Save a Bundle on a Bundle of Pots and Pans

by Guest Contributor · 6 comments

You’re starting out and you need new cookware. Pots and pans can cost a pretty penny, unless you know what you are looking for. Let’s look at the basics and the best choices.

What You NEED

The average kitchen really doesn’t need much when it comes down to brass tacks. Six pots or pans will cover all your needs, if you purchase good quality equipment. This is one time where spending more will cost you less in the long run, as a good pan can last a lifetime.

1. Omelet Pans – one or two nonstick lined pans are essential if you cook omelets. Used primarily for high heat situations and those recipes that contain sticky ingredients: grilled cheese, omelets, etc. These pans should be heavy with well-constructed handles. Pick a 6-inch and an 8- or 10-inch pan, as well.
2. Stock Pot – 8 to 12 quarts, heavy, unlined, and preferably stainless steel construction with a layered bottom, a stock pot should be taller than it is wide. Used for making soup, stock, or boiling pasta, this is a piece of equipment that, if bought right, will last forever.
3. Saucepan – This pot should be well-constructed from solid materials. You will make smaller batches of soup, heat gravies, make mashed potatoes and veggies, all in this pot. Make sure you have a matching lid that fits on tightly.
4. Wide, Heavy Skillet – Don’t forget a matching lid as well. 12 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep are your minimum measurements. Bigger is better. Skip plastic handles and knobs since you want to be able to stick this pan in the oven for braising and finishing. If you can find a domed, glass lid to go along with the skillet, you have hit pay dirt.
5. Dutch Oven – Smaller than your stock pot, it will fulfill many of the same missions. Built to retain heat well, you can cook stews and chili in here as well.
6. Iron Skillet – Don’t spend good money on getting a new skillet when thrift shops seem to have an endless supply of these. Perfect for taking steaks from a good sear on the stove to a quick grill in the oven, as well as a million other uses, an iron skillet is a joy to have.

Paying for It

Because good quality cookware will cost you a bit, plan for the expense. Take time to find exactly the right item and get only one or two items a year. This is a perfect item to put on that holiday wish list too.

Some towns have restaurant supply stores. These stores cater to professional chefs, and you can pick up some great bargains here. While prices are high you will get exactly what you want, good quality, and an understanding, well-educated staff.

Your next choice can be to search out one of the chain stores which specializes in house goods, and utilize their frequent coupon mailings to drop prices into a range that is almost reasonable. Remember, this is a life long investment, so purchase the best you can afford.

While there isn’t much you can do about the industry’s pricing, you can invest in things that won’t need to be replaced any time soon.

Check out more tips in the How to Save Money on Everything ebook, yours free when you sign up for the (also free) frugal email newsletter.

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  • KM says:

    Lately I have been finding myself wishing I had certain types of cookware (a taller pot, for example) since all I had was a basic set from a while ago. If I upgrade sometime soon, I will definitely use these tips!

  • indio says:

    Buying one of the 10pc or 12 pc sets of pots and pans saved me a bundle. When you buy the pieces separately they typically end up costing much more than when the vendor puts together a set of the basics that covers most cooking needs. If you need a big and deep lobster pot or a small and shallow pot then you buy that separately. The one off’s specialty cookware usually end up costing more. I don’t use any pans with non stick surfaces because of the risk of transferring the chemicals to the food once the pan becomes scratched.

  • Lynn says:

    My husband and I love to cook and we really make our cookware work hard. One word of advice, Don’t buy all nonstick pans! Nonstick is great for a fry pan but if you want to make a pan sauce, or brown meat or vegetables, nonstick doesn’t work well and leaves you with tasteless sauces, meats, vegetables.

    Places like Marshall’s can be a very good place to pick up “seconds” of very high quality cookware. I picked up some Le Creuset pieces at a major bargain with almost undetectable faults. They’ve been going strong for over a decade. Le Creuset makes the best dutch ovens on the market. They go from stove to oven with no problems and they last forever.

    I also picked up my Calphalon sauce pans at a Marshalls. Calphalon used to make an excellent hard anodized aluminum line of pans. Their newer stuff isn’t that great (they’ve had a major quality decline) but if you can find some of their older pieces, grab them! A very small sauce pan and a medium to large sauce pan is all anyone needs. These shouldn’t be non-stick.

    Farberware makes a very good inexpensive non-stick fry pan. Because non-stick coatings don’t last for very long (2-3 years of heavy use), save your money here. The Farberware non-stick fry pan is heavy duty and about 30 bucks.

    Do spend the money on a high-quality saute pan that is at least 12 inches across and has a good tight fitting lid. I have an all-clad and I use it almost everyday. Its 11 years old and still performing like new.

  • Priswell says:

    Back about a zillion years ago, when I was still a teenager, I did something really crazy. I was working in fast-food, so I made a pittance, and I signed on the dotted line for some stainless steel waterless cookware that, at the time, cost $300! It wasn’t the Name Brand, but it was a “lookalike”. I made payments of $15 per month on it forever. Back then, I didn’t even have my own apartment yet. I made the payments and packed the cookware away in my closet.

    Eventually, I got my own place (just before I finished off paying for it), and spent the evening putting the handles on that cookware. From that moment, the cookware cooked marvelously. Later, I married, and it kept on going. 25+ years later, due to it not actually being the Name Brand, the handles started crumbling from dishwasher use. Cost per year was $12. I looked over at my husband and said, “I need new cookware, and I won’t have the cheap stuff.” It was $1200 for a comparable set this time, of real West Bend Waterless cookware, and I already knew it would be worth it.

    One of the most economical things you can do is buy really good cookware. Cooking at home is almost always cheaper, healthier and better, once you get a few cooking skills. Good cookware will make it easier to pass up Fast Food and cook at home without angst. Good cookware will scrub clean and still look great. Week in, week out, sauces, heat ups, pot roasts, potatoes and rice.

  • M Meagher says:

    I received a starter set of Farberware as a wedding present in 1981! except for a knob that needs tightening, it’s been great cookware. Especially for the non-fancy regular (beginning) cook. I have scorched them by forgetting my pots or pans on the heat, and they have been restored with soaking and a little brillo. i would recommend these pans for their sturdiness and versatility. You can also bake in them at low temperatures.

  • Ginger says:

    What kind of brands do you think are high quality and will last?

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