If you’re used to ordering in or eating out, the biggest change that this lifestyle shift to the Whole Life Challenge or a nutrient-dense diet (that’s what I’m going to start calling Paleo) will present to you is that you’re going to be cooking A LOT more these days.  If you don’t have a kitchen ready for that, here are the tools that I find most important.  Some are more investments, so don’t feel like you need EVERYTHING.

  1. Sharp knives! Chefs and paring are most crucial. Invest in a decent one.
  2. Cutting boards (A plastic one for meat and one or two for everything else).
  3. Saute pan with a lid – 12” works for most things. I like having a smaller one, too.  This is pretty much your ‘for everything’ pan. Sear meats, scramble eggs, it’s good for just about anything.
  4. Saucepan – 3 qt Should do it. Again, I like having a small one as well.  These are for, well, sauces. Also use them to hard boil eggs, blanche veggies, or poach some eggs.
  5. Sheet Pans (baking sheets).  I use them primarily for roasting veggies or toasting nuts.  You would use these for most baking, too (biscuits, cookies, etc).  They’re pretty affordable and durable so don’t go buy a fancy pants set.
    Sheet Pans
  6. Roasting pan/Casserole dish. Deeper than baking sheets and usually ceramic or glass. This is what you’d use to roast a chicken, pork loin, and other larger proteins or casserole type dishes.
  7. Mixing bowls. They usually come in packs of a few sizes.
  8. Wooden Spoons. This is the cooks best friend and primary stirring implement. Buy a few, you’ll use them all the time.
  9. Whisk
  10. Rubber Spatula
  11. Spiral Slicer.  This is my favorite new purchase (next to my slow cooker, clearly). It turns vegetables into noodles, creates sweet potato straw fries, and probably even more that I haven’t figured out yet.
  12. Zester/Microplane.  Zest citrus fruits or very finely grate garlic and ginger.  They come in a variety of shapes.
  13. Food Processor/Blender.  This is one of my more essential items, but since it’s a bigger purchase I kept it low on the list.  Make pestos, puree cauliflower or sweet potatoes, blend root veggies into soups…the possibilities are really endless. If you’re going to get just one, go for a good blender so you can also use it for smoothies.Bigger Investments that are worth it:
  14. Dutch Oven.  This is a staple in most kitchens. It’s by far the best thing for stews and soups, and well as braised dishes. You go right from stovetop to oven and since they’re mostly ceramic or cast iron, they heat all the way around.  I really suggest getting yourself a good one. They come is really vibrant, fun colors and add a nice pop to your kitchen.  Spend a little money on this one, you’ll have it FOREVER.  Homegoods usually has some at a pretty reasonable prices.  I prefer ceramic, as they clean out insanely easy.
    dutch oven
  15. Slow Cooker.  Not an essential, but they make life easy.  I would never have said you should get one, until I got one for Christmas this past year.  Being able to toss stuff into a pot and then leave for the day, returning to a hot meal is truly a miracle.  I never get to come home to a cooked meal hot on the table since I’m the one that does the cooking. The slow cooker let’s me feel like someone is at home slaving away to have dinner on the table when I walk in the door.