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Upgrading cookware

If your parents are anything like mine, they're good cooks (particularly my mom) but they're not very particular about what pots, pans and utensils they purchase and use. As long as it's deemed of good enough quality and wasn't expensive, they bought it.

I'm sure many of us were like that too at some point. No doubt, with more experience we began to appreciate differences in the type of cookware we use and the different materials used to make them. For example, you may now value the difference between an expensive copper saucepan vs. the usual stainless steel, or the benefits of a well balanced chef's knife over the cheaper knives that you usually find in stores.

What are some of the pots, pans and utensils you've found yourself upgrading as you gained more cooking experience? And what items, looking back, do you wish you had invested more in when you "started off"?

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  1. My mom always used very good quality pots/pans but I found myself buying more than she had. I have a lot of different types of pots/pans/utensils, probably because I cook a bigger variety

    1. My mom isn't the best cook but always tried. 40 years later she is still using the same wedding gift stainless steel pots, but they are indestructible and work so that's fine. Because of my influence she has upgraded her frying pans (nothing special just palaerno nonstick) and it has lasted many years.

      I also got her a better set of knives, again nothing special but a henckle line (forget which) but I can at least sharpen them when I am periodically home. Better than her old knives by a long shot.

      1. Well,I am probably the age of your mother... Budget constraints were a huge factor when I was starting out. It took me a long time to give myself permission to get top quality items. But I can tell you that just one top-notch pan, in a size and shape you will really use, and just one good chef's knife that fits your hand perfectly and that you maintain well, will make you happier than a kitchen full of stuff you have to fight with.

        Each person is different. When my DH is cooking, he automatically reaches for a different knife and pan than I do. (For some reason, he likes the smaller saucepans and the bigger skillets.)

        Just FYI, if I were building my batterie de cuisine today, I would look at the Cuisinart French tri-ply cookware. I recently got their dutch oven, which seems to be of the same quality as my older All-Clad stainless, but with chunkier handles. Heavier weight than the other Cuisinart fully clad lines.

        2 Replies
        1. re: texanfrench

          Second the Cuisinart FC line. I have loads of AC, but the handle issue (yes, sorry to bring it up again) had me take a look at the FC 12 inch fry pan and the 3 qt sauce pan. Love them both, and they both shine up very well with the Barkeepers cleaner. Also - pans are reasonable in price!

          1. re: texanfrench

            I'll have to look into not just the Cuisinart cookware, but tri-ply in general. I've seen it mentioned once or twice on other posts but I just ignored it, not knowing anything about it. I need to get up to speed. Thanks!

          2. Buy what you like for fun. The most important aspect of any cookware is that it contain no holes. You can read all sorts of nonsense about limited scientific aspects of marginal differences (think about someone who can tell you how an internal combustion engine works and try to extrapolate that knowledge to knowing how to drive)

            Decide what you want to do and then look for the implement that does it to your liking.

            6 Replies
            1. re: law_doc89

              Exactly. If you have cooked enough to know your own style and preferences, you can make intelligent choices.

              1. re: law_doc89

                So the person that knows all about engines, will they pick a Yugo, a Toyota or a Lamborghini?

                1. re: wekick

                  Well--so the theory goes--the one who knows driving technique will win races with the Yugo.

                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    And that's why we so many Formula One Yugos. I always bet on them, there's a driver who knows how to win.

                  2. re: law_doc89

                    It is essential that my steamer insert have holes.

                  3. I may be close to your parent's age. I have some cooking items that I bought starting out as a single grad student, others received as wedding gifts, and still others recently bought at TJMaxx. While I don't use many of the early items, I don't regret buying most. These are all tools, to used now, not investments.