When it comes to cookware, I am the patron saint of You Get What You Pay For as well as being the President of the Quality Is Remembered Long After Price Is Forgotten Fan Club.
Without hesitation, I vote yes for investing in your cookware. Except for non-stick pans.
When it comes to non-stick pans, my allegiances swing strongly in the opposite direction. I only buy cheap non-stick pans.
Non-stick pans, regardless of the brand, are going to deteriorate over time. It’s a fact. Non-stick pans work because they have been coated with a substance that is slick and prevents food from sticking. Over time, this coating begins to come off little by little.
The rate at which the coating deteriorates and come off of the pan depends on three factors: the quality of the pan (higher quality pans will deteriorate more slowly than lower quality), the frequency with which you use your non-stick pan (daily use will deteriorate more quickly than monthly use), and the care with which you wash the pan (never in the dishwasher and only using a soft, non-abrasive sponge).
The bottom line? No matter what you do, your non-stick pan is going to deteriorate, and eventually it will need to be replaced. My advice? Don’t spend a lot of money on non-stick pans.
In our household, we use our non-stick pans multiple times a week, primarily for scrambling eggs. We also have four children who, although precious and fully loved, can tend to be (how should I put this) a bit rough on the cookware. There is no gentle cleansing. There is brutal scrubbing, coupled with the occasional trip in the dishwasher, which only serves to accelerate the rate at which our non-stick pans break down.
Therefore, I only buy cheap non-stick pans. And by “cheap” I mean something I pick up at Target or Home Goods, or sometimes even the grocery store. Twenty bucks. Super low quality, but good enough for scrambling eggs several times a week.
We use them. We wear them out. I don’t worry about the care with which they are cleaned. And then when they start to break down, we replace them. For us, we are on a one-year replacement pace. Which, honestly, really strikes me as a bargain.
I know people who have high quality non-stick pans, and I applaud them. They will last longer than mine without doubt. If this is the road you choose, I applaud you too! But if, by chance, you are hesitant to spend top dollar for something that will break down eventually, know that there is a sense of freedom that comes with spending twenty dollars on a piece of cookware destined to die a slow death.