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Essential Pots & Pans Everyone Needs for Cooking

Written by Danielle Travali.

If you're a home cook, it's necessary to have an excellent quality set of pots and pans. Why? Because a good quality set will last you (practically) a lifetime.

You won't necessarily have to worry about ruining your food with the wrong pan or spending your valuable time cleaning pans that you'll probably throw in the trash soon anyway. Let's talk about some of the best quality pots and pans you could buy. Remember, you don't have to buy an entire set of pots and pans in one shopping trip. You can collect them over time or ask for them as birthday or holiday presents. Here are the essential ones that you need:

Saute Pan. This pan should be about 12 inches from one end to the other. The larger the better because you can fit a larger volume inside it.

This pan is your best friend for frying onions, vegetables, and searing any kind of meat. You want an oven-safe handle as well, so you can transfer the pan to the oven if necessary. It's always good to have this option.


Non-Stick Skillet. Most everyone loves eggs in the morning, but not when they won't come off the skillet. And when you have to use a ton of oil to prevent sticking, you might as well kiss your diet goodbye. You need a flat, heavy-bottomed non-stick pan--about 8 or 10 inches. A wide surface will help you provide even heat. Sloped sides will make it easier to distribute liquid eggs or pancake batter to the part of the pan you want it to reach. A very safe type of non-stick interior is anodized aluminum. Hand wash only unless the product is marked with a "dishwasher safe" stamp.

Sauce Pot. Remember one thing when picking out a sauce pot: big-bottomed is always better! You want to be able to fit a good amount of sauce, soup, pasta or vegetables in this pot. You'll be out of luck if you find yourself with a tiny pot that lacks space you need to cook your family or friends a meal. Even if you live by yourself, it's a good idea to get a bigger pot. You never know when you'll have guests. Or maybe you'll even decide to make enough sauce for an entire week. You can do that with a large-bottomed sauce pot. Make sure the pot fits about 2 - 2.5 quarts. You can heat up practically any food item in it! Make sure this pot has a flat, sturdy bottom so it doesn't rock back and forth on your stovetop. A flat bottom will also help the food to cook evenly;  the heat will be distributed on equal sides of the pan. The lid should fit tightly on top, especially if you don't want the heat to escape while cooking. 

Roasting Pan. Everyone needs a roasting pan to cook a chicken or turkey. A perfect roasting pan should be long and rectangular, about 16 x 13 inches and made out of stainless steel. Stainless steel is a great conductor of heat and helps enhance the cooking process. It's also a very safe material and can be used in practically any type of oven. If you can't find stainless steel, heavy-gauge aluminum is another option. Just make sure the pan is thick and has two handles on the shorter sides of the rectangle.

Stores offer several other different types of pans, but these are the basics; the first ones you should buy before anything else.

But remember to always test the feel of each pot or pan before buying. It should feel comfortable in your grasp. So, shop around. And don't just shop online. Go to a department store where you can have a hands-on experience with your potential cookware!

When you do buy your pans, wash them in hot soapy water before use. 

Danielle Travali, MS
Danielle Travali, MS

Danielle Travali, also known to many as the Web and television personality "Holly Pinafore," is a journalist, entrepreneur, and food & wine enthusiast. She is a certified food coach, stress management coach and fitness trainer who studied mindful eating and food psychology. Danielle also holds a master's degree in Journalism from Quinnipiac Un.. Read more

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