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Affordable Cookware

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I'm sure this isn't the first time this subject has been raised, nor will it likely be the last. I've research this site including accompanying articles related to this question and still need a little more feedback.

I was initially searching for a great non-stick brand that can last for years and is affordable. In the process I narrowed it down to Berndes. However, I also realized at the end of my search that I'm probably only going to want one small 8" fry pan and the rest stainless set in the vein of All Clad.

Unfortunately I can't afford All Clad right now (not uncommon), and I like to cook, but it's still mainly a hobby and necessity for me, as opposed to a profession or love. Can anyone suggest very good brands, parallel to Berndes in quality and affordability, but stainless steel?

Thanks in advance!
post #2 of 13
I'm curious: why does it have to be stainless steel? The only reason I can think of is that you have induction "burners," since SS is the sole metal that will work on them. Otherwise, any other material can work well if it is thick and solid enough. I've got all sorts of pans, and have no problem keeping them clean, even sticking them in the dishwasher (shhhhhhhhhh, don't tell All Clad I do that with the Master Chef ones :rolleyes: ). I mean, SS is good for looks, but hey, it's a just pot, and how it works is much more important to me.

To be honest, I doubt there is a nonstick that will last for many years; it's just too easy to scratch even the newest versions. Especially if you have to let other people come within 6 feet of your pans. ;) And anyway, it's not that hard to clean a pan even with burnt-on food, if you can soak it. A good pan of whatever material can be used with a minimum amount of fat, too. Finally, a lot of folks here would suggest that you actually lose when you use nonstick -- you can't develop that good fond, the delicious brown stuff that adds so much flavor to the dish after you dissolve it for the sauce.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #3 of 13
The cheapest and most durable non-stick out there is well seasoned cast iron. Pick up a pre-seasoned cast iron skillet from Lodge or Camp Chef. They work great with the proper care and can last lifetimes.

It's not as non-stick as teflon but pretty close.
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 #4 of 13
A little off-the-topic here, but I thought cast iron worked on induction ranges also...? I was under the impression that as long as the pot/pan can hold a magnet, it will work on induction.
post #5 of 13

Check your yellow pages for restaurant supply stores in your area. They are open to the public and fanstastic resources to find restaurant quality kitchen equipment at very reasonable prices.
post #6 of 13
First of all, you're not the only one who has stuck a MC into the dishwasher. I even did that with my stupidly-purchased AC Ltd skillet.

That said, after looking around a lot, and reading a couple of cookware aricles that were mentioned here, I've concluded the the MC line is the best All Clad choice for cooking, the reason being is that it has the thickest aluminum construction and better heat xfer than the stainless coated aluminum. It seems that the Copper Core has a relatively thin layer of copper in it and doesn't really help that much with heat transfer, especially since it's surrounded with SS.

Now, maybe I'm way of base, but that's what I've read, which backs up what I've suspected.

post #7 of 13
I helped my daughter and son in law select new cookware not long ago and we tried out several at the cooking school that we own. Best brands in my opinion, other than All-Clad, is All-Clad's second line, Emeril Ware...and the other was Millenium. Both are very heavy clad bottoms and appear to be well made. We ended up with the Emeril Ware and it has turned out to be a great selection for them.

post #8 of 13
Curious cook: First, don't compromise on your 8" non-stick skillet! You want Berndes, buy it. You won't regret it. Right now, Amazon has them for half price, $29.99 with free shipping.


You can even find an open box unit for about $12.00, see Link

There are innumerable quality sets of 18/10 stainless on the market. All Clad is the preeminent made in America cookware, but it is expensive. I've purchased several pieces but only on open stock drastic price cuts. I like 18/10 but it's not the be all, do all for everyone. It's simply in vogue right now. That said, I have various sizes in a multitude of brands. I recently bought my daughter a large set from Costco for under $200 that looks virtually identical to All Clad. My daughter's a self-declared marginal cook, at best, so I'll listen to her "review" with a father's ear. (If I can heat up a "Wonder roast chicken, it's great :lol:")

Frankly, I'm growing weary of the plaudits for cast iron. Yes, it cooks well, but anything larger than a 12" skillet is simply too heavy to lift on and off the range top with any quantity of food.

I couldn't resist and just ordered the open box 8" for $17.19 including shipping. I have the Berndes grill pan (11.5") for which I paid $100. It's excellent.
post #9 of 13
I recently purchased 8" and 11" Berndes non-stick skillets...they are very amazing, I've never owned anything that slippery before and they cook quite evenly.

But is budget is a real concern, get a T-Fal non-stick skillet, pretty amazing stuff for very little money, personally I think they are an amazing value.

post #10 of 13
"Yes, it cooks well, but anything larger than a 12" skillet is simply too heavy to lift on and off the range top with any quantity of food."

Kind of depends on who's doing the lifting. I have no trouble moving my fully-loaded 16" skillet off the stovetop.

If you don't like using cast iron, that's fine. All cookware is a matter of personal choice. But you tread on thin ice making dogmatic statements like that, when hundreds of people have the opposite experience.

I could also take exception to your typifying All Clad as preeminent, which is defined as "superior to or notable above all others." I'm sure All Clad likes people to believe that. It's how they justify their totally out-of-line prices. But those of us who have had negative experiences with the products, and even worse experices with their non-existent customer service department, know better.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #11 of 13
I like my Emeril ware just fine. The weight is good and the handles are comfortable. TJ Maxx and Marshall's sell a variety of individual pieces of SS cookware. I don't know if they're seconds, but they looked good to me. About 7 or 8 years ago I bought a 12" SS skillet with glass lid for around $25.00 at TJ Maxx.
post #12 of 13
While I have no idea what your normal daily commercial kitchen routine is, I'll take a wild guess that you rarely spend ten to 12 hours at a commercial rangetop. I'd, frankly, enjoy watching you lift that 16" cast iron skillet filled with a vegetable melange and toss it with one hand. In the majority of commercial kitchens today, you'll find the vast majority of skillets are made of pressed aluminum, simply because of the lessened weight and the desire to cut down on cook's fatigue and injuries.

It might behoove you to read more carefully. I wrote: "All Clad is the preeminent made in America cookware, but it is expensive." Perhaps, you missed reading "made in America." If you do even a modicum of research, you'll discover that All Clad is virtually the only domestically manufactured 18/10 cookware. The majority of 18/10 stainless is now manufactured in mainland China and India.

While it's pretty clear that you don't like All Clad, the product, or the company, it remains a product standard. There's a reason that it's copied worldwide. If the prices were so "out-of-line" the company certainly would be getting ready for its demise, but that's not the case. I have no knowledge of All Clad's customer service. Everything I've purchased bearing the All Clad brand has given me superior service.
post #13 of 13
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