Wow this has gotten way easier thanks to cooksillustrated.com, sweethome.com and consumerreports.org. Subscriptions are required for the first and last but totally worth it:

1. Tramontina. This is the Walmart.com has a knockoff Allclad triple-ply pans that can last a lifetime. For a limited time $109 gets you a set of 8 (really four pots). 2. Tramontina Restaurant quality no-stick pans. Same deal, really excellent pans and they are only$40 at Walmart.
3. Lodge Stew pot. We use our Lodge pot more than any other pot for stews and they are super inexpensive.

Knives are probably the other item people neglected item, but there is nothing that lasts longer and make a difference when cooking:

1. Victorinox. While you can get a set of knives, if you look cooks illustrated, you can get an amazing knife set for very little if you are willing to put up with a little less uniform look. The 8" chef knife, the 3.5" paring knife are the two goto's that we use all the time and are super reasonable.
2. Mercer Cullinary Millenia 10-inch bread knife.
3. Chicago Cutlery steak knives. While you can get your flatware at Ikea (I've done it), the knives are a different story. At $4 a knife, these are beautiful walnut and really high quality. 4. Chef Choice knife sharpeners. Even with great knives, they need to be straightened. It turns out that most of the time you do not want to remove material, but just unbend an invisible turn in your knives, while expensive the Chef Choice are the goto. Next up is the bedding, while it seems silly, having a bed that lasts 10 years is actually a great investment and now with direct-to--consumer lines, it's never been easier to avoid all those mattress scams. The state of the art are the new foam mattresses, they do not need a box spring and shape to your body 1. Thread and Needle. This is a startup that offers direct only through Amazon. At$550 for a full size, they are a great deal with a 10-year warranty and 100-day return policy.
2. Protect-a-Bed AllerZip. It is frightening to think about bed bugs and this simple wrap isolates the bed from those nasty things.
3. Zinio Tufted Premium Platform Bed. If you don't want to go to Ikea, the folks at Zinio make a  nice bed but also have a nice slatted bed for just \$200.