If you’re new to cooking healthy food and not sure how to equip your kitchen, you’re reading the right blog post!
Starting to eat healthier absolutely always means eating at home more and eating at restaurants less.
If you’re just starting your health journey, it’s possible that you don’t know much about cooking your own food.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all of the kitchen tools and gadgets out there, that’s okay. You absolutely don’t need most of those things.
I’m a big believer in keeping things as simple as possible. So that means we are starting with the absolute basics!
These basics will take you very far in your kitchen. You will be able to cook a huge variety of foods with these tools alone. These are tools that I swear by and use on a daily basis…
Let’s get started!
1. cast iron pan
I use my 12-inch Lodge brand cast iron pan more than any other pan in my kitchen. I used to be intimidated when it came to cooking in cast iron because it seemed like the cleaning process was a bit mysterious and labor intensive. Eventually, I learned that this was not the case! Cleaning a cast iron pan may take an additional step or two, but it isn’t time-consuming. Check out instructions from Lodge here.
If you’re still cooking with non-stick Teflon pans- please do your research and consider switching to a non-toxic alternative! Teflon pans have a chemical coating on them (which is what makes the surface non-stick). This coating touches the food you cook in the pan. Also, if the coating gets scratched (which isn’t hard to do), this toxic coating will likely end up in your food! You certainly don’t want to be consuming this chemical coating.
A good cast iron pan that has been properly cared for is just as non-stick as a Teflon pan. So don’t let the “non-stick” marketing be the reason you won’t buy other pans. Also, be sure to use plenty of fat when sautéing and searing. This will surely keep your food from sticking as much.
Last thing I will say about my beloved cast iron cookware- there is nothing quite like searing a beautiful grass-fed steak in a cast iron skillet and then putting it straight in the oven to finish cooking. That’s a serious perk to these pans- they can go right in the oven because they’re 100% cast iron. No plastics or synthetic materials!
2. a good chef’s knife
I used to think I needed several knives in my kitchen in order to chop a variety of foods. I thought I needed a paring knife, a serrated knife, a butcher knife, that knife with the two points on it, etc. But, this is really not true.
You can just start out with one good chef’s knife.
I’ve been cooking for a long time and that’s still pretty much all I use. So, don’t feel like you need to drop money on an expensive knife set. Just buy one good chef’s knife and this will take you very far! Check out the one I use every single day right here.
3. Wooden + stainless steel utensils
It’s important that you not use plastic utensils to stir hot food with. It’s possible that the toxins in the plastic will leach when exposed to heat. It’s safer to cook with utensils that are made of more natural material such as wood or stainless steel. The great thing about cooking your food in a cast iron pan, stainless steel pan or another natural material is that you don’t have to worry about scratching them. You can use a sturdy tool on these types of pans safely so no need to keep around your flimsy plastic spatulas and spoons.
If you are just starting out cooking, just make sure you start with the following non-toxic kitchen utensils: In stainless steel, purchase a ladle, spatula, tongs, slotted spoon and serving spoon. In wood, purchase a stirring spoon and angled spatula. These tools are a great start and are all I need 90% of the time when stirring or serving food.
4. Wooden cutting board
In my opinion, a decent wooden cutting board is a must. If you haven’t noticed already, I like to keep my kitchen items as natural as I possibly can. This is because these kitchen tools touch the food my family and I eat! I don’t want our food to touch anything where it may absorb plastics or chemicals. Therefore, I highly believe in chopping veggies and fruits on a wooden cutting board.
However, for infection control reasons, I do cut raw meat on a plastic cutting board. Because wood is porous, I don’t want to cut raw meat on a wooden board as any bacteria may remain there. Please comment below if you have any ideas for cutting raw meat on a non-porous type of cutting board that isn’t plastic!
5. plastic-free storage containers
Maybe I’m sounding like a broken record, but please don’t store food or leftovers in plastic containers. Plastic food storage containers can add parabens, BPA, phthalates, or other toxins to your leftovers. Yikes! Keep your food as toxin-free as you can by switching to more natural containers.
Glass is the best for food storage. Lock and lock glass containers have a plastic lid that locks into place. As long as the lid isn’t touching the food, these containers are safe. However, if you want to avoid plastic completely, glass mason jars come in a variety of sizes and are excellent for storing smoothies, soups, salads or sauces.
Stainless steel is also okay as long as the food you put in the container is cooled already. Life Without Plastic has some great options for stainless steel.
I’m also a huge fan of Stasher bags which are made of food-grade silicone. They are free of BPA, phthalates, BPS, lead and latex. I have tried many different kinds of reusable baggies and Stasher always delivers. The price point is higher than other reusable bags, but they are the best, so it’s worth it!
6. electric multi-pot
I love my Instant Pot. I honestly don’t use it much to cook meals in, but I use it all the time to make bone broth for soups, stews and seasoned rice. I also use it on a weekly basis to make my dog, Dottie, her nutritious dog food! She’s a big fan of the Instant Pot.
If you don’t like to spend a lot of time cooking, an electric multi-pot could save you a lot of time! There are so many Instant Pot cookbooks and recipes out there that could give you some inspiration. It’s especially time-saving if you make a large quantity of food and eat the leftovers for a few days.
7. High-powered blender
A high-powered blender such as a Vitamix or Blendtec can be pricey. But, they are an absolutely wonderful addition to the kitchen to easily make homemade salad dressings, smoothies or blended soups. Honestly, you could probably get by with a more economical blender to start out with and maybe splurge on a premium blender in the future!
Y’all enjoy your new healthy kitchen and take good care!
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Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog post is intended for educational purposes only, and it hasn’t been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information isn’t intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any condition or disease, nor is it medical advice. One should always consult a qualified medical professional before engaging in any dietary and/or lifestyle change.
Corie is a functional nutritionist in Asheville, N.C. She specializes in helping her 1:1 clients with digestive discomfort, fertility struggles, skin inflammation, mood imbalances and more. She believes that a nourishing diet can support the body's innate ability to heal. She's a big fan of grass-fed butter and will not shut up about the gut microbiome.