NTM stands for New-to-Me, a regular feature here at Not Exactly Bento. With the start of my bento-making in 2007, I began to try many new foods to expand my palate and my recipe files. New-to-Me has expanded into all sorts of food and kitchen items that I now try and review. Here is the latest item I’ve tried. For the new-to-me archive, click here.
When I won the Lock & Lock review event prize over a month ago now (my how time flies), part of the prize was a set of Lock & Lock’s Cookplus Vitamin cookware. I must say this was a most fortunate win as I had been looking for the last few months for new cookware. When I first moved into my house 10 years ago, I purchased myself a set of hard anondized cookware. I loved the stuff. However, I’m quite hard on my cookware and I have only a few pieces left. The others started to get too scratched and finally started to flake a bit on the bottom. Definitely time for new cookware when that happens. For a short while, I tried stainless steel skillets from the restaurant supply store thinking I’d switch to stainless. I don’t have the patience or skill for stainless steel. Everything seems to stick to them. So back on the hunt I went for a non-stick option that would work.
When I won the Cookplus set, I was excited. No need to try and purchase a set myself. I would just use these to see how they worked out. I was a little nervous as they are aluminum and I’ve had cheap sets of cookware that were aluminum that didn’t last long at all. Would Lock & Lock hold up? I packed my stainless steel skillets away (no great loss to me there), and started to use the Cookplus set. I promised that I would come back and do a review in two-three months after I’d used them heavily.
Then in this month’s Lock & Lock supporter’s box came another piece of Cookplus Vitamin: their largest frying pan. I have to admit that I really do like this thing. The one I received as a prize I use constantly, cleaning it as soon as it is cooled from cooking. Thinking about it long and hard, I decided after a month cooking exclusively with these pots and pans, I’ve formed enough of an opinion to give a mini-review. We’ll see how the non-stick coating lasts over time, but for now we can begin our discussion. Let’s talk about features of the series first.
The whole series comes is equipped with black handles that are supposed to stay cool while cooking. On the underside of each handle is a raised plus sign. I’m not sure why its there, but I use it to feel if I’ve gripped the handle too far down. Sometimes, I don’t pay as much attention as I should. The handle definitely stays cool on the skillets and saucepan. I find that the shorter handles on the casserole style pans don’t stay as cool and I still need to use a potholder to grip those.
While an aluminum base of a skillet, the outside is coated with ceramic, which I have found to be uber easy to clean. I was worried about it chipping, but so far it hasn’t…despite my accidental banging against my porcelain sink. Small sink. Large skillet. Somethings are bound to have issues. Each of the pieces have this same design on the bottom that Lock & Lock says is supposed to minimize heat loss. Not sure if that happens, but I do find these pots and pans have consistent enough heat to make me happy.
The inside of the skillet has a non-stick coating that is supposed to be non-PFOA (non-toxic and ecofriendly). What I was most considered about is how delicate or well that non-stick coating was done. It’s not hard anondized, and I’ve had non-stick pans flake pretty quickly. So far, so good here. These have held up and aren’t showing any signs of scratches yet. The inside bottom of each piece has this slightly bumpy texture that circles outward to the edges of the skillet. In fact, you might not even notice it on some pieces unless you hold it up to the light a certain way or run your hand over the bottom of the skillet. I think this is supposed to be for some heat conduction as well. If I’m cooking with a bit of oil, it seems to not want to coat those bumps, much to my dismay. However, it must coat them because I haven’t had anything stick, or burn (unless my heat was way too high).
Other Things I like about the Set:
- The set is light enough for my mom who has hand issues to lift and manipulate, but has enough weight for me to realize this isn’t cheaply made.
- Both the outside ceramic coating and the inside non-stick coating are very easy to clean and nothing seems to stick. Not even grits in the saucepan.
- All pieces, except the skillets, come with a clear lid and a nice big handle that does stay cool while cooking. Each lid has a small vent hole as well.
- The blue frying pan is 11.8 inches round, giving me plenty of room to cook several things at once (fry an egg, toast bread). It gives me the freedom to truly incorporate some of those quick bento cooking tips from Biggie’s site that I haven’t been able to do too often before.
While I am liking this series so far (and have even purchased the remaining piece I don’t own), there are a few things I’d Like to See Lock & Lock consider doing with this set:
- Offer a lid for the skillets. This is one thing that I really wish the skillets had. I find sometimes I need a lid.
- Reconfigure the handles on the casserole type pans (red and green ones) so that they are a bit more heat resistant. The metal portion of these pot curves upward to meet with the handle, creating less handle surface. I think that is why the handle doesn’t stay as cool it could.
- I would LOVE to see a few more options in this series. For one, my mother and I have both been looking for an 8-9 quart stock pot that is non-stick instead of stainless. We also thought that the shape of the red casserole pan is lovely. However, if it was as big around as the 11.8 inch skillet with higher side walls it would be the PERFECT chicken frying skillet. With mom’s hand issues (and my developing ones), handling a cast iron skillet is too difficult for chicken frying these days.
Verdict? If you’re looking for a new skillet to try out before your purchase a whole set, I’d recommend giving the Cookplus Vitamin Set a try. Buy one piece to see how it works out for you if you’re nervous about investing in the whole set. While I can’t testify to its long term wear and tear, in the short-term they have become my go-to pots and pans, have been easy to clean, and haven’t been hard to use at all. No learning curve with these like those stainless steel skillets.