Cast-iron cookware isn’t just the affordable workhorse of the kitchen. It's also incredibly durable: a properly seasoned and maintained cast-iron pan can last for generations. "Seasoning" is a chemical reaction that happens when oil gets baked and bonded to the iron at a high temperature. This creates a natural, nonstick surface on the pan. The more you cook with it, the better it gets, which means that $30 cast iron will far outlast any expensive nonstick pan, whose coated surface is prone to nicks and cuts, rendering it unusable. With proper care and seasoning, your skillet will even outlive you.