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Basic Cookware

Cookware may seem like a kitchen no-brainer, but it's also one of the more expensive and overwhelming kitchen items for a new cook. Look for sets that provide a few standard-sized skillets and saucepans as well as a stockpot. This Cuisinart 11-piece set ($160, originally $200) even includes a three-quart sauté pan. While nonstick may seem like a good choice for beginners, we like stainless because it's durable, easy to clean, and oven-safe.

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