Whole30 Kitchen Tools to Make Your Program Easier
Most Whole30 alums report that their program empowered them in the kitchen. It helped them feel confident in preparing and cooking delicious meals at home. And having the right Whole30 kitchen tools, equipment, and gadgets can help you be an even more successful cook—during your program and beyond.
To help you prepare for your program—or better help you implement your Food Freedom plan—we’ve compiled a list of essential Whole30 kitchen tools and gadgets. You’ll find (almost) everything from the basics to useful tools for prepping, flavoring, and cooking your Whole30 meals. And they’re picked to make your Whole30 kitchen tasks faster, easier, and more joyful.
Note: This blog assumes you already have some general kitchen basics—like mixing bowls, wooden spoons, and spatulas. If you don’t already have those, start your kitchen tool search there! Below, you’ll find options for each Whole30 kitchen essential. And, where items have a big disparity in pricing, a “splurge” and “steal” option to help you find the right tool for your kitchen and budget. Links are provided, but we also encourage you to browse your local kitchen store, small businesses, or favorite online shop.
Your Whole30 Kitchen Basics
Pots and Pans
This is the first—and probably biggest—kitchen basic to tackle. So let’s jump right into the fire and talk about frying pans (and other cookware needs).
Quality pans are key to kitchen success. Having an array of high-quality pans will make your life in the kitchen much easier. You’ll be able to cook more evenly and clean up more easily. And there’s a lot to consider here.
Do you want stainless steel, enameled, non-stick, cast iron, or all of the above? Would one matching set or individual pieces best satisfy your needs? Can you afford to stock up all at once, or would you rather buy one piece at a time?
We have opinions and some recommendations below. But this article from The Kitchn is also a good resource to help you figure out what will best fit your needs.
Here are the few basics in this essential category you should use to stock your Whole30 kitchen:
- a non-stick or cast iron skillet saute pan (This is the cast iron skillet we love cooking with.)
- a medium pot for boiling everything from eggs to veggies or making sauces
- a large pot for making soups
Looking at full sets of pots and pans can simplify your search. Depending on the set, it can be pretty expensive. But looking at the options below can also inform your decisions about individual pieces from the list above.
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)
Baking Sheets and Sheet Pans
No, you won’t be making cookies, but you will be roasting a ton of vegetables and meats. And a sheet pan is a great way to simplify meal prep, clean up, and impart tons of roasted flavor.
Here are some of our favorite options:
- Nordic Ware Aluminum Baker’s Big Sheet ($13, 21” x 15”)
- Wear-Ever Aluminum Baker’s Sheet, 1/2 Size ($20, 18” x 13”)
- Vollrath Aluminum Baker’s Sheet, 1/4 Size ($10, 13” x 9-1/2”)
Pro tip: Buy two, so you don’t crowd your sweet potatoes.
Picking your pots and pans is no picnic, but acquiring strainers should be quick and easy. 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
You have plenty of good options, but we’d recommend ignoring the all-in-one measuring spoons (with adjustable amounts). They’re more mess than they’re worth. We also firmly believe in opting for stainless steel over 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.)
Buy any old brand at any old grocery store. Done.
Top Kitchen Tools for Food Prep
Eating more whole foods means chopping and preparing more vegetables, fruit, and herbs.
These three essential kitchen gadgets can make preparing these ingredients faster, easier, and safer.
The knife world can be overwhelming. There’s a different kitchen knife for practically any task, but if you can definitely get by with only two or three. So focus first on a paring knife, and a chef’s knife (either eight or 10 inch versions work great). A long carving knife is also really great to have at your disposal. (And not that you asked, but we’d skimp on other kitchen tools to afford really good knives.)
The chef’s knife is incredibly versatile and often the most-used kitchen tool you have. It’s great for slicing and chopping firmer vegetables and fruits, mincing herbs, chopping nuts, smashing garlic, or cutting through meat.
A paring knife is much smaller and great for precision or gentler cutting, like:
- working with small or tender fruit or vegetables
- peeling apples or potatoes
- coring tomatoes
- dealing with awkwardly-shaped foods (like deveining shrimp)
A knife with a stainless steel blade is the most cost-effective and easiest to maintain. And keep your knives sharp, whether you do it at home or take them to an expert.
linoroso 3.5-Inch Paring Knife (about $20)
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—including the knives you just picked out—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.
Though kitchen shears look similar to standard scissors, they are designed specifically for food preparation. They are a great multipurpose tool to snip herbs, open food packaging, and even break down a chicken. We like kitchen shears that can separate for easy cleaning, like these. Check out this blog post to learn more about more clever ways to use kitchen shears.
A spiralizer is a fun kitchen gadget that easily transforms all sorts of vegetables into a “noodle” shape. No alternative-flour pasta recreations are allowed on Whole30 (per the Pancake Rule). But single-ingredient spiralized vegetables are a delicious and nutritious noodle swap. The “zoodle” (spiralized zucchini noodles) is probably the most popular, but we also love spiralized potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, cucumber, and carrots. We love the functionality and ease of a countertop spiralizer, but you can use a hand-held tool, as well.
A julienne peeler is another option to turn your cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, or apples into “noodles.” If you would rather skip the spiralizer, we would go with this peeler: Precision Kitchenware Julienne and Vegetable Peeler ($9).
You can go big and buy 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 for adding a food processor to your Whole30 kitchen tools collection:
Whole30 kitchen gadgets you can use to amp up flavor
Simple kitchen tools (like those below) can rev up the flavor of your whole-food-based meals without much extra work. Use these (plus a great Whole30-compatible dressing or sauce), and your taste buds will dance with joy!
Fresh garlic can bump up the flavor of any dish. But it can be a real pain to peel and chop. Cut your prep time by 90% with a garlic press, which gets the tedious job done in seconds. You don’t even need to peel it first—just put the garlic clove into a press like this one, squeeze hard, and enjoy as much minced garlic as your dishes can handle. Learn more about how to use a garlic press here.
Microplane or Zester
Even if you don’t recognize the name, you have probably seen a chef on television using one of these essential kitchen tools. A microplane—also sometimes called a zester—is a long, thin, metal tool with a serrated edge used for zesting and grating. You can use it to zest citrus skin (like lemon, lime, or orange), grate whole spices and ginger, shred chilies or peppers, rice potatoes, and more.
Citrus zest is one of the fastest and most effective ways to add brightness and flavor to any dish, and this helpful kitchen gadget saves your knives and your knuckles. Learn how to use a microplane here.
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.
All you have to do is cut the citrus in half and put the cut side down into the juicer, then squeeze the two handles together over a bowl, your cooking pan, or the finished meal. Juicers are easier on your hands, and are less messy, too.
It’s time to cook with these kitchen essentials
Now that you’ve prepped and seasoned your food, let’s get cooking! Along with the pans we talked about earlier, here are a few fun kitchen gadgets we recommend to make your weeknight dinners and Sunday brunches a breeze.
Meat Masher and Meat Tenderizer
This is the kitchen tool you probably didn’t know existed—but everyone who cooks meat needs one. It’s simple, inexpensive, and makes working with ground meat so much easier. You can use it while preparing meatballs or meatloaf to mix seasoning into ground meat or right in the pan when you are cooking. This tool breaks apart the ground meat like a dream to create even crumbles without scratching your cookware.
If you’re working with non-ground meat, you can use the hammer-like meat tenderizer to make meat more tender. And this Whole30 kitchen tool can be used to even out the thickness of a chicken breast so it cooks more evenly. It also makes for excellent 6 PM stress-release.
Either of these options is a great choice:
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).
An immersion blender (also known as a “stick blender”) is a handheld kitchen tool perfect for emulsifying mayo or salad dressings, pureeing fruit or veggies, blending a soup, or mixing a smoothie. Making your own Whole30 mayo or Ranch is easy and budget-friendly, and an immersion blender is key to helping it come out as smooth as possible. You can also use this kitchen gadget to make mashed cauliflower, whip coconut cream, or do other small jobs when you don’t want to pull out (or clean!) your big blender.
Spray oils can be a convenient way to grease a pan for eggs or keep your chicken sausage or sweet potato from sticking. But the ingredients in commercial oil spray are not always just oil—and convenience sprays can be expensive. Using a refillable oil sprayer is better for your budget and the planet. It also allows you to use the oils you choose (and just the oils, with no extra additives) in your cooking.
Grilling vegetables can be easy as 1-2-3. One, chop into 1” cubes. Two, coat in extra-virgin olive oil (maybe using your new oil sprayer). Three, throw them in your grill basket and shake ‘em once in a while. It’s that easy to make delicious, grilled veggies, and these are great options:
Bonus: where to store your ingredients or leftovers
Food Storage Containers
You’ll be doing a lot of chopping, dicing, and cooking on your Whole30. Having a place to put all your prepped ingredients or leftovers will make your life so much easier. You’ll need plenty of containers to store all those leftovers, extra dressings and sauces, and freezer meals. And, as with everything, we strongly prefer to skip the plastic and go with glass options.
Start building your collection of Whole30 kitchen tools
Having the right kitchen tools can help you feel empowered and be successful in the kitchen. You’ll be able to make your cooking life easier, your dishes more flavorful, and cleanup a snap. But you don’t have to build up your kitchen toolbox overnight.
Take time to identify the Whole30 kitchen essentials above that will enhance your approach to meal prep and cooking the most. Then, start there. You can grab a few more as you find new recipes and learn new techniques. But we hope you found some new favorite kitchen tools and must-have gadgets on the list!
Want more freebies from The Whole30? Visit our PDF Download page.
Header photo credit: Erin K. Handley
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