Cookware Made Easy:
3 Things To Look For In A Cookware Set
Cooking meals at home is smart, economical and fun when you have the right tools. If you're in the market for new cookware, here are 3 things to keep in mind.
Choose Your Pieces
To find the best cookware for your needs, first do an inventory of your present pots and pans to determine what you're missing. If you only need to replace a scratched frying pan you can buy it individually for a decent price. But if you're just starting to stock your kitchen, you might consider a cookware set. Buying a set can be an economical choice if you need several pieces, but make sure you'll use all the pieces included in the set. A good basic set should include:
- A medium skillet (8-10 inches) for cooking eggs, grilled cheese and chicken breasts
- A large skillet (10-12 inches) for sautéing and stir-frying
- A 2-qt. saucepan for soup and boiling eggs
- A 3-qt. saucepan for rice, sauces and pasta
- A Dutch oven or stock pot for stews and pot roasts
Consider Its Use
It's very important to choose the tools best suited to your needs. Consider how your cookware will be used, your skill level, and how you care for your kitchen gear. That will help you determine which type of material you want. Stainless steel is the most versatile material; just be sure that it's encapsulated so it conducts heat better. Anodized aluminum pots and pans are excellent heat conductors and dishwasher safe. Nonstick pots and pans keep foods from sticking, so they reduce the amount of fat you need for cooking. If you're looking for sturdy dishes that can simmer on the stovetop all day and will last a long time, consider cast iron or enameled cast iron. Still not sure which cookware to get? Here's a great slideshow on the best (and worst) materials for pots and pans.
Pick It Up
Weight is extremely important when shopping for cookware. In general, heavier cookware conducts heat better than thinner cookware. You might be tempted to buy cookware online while you're also shopping for kitchen accessories and bathroom decor, but it's essential to handle those pots, pans and skillets at the store. See how each one feels in your hand. If it's heavy, think how much heavier it will feel when it's full of food. Handle construction is also important. Look for stainless steel handles that have been bolted or riveted to the side of the pan; avoid plastic handles that have been glued or attached with screws. Silicone handles are becoming more popular on cookware because it's very comfortable to hold and gives a good grip. But silicone can't withstand the high heat of an oven. So if you plan on searing and baking in the same pan, use a skillet with a traditional metal handle. Check the lids, too and be sure they fit snugly and have handles or knobs that are large and easy to grip.