All Clad is the all around best, but it may fall out of your budget and typically you do want their tri-ply. Cook's standard is a great budget All Clad alternative. Alternatively, if you are starting from scratch and don't want to spend All-Clad prices, your best bet is to head to TJ Maxx and get every piece of Calphalon tri-ply they have. Buying the exact pieces you need and not a pre-selected set is also a great recommendation. Maybe start with a 12" skillet and a 3 or 4 qt pot. Then over time see what else you need in terms of smaller or larger pots, cast iron, non-stick skillet for eggs, etc. Carbon steel, ceramic non-stick or cast iron pans are great alternatives to nonstick. Cast iron and heats up more quickly.