Cookware, either purchased as separate pieces or as a set, is a common gift for college graduates, newlyweds, and new homeowners. But while it is useful and helpful for any home, cookware can be very expensive. Shopping carefully during certain times of the year, and at particular locations, can help you save money and still get quality cookware.
The Best Time to Buy Cookware
If you're looking for rock-bottom prices on cookware, shop in November and May. Retailers discount cookware in November to entice holiday shoppers to buy and often include it in Black Friday sales. In May, cookware gets discounted once again, in anticipation of all those June weddings. You don't have to be purchasing a wedding gift, or shopping for home appliances for the first time, to take advantage of the sales.
Infomercials may convince you that you need to buy a whole new set of pans, but before you replace everything, double-check the brand. Expensive cookware and cookware endorsed by celebrity chefs are often not the best choice. Consider your cooking habits carefully before investing a bunch of money in new cookware. You may find that you only need a new frying pan, for example, or that you'd be better off investing in a set of uncoated cookware, so you won't ever have to replace it again. Or you may even find that it would be cheaper to buy the pieces you need separately, rather than buy a complete set that has a bunch of pots and pans that you'll never use.
Often, you can save money and cupboard space by finding workarounds for specialty pans that you may only use once or twice a year.
When choosing your cookware, be sure to consider what kind of oven and stove top you have, as well as any other special needs that may apply.
- Do you plan to use your pans in the oven? If so, you'll want to avoid non-stick pans. Cast iron or stainless steel would be good choices.
- Do you have a glass stove top? If so, you may want to avoid cast iron pans, which could scratch the surface.
- Do you have birds or other sensitive pets? If so, you should avoid Teflon-coated pans. The gases that are released into the air when the pan is heated can be deadly.
If possible, handle the cookware yourself. Make sure it's not too heavy, feels sturdy and that the handles feel secure. It can be incredibly dangerous to buy a cheaper pan with a handle. While cooking, the handle can break off, causing you to drop the pan and splatter hot food all over you.
Types of Cookware
There are three main types of cookware to consider:
- Non-Stick: These pans are simple and easy to use and clean. They do not need much butter or oil for cooking, but are easily scratched or damaged. Metal utensils should not be used.
- Uncoated: If you like to brown or braise your food, uncoated cookware may be for you. However, uncoated pots and pans are much more difficult to clean.
- Cast Iron: While it may be cost prohibitive to buy a complete set of cast iron cookware all at once, buying one or two cast iron pots or pans is a good place to start. A cast iron Dutch oven can be a good investment, helping you cook healthy meals and keep them warm for a long time. Consider both enameled and uncoated cast iron pieces before you make your purchase.
Where to Buy Cookware
While you can get new cookware at any major retailer, you may want to consider other options, if you're on a budget. Yard sales and thrift stores can be an excellent source for quality cookware, and may allow you to buy nicer cookware than you could otherwise afford. Just be careful not to buy any non-stick pans that are scratched. They're no longer safe to use. Rusty cast iron, however, is another story. It's easy to bring back to life with a quick seasoning.