The Whole30: Your Kitchen Essentials
Welcome, readers of The Whole30! Here’s where we share our favorite kitchen necessities and nice-to-haves. We’ll give you a “splurge” and a “steal” for appropriate categories, to help you meet your kitchen budget. Note, however, there are hundreds of options for every kitchen tool, and shopping for them can be really fun! We encourage you to browse in your local kitchen store or favorite online shop and choose your own tools based on functionality, brand, color, or price point.
Pots and Pans
There’s a lot to consider here; do you want stainless steel, enameled, non-stick, cast iron, or all of the above? Would you rather buy one matching set, or individual pieces based on your needs? Can you afford to stock up all at once, or would you rather buy one piece at a time, as you can? We’ll give you some general ideas for complete sets here, but this is one of the more complicated categories, so you may want to do some research on your own.
Le Creuset 20-piece Cookware Set ($800, enameled cast-iron)
Cuisinart Multiclad Pro 12-piece Cookware Set ($255, stainless steel)
GreenPan Lima Cooking 12pc. Set, Oven and Broiler Safe ($250, ceramic non-stick)
Farberware Classic 15-Piece Cookware Set ($100, stainless steel + non-stick)
Lodge 5-Piece Pre-Seasoned Cookware Set ($100, cast iron)
Cook N Home 10-Piece Cookware Set, Green ($57, non-stick ceramic)
Martha Stewart: Choosing the Right Pots and Pans for Your Kitchen
The Kitchn: A Guide to the Best Material for New Pots and Pans
Cooking.com: The Best Cookware Sets for You
This decision should be much easier than pots and pans. Buy two strainers, one with larger holes (often called a “colander,”) and one with fine mesh. Avoid plastic if you can. The end.
Measuring Cups and Spoons
So many choices—but in our experience, the all-in-one measuring spoons (with adjustable amounts) are more mess than they’re worth, and stainless steel > plastic. Buy two sets, so you and your sous chefs won’t be fighting over them. (And it’s good to have at least one large measuring cup—something that goes up to 3-4 cups.)
No, you won’t be making cookies, but you will be roasting a ton of vegetables and meats. Buy two, so you don’t crowd your sweet potatoes.
Chopping vegetables can actually be quite stress-relieving. This fact would be a great thing for you to discover now, as the Whole30 will have you chop-chop-chopping away before nearly every meal. Make sure you have the right tool for the job, and invest in a good cutting board (or five). As with everything, we’re not huge fans of plastic, but if you want a cheap cutting board for car camping or as a back-up, we’ll give you an option.
This is nearly as complex as pots and pans! There’s a different kitchen knife for practically any task, but if you can only buy three, focus on a paring knife, an 8-inch chef’s knife, and a long knife for carving. Here are a few options we like. (And not that you asked, but we’d skimp on other kitchen tools to be able to afford really good knives.)
You can go big and get a gorgeous model that will handle up to two heads of cauliflower at the same time, or choose a smaller, more cost-effective tool perfect for small batches of dressings or sauces. It’s all up to your budget (and counter space). You could even have both, like a big food processor and a small chopper. Here are some options.
No more guessing whether your burger, steak, chicken, or pork roast is done—a thermometer gives you perfectly cooked meat every time. It’s like cheating in the very best way. Make sure you buy a meat thermometer) designed to tell you the temperature of your meat) and not an oven thermometer (designed to tell you how hot it really is inside your oven).
Buy any old brand at any old grocery store. Done.
Mincing garlic is one of our least favorite tasks—and do you have any idea how many recipes call for garlic? For under $20, you’ll never have to do it again. You’re welcome.
Want to turn your cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, or apples into “noodles?” This special peeler makes it easy! Or splurge on a spiral slicer—these tools can handle even tougher veggies like sweet potatoes or beets, and can turn your produce into a variety of shapes.
Squeeze the last of those lemons or limes without giving yourself a hand-cramp. Seriously, that’s all this tool does, but it’s enough.
Lemon or lime zest add to much flavor to a dish. Use a hand-held zester to pull small pieces off the skin, or buy a microplane and zest citrus (or grate ginger or nutmeg) super-fast. At under $12, they’re both a steal.
Use the hammer-like version of this tool to make meat more tender and to even out the thickness of a chicken breast so it cooks more evenly. Also makes for excellent 6 PM stress-release.
Grilling vegetables can be easy as 1-2-3. One, chop into 1” cubes. Two, coat in extra-virgin olive oil. Three, throw them in your grill basket and shake ‘em once in a while—easy and delicious.
Bonus! Food Storage Containers
We didn’t mention these in The Whole30, but with all the food prep and meal planning you’ll be doing, you’ll need plenty of containers to store all those leftovers, extra dressings and sauces, and freezer meals. (As with everything, we strongly prefer glass over plastic.)
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Header photo credit: Erin K. Handley
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