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Advice on Cookware..Please help!!

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hello all,

I need some help in deciding what cookware to purchase for when I move into my new apartment. I don't need anything top of the line but would like something that is of relatively high quality and will last me a long time.

I've been looking at the "Kitchenaid Gourmet Essentials 10 Piece Brushed Stainless Steel Set" and also the "Kitchenaid Gourmet Essentials 10 Piece Hard Anodized Set."

My question is do you guys have any recommendations on what set to go for? I know that the nonstick surface of the Hard Anodized Set will wear out after awhile, but will that just turn the set into a regular Stainless Steel Set once it happens? Are there any negatives for going with the Hard Anodized over the Stainless Steel I'm not considering? I realize that I have to buy a larger nonstick frying pan than the ones included in these sets. I also would like to buy a metal steamer basket to insert into one of the saucepans to steam vegetables, and was wondering if the metal against metal would damage the Anodized Set surface but not the Stainless Steel set. I'm trying to have as few pieces as possible..

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
post #2 of 13
Hard anodized are aluminum through and through. And not particularly non-stick. Less stick, but not much. I've tried a few different hard anodized pans and been disappointed in each and every one with out regard to maker, Calphalon included. The anodizing wears quickly and offers no performance gains to speak of. Go with Stainless Steel.

Many brands will provide long service if well cared for. I don't have any experience with Kitchenaid itself.

The primary things to look for are a heavy sandwich core base, whether stamped or integrally cast makes little difference. The handles must be riveted, not welded or screwed. The stamped ones are usually heavier and cheaper and a tiny bit slower to heat up. I have a number of these in my kitchen and they cook excellently.

A tight fitting lid is also required.

For me, handles have to be oven proof to the full oven temp, not 350, 400 or anything less than 550. This means a metal handle. It will get hot, but that's easily dealt with. When you have a metal handle, the pot/pan can go into the oven for broiling, roasting, baking, braising, whatever you have to do. Great versatility and function.

On the low end, Martha Stewarts line of pots and pans at Kmart are good for their price. They don't have any of the bells and whistles that can make a pan nicer to use but they're fully functional and work pretty well, especially considering their price. I have a couple of these saucepans and they work great. The saute/skillets design were less to my liking in this line but are adequately made.

Tramontina is another less expensive brand. They show up in many big-box stores too, such as Walmart, and even Costco. More $ than the MS line, but with better features.
I have a couple of these too and am well pleased with them.

The mainstream lines, All Clad, Calphalon and so on are also good in their stainless steel lines, but much more money. I have a few of these too and I cook in them frequently.

The MS and Tramontina I have are all stamped bases.

You should get a non-stick skillet, at least a 10 inch, maybe a 12 if you cook for more than 2-3. These will be aluminum, again you want a metal handle. Inexpensive heavy gauge(thick) aluminum pans work great.

Don't buy a set. You won't like or use all the pans you get. And will soon buy other pots and pans to supplement your inadequate set.

Start with a 12 inch fry pan, an 8 qt stockpot and a 2 quart sauce pan and a non-stick skillet. Make additions from there.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #3 of 13
Dear WorstChef -- Don't believe phatch when he says he "can't boil water." :lol: He gave you some great advice.

And in order for you to get more advice, I'm moving this to the Equipment discussion board, where we talk about this sort of question.

Welcome. :D
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #4 of 13
Hi and welcome aboard!
I just posted this link a while back. Should help you a lot with your cookware purchases..

eG Forums -> Understanding Stovetop Cookware
post #5 of 13

And do not forget one good knife, people here will help you out:)

I have a Victorinow 10 inches

Here is the picture:

Chef Knives
post #6 of 13
Don't fall into the trap of buying a "complete cookware set."

Invariably, some of the items won't meet your needs, either because you simply don't need that type/size pan or because another style would do your job better.

For instance, it's hard to beat a good cast iron griddle. However, if you want anodized aluminum sauce pans, you'd be stuck with an aluminum griddle in a set.

Get what you need, as you can afford it.
post #7 of 13
Here's a budget cookware set from Sam's Club (online orders only for this particular set). It's a stainless steel full-clad set with some nice pieces in it.

Sam's Club full-clad cookware set

I haven't seen or cooked with any of the above pieces...but it reads as if it could be a good bargain.

have fun!
post #8 of 13
I've been looking at a lot of cookware sets online recently, thinking I might want to get one for my daughter and I have to say, yes there are many good sets with good usefull choices. It wasn't always that way.

At the moment if you do want non-stick, Sur La Table online has a set of their own stuff on sale for $149.99 which consists of anodized non-stick pieces which include I think a 10" skillet, 1qt saucepan, 2qt saucepan with steamer insert and a stockpot/dutch oven which I think was around 6qt. I can't seem to do well with the Sur La Table website on my old computer this morning to be more specific, but their cookware is also very nice looking.

If you buy non-stick it will wear out. I do agree with many (I'm a home cook who's spent small fortunes on cookware over the centuries) I figure it's about 3 years before I toss out most non-stick if it's getting used every day.

I'm guessing that you just want usable stuff, that maybe you aren't going to be doing a lot of gormet cooking and cooking mostly for one. Using big cookware for just one gets tiring, I know, I've tried it. Also something that might vary the choices is that often you'll just be heating many foods, rather than really getting into the process of cooking, i.e. canned and packaged foods and mixes, boiling pasta and sauce from a jar, that sort of thing...just guessing but I see that a lot and I've been there.

With this in mind I'd figure on getting something like:
10" non-stick skillet
5-7qt dutch oven/stock pot, stainless like Cuisinart, very durable
1- 2 qt saucepan, stainless w/clad bottom
3qt saucepan, stainless w/clad bottom

If you make a lot of pancakes then by all means get a 12" non-stick skillet instead, but if you do, then you mignt also want an 8" non-stick skillet as well.

My personally most used everyday pieces are:

8" non-stick skillet
12" stainless lined copper skillet
1.3qt saucepan, stainless lined copper
2.7qt saucepan,stainless lined copper
3.8qt stewpan/stockpot, stainless lined copper

I've lots of other cooware which all gets used but these get the bulk of the work cooking for one or two.

My daughter is getting more into cooking and what I'm considering for her is:
Berndes 11" and 8" non-stick skillets
Lodge 12" cast iron skillet
1 1/2qt All-clad saucepan LTD with stainless lining
2 1/2qt All-clad saucepan LTD with stainless lining
3 qt All-clad saute LTD with stainless lining
8qt All-clad stockpot, stainless with pasta and steamer inserts.

--This is kinda the basic setup I'd get for myself if I wasn't so into copper.

Or, the CIA Masters set of cookware:
+12" Lodge cast iron skillet
+11" and 8" Berndes non-stick skillets

The more you invest into the stainless cookware, the longer you'll probably be happy with it. Going much over $50 on a non-stick 10" skillet though is chancy knowing it will wear out. There is a line of non-stick skillets (Meyer I think) with the red dot centers that change color when the pan is up to heat, my parents have one and it's fantastic for eggs and pancakes, I bet it didn't cost over $15.00, if I find one in a store somewhere I'm going to pick one up just because...I recently just cycled into new non-stick (Berndes 11" and 8" skillets) and paid a lot of money for them (I'm becoming much more careful with non-stick) but think the Meyer pan is a really nice pan. Kitchenaide also makes a nice non-stick 10" for around $35.00, with deep sides and tosses (saute's) food quite nicely.

post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thank you all so much for your well thought out advice. It really means a lot to me that you all took the time to help me out. One question I had with the anodized nonstick pans..assuming I get some of good quality and after a few years they lose their "nonstickiness" this point do they just become normal stainless steel pans? I guess in the end the only thing I need to have as nonstick is a skillet for eggs so I might as well get nonstick for that, and stainless steel for the rest.

Thank you for the knife recommendation Ninja! I need to order one of those as well. In regards to knives, I think 100 dollars for one knife might be a little too expensive for me..Is there a best bang for the buck knife? Also, if you guys really think it's worth it to get one great expensive knife rather than many cheaper ones in the long run, maybe I will dig deep and buy one great knife now.

So is it generally better to pay more upfront and get something that lasts 10 years? Or get something cheaper and just change cookware more often...
post #10 of 13
If you're not used to a larger Chef's knife I'd suggest going with an 8" rather than a 9 or 10. I use a 9 1/2" Tojiro DP Guyto/Chef from Japan but it's taken a while to get used to the larger size. I had a 9" Henkels Chef's for years and never enjoyed using I didn't.

Also if you're not into spending the time to keep it really sharp, there isn't much point in spending a whole lot of money for a knife. I know several people who have a Kitchenaide 7" Santoku or 8" Chef's and I bet they didn't cost $30.00. They are good cooks and do just fine. Or get one of the cheaper Henkels Chef's knives.

A lot of people like the MAC Pro line in both the 8" Chef's and 3 1/2" paring. You can do pretty much everything with those but you might want to add a bread knife.

If you are just going to do a couple of eggs now and then, you might be able to get along with just one 8" non-stick skillet. Kitchen specialty stores that carry Berndes non-stick which is an excellent line, offer that size pan for only $30.00 as a sales promotion pan. They also make lots of claims about the durability of the non-stick as well but I will say I tried frying some eggs the other day without any oil at all and the eggs just slid right out of the pan.

Otherwise I'd really reccommend the Kitchenaide 10" skillet non-stick for around $35.00, or one of those Meyer pans I mentioned. Honestly if you really want to keep the costs down, you can get by with pretty cheap non-stick pans for under $15.00 if you don't get something much bigger than the burner and that's why 8 and 10" pans work okay in the cheaper models.

When the non-stick wears out though...get another one, not sure what you'll find underneath and if it's a layer of aluminum clad which is in a lot of pans for evening out the don't really want to be cooking on that.
post #11 of 13
Before that can of worms opens too far- I've used cheapo and really-expensive knives, both by themselves and in a set. I just bought a few Anolon santoku knives at, of all places, Bed Bath + Beyond for $10 apiece. For that price, if you don't like the shape or the feel you're not stuck with a $100 knife.

I got the most mileage out of a $49.99 set my parents got me at Macy's. When it started to wear out they bought me a sharpener for Xmas.
post #12 of 13
I answered that. Anodized pans are all aluminum. Stainless steel doesn't anodize. As the anodizing wears, you're left with bare aluminum.

Bang for the Buck Knives.

Victorinox. (Forschner line). Are they the best? No, you can get better knives, but not for the money. They are sharp, easy to maintain and cut cut cut. I have a number of them as well as some other brands.

Buy once, cry once. Get the best you can afford is almost always the best way to go.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #13 of 13
As far as anodized pans go...I've currently got Calphalon AA pans that have served me Ok for about six years. I have always used wood utensils and have never used overly abrasive pads and have never put them in the dishwasher. I've treated them quite well!

But, the pans I use most often (or even the 2 1/2qt. pot I use to boil water when I make coffee) have lost all of their anodized coating. I am now in the process of replacing ALL my Calphalon pans. I won't be buying AA pans again.

I've already got an assortment of "other" pans such as my cast iron, enameled dutch oven, 2 non-stick pans, wok etc. I'll be going to some clad type pans in the future (SS with aluminum interior).

Chefs Knife? Try a GunterWilhelm Open Stock Knives (singles)

I've got a 10"Chefs Knife and love it...great balance (but it is a large knife)

good luck,
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