Happy Thursday! I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now. About a month ago Jake and I stayed over at a friend’s house while they were out of town. We had planned on buying a few groceries and cooking dinner in their kitchen. Only once we started, we realized we were missing some important basic ingredients.
You see while my friends have a beautiful kitchen and lots of pots and pans from their wedding, they don’t cook that often. So they didn’t own basics like olive oil or spices.
Then I remembered, I used to be like that! A few years ago my friend Nathan came to visit. He wanted to treat me to a home cooked meal and couldn’t believe I didn’t own spices. A quick trip to the grocery store and that problem was solved.
So this post is for those of you who are starting your Whole30 on Monday. Or really anyone who wants to start cooking at home and you’re not sure where to start.
Cooking pan and spatula
Let’s start off with the most basic, a pan. I own a pretty large collection of pots and pans but really you just need one or two. This skillet is big enough to cook stir-fry but also small enough for a couple of eggs.
This brand is hands down my favorite pan of all time. It’s by Thomas Professional Cookware and is made from anodized aluminum. Unfortunately I’ve looked high and low online and cannot find a link for where you can buy them. I actually got them from Jewel-Osco back in 2010 but it looks like they aren’t made anymore.
The second basic is a spatula. These thankfully you can purchase online. Jake’s mother bought these for us about a year back. They’re by the brand OXO. I use these for everything from scrambling eggs to scooping roasted veggies off of a baking sheet. They easily slide under food and are super easy to clean.
Baking sheet and aluminum foil
Speaking of roasting veggies, I highly recommend owning a baking sheet. Our’s is super old which is why I’m hiding it under aluminum foil. Every time we use it I always cover it in foil so nothing sticks.
If you’ve never roasted your brussels sprouts you are missing out. We have them at least once a week, especially during a Whole30.
Cutting board and chef knife
Another basic is a cutting board. If possible, it’s best to own two: one for meat and one for everything else. The cutting board on top is the one we use for meat. It has grooves along the edge to collect any meat juices. The one on bottom is the one we use for vegetables.
Also, you should own a large cutting knife. This doesn’t have to be anything expensive. The one we use is from Jewel-Osco for about $9. I use this for everything, from chopping vegetables to cutting meat.
Olive oil, coconut oil and balsamic vinegar
One of the key ingredients you should be avoiding during the Whole30 is vegetable oil. (You’re also technically supposed to avoid butter). Therefore having coconut oil is imperative. I use this to cook just about everything. Just spoon out a bit into your pan and it will melt pretty quickly. If you’re using it for roasting, I spoon a bit into a bowl and microwave it for 5 seconds so it liquefies. (When coconut oil gets warm liquefies. When it’s cold or room temperature it’s solid. So the consistency might be different depending on the environment).
Another cooking oil I use is olive oil. Now really olive oil, especially extra virgin, shouldn’t be used for cooking at high heat. But occasionally I use it if I’m out of coconut oil. Olive oil is also a key ingredient if you’re making your own mayo and a great dressing on your salad.
I typically mix a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar for my salad dressings. Most conventional salad dressings are off limits for the Whole30. I have yet to find a dressing that isn’t full of sugar, soybean or vegetable oil.
Now for spices. I pulled what I think are the absolute basics: garlic powder, cumin, sea salt, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, onion powder, Italian Seasonings, paprika and cayenne. You can obviously buy more if you like but these are the ones I reach for all the time.
You can see I have a wide variety of brands. My recommendation is to find a local spice shop and purchase them there. Not only will they be fresher but most cases they will be cheaper. You’re normally paying for the brand and the packaging when you buy spices from a grocery store. Jake and I have been slowly transitioning our spice collection to spices from the Coffee and Tea Exchange.
Measuring cups and spoons
And finally, measuring spoons and cups. Again you don’t need anything expensive or fancy. I bought these when I graduated from undergrad from Walmart. They’re by a brand called Farberware.
Now for the extra stuff. These are things that I don’t necessarily consider basic kitchen equipment but they definitely make your Whole30 a lot more enjoyable.
First up is a pot for soup. I went back and forth on whether this one should be considered a basic. But in the end decided that since I don’t use it weekly, it’s an extra. I have two pots, a large one for soups and stews and a smaller one to boil water. This is great to have if you’re boiling broccoli for my broccoli soup recipe.
Again, you don’t need anything fancy. These are also by Farberware.
This is definitely an “extra stuff” item but it’s awesome to have. I have a number of crockpot recipes as well as a folder in pinterest dedicated to them. I bought this one a few years back. It’s by Crockpot. It’s a great basic model. Although lately, I’ve had my eye on a fancier digital one.
I bought this immersion blender / food processor at an outlet mall last year. Life changing. I’ve used the immersion blender for soups, the whisk for making homemade mayo and the food processor attachment for homemade pesto. And at $20 I thought why not?
The only downside is it doesn’t have the best reviews, mostly because people have said it breaks eventually. I haven’t reached that point yet but I did want to warn people. I’ve actually been thinking about upgrading to a better food processor, so if you have a recommendation please let me know in the comments.
Good coffee and tea
OK this might be a weird one but I decided it was worth mentioning. During the Whole30 you’re giving up dairy and sugar. So for most people, this means drinking their coffee black. I’ve heard from so many people that they would love to do the Whole30 but drinking their coffee black just isn’t possible.
To this I say, you aren’t drinking the right coffee. The minute I switched from the preground, prepackaged stuff from the grocery store to the fresh beans from the Coffee and Tea Exchange my life changed. Suddenly I knew what coffee is supposed to taste like! I buy about ¼ lb every few weeks and have them grind it for me in the store.
Jake isn’t a big coffee drinker so instead he buys tea. Remember that since soda is not allowed, you have limited choices on what to drink. If you need something with caffeine or flavor, make sure you stock up on the good stuff.
Although for the most part you will be drinking water. Which is a good thing! Everyone can agree you’re supposed to get at least 8 glasses a day. So if you are the type of person that just can’t stand the taste of plain water, I suggest a Brita filter. I’m the type of person that swears the water out of the tap tastes funny. By keeping the Brita in the fridge, I feel like the cold eliminates whatever funky taste I’m noticing.
And finally, maybe my most unique suggestion, a soap dispenser. This was actually Jake’s idea! I purchased a soap dispenser, the kind normally kept in the bathroom, and filled it with dish soap. Then when I’m cooking and both of my hands are covered in meat juice or olive oil or whatever, I can use the back of my hand to pump out the soap. No getting mess all over the dish soap bottle!
That’s it! Hopefully you have a few of these things in your kitchen already.