So you decided to make the transition to a paleo diet? A little bit lost on where to start and what to do? Every time you read a recipe, it mentions a gadget you don’t have in your new paleo kitchen?
I make paleo meals every single day. Sometimes multiple times a day. I’m not a chef, just the family cook who is trying to make healthy meals. I remember what it’s like to first make the transition from boxed food to making everything from scratch. I don’t have unlimited funds for fancy kitchen gadgets. These are the 10 kitchen gadgets I use just about daily in my paleo kitchen.
1. Instant Pot
This is my savior when I fail to plan (which is more often than I’d like to admit). If you get only one thing, get this. It’s a slow cooker/pressure cooker (among other things) all in one! After a nine hour work day, coming home to find I forgot to plan dinner is a real drag. I can throw ingredients in the Instant Pot, set it for an hour and go give the kids a bath. After an hour, I can have a great meal ready to eat. And I can go do more important things while it does all the work. I could do an entire post on what I do with my Instant Pot. I make baby food, bone broth, breakfasts, quick hard boiled eggs and thaw frozen meat to name a few things.
2. Your Favorite Frying Pan
I use these, but I am trying to get away from Teflon and my favorite pan in that set took a tumble and warped. This one is in my Amazon cart and I will be purchasing as soon as my budget allows. I’ll update this post when I do, but until then, I have to recommend your favorite frying pan to do the job. Your pan should be large enough and deep enough to hold the main course to feed your family plus extra for leftovers (always cook once and eat multiple times). I also “beef up” my meals with a lot of veggies to stretch the meat. A three quart pan is perfect for my family of two adults, a toddler (who eats a lot actually), and one or two meals of leftovers for all of us (which usually I make work with 0.5-1.5 lbs of meat).
3. Good Knife
You will be chopping and chopping and chopping. Vegetables will be a part of every meal. You will want a good knife. I battled with a dull knife (that claims it never needs to be sharpened and apparently has some sort of coating so you can’t sharpen it) and let me just tell you-don’t waste any time with a bad knife. A good one will save you time and frustration. I didn’t have $150 to buy a fancy knife. Honestly, I am not sure I would even notice the difference. This knife has spectacular Amazon reviews and was $45 ($45 seemed like a lot to me, but so worth it). It’s been really amazing. It changes the efficiency of cutting.
4. Wood Spoons
I love wooden utensils. I try not to use plastic and heat together as much as possible. Since I already use Teflon pots and pans, I don’t want to do anything to scratch them and leak the Teflon into our food. Wooden spoons are key. They don’t scratch and they clean easily. Also, they are relatively inexpensive and you can usually find them in the clearance section at places like Home Goods as well.
With all those vegetables you are chopping, you are going to need somewhere to chop them. I have one from Costco just like this board. It’s sturdy and easy to clean. Nothing super fancy needed. Again, nice cutting boards can usually be found in those clearance sections at Home Goods.
A fancy citrus juicer is not necessary. I use an older version of this one. Nearly every day I cook something requiring lemon juice. So many recipes call for it. I find it easiest to juice a lemon right when I need it to have fresh lemon juice when a recipe calls for it. Sure, you can squeeze the lemon juice out by hand, but you may need double the amount of lemons to get as much juice as a citrus juicer.
7. Glass Storage Containers
I have a couple sets of these and a set of these and the first thing (okay, well maybe not the first thing, but it’s up there on the list) I plan to do when we get a bigger kitchen, is buy a few more sets of each. Food prep, reheating and storage is a breeze. You can freeze them and wash them in the dishwasher. You can store leftovers in them and then throw the whole container in the oven or microwave. I am all about using as little dishes as possible too make clean up easier (you can usually catch me carefully eating out of my piping hot Pyrex to avoid dirtying another dish).
8. Muffin Pan
My two year old loves muffins, but what I do even more with my muffin pan is freeze things in the cups for single serving amounts. Danielle Walker over at againstallgrain.com did a post about doing this and I thought it was brilliant. Like Danielle, I make big batches of bone broth and freeze it (just be sure to line with the silicone baking cups I mention below for easy extraction before adding to a freezer bag/container). I also freeze leftover sloppy Joe’s, taco meat, pulled chicken sandwiches, barbecue sauce and anything I want available for a single serving later. This muffin pan is about 1/4 cup per muffin cup. Be sure to measure how much liquid fits in each cup so that if a recipe calls for a cup of bone broth, you know how many pucks (as Danielle Walker calls them) you will need.
See item 8. When you line a muffin pan with these silicone cups before filling, if you are freezing what is in the cups, once frozen, you can peel these right off and put the pucks in your freezer bag/container. When baking, once your muffins cool, you can peel the cups right off.
Figuring It Out Tip: Keep the cups you use for savory things separate from the ones you use for sweet things. These silicone muffin cups contain 24 cups. On the box it comes with, write “Pink and Orange: Sweet / Green and Blue: Savory” to keep track of which is which in the beginning. If you wash them really well, you may not need to do this, but the first time I made chicken broth, I made blueberry muffins right after I washed and dried them. Apparently I didn’t get the cups clean enough because the blueberry muffins had a slight chicken broth taste to them. I was able to soak the cups and clean them really well and I got rid of that, but after that, I labeled the box.
A good high speed blender can make all the difference. Your smoothies will be delicious and smooth. You can make “cheese” sauces, creams and nut milks to name a few things. However, this a huge investment and I get it. I used this Ninja for about five years before getting my Vitamix. The large carafe in the Ninja set is a good blender, but I could never get it to have the “high speed” effect that the single servings do, which was the only reason I upgraded. Sometimes I need to make a large batch of something, which is difficult and time consuming to do in two cup increments. I still have my Ninja and I may find some counter space for it because it actually works better for single serving paleo sauces from things like cashews.
Figuring It Out Tip: The only appliance I bought myself was the Instant Pot. You don’t have to purchase everything new. Check garage sales, thrift stores, Good Will, contact friends and family. I got my food processor from my grandmother, who never used hers. My Kitchen Aid mixer came from my dad when I found it in a cabinet full of dust (I asked him if I could have his Kitchen Aid and he said “What’s a Kitchen Aid?”). My mom insisted on getting me a Vitamix for Christmas (thanks Mom!!).
Sites I visit most often for recipes are Against All Grain, Detoxinista, TheRawtarian and PaleOMG. With the exception of a dehydrator on Rawtarian’s site (used only sometimes), and a few fancy gadgets at againstallgrain.com, 90% of the recipes on those sites can be made with these 10 kitchen gadgets. This list should get you through those four sites and most paleo recipes you encounter, efficiently. Happy paleo cooking!