If you read my last article, hopefully, you are raring to go and buy some sustainable cookware. Great! One problem though – good sustainable cookware isn’t cheap. For example, most ceramic pots and pans actually have a coating. Xtrema is a rare cookware manufacturer that doesn’t coat its ceramic pans. Perfect! Except for this quality, sustainability and non-toxicity cost money. Of course buying durable, long-lasting cookware will save you money in the long run. Sometimes buying cheap is a false saving that doesn’t really help in the short term.
How can you help the planet and save money?
1. Consider Second hand
For some cookware, especially cast iron, there’s no harm in getting something second hand. You can buy it, or even better, maybe talk a family member into passing you one of their pieces of cast iron!
2. One Pan at a Time
I wouldn’t suggest going out and buying a new cookware set straight away. If you are used to cooking with Teflon, it’s better to replace pans as you go. Cast iron, for example, is more work. It’s heavier, and you need to change your cooking style slightly. What if you hate it? Try one, second hand, pan before you buy more. Who knows – maybe you’ll love it and get a set.
3. Take a Look at, or Through Glass Cookware
I recently researched and wrote about glass cookware, which I find interesting. Do you know there is such a thing as a glass frying pan? I have been thinking about getting one (and keeping it away from my children!) I will wait until my nonstick pan starts to wear though. I don’t need it straight away, so why not use what I’ve got? It’s the opposite of sustainable to throw away perfectly usable pans.
4. Less Cookware
I write about cookware so maybe that’s why I have a bit too much in my kitchen! My kitchen isn’t huge but it isn’t the smallest either. I always feel like there isn’t enough room though. Sometimes less is more. If you can’t afford a full sustainable cookware set, perhaps you don’t need all the pieces? As an example, I don’t use a proper griddle to cook pancakes – I use a normal pan.
5. Go For Flexible Pans
A way of using less energy is by having fewer pans. It also has the advantage of clearing some space in your kitchen. I can use the same pan for different things then that helps declutter my kitchen. Versatility can come in different ways and depends on each person, but for example:
- Oven safe can be convenient
- Having a lid makes it easier to turn a frying pan into a saute or even saucepan
- Being easy to clean means they are ready to use for the next meal
- Fitting on one burner on the stove but having a decent capacity. For a frying pan, 10 inches seems to work well
- Whatever you do make sure it’s what you need, and it works for you.
6. Mix It Up!
Flexibility goes more than one way. By mixing and matching you increase what you can do. For example, when heating liquids, stainless steel is fantastic. This is great for cooking things like pasta, soup, and sauces, or for steaming. So a stainless steel stockpot can be a great idea. But then a large cast-iron skillet could help with popping corn, frying, and searing.
7. Consider Cores
Copper or Aluminum cores are a great way of using these conductive metals. Copper bottoms often wear off. A core is inside the pan so avoids this problem. It will save you money in the long run through more efficient heating – plus not more hot spots!
8. Consider All Your Options
If you need to fry some eggs, perhaps even consider a small nonstick pan. Yes, it’s better to use the cast iron skillet, if you can, but it is harder! Actually even better could be a stainless steel frying pan with a copper core as it wouldn’t need much heat. Except the eggs will probably stick. If you can deal with that – perfect!
9. Beware Coatings
Coatings are the “Gotcha!” of cookware. Do you think you are buying a healthy stone pan? Great – but what’’s it coated in? Apart from chemicals, the coating will eventually wear away and you’ll need to replace the pan.
10. Be Realistic
The worst thing you can do is go and buy a sustainable cast iron cookware set and never use it. Are you prepared to do the extra work? Do you even have the time? You can buy really low maintenance, sustainable cookware for a high price. You can also get some nice, affordable, sustainable cookware that does need a little work. Getting affordable, long-lasting, sustainable cookware that doesn’t need any maintenance – well that might be harder!
What Cookware Should I Get Then!? What should you aim for in the long term? Here are my thoughts:
- Up to 1 Nonstick frying / sauté pan with an aluminum body to heat food quickly. Or (better yet) a stainless steel pan with a copper or aluminum base or core.
- A stainless steel stockpot, ideally with copper or aluminum base of the core.
- A cast-iron Skillet
- Steamer / colander – stainless steel
- Ceramic or glass bakeware
Of course, it depends on what you cook. Want a nice crunchy stir fry? Then a carbon steel wok is perfect. And, clearly, the larger the family the more cookware you need!
Thanks, Beatriz for 2 great articles and information about the differences in cookware and what’s sustainable and what’s not. I appreciate your contribution to holistic and sustainable living from all aspects. Now we know something about sustainable cookware. Got any tips, comments? Beatriz and I would love to hear from you. Enjoy. Judith