Since your taste in cookware will change as you gain more experience I would suggest getting something good but not too expensive to start with. I would also suggest getting a good "set" to get started so that you will have a basic variety of pot and pan sizes since a set will usually be cheaper than buying each piece individually. Of course, you have to look at what you are getting in the sets ... some sets include 6 utensils (spatula, spoons, fork, tongs, etc) in the count - others give you all cookware, which I prefer since I wouldn't use the bundled utensils for anaything but wall decorations.
You might want to look on www.qvc.com
and check out their Cook's Essentials line of non stick. http://www.qvc.com/asp/frameset.asp?class=7959&dd=/scripts/drilldown.dll?class=3344!frame=left&tmp=DE1&am p;cont=7 ... scroll down and look at the 20-pc set item number K0269 for $135 (you can put it on 4 flex payments so it only costs you about $34/month for 4 months). I've been impressed with Cook's Essentials non-stick enough that this is what I just ordered my kid sister for Christmas.
Before some people think I've been taken over by the dark forces - I'm only suggesting this as a starter set. I have some All-Clad stainless steel, Emerilware stainless steel, Calphalon anadized, Calphalon commercial non-stick anodized, cast iron, enameled steel, some anodized made by Forever Ware (they're no longer in business and NOT the same company using that name now), and plain old aluminum.
Of course if money is no object - you can forget everything I just said.