First some background. We have an extensive All Clad set that my wife purchased many years ago that I hate to use because the stuff doesn't like the DW. Once I'm done cooking and eating, I do not want to stand and wash. Clarification on the preceding. When I do cook for real, I use the All Clad. However, when I cook quick stuff in the morning or quick stuff p.m., I'm looking for quick and easy.
That said :-), I have managed a quiet revolt around here and purchased cheapo Wal-Mart 3 qt sauce pan(s) w/lid and a 10 or 12" (what I incorrectly call) frying pan with lid. Both have some sort of Teflon. I'm shortly going on my third sauce pan and third fry pan within a couple of years. Despite using wood utensils, the cheap Teflon comes off. So I 'manned up' and jumped two price levels at Wal-Mart and brought home a fry pan that was hardened anodized aluminum. Only when I opened the thing up at home and read the info on the inside did I find that: you cannot use in the DW, you cannot use on high heat (a sauté-fry pan?) and high heat causes the surface to give off gases or some such scary thing. I returned it. Yesterday I purchased a set of Tramontina Pro 3004 pans at Costco. The box only said aluminum alloy. Naturally, when I got the thing home and opened and read further--although nothing was said about hardened anodized aluminum, all the previous precautions were mentioned. Must be the same surface.
So I'd love to get some info from you all that have (probably) no dog in the fight and can tell me straight off. Why there appears to be this plethora of hardened anodized aluminum equipment with caveats to its use? Are the caveats really applicable to home use? If there's no way of getting around the caveats would cheap SS be a good alternative?