Recommendations on Cookware Set needed

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Vamsi Kaipa
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Recommendations on Cookware Set needed

#1 Post by Vamsi Kaipa » January 10th, 2015, 9:32 am

Looking to upgrade my cookware set and with a limited budget (about $300).

I am looking for something long lasting. Any education on coating and metal type for cooking would be really awesome. I know very little about this stuff.

Thank you and happy new year.
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Brad B a l l i n g e r
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Recommendations on Cookware Set needed

#2 Post by Brad B a l l i n g e r » January 10th, 2015, 1:30 pm

$300 is a very limited budget. But you can get this 5-piece All-Clad tri-ply stainless set for $350:

http://www.metrokitchen.com/product/all ... okware-set
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#3 Post by b. c@stner » January 10th, 2015, 1:39 pm

Don't look at sets. Look at individual pieces that you need/use. Don't look at anything nonstick. Look at quality/vintage cast iron. Look at clad stainless as Brad suggested, but lids are useless as a "piece" in my opinion. Also still like some older non coated Calphalon pieces, particularly sauce pans and some stock pots as well. Used on eBay for some of this not a bad option if you are patient.
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#4 Post by Chris Blum » January 10th, 2015, 1:40 pm

My recommendation is to not buy a "set" at all.
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#5 Post by b. c@stner » January 10th, 2015, 1:48 pm

If you do want a nonstick pan for eggs or something that is fine, just don't spend a ton of money. Any pan that is non stick today will not be non stick for long. And well seasoned cast iron that will last your lifetime and more generations to come will do the job.
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#6 Post by Chris Blum » January 10th, 2015, 2:02 pm

I'd buy a le crueset dutch oven from an outlet (most of your budget), a lodge cast iron, a cheap calphalon knockoff sauté pan, and a slant side saucepan.
"Well, wine only turns into alcohol if you let it sit" -- Lucille Bluth
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#7 Post by b. c@stner » January 10th, 2015, 2:28 pm

If you do the le crueset from an outlet, make sure it is from France, not China. They are doing a bunch of Chinese pieces these days.

And I wouldn't dismiss a Griswold or Wagner dutch oven. I use them and you can't burn them, well hardly, and they clean soooooo easy. Same as with pans, I find the Lodge pans to have kind of a rough bottom. The Griswold and Wagner Ware has bottoms smooth as a baby's bee-hind.

Might have to hunt a bit, but can find nice examples for good prices.

That's my humble anyway. Sounds like I enjoy using old cast iron.
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#8 Post by David Wright » January 10th, 2015, 3:29 pm

Like everyone else says, buy individual pieces, not a set. If on a budget, shop around. And take your time... you don't have to get everything at once.

Amazon has some good prices now and then. A few I noticed doing a quick check just now...

Lodge 10.25" cast ion skillet < $16


All-Clad MC2 10"/3 qt saute pan (the workhorse of our kitchen! 25 years old and going strong) $105


This pan has plain, brushed aluminum exterior and shiny stainless interior. Some folks prefer shiny exterior, too and those pans are OK, but I much prefer the thicker aluminum and utilitarian look of the MC2 (and LTD if they still make them) pans.

Here is the blingy version of the 3 Qt saute ($97):


These are good prices on All-clad; no idea when they will go up (Amazon has "dynamic" (erratic) pricing on many items.

(No affiliation)

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#9 Post by J0seph S c h e n c k » January 10th, 2015, 3:50 pm

Echoing with some research aids


These folks do stuff for cooks illustrated:
http://www.americastestkitchen.com/equi ... e/cookware

e.g. looking for a skillet that I will replace yearly or every 6 mos that does not have the maintenance of my wagners or lodges....:
I bought this based upon Cook Illustrated reviews and price:


After 3 mos of usage; it makes those eggs exceptionally well and cleanup a snap at the 5am rush hour in my house

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#10 Post by Alan Rath » January 10th, 2015, 4:11 pm

Lots of good and bad advice here, and whether its good or bad all depends on what and how you cook. I have both stick and non-stick cookware, use both, and find excellent uses for both. Frankly, I probably use the non-stick more for what I tend to cook (I don't do a lot of searing or high heat cooking). What are you going to be cooking? How much at a time? Short order stuff, or longer cooking like soups and braises?
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#11 Post by mike pobega » January 10th, 2015, 4:41 pm

Buy Le Creuset once and have it forever. Start with the fry pans and work into the Dutch ovens and sauciers Buy at discount.
My wife was just telling me last week what a joy it is that I do not but cookware as regularly as I did before Le Creuset entered my life. Granted I have about 14pieces and the investment substantial but they really are an investment worthy every cent.

Follow my journey as well as others here:
http://www.wineberserkers.com/forum/vie ... le+creuset

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#12 Post by b. c@stner » January 10th, 2015, 5:18 pm

mike pobega wrote:Buy Le Creuset once and have it forever. Start with the fry pans and work into the Dutch ovens and sauciers Buy at discount.
My wife was just telling me last week what a joy it is that I do not but cookware as regularly as I did before Le Creuset entered my life. Granted I have about 14pieces and the investment substantial but they really are an investment worthy every cent.

Follow my journey as well as others here:
http://www.wineberserkers.com/forum/vie ... le+creuset
Hey, let's be real. What can a cab guy who converted to pinot guy really have to offer? neener
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#13 Post by b. c@stner » January 10th, 2015, 5:26 pm

Alan Rath wrote:Lots of good and bad advice here, and whether its good or bad all depends on what and how you cook. I have both stick and non-stick cookware, use both, and find excellent uses for both. Frankly, I probably use the non-stick more for what I tend to cook (I don't do a lot of searing or high heat cooking). What are you going to be cooking? How much at a time? Short order stuff, or longer cooking like soups and braises?
Cast iron not just for high heat and searing...very versatile if that's what you meant by that. Trust me well seasoned cast iron can be better than any non stick you own.
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#14 Post by Brad B a l l i n g e r » January 10th, 2015, 5:48 pm

To those of you dissing set purchases... Most of the time, I would agree with you. I've never purchased sets myself, always individual pieces. But the OP has a limited budget. Sets are going to be more economical, and some of them may even be on sale. Nothing wrong with trying to stretch the OP's dollar.
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#15 Post by b. c@stner » January 10th, 2015, 5:54 pm

Brad B a l l i n g e r wrote:To those of you dissing set purchases... Most of the time, I would agree with you. I've never purchased sets myself, always individual pieces. But the OP has a limited budget. Sets are going to be more economical, and some of them may even be on sale. Nothing wrong with trying to stretch the OP's dollar.
Why buy a 10 piece set when 6 of those pieces are covers? Makes no sense.
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#16 Post by NED VALOIS » January 10th, 2015, 5:58 pm

We have Paderno Cookware Professional pots & pans ( Chaudiere)
made in Prince Edward Island, Canada. If you can buy at the factory (PEI) or Freeport , Maine outlet store you can get some great deals. Lifetime Warrantee excellent stuff. Heavy stainless steel.( Not positive the line is still available)

Below quote from a chef;
"And of course my favorite shopping destination - the Paderno factory and outlet. I spent the better part of an afternoon carressing Paderno and Chaudiere pots and pans. I am told that Chaudiere is the cookware of choice on Airforce One. After the carressing, I put as much of the stuff as I possibly could into the trunk of my car."
Last edited by NED VALOIS on January 10th, 2015, 7:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#17 Post by Richard Lamb » January 10th, 2015, 7:02 pm

Set of 3 non-stick saute pans from Costco. $35, last 2-3 years, replace.
12" cast iron skillet $35. Lasts forever.
3qt All Clad sauce pan with lid (irregular from Cookware and More) $140. Perfect, lasts forever.
6.5 quart enameled cast iron Dutch oven from Costco $90. Not LeCrueset, but will last forever.
Total $300

Certainly depends on what and quantity you cook. For me, this would be my $300 "starter". If you've got a few dollars more, I'd add a cheap 8qt stock/pasta pot, and some cheap lids for the skillets. I'd also consider a 16" cast iron wok for around $25.

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#18 Post by dteng » January 10th, 2015, 9:38 pm

Vamsi,
All depends on what kind of cooking you generally do.
Do you saute a lot?
Braise, simmer, boil, sear etc?
Obviously you want to buy stuff you will use often.

For example, I have a 14" All Clad deep pan that I use all the time since I often saute veggies for a family of 4.
I also bought an All Clad wok years ago and never use it.

Poke around TJ Maxx for some decent stuff.
$300 is doable but tight.
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#19 Post by Chris Freemott » January 11th, 2015, 7:37 am

I'd browse Webstaurant store dot com too. Commercial pieces (Vollrath an example) tend to be very durable, less expensive than 'stores' and i think you get a pretty great product.

Nothing written above is bad advice and I'd pile on that you shouldn't 'set it' you should build one a set piece by piece.

I built a pretty quick 'set' on the www.webstaurantstore.com site for less than $300 that should be more than adequate (IMHO). I'd focus on 2 inexpensive non-stick 11" (9 bucks each - will last a year or so each), carbon steel (can buy seasoned or unseasoned - search this thread for how to season - it's not difficult), a 5 QT sauté pan with lid and 'helper handle (handle on opposite side to move it when full and heavy), a 3QT sauté pan with lid and handle, a 6 qt pot a 4 QT pot and a 20QT stock pot plus a 12" cast iron skillet and a 6QT enamel pot from Lodge. $303.00 all in.

You can easily swap a piece or two and pick up different pieces base on how you cook.

BTW, I think this is really the only way to buy sheet pans too and you can get great deals on 1/4's, 1/2's and full plus their draining rig inserts (think cookie cooling grids) for a fraction of what you get in stores and as they're industry standard you can buy pre cut sheets of parchment, foil and wax paper that drop in and fit perfectly.

Tuesday Morning and TJ Maxx will carry really high end (All-clad copper core) pieces from time to time - slight dings but can be as much as 75% off the list price.

Fill as you need - not just because one box does the job adequately.

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#20 Post by Joe Dulworth » January 11th, 2015, 8:41 am

b. c@stner wrote:
Brad B a l l i n g e r wrote:To those of you dissing set purchases... Most of the time, I would agree with you. I've never purchased sets myself, always individual pieces. But the OP has a limited budget. Sets are going to be more economical, and some of them may even be on sale. Nothing wrong with trying to stretch the OP's dollar.
Why buy a 10 piece set when 6 of those pieces are covers? Makes no sense.
Talk about an exaggeration. 10 pieces and 6 are covers? LMAO. Right.
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#21 Post by Joe Dulworth » January 11th, 2015, 8:44 am

Brad B a l l i n g e r wrote:To those of you dissing set purchases... Most of the time, I would agree with you. I've never purchased sets myself, always individual pieces. But the OP has a limited budget. Sets are going to be more economical, and some of them may even be on sale. Nothing wrong with trying to stretch the OP's dollar.
+1. We bought a 13 piece version of the Calphalon Contemporary that Brad linked above. With a discount coupon and in store instant rebate we got all 13 pieces for...wait for it...$300.00 plus sales tax. Right on budget for the OP. Contrary to widely regurgitated belief to only by open stock every single piece of this set has been used in less than two weeks since purchase. Buy open stock after the basics are in place is my recommendation.
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#22 Post by Nolan E » January 11th, 2015, 11:20 am

I bought this and love it. Also added a cast iron.

http://www.surlatable.com/product/PRO-1 ... +Piece+Set+

I don't do a ton of serious cooking, mainly sautees, sears, some sauces, but it works just fine for me. They make a non-non-stick version of this set as well.

http://www.surlatable.com/product/PRO-1 ... +Piece+Set
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#23 Post by M Hoose » January 11th, 2015, 1:06 pm

I would echo the idea of looking at what you enjoy cooking / for how many, etc... and fill with cookware pieces that are versatile.
It's been my experience that long-lasting is synonymous with high quality which often can have a bit of a steeper price tag. Stainless cookware ($$-$$$) with or without a copper-core ($$$$) has served me well (and with little prep). Hard anodized aluminum ($-$$$) not so much. Cast Iron is heavy / solid but has needed seasoning to maintain and has taken a while to get there; Mineral B iron expensive, requires seasoning but I think has the stuffing to last a very long time ($$$) . Restaurant grade aluminum ($-$$$) cookware (like Vorrath Wear-Ever line) can be less expensive with the intent of abuse leading to early (and inexpensive) replacement. Copper Clad ($$$$-$$$$$) has many benefits but cost ain't one of em.
I haven't had much success with non-stick lines of cookware - I'm of the opinion that well-seasoned and cared for (use caution with the tools / implements you use in / on the surface) cookware (regardless of metal) is better than a coated surface. I've tried to steer away from brands (aside from Vorrath) since I think that those are personal preferences and that you can find success with the various manufacturers.

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Recommendations on Cookware Set needed

#24 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » January 11th, 2015, 2:55 pm

Get a non-stick pan for eggs - sure you can do them on other surfaces, but it's so much easier on non-stick, and a cheap pan is all you need. Then you can also use it for your low to medium heat sautees. This combined with a Lodge cast iron skillet will cover you everything in this category from eggs to high-heat sear.

A coated cast-iron dutch oven or large round pot, as others have said. Le Creuset is awesome. Can do your braises, brown your meat, boil water for blanching green things, even make soup.

The above three things will set you up for nearly all basic preps in the kitchen. Add to this specialty items based on what you cook a lot of - larger sautee pan, stock pot, small saucepan etc. You should be easily under budget with good quality if you don't waste money on things you could do in something else, even if it isn't the Cool Tool for the Job.

Don't bother with a wok unless you have a stove that can generate some serious BTUs. On most stoves, you won't get anything like the results and benefits of wok cooking, just pretty much the same as a large sautee pan.

Check eBay for irregular or cosmetically damaged All Clad and Le Creuset. I have had great success with that.

My two cents.

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#25 Post by Vamsi Kaipa » January 15th, 2015, 9:12 am

This is awesome. Thank you very much everyone.

Now I just need to slow down my wine purchases and spend some $$ on these.
ITB

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