Invest in a cast iron pan! My dad got me one for my birthday, and my first reaction was, “What? Are you trying to remind me of the NC State Fair’s Bud-Light-soaked rednecks?”
…Then I cooked in it. WOW. It’s really the closest thing I’ll ever have to a restaurant griddle, especially once I cooked chicken marinated in garlic and soy sauce in it. It’s very inexpensive, and you don’t even have to wash it!
Update 2016: 4 years later, and I still use this pan almost every day. I finally, after 2 years of owning the pan, seasoned it properly (I had to wait until I lived alone so I wouldn’t scare roommates by running the self-clean cycle in the stove with oiled pans inside). I scrubbed off every bit of caked-on food (not that these bits are bad for cooking or the pan, but it does cause sticking with new food) that I’d allowed to build up, oiled up every inch of the surface, and let it bake on in the oven at 500F for an hour. When the pan came out, it wasn’t satisfactorily black and shiny (pans are dull and dark gray if not season properly), so I repeated the oil-bake process two more times. And brilliantly, I did this in the middle of summer, so I baked along with my pan. Now, my pan is more or less non-stick. After using it, I wipe out residue (while the pan is still hot- it’s easier this way!), then scrub with salt to get any stuck-on bits out, and if there are any really stubborn bits, I’ll boil a tiny bit of water in the pan and scrub with a plastic spatula. I ALWAYS make sure that the pan is dried off after cleaning, then I rub a very little bit of canola oil (or bacon grease, if I’m lucky) on the surface before putting it away.
I’ve also acquired two more cast iron items: a pizza pan, which I use all the time, and a grill pan, which makes lovely grill marks on food. I treat these the same way I do the other pan. I also give cast iron as gifts all the time, because everyone deserves one of these!