How to choose cookware

Knowing how to choose cookware can make your kitchen time a breeze

Knowing how to choose cookware can make your kitchen time a breeze

One of the first things people need for their homes is cookware. Few of us are blessed with a budget that allows us to eat out every night of the week, so at least some cooking is inevitable. But do you know how to choose cookware? 

Why it matters

Unfortunately, too many of us stock our first (or second or third or…) kitchen with a mixture of cast-off pots and pans inherited from mom and dad, leftover things from old roommates or a mish-mash of cheap “I need something now” pans and cooking pots purchased on the spur of the moment. 

What that means is that most people are missing at least some of the basic pots and pans a good home cook needs. So you try to improvise — and more times than not, the finished food is not quite right. 

When you’re ready to stock your kitchen with the right stuff, there are a few questions you need to answer to help you find the right kitchenware for your cooking needs.

1) How often you cook? (Or maybe, how often would you like to cook?)

A person who would love to make six or more meals at home each week will need a lot more pots and pans than someone who only plans to cook a couple of times a month.

Be realistic about your cooking plans, and your commitment to home cooking. For the serious cook, a complete set that includes several sizes of pots with lids and at least three or four fry/saute pans or skillets is probabaly a good choice. For the ocassional cook, two to three pots with lids and two sizes of fry/saute pans is probably just fine. 

2) How elaborate are your meals?

Even a daily cook can get away with fewer pots and pans if their recipes are usually for one or two pot meals. Just make sure the kitchenware you select is large enough for the biggest thing you cook (for example, a couple of boxes of spaghetti at a time or omelettes for a family.) 

3) What kind of stove do you have?

Different types of cookware perform better on different stoves, so do check your manufacturer’s recommendations to find the best. If that’s not an option, or if you’re likely to move after a short time (and possibly have a different type of stove), you’re probably best to opt for something that’s versitile like a heavy-duty stainless steel cookware set. 

4) How much storage space do you have?

Pots and pans can take up a lot of kitchen storage space, so unless you have tons of empty cabinet space (or a pot hook, ready to load up), you’ll probably want to buy less. 

Choose pots and pans that are versitile, such as a carbon steel cookware set that works on the stove top and in the oven. 

5) What are your plans for the next two to three years?

Not only does cookware take up a lot of space in the kitchen, it also takes up tons of packing boxes or moving truck space. So if you’re planning on a major move in the near future, you might want to buy only the kitchen ware you really need now, rather than investing in a full set that includes everything from the smallest sauce pan to the largest stock pot. 

Take your time

Fine cookware is something you’ll want to keep for a long time, so take your time in selecting the right pieces or sets for you. If you’re really stuck, and have no idea what to get, ask a chef friend or the staff at a fine cookware store what they think would help you learn how to choose cookware that works for you. 

Compare their suggestions to mine (here’s a hint…you do NOT need that $500 sauce pan to heat up your canned soup, Really!), then take the plunge and buy a real grown-up set of pots and pans that’s right for your kitchen. Your family, your roommates or maybe just your own tummy will thank you.