It should come as no surprise that today’s cookware market is as diverse as today’s grocery market — there are just so many choices. So, how do you know which set of cookware is best for your home and your health? If only there was a cookware buying guide to help you see how to narrow down the players so you get your best kitchen team.
Things like purchasing cookware used to be so simple. There was no need for a cookware buying guide. But today’s pots and pans come with questions:
Are they dishwasher safe? Do they have a non-stick coating? Will copper pans be easy to maintain? Will they scratch when used with metal utensils? Will the food I make in these pots and pans taste good?
There are so many different kinds of pots and pans out there with differing brands, sizes, and materials — just entering a kitchen supply store can be daunting. Check out this cookware buying guide to get a great set of cookware. Also, learn about which pot and pan materials are less than ideal for healthy cooking.
Cookware Buying Guide: How To Narrow Down Your Choices
Let’s talk about cooking with nonstick cookware. Cookware manufacturers have created non-stick coating and nonstick cookware to improve the ease with which you make dishes like eggs, soups, and sauces. Nobody wants messy pots or pans hanging out in their sink for days at a time, soaking to get the remnants of last Tuesday’s meal to come off.
So it seems like non-stick cookware should be a good thing, right?
However, most nonstick pans are made slick due to the use of chemical coatings like polytetrafluoroethylene (or PTFE). PTFE is also known as Teflon. Sure, PTFE is strong and waxy, and its non-grip surface is made by polymerizing tetrafluoroethylene.1 PTFE has a pretty high melting point and can actually resist a lot of damage done by various chemicals.2 However, if this sounds too good to be true… it’s because it is.
Turns out, PTFE is an endocrine disruptor. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can be natural or made by man. They’re known to interfere with your hormones and they’re associated with the following drawbacks —
- Prostate health issues
- Weight concerns
- Issues with insulin regulation
- Reproductive health concerns3
Replace those old, unhealthy pots and pans with a select group of well-chosen utensils that will allow you to do your cooking with whatever you want, whenever you want. It’s easy to determine your cookware needs…
Cookware Buying Guide: Start By Asking Yourself A Few Simple Questions
- How much should a new set of cookware cost?
- Are you willing to build your healthy cookware collection one piece at a time?
- Will you take care of your cookware for the long haul?
Only you can determine your budget when it comes to cookware. But there’s no need to go out and break the bank on a brand new set of pots and pans. It all depends on how often you cook and the meals you cook most. Once you know those things, you can assess exactly what you need. Then you can prioritize which pieces you buy first and what you can wait for.
Ditch the idea that you should purchase a pre-assembled cooking set. Ask yourself how many people you usually cook for. You may not need a massive set of pots and pans. And in some cases, using your pan more increases its functionality and even the flavor of your dishes.
Again, your best bet is to purchase higher quality cookware — one piece at a time. Great cookware should last for decades. Cheap cookware will likely need to be replaced in just a few years.
Think of your cookware as life-long investments. There are beautiful pieces of enameled cast iron, stoneware, and stainless steel cookware that will last quite a while — and these pots and pans won’t go out of style. It is true. Most of these pots and pans have been the same for a century or longer. So, cobble together your kitchen cooking collection, one item at a time, with an eye on longevity.
Opt For Non-Toxic And Durable Materials Instead: Stainless Steel, Cast-Iron Cookware, And Glass
Stainless Steel Cookware
Stainless Steel has a great reputation. It’s pretty to look at, dishwasher safe, and strong. And if you’re cooking with acidic food, a stainless steel frying pan is actually non-reactive. But as great as stainless steel is on those fronts, it’s not the best heat conductor. So, manufacturers often add a conducting metal like aluminum or nickel.
The heat conductors are usually placed in between layers of stainless steel. On pieces such as these, you’ll notice fractions etched into the pots and pans themselves or on the labels. This gives you the ratio of heat-conducting chromium and nickel.
In order to be true stainless steel, the pot has to consist of at least 10.5% chromium. So, when you read 18/10, you’ve got 18% chromium. The 10 (here) refers to the nickel content. The chromium’s important though — chromium makes your steel pan “stainless”.
Cast iron pots and pans are staples in the kitchen. They’re generally affordable, nearly impossible to destroy, and essentially non-stick while being totally natural. And cast iron will give your BBQ or grill a run for its money when it comes to grilling wild-caught fish or grass-fed steak. The trick to perfection with a cast iron pan is applying a layer of extra virgin olive oil and getting it nice and hot before you add your food.
As far as cleaning a cast-iron skillet or dutch oven goes, simply use a rag and hot water. There’s no need to dishwash your cast iron or use abrasive cleaning agents. You want your cast iron to absorb a little bit of what you cook each time you use it.
Glass Cookware And Ceramic Cookware Sets
Another safe alternative to non-stick coating or nonstick cookware is glass cookware. Not only is glass cookware safe on the stove, but it’s great if you’re microwaving food or leftovers.
The trouble with glass cookware is that it can fracture quite easily and it doesn’t adjust well to rapid changes in temperature.
As far as ceramic cookware goes, the ceramic material is a bit newer to the field of nonstick cookware. However, ceramic cookware is thought to be one of the safer choices. And a major bonus is that ceramic cookware sets are among the most environmentally friendly cookware sets.
Plus, ceramic cookware is totally free of PTFE. Plus, ceramic cookware sets are affordable and come in an array of colors and styles.
Toxic Cookware To Avoid: Copper Pans And Non-Stick Coating
Copper pots and pans are beautiful decorative accents for any kitchen, but copper is quite expensive and it is really tough to keep the finish clean. Furthermore, copper cookware was said to lead to liver health issues in a recent study.4
Again, while copper is pretty trendy because of its visual appeal, it’s best to avoid cooking with copper. Instead of using copper, focus on cooking with stainless steel (aka carbon steel), cast iron, or glass.
And because it bears repeating, remember not to use non-stick coated cookware under any circumstances. Instead, focus on the following options:
- Stainless steel
- Cast iron
- Ceramic cookware set
The materials in these pots and pans can withstand very high heat. Furthermore, stainless steel pots work great with glass lids for stovetop steaming.
Don’t Stick With Your Non-Stick Coated Cookware: Ditch Those Pots And Pans
While it’s true there is a lot of variety when it comes to selecting your kitchen wares, remember to build your collection one piece at a time. Stay away from copper (unless you promise to simply use it as decor).
There are a plethora of options when shopping for pots and pans — be prepared. Know the size, material of cookware, and whether or not you want it to be dishwasher safe before you step inside the store.
Revisit this cookware buying guide whenever you need a refresher. And enjoy putting together your kitchen with safe and easy staples to help you cook healthily for yourself, your friends, and your family.