Registering for a standard 10- or 12-piece set is a good way to cover your bases. But if you don't want to one-stop shop, cookware essentials also come à la carte. From top: 2.3-quart steel (with copper core) covered saucepan, $310, from John Pawson for Demeyere, demeyerecookware.com. 1-quart steel saucepan, $60, from 360 Cookware, 360Cookware.com. "Chef Clad" 6-quart steel (with brushed aluminum exterior) stockpot, part of a 10-piece set, $300, from Anolon, anolon.com. 10 1/4-inch ceramic titanium nonstick covered sauté pan, $240; 12 3/4-inch ceramic titanium nonstick chef pan, $290, both from CTX line for Scanpan, surlatable.com.