Have you inspected your teflon coated pots and pans lately? If you are like most, probably not! But if your Teflon coating has become scratched or flaking – caused by using metal utensils when cooking, by overheating, or by heating an empty pot or pan for too long – you should replace it immediately.
Of course, when you are on a budget, it can be hard to throw out something that seems perfectly fine except for one spot on the skillet, when you can “work around it”. But in actuality, those little flakes and bits that come off wherever the teflon is damaged, even if you can’t see the flakes, are actually damaging.
You can prevent damage to your teflon coating by only using silicone or plastic utensils on the cooking surface, and save the metal ones for your stainless cookware or the barbecue. And never allow your teflon cookware to sit on high temperature without planning to immediately cook something when it heats up. Teflon coating releases noxious chemicals into the air if it is allowed to sit on high for too long, so be sure you are ready to start cooking once you begin to heat it up.
If you find that you are still damaging it, or you just don’t want to use teflon anymore, consider investing in stainless steel cookware. It will be more expensive to buy, but you won’t be replacing it every 6-8 months when the cook surface gets damaged.