Pots & pans can last a lifetime – got these about 35 years ago
1. Be realistic about storage space – Think about where you are going to store your pots and pans. Get only what reasonably fits into your kitchen. No sense buying a lot of stuff you cannot use because you have to store it high up in your bedroom closet or at a friend’s house. It’s sensible to get pots and pans that “nest” inside one another, but don’t pack them so tightly that you can’t easily get one out.
my own pots
2. Don’t be a snob – Sure you can head over to the most expensive store and fork over $100 or more for an omelet pan, but do you seriously want to spend that much before you can make the world’s greatest omelet? Shop sales and check out garage sales for great deals on a few good items.
3. Start small – If you don’t have a set of pans and pans that someone is offering to buy or give you, you can do very well with two of each: a pan about 10 – 12” in diameter; a second pan about 5-7” in diameter that fits inside the large one for easy storage; a small pot that can comfotably hold a 15 ounce can of beans or soup; and a larger one that can hold enough liquid (4-6 quarts) to make pasta.
4. Handles matter – The best handles on pots and pans are those that don’t conduct heat easily, so that you can grab them without need for pot holders/oven mitts to protect your hands from the heat. If you like to eat things that have melted or crispy tops, you may want to get pans with handles that can also go into the oven, so that you can finish off some of the dishes you make in the pans, by putting them under a broiler for a few minutes. No matter what type of handles your pots and pans have, make sure you know what you can safely do with them – and what you cannot do.
5. Decide what materials and weight suits you – Pots and pans come in lots of materials and weights. There are pros and cons to all the materials and much of the decision depends on you – how you cook, what you cook, what you can afford, and how a particular type or brand feels to you. Look around at various resources on line and spend time in cookware departments of local stores talking to knowledgeable sales people about materials, brands, and other options. And above all, decide what suits you best.