Until recently, I looked on nonstick Calphalon. I had a basic set that I registered for when we got married. My dream has always been to purchase Le Creuset and I recently did. I use to work at Williams Sonoma and we used Le Creuset in our demonstrations. They are cast iron porcelain enameled and release nothing into your food or the environment. They are a bit pricey, but there are outlets around that offer the pans at a discount price. You can choose to purchase perfect Le Creuset for slightly off sticker price at an outlet, or go for ones that have been deemed 2nd rank (many of which you cannot see anything wrong with) for a lower price. They are worth the price; start with a basic set and add to it as you go. These pans will last you forever.
I have two different cutting boards, originally because I was going to use one for meat and one for vegetables. Now that I only eat vegetables, I just have 2 great cutting boards! One is a teak cutting board from Proteak. Not only is the product beautiful, but it holds up well. My second board is a corian board, I use it when I only need to cut a few things as it is much smaller and lighter.
Buy a food scale! It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It allows you to be more exact in your measurements, and helps to keep your weight on track!
I don't have great knives, unfortunately. Currently I have a set from KitchenAid that gets the job done. My dream is to buy Shun knives, but they are very expensive so that dream realization is quite far off! If you have money to buy good knives, you really have to go look at everything and feel the way it fits in your hand. Everyone has a different knife preference and what works for one cook may not work for another.
We are lucky enough to have a few Whole Foods stores in the area and this has become our primary grocery store. I find that they have a wide array of organic foods for reasonable prices and also, lots of local products! From time to time I also go to Trader Joes but I find the options are more limited. I am looking forward to trying the farmers markets this year, I am fairly new to this area and have not had a chance to explore them yet!
One of the most important things I use! In order to keep organic foods within my budget, I base my weekly menu on the ads. I look at what is on sale during the week and base my menu on the sale items. I google the items I buy that are boxed to find coupons, and I also use the store coupons to lower the price of items. Sometimes you are lucky and you have a coupon for an item on sale! I plan out what I am going to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day so that I do not over buy and waste food/money.
Cost Per Serving
My cost per serving estimate is for all ingredients in the recipe other than staple items that should be in the pantry at all times, mainly flour, eggs, oil. The cost of these items is minimal, and most households have them at all times so I do not include them in the cost.