Help me choose new pots and pans
January 10, 2007 11:49 AM   Subscribe

Cookware that doesn't suck for < $100 Canadian?

The cheap cookware set I bought when I started university just isn't cutting it anymore. Problem is, 7 years later I'm still a poor student (I'm in grad school now) so my budget is rather limited.

My requirements:
- 3 to 5 pieces, with the ability to buy more pieces later
- can be put in the oven
- riveted handles
- no teflon

I'm currently considering the Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless Starter from Amazon, which is going for $52 US, but I would need to ship it to a friend in the US and then go pick it up at some point.

I'd be willing to pay a bit more if I could walk into a store here in Vancouver and buy something equivalent.

I have already seen this askme thread but most of the recommendations seem a bit beyond my budget.
posted by sanitycheck to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Since the canadian dollar is almost worth the same as the US dollar now, I'll just give you the recommendations I have from US stores.

I use only hard-anondized cookware, and I get the Calphlon brand. I've gotten them on sale for about $20 a piece from Amazon. They fit all your requirements and are as solid as a rock. They are fairly heavy and feel extremely durable. I have been using mine for 2 years, and they are as good as when I got them (barely discolored, and I think I can wash that off if I tried).

I have had stainless steel and (despite the name) it stains, feels cheap, doesn't distribute heat as well, and scratches.

Amazon has a deal where you get $25 off $125 on cookware. So it's like 20% off. (I don't work for Amazon)
posted by tasty at 11:59 AM on January 10, 2007

Best answer: President's Choice sells really pretty stainless cookware. The 10-piece set goes for C$149, which I have been trying to talk myself into buying for awhile now (also a poor student!). I think I've seen them selling separate pieces at the Metrotown Superstore, and the huge one at Marine Drive and Main also claims to carry housewares, so you could probably just get a saucepan and skillet or whatever. (I haven't used them, but I have bought other PC housewares and they've always been really good quality for the price.)
posted by SoftRain at 12:04 PM on January 10, 2007

I'd suggest going to a TJ Maxx or Marshalls (assuming you have them there) and buying pieces that look good to you. That way you can buy stuff a la carte as opposed to a set with pieces you don't want/need. You'll also get better quality for the money.

That said, Sam's Club has a 19 piece Wolfgang Puck set for about $100 US. That's more than you want to spend, but you might be able to find a similar deal at a Costco/Sams near you for a smaller set. We have a couple Puck pieces and while they're not exactly All Clad, they hang in there and do the job.
posted by Atom12 at 12:04 PM on January 10, 2007

I recommend getting a few pieces at a time and buying the best you can afford. I recommend a nice deep 12" covered skillet. We bought ours [similar to this] from Linens 'n' Things for about $30 and it's the pan we always use. You can boil pasta in it, you can saute mushrooms and onions, you can make an omelet, fry chicken, make a veggie stir fry and simmer curry, all in this one pan.

We have two sets of pans (one from our wedding and one from our college years) and the only time any of these get used is when the big silver skillet is already in use. (And we bought the pan more than a year ago, so it's not simply because it's "new" that we use it so often.)

That said, the set you chose is a nice set, without many extraneous pans you won't have a use for.
posted by parilous at 12:09 PM on January 10, 2007

Best answer: TJ Maxx is known as Winners in Canada.

My advice to sanitycheck: try City Square mall at 12th and Cambie - there's a cookshop across the way from Safeway. I bought my pots and pans there many years ago, the brand is Chantal. I've put them through all sorts of horrors, and they still look brand new

And right now, there's a set of five that's on sale, and individual pieces are also aggressively priced (30% to 50% off)
posted by seawallrunner at 12:13 PM on January 10, 2007

Cast iron or french steel pans would probably be the cheapest and the best frying pans. They require a bit more in maintenance, but they'll give you the biggest bang for your buck. You can buy a Lodge 10" pre-seasoned frying pan for $10 US (amazon). You can get a 12" french steel pan for $25 US. You can get a 5 quart cast iron dutch oven with a lid for $30 US (amazon). Maybe get a calphalon saucepan for another $30 US (amazon).
posted by Dave Faris at 12:25 PM on January 10, 2007

Seconding the above - at least one of your pans should be a cast-iron skillet. I bought mine when I was a grad student and it's the only pan I trust to put into the oven as well as use above.

The rest I have is just some cheap stuff. But I cook everything except pasta in my 12-inch (30 cm) skillet.
posted by cobaltnine at 12:30 PM on January 10, 2007

Response by poster: That PC set for $149.99 does look awfully good. And it's dishwasher safe, which is a bonus. It seems really inexpensive for copper-bottomed pans, though... I feel like there must be some catch.

I'll definitely check out the shop at 12th and Cambie sometime this week, and also go look at the PC stuff in person.
posted by sanitycheck at 12:38 PM on January 10, 2007

I almost hate to suggest it in public, but Martha Stewart has a cookware line she's selling through Kmart that's a great bargain for the price. Your choice of sets & individual pieces in enamelware, stainless steel, and raw cast iron, all for around $30 or less (that's $30 for the smaller sets and large pieces like Dutch Ovens; you can get individual saucepans and frying pans and such for $15 or less. I think they were selling a set of TWO nice enamelware saucepans for $10). I don't know if Kmart operates in Canada, but if they do, you might want to have a look. Some of the smaller pans have plastic handles, but most of the ones you'd want to use in the oven don't.

Don't buy them online, though... I don't know why, but the Kmart website is not selling the full range. My local Kmart had a much better selection of pans.
posted by vorfeed at 12:40 PM on January 10, 2007

I have a large President's Choice frying pan (It might officially be called sautée pan? sauce pan? It looks like a fairly deep frying pan.) I've been totally happy with it. I'd definitely buy their set if I was in the market.
posted by loiseau at 12:41 PM on January 10, 2007

In Canada, there is a retailer named Homesense which is in fact the same company as Winners but dedicated to housewares and such. We have had a lot of success getting kitchen stuff there. It tends to be piece-by-piece rather than whole sets, but you can find very good quality at very very good prices if you look around at everything they have in stock and really pick through what they have carefully.
posted by mikel at 12:45 PM on January 10, 2007

I've bought the PC skillet from that set, and it works wonderfully. I was a bit skeptical at first, but it's more than proven its worth.
posted by Meagan at 1:38 PM on January 10, 2007

Ikea sells very decent cookpots and pans, either separately or as sets.
posted by zadcat at 4:23 PM on January 10, 2007

FWIW, I have those Cuisinart pans and love them. A caveat - they get very hot, and I usually do a quarter of a turn lower than I want to cook on them (i.e. medium on another pan = medium low-ish on my Cuisinart pans), but they are great for the price.

IMHO, the IKEA pans are crap. Zadcat may have a different set than the ones I've used, though, so YMMM, as always, V.
posted by rossination at 4:50 PM on January 10, 2007

Seconding the IKEA pans are crap comment. Also, I recommend -not- purchasing anondized if you like to use your dishwasher to clean up.

If it were me, I'd invest in a good set of stainless steel with an aluminum core. I've got All-Clad and I know I'll never have to buy another set of cookware again.
posted by longdaysjourney at 5:28 PM on January 10, 2007

Seconding the Wolfgang Puck. I got a 13 piece set from Sam's and it is extremely good for the money. Recommended by several magazines as the best low cost cookware (including Cook's Illustrated which gave it a very positive review) I have more expensive pieces too including all clad and even some demeyer, and the puck stuff really stands up beside them.

Be careful though, some of the cheap stuff is really bad.
posted by vronsky at 6:50 PM on January 10, 2007

All-clad is great if you can afford it. They have a few smaller pieces, like sauce pans and stuff, that are reasonably priced. I'm an avid home cook and I just can't justify spending $150 to $200 + on a frying pan. I did manage to score a great deal on a all-clad saucier off of ebay.

But I have thrown away cheap stainless steel pans that I bought in one of the discount stores mentioned above. Uneven heating and scorching made the pans a chore to use, a chore to clean, and a waste of space in my small kitchen. Most cheap pans are cheap for a reason.

So I make due with cast iron and french steel for most of my fry needs, along with a cast iron griddle pan. I have a couple of the calphalon omlet pans, which can also be gotten for not a lot of cash, mail order.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:06 PM on January 10, 2007

Cast iron gets my vote. Once seasoned, and if cared for (not left in the sink overnight with scrambled egg chunks on it) it is for me the most satisfying to cook with. Plus you can use a real scraper/flipper, not one of those plastic weenie things.

Cheap at your local Goodwill/Salvation Army/Etc. store. I have a 12"x5" skillet/pot that just rocks.
posted by anthill at 8:41 PM on January 10, 2007

Meant to say I got a 13 piece set for 60 dollars above.
posted by vronsky at 10:42 PM on January 10, 2007

Caplan-Duval is a cookware store in Quebec. They ship all over Canada. Right now they're having a sale (though their stock seems to have dwindled) on the cookware Martha Stewart seems to use on her show (not the stuff she sells at retailers...), the coveted and well regarded French cookware le Creuset. It's eternal (lifetime warranty) and is recommended all over AskMefi. If you look hard enough and long enough you can also sometime find le Creuset cookware at Winners and Homesense at terrific prices.
posted by rumbles at 10:52 PM on January 10, 2007

I hope I'm not too late on this one, but the Farberware Millennum (sp?) line has always gotten great ratings from Cook's Illustrated (the Consumer Reports of foodie mags). Reasonably priced and performs very well in their exhaustive tests.
posted by JLobster at 10:57 AM on January 12, 2007

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