Cheap cookware usually comes with a small Dutch oven, so we sought out five larger, better options under $80, from enameled cast iron to a stainless stockpot.
Kitchen Knife Sets Performance
Although there's consensus among home cooks about the value and usefulness of discount cutlery sets, there's also some divergence in kitchen knives reviews by users. For any given set of knives, the majority of consumers may rave about sharp edges and ease of cutting, while a few find the knives dull and hard to work with -- or the reverse.
Cutting.The knives contained in the Ginsu International Traditions set attract scads of positive user comments, many attesting to their quality and cutting edge precision. Ginsu International Traditions reviews on Amazon, for example, stress the sharpness of the serrated blades and their ability to cut most anything, from tomatoes to poultry, although one dissenter gripes that the serrated edges are useless for paring and the big butcher's knife has a comparatively dull, rough edge that can't cut through raw meat. The Miracle Blade III 11-piece set also wins kudos for its outstanding cutting performance; one user mentions in a knife sets review on Target that the knives cut through a piece of steak as if it were a sheet of paper. Cutlery set reviews on Walmart similarly praise the Ronco Rocker Showtime set for the sharpness of its blades, although a few consumers comment that the blades are flimsy and dull. Chicago Cutlery's Santoku knife and paring knife get shout outs on Amazon for their light weight and sharp blades that easily cut, chop, and peel vegetables.
Durability/Lifespan.The durability of stainless steel knives largely depends on how clean you keep your knife set. Most kitchen experts and many home cooks urge consumers to hand wash knives rather than putting them in the dishwasher. Many consumer reviewers of low-cost knife sets send up flares about cleaning cheap knives; almost every discount cutlery set has at least one review complaining about rusting, often due to dishwasher cleaning, which can also leave unsightly splotching and dull the edges. Some Ginsu Traditions International users comment on Amazon that knives started rusting after going through the dishwasher, but one cook says she's been committing this sin for well over a year and hasn't noticed any deterioration. Still, it's probably a good idea to avoid the dishwasher altogether no matter which cheap cutlery set you choose.
It's impossible to predict how long a blade will hold its edge. Obviously, the more you use it, the faster it will dull. The cutting surface also matters: hard glass and granite, for example, quickly take their toll on knives while softer surfaces, such as bamboo and some of the newer synthetic and recycled materials, are more forgiving. One satisfied owner of Ronco's cheap knife set notes in a cutlery sets review on Walmart that the set is still in great shape after three years of use. The Ginsu knives are cutting cleanly and easily after months and years of usage, report consumers in reviews on Amazon, although the Only-cookware.com blog says they tend to dull quickly. Consumers also seem satisfied with the durability of the blades in the Chicago Cutlery set, according to reviews on Amazon.
One Final Note: In the kitchen, a knife is essentially an extension of a cook's fingers. Before buying knives, experts recommend picking up/holding knives to see if they're a good fit for your hands. Knives can be superbly crafted and receive rave reviews, but if it feels too small, too large, or in some way uncomfortable in your hand, it won't be very useful regardless of other cooks' experience.Back to top »
You can pick up one of these four recommended cookware sets for yourself or for a gift on a budget of less than $80.
We compare the costs of a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal versus takeout or eating out at a restaurant.