I realize you’re novice cooks, so I’m trying to tailor my recipes to fit into the same-sized cookware. I’m suggesting you purchase two non-stick skillets (they’re also known as frying pans), because they’re user-friendly compared to traditional non-stick skillets. If you’re buying only one, buy the larger 12 inch one.

Since you’re not going to be frying everything you eat, you need  pots with lids. There are many names for these, including Dutch ovens, stock pots, sauce pots . . .  I’m recommending  you buy two different sizes to get you started. The larger one is for cooking pasta, soups, corn-on-the-cob, etc., and the smaller one is for cooking rice, couscous, reheating soup, etc. Make sure you buy a heavy-gauged pot to ensure even cooking, preferably stainless steel. Aluminum pots will discolor from certain foods, such as tomatoes.

So here’s the list:

  • 10 inch pot  with lid — 5 quarts — this is your large pot
  • 7 inch  pot with lid — 2 quarts — this is your small pot
  • 8 1/2-inch to 9 inch strainer with arms (it sits on top of the pot to prevent the contents from falling into the pot)
  • 10 inch non-stick skillet — with shallow sides — optional
  • 10.5 to 12 inch non-stick griddle pan (inexpensive and good for eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches)
  • 12 inch non-stick skillet — with shallow sides — this will be your workhorse skillet
  • 12 inch all-purpose pan with lid– with deep sides — called “sauteuse” — your other workhorse pan
  • 10 or 12 inch cast iron skillet — optional