All-Clad 9-piece set

Photo: All-Clad

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Pots and Pans

Along with knives, high-quality cookware is an investment. (Most cheap pots just don't last, and they also tend to burn food because they're thin.) All-Clad, in particular, is worth the money, says Rizzo. Its pots are made of a thick aluminum core "clad" in stainless steel, which makes the pots nonreactive, meaning food keeps its own taste (extremely acidic or alkaline foods can take on a metallic taste if you use lower-quality pots). The aluminum core also provides even heating and control in cooking. The pans do a wonderful job of searing proteins and, if they're not nonstick, are dishwasher safe.