Best Stainless Steel Cookware Set Showdown: Best Cookware Sets

Best Stainless Steel Cookware


Given the popularity of our Stainless Steel Water Bottle: Smackdown and our recent commitment to covering green home issues, I wanted to write about a surprising and scary issue in the home: nonstick pans – so this post is about the best stainless steel cookware.

I used to be an avid lover of nonstick pans.

I adore eggs and nonstick coated cookware made my kitchen pans incredibly easy to clean.

But, nonstick coatings are unbelievably bad for you and the environment.

How bad?

So bad that the fumes can kill birds.

Check out this article and the references in it if you want to learn the specifics.

For instance, according to the article, “although an accurate national accounting of deaths is not available, in a single year [a]Chicago veterinarian documented 296 bird deaths in 105 cases involving non-stick cookware.

The problem with nonstick pans is something called polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE.

The most well known brand is Teflon®.

The Best Stainless Steel Cookware Sets

Now, I’m not one to be an alarmist, but I take my personal health very seriously.

At first, when Kimberly tried to convince me to throw out our nonstick Teflon pans I insisted that they were fine.

But I did a lot of research and eventually realized that nonstick is terrible.

The fact that the fumes can kill birds makes me think that nonstick may be even worse for you than BPA (the bad stuff in plastics and the reason to use stainless steel water bottles).

So, when we decided to purchase a new cookware set we researched different types of cookware.

Most professional chefs use copper or stainless steel cookware sets.

If they use these materials, why not us too?

But, our first stainless steel cookware set quickly broke.

The handles came loose and food didn’t cook easily.

The worst part about them was that the pans heated unevenly and were difficult to clean.

Luckily, for a wedding present we received an extremely nice stainless steel cookware set – All-Clad.

They pans have held up exceptionally well.

But more on that later.

Stainless Steel Cookware Set Comparison

To conduct our Stainless Steel Cookware comparison we have several different contenders.

We’ll discuss each one and the importance of their features

Contenders: Basic Stainless Steel Cookware Set, Cuisinart Stainless Steel Cookware Set, KitchenAid Stainless Steel Cookware Set, Celphalon stainless steel cookware set, All-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware Set.
Best Stainless Steel Cookware Set

Stainless Steel Cookware Set Features

You are probably asking yourself – isn’t all cookware created the same?

What’s the difference between these different brands of pans?

Critical differences in the pans’ features: Overall Construction

How sturdy are the pans?

Do they hold up well?

You want to buy pans that last.

Number of Layers

How many layers are there?

And what type of metal are they?

Generally you want 3 layers as this creates a more even distribution of heat which means the food cooks evenly.

Type of Lid

What type of lid is it – glass or stainless steel?

I prefer stainless steel as it’s unlikely to break if I accidentally drop it.

Other people prefer glass.

Made in USA

Is the pan made in the US or in China (or elsewhere)?

Many people have concerns about metal contaminants of non- American made products.


If you have an induction stove (you’ll know if you do) you need a pan that will allow for induction.

The reality is that the more you pay the better pan you will get.

How the Stainless Steel Cookware Stacks Up

The Intro Set (aka the Cheap Stuff)

The Excelsteel 7 piece Stainless Steel Cookware set with glass lids is a good intro kit.

It’s would be great for a college student or someone just starting out.

It doesn’t have some of the features that the more expensive pans have, but if you’re looking for a good cheap stainless steel cookware set – this is it.

The Middle of the Road

A middle of the road stainless steel cookware set that is good, but not excellent is the Kitchenaid 10-piece set.

However, these are not entirely stainless as they have silicone grips.

The 10 piece Cuisinart Classic Stainless Steel Cookware set.

It has 350 plus reviews and given that you get more pots and pans than Kitchenaid for the price, this is probably the best of the middle of the line.

It comes with stainless steel pan covers plus: 8- and 10-inch skillets; 1-1/2- and 3-quart covered saucepans, 3-1/2-quart sauté pan; and 8-quart covered stockpot.

Top of the Line

The following sets are the really high end stainless steel pans.

All of the following sets are tri-layered which means they will be sturdier and last longer.

I am providing more information about them because while they are more expensive, they will last longer.

Because they’ll last longer they are more sustainable and better for the environment.


We were lucky enough to get our All-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware for a wedding present.

We’ve had the set for two years and it works amazingly well.

We have had no problems with the pans.

Save some discoloration that is common to all stainless steel.

While the most expensive of stainless steel cookware, All-Clad really does last a lifetime and in doing so reduces waste.

My aunt and uncle have had their same All-Clad set since they got married 30 years ago.

We also got an additional 8″ fry pan (great for eggs) and 12″ fry pan (perfect for larger meals).

All-Clad is made in the USA — mostly.

It seems that their lids as well as some appliances are made in China (and subject to thorough inspections and testing).

Their pots and pans are made from US supplied metal manufactures and bonded together at the Pennsylvania manufacturing facility.

Cuisinart MultiClad Pro

The Cuisinart MultiClad Pro 7 piece set.

But given that there is only 1 fry pan in the set you’ll likely want to buy a separate skillet.

Overall the Cuisinart gets better reviews than the Calphalon; but people who also owned All-Clad were mixed on whether or not they would buy the Cuisinart again.

Many said they noticed no difference.

A few people mentioned the pans felt lighter.

And they are made in China.

So if the price is more important to you and you are ok with a Chinese manufactured pan you will want to buy the Cuisinart MultiClad Pro.


Reviewers of the Calphalon seem to love it.

There are some complaints about customer service, the handles getting hot, and the fact that this cookware is made in China.

But overall people really like it.

A difference between this and All-Clad (other than the cost).

Is that All-Clad tops are Stainless steel and Calphalon are glass.

How to Clean Stainless Steel Cookware

Cleaning stainless steel pots and pans is a little more difficult than cleaning nonstick pans.

But, in two years since we’ve owned our All-Clad we haven’t had too many problems.

We recently learned about a product called “Bar Keeper’s Friend” (found at any retailer like Target or your local market.)

While not a green product, it is free of phosphates and does wonders for cleaning stubborn stainless steel stains.

We use it maybe once a month on our most frequently used pans to keep them sparkling.

Well, stainless steel does get discolored and stained.

But it doesn’t affect the use of the pans at all.

How to Make Stainless Steel Cookware Not Stick

I’ll be honest — ensuring that food doesn’t stick to stainless steel plans is an art.

It takes patience.

But, here’s the trick — make sure that the pan is hot x 2.

First, get the pan hot.

Second, get the oil/butter hot.

This doesn’t mean to turn the heat on high (for boiling water — sure, but not for sauces, eggs, etc).

Turn the heat on medium to medium low and let the pan get hot throughout.

Then add a little oil. Let the oil heat until it’s almost smoking.

If you tilt the pan the oil will spread and run like water.

Only once the pan is hot should you add the food you are cooking to it.

What about “Green” nonstick cookware?

You can buy nonstick cookware that is supposedly fine for you and doesn’t contain the same chemicals as the bird-killing nonstick pans do.

But honestly, I don’t fully trust these products.

I will stick to stainless steel because I know it’s safe.

Best Stainless Steel Cookware Sets

I would buy the All-Clad cookware again in a heartbeat.

For made in America cookware that has a long track record and proven reputation you just can’t beat it.

However, given the high price of it, my second choice would be Cusinart multiclad.

What features do you look for in cookware?

Do you currently use nonstick pans?

Women’s Shoes: KEEN Mary Jane Review

Keen Verona Mary Janes


In my quest to find the best travel shoes, KEEN was kind enough to send me a pair of Verona Mary Jane women’s shoes to review.

They’re cute, comfortable, and make excellent travel shoes.

Learn more by reading our KEEN Mary Jane Review.

KEEN Mary Jane Review – the pros

Here’s what I like about these women’s KEENs.

Keen Comfort and Arch Support

The Verona’s are extremely comfortable.

They flex well and the arch support is better than average for a pair of Mary Janes, but not outstanding.


The top strap will keep your foot from slipping.

My feet tend to slip out of a lot of shoes.

An awesome feature is that the strap is padded!

That’s right, there is padding on the strap to keep you from getting blisters.

Toe Protector

The scuff protector on the front of the toe means that you can take on all your regular travel activities.

From hiking to running after a bus to climbing super steep stairs.

Without having to worry about ruining the front of your shoes.
Women's Shoes: KEEN Mary Jane Review

The Keen Company

KEEN as a company is very green.

They have a number of shoes that are made from recycled materials.

Though the Verona Mary Jane’s are not.

Room for Improvement – the cons

There are only two things that keep me from naming these the best travel shoe of all time.

I have yet to find those shoes.

For rain, snow or slush, I never like wearing leather shoes as I worry about ruining them.

For my feet I could have used a little more arch support.

Though, as I said before these shoes had better arch support than many other Mary Janes I’ve tried.

More about Keen Women’s Shoes and the Verona Mary Jane

I normally wear an 8.5 or 9 in nice shoes and a 9.5 in running shoes.

I received a pair of 9’s and they fit perfectly with winter socks on, but I might have gone for the 8.5 if I was looking for a summer shoe.

(Remember on there is free shipping, so, if you must you can always order 2 pairs and send 1 back.)

The Verona Mary Jane features:

  • Adjustable strap over instep
  • Full-grain leather upper
  • KEEN toe protection
  • Leather lining
  • Metatomical footbed

Keen classifies some of their shoe features as “Hybrid.Ologies” which means that the these features “eliminate anything that comes between you and your hybrid life.”

There is an internal support mechanism that is engineered to provide anatomically correct arch support.

There is also KEEN’s toe protection system in which the shoes’ outsoles wrap up and over the toes for ultimate protection.

Sydney versus the Verona

The Sydney is another extremely popular Keen Women’s shoe.

It’s nearly identical to Verona except the Sydney has microfiber lining.

The Sydney has moisture-wicking textile linings while the Verona mary jane has a Metatomical footbed Finally, the Verona Mary Jane looks a little nicer in terms of leather quality and colors.

Honestly, I’ve been looking for a pair of shoes like this for a long time.

They are shoes I will definitely pack whenever I travel.

They are nice enough looking to wear into even a fancy restaurant (given a nice pair of pants or cute dress).

But they are comfortable and casual enough for spending an entire day on my feet walking through the street of Florence.

Mary janes are timeless and classic.

We hope this KEEN Mary Jane review helped you see what we like about them.

Note: We will only recommend products or services that we believe, based on our experience, are worthy of endorsement.

We link through affiliate links when they are available.

We are not compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites, or other topics.

Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.

Best Travel Shoes, Travel Sandals, Walking Shoes and Hiking Boots

Best Travel Shoes


Best Travel Shoes, Travel Sandals, Walking Shoes and Hiking Boots – If there’s one thing you can’t leave for your next vacation without — it’s travel shoes.

And given that, when traveling, you probably walk a good deal more than usual, it’s critical to have the best travel shoes and travel sandals.

So, we’ve compiled a list of what to look for in the best travel shoes so you know which traveling shoes to pack.
Best Travel Shoes

Best Travel Shoes – Travel Sandals, Walking Shoes, and Hiking Boots

Best Travel Sandals: Best Walking Sandals

There are three reasons you might need travel sandals when traveling (and they might overlap):

You’re hosteling and want shower shoes

You’re heading to a beach

You’re headed someplace warm

For 1) and 2), you may be fine with a pair of flip flops.

Flip flops are easy to transport and relatively inexpensive making for great shower and beach shoes.

I usually get mine for less than $5 at Target or Old Navy, but I have friends who really like:

  • Reef
  • Rainbow
  • Teva (have arch support) for Women and Men
  • Havianas for Women and Men

For 2) (beach, if lots of walking) and 3) (someplace warm), you’ll want a comfy pair of walking sandals.

Walking sandals with wrap around straps (forcing your foot to press against your foot, unlike a flip flop) are a better choice.

Depending on your dress style you may want something fancy in travel sandals.

Best sandals for walking that we’ve found:

In terms of brands, I used to recommend Birkenstocks but have had some terrible quality and customer service issues.

I had the strap fail and separate from the sandal after just 6 months of light wear.

I do not recommend anymore; and Kimberly prefers Tevas and Chaco sandals, which are known for their durability and comfort.

If I were going to buy a pair of walking sandals today it would be either Chacos or one of the following brands: Keen, Uggs, Clarks, Born, Mephisto, Hush Puppies all have good comfortable dress sandals that will also be good for walking.

Best Travel Walking Shoes

If your destination isn’t 90 degrees and hot, you’d probably prefer a pair of close toed extra comfortable travel walking shoes (like the Propet Women’s Travelwalker II).

Depending on your travel plans and amount of luggage, you may want walking shoes that double as hiking boots or travel walking shoes that double as dress shoes.

That said, your best best might be to invest in a good pair of hiking boots (like the Keen Targhee II or the Moab Ventilator) and a small cute pair of flats (like the Bloch London) Arabian Ballet Flats that don’t take up much room in your suitcase.

Best Travel Shoes: Hiking and Walking Shoes for Traveling

If you’re looking for walking shoes that double as hiking boots, look for a pair of low cut hiking boots.

For Argentina I purchased these Merrills (the Moab Ventilator) and love them.

Kimberly bought some Keens and loved those.

We wore these shoes regularly for both hiking and city walking.

There are a number of great brands of hiking/walking shoes, the trick is to find a pair that fit well.

Best Travel Shoes: Walking and Dress Shoes

If you want travel walking shoes that can double as dress shoes, there are a few brands that turn up comfortable walking shoes that look nice enough for a fancy restaurant.

Check out: Ecco, Mephisto, New Balance, Rockport (men) as they all get good reviews for fancy, yet comfortable, walking shoes.

I’ve been wearing my Keen Women’s Shoes (Mary Janes) and they are perfect for this.

Travel Hiking Boots

How much hiking you’ll be doing should influence what kind of hiking boots you’ll need.

If you’re doing day trips or low-intensity overnight trips you might be able to get away with a pair of low cut hiking boots that can double as your walking shoes.

This is what we did in Argentina and it worked out very well.

Plus, it saved a lot of space in our luggage.

If you’re planning on a lot of hiking, you’ll want the best hiking boots money can buy – with plenty of ankle support.

These boots will be taller and bulkier, but the last thing you want is a twisted ankle, 3 days trekking into the Alaskan wilderness.

Try on many pairs of tall hiking boots to find a pair that fits well.

Potomac Appalachian Trail Club has a great resource about finding hiking boots that fit.

Buying Travel Shoes Online: Zappos Review

Shoes are difficult to buy online because you can’t try them on.

But, you can get better prices.

There are a lot of reasons to buy shoes online and a lot of reasons not to.

Here’s an experience I had trying to buy hiking shoes just a week before we left for Argentina.

A previously written but unpublished post.

I knew I had a pair of hiking boots. Somewhere. They served me well during a 3-week backpacking trip in Poland years ago. After digging around for them, I found my trusty Merrells tucked away in my parents’ garage. A few seeds in them. And what else… chewed up padding. Apparently a mouse had found the hiking boots before me.

With only 3 weeks until my departure (and 1.5 until my move) and 45 minutes from the nearest REI, I knew I had to act fast. After pouring through hiking boot reviews online I still couldn’t decide which pair to buy.

I knew I wanted Merrells. Mostly because I knew what size I wore in them.

But there are probably 50+ Merrell hiking boot options. So I slowly but surely narrowed the choices down.

To three.

While this takes its toll on the environment because of shipping, the stress it saves me (plus the long drive to REI) certainly pays off. But then there’s the problem of costs. Shipping costs a lot of money.

Thank goodness for Zappos. I ordered all three pairs of shoes on Tuesday. Free 4-6 day shipping was included. Lucky for me they upgraded me to free overnight shipping. Woo-hoo!

Wednesday I received all three pairs. I tried them on.

The $90 pair slipped off my feet. They were sort of elasticy.

The $115 pair was really heavy. Plus, they are made of Gore-Tex which, for environmental reasons, I’m on the fence about.

The $80 were very comfortable. They were soft to the step. Plus I think they are the best color.

I’d heard good things about Zappos (like this story about Zappos sending someone flowers which I still am so impressed by).

But now I’ve experienced it for myself. I will definitely shop there again since it makes my life so much easier.

So there you have it.

Everything you needed to know (and more) about the best travel shoes, travel sandals, walking shoes, and hiking boots, plus where to buy them online.

Update: I have also heard good things about Endless, which also offers free shipping.

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Simple Satire ecoSNEAKS Environmentally Friendly Travel Shoes

I stumbled upon Simple Satire ecoSNEAKS two years ago during my search for an environmentally-friendly alternative to my beloved Vans tennis shoes.

I wanted shoes that were more durable than the Vans, but as attractive.

I was even willing to sacrifice the awesome velcro, but only for the right eco-friendly shoe.

Then I saw it: the Simple Satire, a member of Simple’s ecoSNEAKs line.

These are also recommended for Unique Valentine’s Day Gifts for Your Favorite Green Traveler

Features of Simple Satire ecoSNEAKS

  • Certified organic cotton uppers with recycled PET laces
  • Vegan shoe! No animal byproducts or even regular animal products
  • Certified organic cotton linings
  • The “pedbed” (the cushiony and supportive stuff at the bottom of the shoe) is made of super soft and squishy polyurethane and recycled car tire
  • Partially recycled shoe – the bottom of this shoe is made from a recycled car tire
  • The foot form inserts are made of post consumer recycled paper
  • Even the boxes are environmentally friendly – made of post-consumer recycled paper, soy based printing ink, natural latex and starch based glue

I quickly ordered the black hemp version (they also come in leather, silk, and suede) and eagerly awaited their arrival.

I ordered black because, of course, I wanted something I could wear with almost anything.

If I bought another pair, I would look at other varieties as well.

I was happy when I opened the box: the shoes were cute and looked durable.

I slipped them on and promptly wore them as I walked the monuments in Washington, DC.

The 5+ mile walk was quite the initial test, but I wasn’t as excited as I wanted to be.

I wanted to love them.

I wanted them to be my go-everywhere, perfect travel shoe.

But I found them less comfortable than I hoped; specifically, the sole didn’t have enough cushion.

It almost felt like I was wearing flip flops.

The ball of my foot had virtually no support.

And my arches were completely unsupported.

I hope Simple has improved the “pedbed” in newer editions of the shoes.

Pros and Cons of Simple ecoSNEAKS

ecoSNEAKS Pros:

  • Very eco-friendly — where else can you get a shoe made with recycled tires
  • Cute
  • Can dress them up or down
  • Comfortable except for the sole
  • Durable

The cons of ecoSNEAKS:

  • Lacking arch support – my Vans lacked arched support so I was expecting this and also okay with it.
  • Not enough padding in pedbed
  • Since they’re made with old tires, they’re a bit heavy for travel

Would I recommend the Simple Women’s Satire?

Yes, I would — for everyday wear. If you’re walking more than a couple miles, I’d stick with traditional tennis shoes.

I also wouldn’t recommend them as being your sole (no pun intended) travel shoe, since they’re a bit heavy and not as comfortable as other travel shoes I’ve tried.

For that, I’d recommend a more supportive hiking boot.

Check out Best Travel Shoes: Travel Sandals, Walking Shoes, and Hiking Boots plus Zappos Review for more travel recommendations.

Best Walking Shoes for Walking and Traveling

Best Lightweight Slip On Shoes: Patagonia Women’s Advocate

But these are cute and while I’m not one to follow the trends, they are trendy.

The Simple Satire ecoSNEAKS are a fun addition to any wardrobe.

ecoSNEAKS sustainable sneakers by Simple Shoes

Quality footwear is essential when you’re hiking around new cities for six hours every day.

ecoSNEAKS are made of organic cotton, recycled paper pulp, and old car tire, which makes for a pretty sweet pair of sneakers.