How much cookware you need depends largely upon how often you cook, how many people you cook for and how elaborate your meals tend to be. It's very frustrating when you find yourself in the middle of preparing a big dinner and in need of one more saucepan, but you just don't have it. On the other hand, it can be very easy to accumulate far more cookware than you actually need.
Most people will who do even a small amount of cooking will find a lot of uses for a couple of different size saucepans and a couple of different size skillets. Tight-fitting lids for the saucepans are also important when preparing dishes such as rice.
Beyond the Basics
You can prepare a lot of wonderful meals with just a few pans, but chances are you're going to need some other pieces at some point. Many cookware sets will include at least some of these items: