Cast iron pans
Cast iron makes the most fantastic pans, skillets and griddles. You need to look after it properly, that's true, but it will pay you back in perfect heat distribution, non-stick surface with no artificial coating and lower hob temperature needed to create high heat.
It needs to be seasoned - some brands, like Lodge, come preseasoned. Otherwise just bake the pan in very high oven for an hour, then coat with a thin layer of oil. Washing is simple - no detergents, just very hot water and a good brush, then dry the pan and coat with a little oil again. If you're worried about not sloshing your washing up liquid about - the temperature you heat the pan to next time you use it will safely do away with all possible bacteria.
For: steaks, chops, burgers, fish, stir-fries...
Try:pancakes. Fry like a dream.
Buy it: Lodge is excellent value, from Amazon