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The Only 5 Pots and Pans You Really Need

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Leave room for the classics. No need to clutter your kitchen with unneccesary pots and pans.

1. Dutch Oven
For braises, soups, or boiling veggies and pasta. You can easily spend a bundle on fancy models, but Lodge's 6-quart color enamel Dutch oven does the job just fine. (Target, $90)

2. Saucepan
Go small or medium with this one, depending on your needs. This is for when a Dutch oven is too big for the job. Cuisinart's 3-quart saucepan is heavy-bottomed enough to heat evenly and prevent scorching during long simmers. (Macy's, $50)

3. Cast-Iron Skillet
An amazingly versatile, ovenproof pan that cooks everything from pancakes to hard-seared steaks. When fully seasoned, it's virtually nonstick. Go for a 12-inch pan; Lodge is the gold standard. (Lodge, $37)

4. Half-Sheet Baking Pan
Use it to bake cookies or as a roasting pan for veggies or big hunks of meat. NordicWare's natural aluminum commercial baker's half sheet is sturdy and distributes heat evently. (Crate and Barrel, $15)

5. Nonstick Skillet
Essential for eggs and fish. T-Fal's 12-inch fry pan keeps its coating intact for longer than many nonstick skillets. (Bed Bath and Beyond, $30)