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Matching Cookware Materials to the Cook

Cookware Materials like Cast Iron in the Lodge Color Dutch OvenA great tip before buying any cookware is to match the cookware materials to the type of cook the person is. Your Cookware Helper makes it easy by identifying four (4) types of cooks, and the cookware most suitable for them. While one type may fit perfectly, it is very likely a persons lifestyle, style of cooking, and time allotted for cooking can span more than one type. Think about the person you are buying cookware for, and I’m sure you can identify the characteristics described.

Matching Cookware Materials to the 4 Types of Cooks 

#1: Matching Cookware Materials for “The Reluctant Cook”

 This person cooks out of necessity, does not necessarily enjoy cooking, and wants to get it over with as quickly as possible. This person wants to throw some food on/in the stove, cook it up, throw the dishes in the dishwasher, and get on to more important things. Time is a key factor here. Having to hand wash a skillet would be out of the question.

Suitable cookware materials for “The Reluctant Cook” include:

  • Dishwasher safe Nonstick
  • Stainless Steel
  • Some of the newer dishwasher safe Anodized Aluminum
  • Glass / Ceramic / Stoneware

#2 Matching Cookware Materials for “The Busy Cook”

 This person will likely have the most pieces of cookware in their kitchen. They are transitional. During the week they need to cook rather fast to get the food prepared, on the table, eaten, kids to bed, walk the dog, pay the bills, get a few hours of sleep, and start it all over again tomorrow. But on weekends, they may enjoy a break from the fast pace and spend a little more time preparing something fancier. As they may not spend the money on themselves for a fine piece of cookware, they are very appreciative of the gift for these weekend adventures.

Suitable cookware materials for “The Busy Cook” include:

  • Everything!
  • Dishwasher safe Nonstick for the busy weekdays
  • Stainless Steel because it is dishwasher safe
  • Copper and/or Aluminum Clad Stainless Steel for the finer cooking
  • Cast Iron – plain or enameled
  • Anodized Aluminum because it is durable
  • Glass / Ceramic / Stoneware because it is easy to see and judge when the food is cooked

#3 Matching Cookware Materials for “The Chef”

This person is sensory. This person gets a lot of satisfaction seeing, smelling, and tasting the treats being prepared. They need a light color on the inside of the cookware so the contents can be clearly seen as they saute, brown, and caramelize. While clean up may not be a joy, they do not mind the delicate hand washing. They almost see it as a challenge to cook the food at the right temperature and duration so it doesn’t stick. Having the cookware do what it is supposed to do is paramount. Quality is vital.

Suitable cookware materials for  “The Chef” include:

  • Copper
  • Copper and/or Aluminum Fully Clad Stainless Steel
  • A quality Nonstick skillet for delicate foods like fish and eggs
  • Cast Iron
  • Glass / Ceramic / Stoneware

#4 Matching Cookware Materials for “The Healthy Cook”

 This person, whether by necessity or choice, is vitally aware of the health aspects of food. This person uses intuition and research on choosing cookware materials and may not always trust what the manufacturer, industry, or government says is safe. This person is likely to buy organic foods and eat healthy. They may or may not enjoy the process of cooking. To this person, cooking is a means to an end. It is important to this person that their cookware not leave trace amounts of coatings, surfaces, or dangerous metals in their food. Traditional “Teflon” nonstick is definitely off the list.

Suitable cookware materials for “The Healthy Cook” include:

  • Plain Cast Iron – as long as they do not have too much iron in their bloodstream already
  • Enameled Cast Iron – as long as it is quality and the enamel does not chip
  • Glass / Ceramic / Stoneware
  • Stainless Steel that does not have nonstick interiors
  • Eco-friendly nonstick

Check out our section on Cookware Materials, where we have all the info needed to select the best cookware material for you.



9 Tips Before You Buy Cookware

Scanpan CTX SkilletBefore you buy cookware, there are several things you need to know to save time, money, and a bad cooking experience. There are some tricks to selecting the proper cookware. Here are 9 tips on how to buy cookware that is right for you. These will help you save money and get the best cookware, for you, at the best price.

Buy Cookware Right for You

1) Understand the “Type of Cook” you are buying for

Whether buying for yourself or someone else, choosing the most suitable cookware materials is directly related to how much it will get used. If someone wants dishwasher safe cookware, and you get them something that requires hand washing, well, you get the point. Your Cookware Helper has a unique and exclusive article called “Matching Cookware Materials To The Cook.”

2) Follow the simple 3-step process

Before you buy cookware, first pick your cookware material(s). Second, pick your brand(s). Third, get the best price. Very important – I recommend you not concern yourself with price first. Virtually all materials can be found in the full price spectrum. If budget is your primary concern, the Cookware Brands page has a chart of relative prices by cookware brands. Read the complete article about the 3-step process.

3) Quality lasts longer

Like fine cutlery, it is recommended to buy the best individual pieces you can afford. A long lasting and customized cookware set may include different materials and brands. Match your cookware pieces to what you cook and how you cook.

4) Read the care and use instructions

Most quality products will only support their warranty if proper use and care are evident. Most recommend hand washing in warm sudsy water with a nylon type scrub pad. Automatic dishwashers are very tough on cookware with the high drying heat and harsh cleaning chemicals. Today, there are some top quality brands offering dishwasher safe products, but time will prove how good they are.

5) Low to medium heat

Quality cookware, especially those clad with aluminum or copper, can perfectly and safely cook your food using low or medium heat. The use of medium high and high heat can cause damage with warping, discoloration, and fumes that can kill birds. Yes, that really is a warning for non stick products!

6) Watch your acidic foods and salts

Acidic foods can react with certain materials. It is best to remove foods soon after they are cooked. When adding salt to a dish, make sure to add it to a liquid first, and not directly on heated cookware. The salt can pit the cookware, damaging the surface and make foods stick to the pan.

7) Be “clad” you have layers

 To improve the heat distribution of certain cookware materials, manufacturers will clad or layer high heat distribution materials like aluminum or copper between or underneath the lesser heat quality materials. This is often done with stainless steel, where 3, 5, 7, or even 9 ply layers are used to improve the quality of the product. Of course, the more layers, the higher cost. Another factor with multi-clad products is where there are layered. Bottom layered products offers help where it needs it most. Fully clad products are layered on the walls also providing a far superior heat distribution throughout the cookware.

8) Handles and lids

Do not underestimate the worth of handles and lids. If the cookware item can be placed in the oven, what is the max temperature the handle can withstand? If you are looking at a large skillet, what is the size of the handle? As a tennis player, I know the value of having an appropriate sized grip. Handles that are too small can cause muscle strain. And if the skillet is extra heavy with food, will it wobble as you carry it across the kitchen? Helper handles to grip both sides of a pan come in very handy.

Lids need to seal properly. If the cookware is advertised as “waterless”, the seal has to be extra tight. If the lid is glass, is it tempered to reduce the risk of breakage, or protected with stainless steel?

9) Real-life user reviews and opinions

A lot can be learned from the experiences of others. Cookware reviews are an essential way to determine if a product is good at the start and over the long-term. Through-out this site, you will see we include a fair sampling of reviews for the given cookware

Before you buy cookware, be sure to consider all these factors. How you will use the cookware and what to look out for will help you buy the right cookware for your particular needs.

Happy Cooking!


Three Steps to Buy Cookware Right for You

How to Buy CookwareBefore you buy cookware in a store or online, be sure it is the right cookware for you. Three factors determine that. Understand that there is no single best cookware for everyone. The best cookware, FOR YOU, is the one that matches your health concerns, cooking style, budget, and decor. Here is a simple 3 step process that will help you buy cookware, FOR YOU, at the best price.

How to Buy Cookware

1) Determine Your Cooking Type

What type of cook are you? Do you enjoy the cooking process? Do you need cookware that is dishwasher safe? Nonstick? Healthy? Clad with copper and/or aluminum just on the bottom or up the side walls also? The answers to those questions will greatly narrow down your cookware choices. See my exclusive article on Matching Cookware Materials to the Cook.

2) Select Cookware Materials

The second step is to choose the proper material for the job. Cookware materials include stainless steel, anodized aluminum, cast iron, copper, nonstick, and glass / ceramic / stoneware. The cookware material will dictate how easy it will be to clean. For example, stainless steel can usually be put into the dishwasher, whereas anodized aluminum usually cannot. The health aspects of the cookware material may also be of interest. New or used, cookware can leave trace amounts of metals, chemicals, and coatings in your food. See Cookware Materials.

3) Select Cookware Brands/Product Lines

The third step is to choose the cookware brand(s). Once you have determined which materials you want for which jobs, then it becomes easier to determine which brands to choose. Here you will see brands by cookware material, and a relative price comparison of cookware brands. While some manufacturers offer complete lines spanning many different materials, most specialize with a limited range of cookware materials. See Cookware Brands.