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

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.

Splurge

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)

Steal

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)

Additional Resources

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

strainer

Strainer

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.

Splurge

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Colander ($30)
OXO Good Grips 8-Inch Double-Rod Strainer ($23)

Steal

ExcelSteel 5-Quart Stainless Steel Colander ($10)
Culina 8-Inch Double-Mesh Strainer ($8)

measuring

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.)

Splurge

Ipow 10-Piece Color-Coded Measuring Set ($16)
Pyrex 3-Piece Glass Measuring Cup Set ($22)

Steal

Onesource 8-Piece Deluxe Stainless Steel Measuring Set ($8)
Anchor 3-Piece Glass Measuring Cup Set ($14)

baking-sheet

Baking Sheets

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.

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”)

cutting-board

Cutting Boards

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.

Splurge

Recycled Wood Fiber: Epicurious 3-Piece Prep Series Cutting Boards ($45)
Maple: John Boos Chop-n-Slice Maple Cutting Board ($55)

Steal

Plastic: Microban Antimicrobial Cutting Board ($8)
Bamboo: Totally Bamboo 3-Piece Cutting Board Set ($15)

knives

Knives

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.)

Splurge

Wusthof Classic 3-1/2-Inch Paring Knife ($42)
Wusthof Classic 8-Inch Cook’s Knife ($119)
Wusthof Classic 2-Piece Carving Set ($100)

Steal

Victorinox Swiss Classic 4-Inch Paring Knife ($10)
Victorinox Fibrox 8-Inch Chef’s Knife ($35)
Victorinox 12-inch Slicing Knife ($53)

Additional Resources

A Chef’s Guide to Knives, an infographic from Visual.ly
Need a crash-course in knife skills? Check this free online tutorial
Keep your knives sharp with this Kitchn.com article.

food-processor

Food Processor

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.

Splurge

Ninja Mega-Kitchen System (Food Processor/Blender) ($166)
Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor ($180)
KitchenAid 13-Cup Food Processor ($168)

Steal

Hamilton Beach 10-Cup Food Processor ($60)
Ninja Master-Prep Professional (2, 5, and 6-cup) ($60)
Black and Decker 8-Cup Food Processor ($30)

meat-thermometer

Meat Thermometer

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).

Splurge

Ivation Long-Range Digital Thermometer Set ($60)
MeasuPro Instant-Read Digital Programmable Thermometer ($25)

Steal

Smart Digital Meat and BBQ Thermometer ($15)
Weber Instant-Read Thermometer ($10)

parchment-paper

Parchment Paper

Buy any old brand at any old grocery store. Done.

garlic-press

Garlic Press

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.

Splurge

ProPresser Stainless Steel Garlic Press ($18)

Steal

Ikea Stainless Steel Garlic Press ($9)

julienne-peeler

Julienne Peeler

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.

Splurge

Paderno Tri-Blade Spiral Slicer ($38)

Steal

Precision Kitchenware Julienne and Vegetable Peeler ($9)

squeezer

Citrus Squeezer

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.

Splurge

Bellemain Stainless Steel Lemon and Lime Squeezer ($22)

Steal

New Star Food Service Enameled Aluminum Squeezer ($9)

zester

Zester

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.

Microplane Classic Zester/Grater ($12)
OXO Good Grips Zester ($8)

meat-tenderizer

Meat Tenderizer

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.

OXO Good Grips Meat Tenderizer ($15)
ChefLand Commercial Grade Meat Tenderizer ($10)

grill-basket

Grill Basket

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.

Weber Professional-Grade Vegetable Basket ($19)
Charcoal Companion Non-Stick Shaker Basket ($13)

food-storage

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.)

Splurge

Snapware 18-Piece Pyrex Glass Food Keeper Set ($48)
Glasslock 18-Piece Storage Containers ($40)

Steal

Rubbermade 42-Piece Plastic Storage Set ($20)
Pyrex 10-Piece Glass Storage Set ($17)

Want  more freebies from The Whole30? Visit our PDF Download page.


Header photo credit: Erin K. Handley
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