Pots and pans for someone starting out

I'm looking for a set of pots and pans for a new cook with her first apartment. Looking for something in the $200 range. Forty years ago I was given Farberware. Which is still in good shape at my sons. What are the best options?



kimhw January 11, 2016
I have lived this catalogue for years. Now they are going out of business and everything is on sale. I would grab a few good pieces. They can fill in the gaps as they grow. Since they are just starting out, they are probably only cooking for 2-4 most of the time. So huge pots and pans aren't necessary. At least right now.
PieceOfLayerCake January 10, 2016
I like to cherry pick my kitchen tools from vendors that specialize in them. If you can't afford something like All-Clad, I would do what cv said and hit up your local restaurant supply. There you can buy, high quality, reasonably priced (albeit not dirt-cheap), pots and pans, and you can choose what you will find useful for this person. I find sets (whether its pots, pans or knives) often come with tools I don't need and are often lower quality. Check some consumer reports or Cook's Illustrated articles for help.
Nancy January 9, 2016
Sets are fun & sometimes good. But the material that is good for one cooking purpose may not work as well for another, or in another size. If you know the cook well enough, pick two or three pieces and buy them separately, within your budget.
For a new cook, cooking most often for only one or two people, I would go for a covered 10 or 12" cast iron fry-pan (can make everything from pancakes to stew to cakes), a 1.5 quart covered saucepan in a good heat-conducting metal and maybe a cheap large pot for boiling pasta.
Also, have a look at a couple review articles, like this one:
ktr January 9, 2016
I agree. I lived for several years with just a large cast iron pan with a lid, a 2 qt pot with a lid and a large soup pot.
SeasonToTaste January 9, 2016
A few years ago, I snagged a set of Bodeux pots and pans from Overstock that has impressed me at every turn. They appear to still carry some in this line.
sexyLAMBCHOPx January 9, 2016
Rachel Ray brand looks good for the price. I have one pan from her and Avalon? I think and its a low maintenance workhouse.
Susan W. January 9, 2016
I saw those on Amazon and wondered how they are. Which piece do you gave. I like their looks.
sexyLAMBCHOPx January 9, 2016
Hi, Susan - This is the pot/pan that I love among my All-Clad Stainless Stell extensive set & Le Cruset pots. I've had it for 10 years and its great for so many things (pasta, ragu, stir-fries, etc.) I also clean it in the dishwasher.
sexyLAMBCHOPx January 9, 2016
Susan W. January 9, 2016
That's the one that I was eyeballing wishing it came in that agave blue. I have a 3.5 qt le creuset Dutch oven, but I sometimes wish I had this oval piece for braises. Does the oval shape fit round electric burners sufficiently? Can't beat the price. $39 on Amazon.
sexyLAMBCHOPx January 9, 2016
Yes, it does a great job of retaining heat evenly. I think it's the oval shape that makes it so versatile. Highly recommend. Mine is all black before her name & colors were put on it.
Susan W. January 9, 2016
Just pulled the trigger on that and her agave oval stones are baking dish. Quarter's Tres Leches cake will look lovely in it. :) I need another apt just for my kitchen stuff.
Smaug January 9, 2016
Do they still make copper clad stainless steel Revere ware? It's stood my family well for two generations, but a lot of fine old products (Sabatier Knives come to mind) have sold their names for a handful of bitcoins.
Susan W. January 9, 2016
I agree with CV. Unless you know this person very well and what kind of kitchen habits they may have or may develop, Ikea is a great place to start. Amazon also has some good starting sets that are reasonably priced. I think I saw a Kitchenaid set for just under $200.

There was a thread a while ago about this sort of thing and there were tons of suggestions. If I find it, I'll come back and link it for you.

Voted the Best Reply!

702551 January 8, 2016
If I magically became young today, I'd tell my younger self to go with one of the starter sets from IKEA.

As I get older, I can selectively choose to upgrade certain pieces (from whatever manufacturer) based on a deepening knowledge of my my own cooking patterns/habits.
702551 January 8, 2016
The other realistic option is to buy individual pieces at your local restaurant supply store, not a high-end retailer like Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma or some fancy department store.

However, we don't know anything about the recipients of your gift. There's no telling if they have the interest/discipline to properly season and maintain a $15 cast iron skillet or if they prefer to just toss everything in the dishwasher and walk away.

You will have to make that judgment call about this person. Without a doubt, a starter set from IKEA is going to be low on the fussiness scale.

Good luck.
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