When I moved out of the apartment I shared with my ex, I basically started from scratch when buying for my new one. If you’d like more details about how woo woo decor helped me cope with my loneliness, here you go. But one thing I didn’t realize I had going for me in my old place (aside from a dishwasher and in-unit laundry, sigh) is that I had full access to a chef-worthy assortment of pots and pans. Now, I have exactly one pan—and I use it to cook everything.
I know that in practice there are specific uses for different pans, and some pans are better suited to cook eggs or stir fry vegetables. But realistically, even with approximately 100 pans at my disposal, I wasn’t using them. I would just pull out a new pan because it was the one that wasn’t still sitting in the sink with cauliflower gnocchi stuck to the bottom. Having tons of pans did not make me a better cook, or inspire me to try harder to be a better cook. It just meant I ended up having to do more dishes (well, make my ex do more dishes, but potato potahto).
When I moved into my new apartment, I had to get a whole new kitchen set—and that stuff is expensive. Since the breakup was new, I figured I’d probably be subsisting on a diet of Postmates for a few weeks (#toosadtocook), but I wanted something so I could at least scramble eggs. So I purchased just one frying pan to tide me over until I budgeted enough for more: the Select by Calphalon 12″ Stainless Steel Non-Stick Fry Pan ($40).
The plan was to purchase more pans. But honestly, having this one versatile skillet has never limited my healthy cooking endeavors.
I’d like to say I put a lot of thought into which pan I chose, but when I picked it out I had already been at Target for an hour and was getting battle fatigue. Thankfully, I completely lucked out by stumbling upon the best frying pan I’ve ever used. It’s non-stick, which perhaps isn’t the coolest thing in the wellness world, but makes it easy for this lazy dishwasher to clean. I like to meal prep, and this pan is the perfect size for sautéing all my veggies, or scrambling eggs, or browning chicken breasts. (Plus, it’s large enough to cook an entire bag of Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi, the litmus test to which all pans should be held accountable.) It’s oven-safe up to 400 degrees, so if I am ever so inclined I could start a frittata or pasta dish on the stove and pop it in the oven to finish without dirtying another dish. It’s also dishwasher safe, which would be an amazing feature if I still had a dishwasher.
Of course, the plan was to purchase more pans. But honestly, having this one versatile skillet has never limited my healthy cooking endeavors…so I never bothered trying any others. Despite what Instagram would have me believe, I personally don’t need an air fryer or an Instant Pot or a sous vide or an artisanal set of three frying pans of slightly different sizes in order to eat well. I don’t begrudge anyone those gadgets or tools, but I just don’t need them to make the delicious, easy meals that I want to make. In a small apartment, I’d rather use my limited storage space for other things, like supplements and beauty products and clothing.
Is this an open letter to my family to let them know that I do not want a set of pans for Christmas? Maybe. My one pan and I aren’t just surviving, we’re thriving.
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