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The value of a good pot or pan cannot be overstated. If you cannot afford to start your quality pot and pan collection straight away, make it a priority for birthdays, Christmas, Wedding or housewarming presents.

The maintenance of your cookware should also be a priority for their longevity.

How many pots do I need?

There is no benchmark measure for this. Only you know how many pots you need. As an example, a family of 4 might have a large stew pot for the big cook up including the spaghetti sauce and soups, 2 mid-sized saucepans and 2 fry pans. It is totally subjective to your style of cooking and family size.

What is the best saucepan material to cook with?

Stainless Steel Cookware

This material is often peoples first thought when it comes to cooking vessels. It is strong, does not corrode and is often affordable and widely available. It very much depends on the breakdown of material the steel is made from, as it is never 100% stainless steel. The best grade of these pots can be noted by ratio. It should contain 18% chromium and 10% nickel (18/10). The chromium component guards against rust and the nickel, against acid.

Aluminum Cookware

This is a great conductor, lighter than the other alternatives and they do not rust. They are generally a cheaper alternative, however probably not the best option as when the vessel is heated, it heats the whole pan, not just the base, therefore food sometimes sticks to the sides of the pot. If moist food is left in the bottom of the pan it can also tend to create pit marks in the base.

Cast iron Cookware

The heat transfer with cast iron is very good, especially at low temperatures, although the time they take to heat up and cool down is longer than the comparing pots. Cast iron is a heavier material and can sometimes be prone to rusting. An enamel coating will minimise this. Special care should be taken with these pots as if they are roughly treated they can succumb to chipping.

Stan Cash - Pots and pan buying guides

Helpful hints when purchasing cookware

Before getting your heart set on certain sized pots and pans, make sure they fit the size of your cooktops elements.
A heavier base is usually more conducive to even heat distribution and maintaining of temperature. Any good vessel will have some level of copper or aluminum in them.
Do not underestimate the handiness of a shaped lip or spout.
A good quality handle is crucial to the life of your pot. Make sure it is well secured and stays cool whilst the pan is on.
Consider who the vessel is for. Its weight is sometimes of major concern. You do not want you elderly parent dropping boiling water on themselves due the weight of the pan.
Induction cooktops require a base that emits a magnetic force and must fit perfectly onto the element.
 Clear lids are a definite preference. You can see the food and manage the steam release easily.

Pan maintenance

 Prior to any cooking, give the pan a good wash in warm soapy water. You do not want any residual dirt or dust burnt into your pan with the first cooking attempt.

Condition nonstick fry pans

Begin by washing new fry pans in warm soapy water. Then wipe over with oil.
Avoid using cooking spray on.nonstick fry pans Sometimes when there is a bit of heat left in a fry pan with cooking spray, it can stick to the surface and create a residue, in turn affecting its nonstick claim.
Never heat oil to its highest temperature. This may release toxins that are harmful to you and it could cause your frypan to bubble and blister which will make it unusable.
Fry pan should never be put on high heat with nothing in them. The only time you can have full heat underneath is if you are boiling liquid in the vessel.
Avoid using metal utensils on a nonstick surface, try to use only plastic or wood.
If you are adding salt, make sure the water is boiling first. If you add it whilst the water is cold you risk pitting.
Prior to cleaning, allow your cookware to cool. You may find it warps or goes out of shape if placed straight into water after cooking.
Wash all pots, pans and fry pans by hand in warm soapy water with a soft sponge. This will avoid pitting, scratching and damaging a nonstick surface.