Cast iron cookware is like the Forever 21 of kitchen utensils. Except, unlike clothing purchases from this store, cast iron lasts a lifetime.
You can find a cast iron skillet for as little as $10 and with the proper care and maintenance is will last you upwards of 20 years [Source: New York Times]. Of course, if you're looking to purchase an entire set of cookware, you may be spending a little more, but you get the general idea here.
Cast iron is also the perfect piece of cookware for stove-to-oven cooking because it transfers nicely without needing to switch pots or pans. Some cooking experts even grill their meat with their cast iron skillet. To learn how, see these cast iron tips.
And did I mention that cast iron requires little to no cleaning? Before you even start cooking with your cast iron skillet, you must first season it. Seasoning involves rubbing cooking oil on the skillet and then baking it at 350° F for about an hour. Use a ball of paper towels to wipe it down when it comes out of the oven, and you should be ready to cook. An alternative method involves adding some salt and oil to the bottom of the pan, heating up the oil until it smokes, and then pouring out the salt-oil mixture and wiping the skillet down with paper towels.
To clean your cast iron, simply rinse with hot water as soon as possible after cooking. Don't use regular dish soap, because it's too harsh, and dry immediately to prevent rust.