While I have fairly big, tall cabinets, they only have a single dividing shelf. Because of this I have to stack my pots on top of each other and most of the time I do so haphazardly because they are vastly different shapes and sizes and don’t always fit into each other perfectly. (Also, I am messy.)
Aside from creating booby traps for unprepared friends seeking water glasses, the real issue is that my non-stick frying pans tend to get scratched by the bottoms of the other pans on top of them; I’m not sure whether it’s a health risk or not, but I really don’t want the possibility of flecks of non-stick coating getting in my food.
After the first scratch or two I started putting a dishcloth inside each one to try to minimize surfaces rubbing together and while that worked somewhat, it never occurred to me that there might actually be a product to prevent this problem.
Enter Protect-a Pan, a one-size-fits-all, machine-washable cotton cover for pots and pans that is supposed to protect surfaces from scratches, dust and fingerprints. It looks something like a very stretchable beret with an elastic bottom that fits snugly over the top of a pan like a cover, or around its bottom like a coaster.
I easily stretched my two complimentary samples over two non-stick frying pans, one medium sized and one large. The pan protectors were a definite improvement over the dishcloths I had been using, which tended to shift around and bunch up.
It also became easier to stack remaining pans because of the newly created flat top surface. With one for each pot, organization would have been even more efficient, but even with just two I noticed a difference.
As far as the hassle factor, it only took a few seconds to put on and remove a covering, though it does add an extra step to your kitchen routine both during and after cooking.
Protect a Pan is such a simple concept it almost seems laughable, yet it really does solve a nagging problem. At $7.99 apiece ($19.99 for three or $29.99 for five, available online or at Bed Bath & Beyond), they seem like a reasonable investment (or housewarming gift or last-minute stocking stuffer) to safeguard a pan that costs well over $100.
On the flip side, if you are not particularly detail-oriented, the additional step prior to cooking and afterwards could be a slight hassle.