meant for commercial kitchens so can be used way more than you will ever use them and be washed in the dishwasher no problem.

                                        1. re: actuarialchef

                                          Actually more like this:


                                          They don't look fancy, but it's what I used in culinary school and in almost every restaurant I worked in. I purchase them at our local Wasserstrom restaurant supply store. I like the blue handled pans because you can remove the rubber handle if I need to go to oven or broiler.

                                          While there I also picked up silver bowls, whisks, tongs that will last a lifetime, cutting boards, mats, really I outfitted my first kitchen there when I moved out and still use it all.