Over the years I have come to realize that I really only need a few pans to cook 95% of the food I prepare. More than a few makes it easier for multiple dishes but 3 basic pieces of cookware will do almost everything.
I used to be a cast iron fan and I still have one but for superior heat control, fast preheat and nonstick properties, a carbon steel pan is vastly superior. I prefer the Matfor Bourgeat 11 7/8” size but there are many options available.
These pans are amazing. With a simple seasoning process the pan will be on its way to a non-stick finish. Cleaning is easy, rinse it out or get it hot and spray water on it to “steam off” anything stubborn. You can sauté with it, put it in the oven, use it for extreme heat to sear.
The 8’ non-stick omelette pan is essential. Use a non-stick pan for egg, why be a hero? I have tried a bunch of these pans and prefer the Tramontina brand for performance and value.
Non-stick pans wear out, replace them annually. At $23 a pan it is hardly worth trying to stretch out a pan that is no longer as non-stick as you need.
Last on my range is the venerable Dutch oven. This piece of cookware has been a staple for over 200 years because they just work. I leave my Dutch oven on my range top 24/7 and use it for everything from slow cooks in the oven to boiling water for pasta.
Dutch ovens come in many sizes from many brands. La Creuset is perhaps the most well known but competing brands are equally well made and Amazon Basics now offers they own line of Dutch ovens. Available in a bewildering array of sizes, I prefer the 13” size for versatility and ease of handling. A Dutch oven is a bigger investment but it is one that will last more than a lifetime and survive any kitchen disaster.
With these 3 pieces of cookware I can prepare almost any dish.