Leave room for the classics. No need to clutter your kitchen with unneccesary pots and pans.
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Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

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. (Amazon, $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)