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Getting my own place need cookware for $300 or less

Poll Results: What Set?

  • 0% (0)
    Calphalon tri ply
  • 22% (2)
    Cuisinart Multi Clad
  • 0% (0)
    Cuisinart Chefs Choice
  • 55% (5)
    Don't get a set
  • 22% (2)
    Get a different set (please post details)
9 Total Votes  
post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I've been looking around a lot and after reading up on all the different materials and properties of each I want an aluminum core (thicker the better) clad with stainless interior and exterior.
I was thinking about buying a set, some of which look like I'd use all the pieces they come with (because I'm starting from absolute scratch), but some might be overkill for me.
Me: Sophmore in college getting my own place, with 2 good friends as roomates. I love to cook and want some decent cookware, at home my parents use crappy stuff and I hate it.

A few sets that are made of the materials I want:

Cuisinart multiclad pro 12 piece: $227
New Cuisinart MCP-12 Multiclad Pro Cookware Set * - eBay (item 260362153176 end time Aug-13-09 00:48:21 PDT)

Cuisinart Chefs Classic stainless 10 piece set: $105 shipped Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless-Steel 10-Piece Cookware Set: Kitchen & Dining

Calphalon tri-ply stainless 8 piece set:
I can get this for $245 shipped (link is for pictures only on this one)
Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless 8-pc. Stainless Steel Cookware Set - Calphalon Cookware Sets

If I don't get a set I'll just pick out mostly the same types of stuff in sets, maybe just a cariety in brands or something if it's cheaper and of the same quality.

I also think it would be nice to have a grill pan, and a wok, and brands you guys can suggest me, I don't want to drop too much on these because they won't be used a ton, just occasionaly. Also, can I put a grill pan in the oven? I probably could if it was rated to like 450 f or higher right? which would = clad which is most likely more than I want to drop on one.
As for Wok's, what makes a good wok? should the liner run all the way up the sides of the wok or no?

If anyone can suggest any other sets or brands I should look at I'm open to suggestions. I think a set is a good idea for the most part here. I also wanna get a nonstick pan for eggs because I love eggs I could probably get one at Target for like $15 though right... just don't want any teflon/pfoa (sp?)

-Thanks guys
post #2 of 12
Most here aren't fans of sets but that's been discussed a bunch.

And for the money, I have to say clad isn't worth it. A disk bottom will give you great performance for a lot less. Isn't as pretty though. If you're willing to hunt clearance stores and discounters such as TJ Maxx, you can get some good deals on quality clad pans in big name brands. But you'll have to wait and hunt.

Bed Bath and Beyond often runs discount specials on small clad saucepans and skillets and is worth looking at now and then.

A wok should be carbon steel. No aluminum. No liners. Cast iron is a good and authentic material too but it's hard to toss around.

Here's what I would get for $300.00.

Disk bottom 4 piece stockpot. Pot, pasta/steamer inserts and lid. Riveted handles. Walmart carries a Tramontina disk bottom 18/10 stainless at around $40. I have some Tramontina and am impressed with the quality and performance. Downside is it's 8 quarts. Fine for most home cooks, but a 12 quart is more versatile in the long run. The 12 quart set is about $80 at Walmart.

KYHeirloomer will point out that the inserts need to go LOW in the pot and these aren't perfect in that regard, particularly in the 8 quart model.

Wok, brand doesn't matter. Again, Walmart has a good carbon steel wok with a flat bottom and riveted handles for about $18.00. If I didn't already have 4 woks, i'd have bought it myself some time ago. No lid so go to amazon and order from the wokshop who sells there for your lid. Any asian store will be able to set you up for similar pricing. See also

12" stainless skillet. Must have a riveted metal handle so it can go in the oven and under broiler without worrying about temps. I don't have a specific one picked out. Mine happens to be a clad Calphalon I got on sale at Bed Bath and Beyond. I've been happy with it. Paid about $80. Checking prices for a disk bottomed Tramontina, it runs about 40. Walls look a little steep for my taste. Not enough flare. Hard to tell for sure in a small online picture. I'd have to shop around on this a bit to pick one out for sure but my budget wouldn't exceed $90 for a quality clad brand and probably $50 for a disk bottom. A lid is handy but never supplied. Get a big multi fit lid from a discounter for cheap, $5.00

10" teflon coated aluminum skillet $15-20. Brand isn't particularly important. But it too must have a metal handle for oven duties. A 10" cast iron pan is also a good choice in this bracket though it might cost a bit more. For cast iron, get a Lodge brand pan if you don't know how to pick out cast iron. And I have both the cast iron and teflon pan and use them both a lot.

8 inch skillets aren't really that useful in my opinion and I would skip it entirely. Mostly specialty uses in my opinion and a 10" cooks fine for one or a few people.

Grill pan. Depending on your stove, I'd get the reversible grll griddle over a pan. Lodge Logic Single Burner Reversible Grill / Griddle - 10-1/2-by-10-1/2: Kitchen & Dining This is good for gas and those stoves with the slightly elevated electric coil burners. If you have the glass top stoves, this will not work well as it won't make good contact with the element. In that case, a lodge grill pan is good. $25-30.

Sauce pans 1, 2 quart for sure, 3 quart maybe. I have a three quart and I like it but I'd skip it for a starting set. Something to get down the road. I went with the Martha Stewart disk bottom pans from K-Mart with glass lids. Looks like they've been discontinued. So I'd look at Tramontina again. is under $60 for the 1 and 2 quart pans combined in a clad model.

Stockpot: 80
12 skillet: 50
lid: 5
10 tef/cast: 20
grill: 30
wok: 18 (lid 15)
saucepans: 60

and I've spent $275. Add tax and it's close to 300. I wouldn't feel underequipped at all and it will last a long time. If you go for the clad skillet, your price will jump but you could off set that with the smaller stockpot set.
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 12
Thread Starter 
I imagine myself never having to cook for more than 5 people including myself.
Usually between 1-3 people.
post #4 of 12
There's a long discussion on this topic in the thread

I'll stand by recommendation there...
post #5 of 12
If you really believe you'll be using all the pieces in those sets on a regular basis, then go for it. But the reality is, while sets seem appealing at first blush, few people really get the full benefit from them.

Example: My son recieved a 12-piece set as a wedding gift. Day in and day out they use four of those pieces, and a fifth one occasionally. And they still had to purchase additional important cookware, such as a four-piece stockpot.

Phil has done a pretty good job of walking you through the decision making process, and I would go with his suggestions for the most part.

As to his comment re: inserts fitting low in a stockpot. What you have to be aware of is that if the big insert does not come to within one inch of the bottom (and lower is even better), by the time you fill it you'll have to bring an inordinate amount of water to boil when making pasta. I have one pot like that, and I use the big insert as a secondary steamer (that, btw, is what the small insert is). When using it for pasta I don't bother with the insert at all.

Although he did make a point of it, it bears repeating: woks should be made of carbon steel. Period! Any other material isn't going to do the job correctly. I'm a cast-iron freak, but actually draw the line there. I wouldn't have a cast-iron wok. Nor aluminum. Nor anodized. Nor anything except carbon steel. Covers can be aluminum. You don't use a cover all that often, but when you need one it's nice to have one handy.

As a general rule, I do disagree with Phil about 8" skillets. But in your case he's correct. You don't need to be stocking up with an assortment of cookware (all of which needs to be stored somewhere, don't forget) when a singe piece will do. Remember, you can always cook a small amount in an oversized pan, but the oppostie isn't true. If I were in your shoes, I'd go with a 12" skillet, in stainless, and a 10" in cast iron. If you cure the cast iron correctly you won't need the non-stick pan at all.

I don't think you need a grill/griddle at all, in your situation. There are a lot of potential problems with them (such as the incredible amount of smoke they produce). And there isn't much you can cook on one that you can't cook using your other cookware. If you really want to grill stuff, buy a small charcoal grill and do it outside.
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 #6 of 12
I'd still pick the 12 quart stock pot over the 8. It's more versatile. An 8 quart pot won't hold temp as well when you put in the pasta. And it tends to clump long pasta more than the bigger pot does. The bigger pot does a better job with stocks. You can cook a lobster or three in a 12 quart but will struggle with 1 in an 8 quart and so on.
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 #7 of 12
After looking more at the sets you list, they all ding you with a small stock stock pot. 8 and 6 quarts.

There is no 12" skillet. This is a big omission. This is a critical size for so many dishes even when just cooking for 1 or 2. The skillets have pretty steep sides. Makes pan tossing difficult and impedes reduction speed some.

I do like the 3 1/2 quart lidded saute in the one set. That's a handy pan for many braises, particularly start on the stove and finish in the oven dishes.
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 #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Ok, decided not to get a grill, I'll have a small charcoal or gas grill to use outside anyway.

I'm still leaning towards the cuisinart multiclad line, set or not.

I can get the 12 piece multiclad for $226, then buy a nonstick multiclad 10 in. frypan for $60 (or should I just buy a cheap teflon one for like $20? What differences will I notice? I want these pans to last a long time), buy an extra 4 qt multiclad saucepan for $50, my dad said he'd buy me a wok.
That all comes out to $340 and I'll have everything I need.

Edit: Just realized the set doesn't have the 12 in fry pan, that sucks, but I think the 10 would do, at least for a while.

The only thing is I'll only have a 3 qt and a 4 qt saucepan that can do pasta in, but I think that will be plenty big for what I need, and I can always buy a 8+ qt stockpot/steamer/pasta insert set later, and get the whole set for $80. What are the advantages of those 4 piece pasta/steamer pot sets? over say my 4 qt with just one pasta insert? Also, I won't ne

The set does come with an 8 qt stockpot but there's no pasta/steaming stuff from the multiclad line that I can buy to use in there. If I could find some a set of pasta/steaming stuff to put in the 8 qt stockpot I could do that, and then I wouldn't need the 4 qt (extra) saucepan. Anyone know if another brand of pasta/steamer inserts will fit in the 8 qt stock pot that comes in the set? Because if there is I'll buy it and save $50 on the saucepan - whatever I spend on the pasta/steamer inserts.

I think that the set will be barely more expensive in the long run, plus it's all aluminum cladded in stainless, so it will last a long time.
The only thing I doubt I'll use very much is the 8 inch fry pan, but that's all, so it seems like the set will be good + any/all of the additions listed above.

Edit: How much better is the cuisinart multiclad compared to the cuisinart chefs classic?

I can get a 14 piece Cuisinart chefs classic for $140. I'd use all that stuff for the most part.
Then I could get:
Wok total: $170
Nonstick 10 in fry pan total: $200-$240
Optional 12 in fry pan for $50-80, probably get this later though after I've used the set for a while.

That give me everything I need, and the regular price on the set is $500+, $140 seems like a nice price.......and it give me room to buy other things I want/need or just save some $$

Or I could buy the 17 piece set here: Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless 17-Piece Cookware Set: Kitchen & Dining
for only $184, that give me literally EVERYTHING I'll need and it's not that expensive at all compared to it being over $600 at regular retail.

Just not sure now the 2 cuisinart lines I want compare, can anyone shed some light on this? Because they are both aluminum cladded in stainless, which I like.
I'm now leaning towards the 17 piece because it's cheap and has just a lot of things that would be far far more expensive to buy individually. Basically I could buy 4 or 5 things for the price of a 17 piece, or just cop the 17 right off the bat and save $$ and get stainless cladded aluminum. I actually see myself using almost all, if not all of the stuff that comes in the 17 piece.
post #9 of 12
The non-stick coating on cookware fails, sooner or later (mostly sooner) no matter who makes the pan. So if you're going with a non-stick pan, I'd recommend buying a cheapie, which you can replace if and one.

Lot's of luck making pasta in a 3- or 4-quart saucepan. See Phil's comments about 8-quarters. His points apply even more so, as the smaller the pot the more difficult it is to properly cook pasta.

I wouldn't get overly concerned about stockpot inserts. They're a relatively recent thing, in consumer cookware. Just buy a large colander and you're good to go. As mentioned, I still cook pasta that way because my big insert doesn't fit properly.
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 #10 of 12
I don't really know anything about the cuisinart line. Has mostly high marks on the Amazon link. One of the reviews mentions a Consumer Reports verdict that was mostly favorable though this was in one of the 1 star reviews.

I'd really want to see some of it in person before buying it. My main reasoning here is to judge how thick the base really is, the weight and if it goes ALL THE WAY TO THE EDGE of the pan. Lots of less expensive brands cut that corner and it's a terrible corner to cut.
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 #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Ya, that was one thing that I found somewhat worrisome as well. On paper they seem fine, but that's one thing that manufacruters aren't alwas crystal clear about.
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
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