Now that you have a general idea what you’re supposed to eat in this new lifestyle and how to stock your larder, it’s time to start thinking about some basic tools with which to begin your new life. While it’s a little early to be thinking about fancy gadgets — you’re going to want a better idea of how you really want to eat before that kind of investment — some good old tried and true standards are going to be the best tools for your Paleo kitchen.
When I moved in with my parents, my mother was using what she called a Ninja. I called it a blender. The difference between her term and mine is a great deal. I’m thinking $10 blender that only manages ice if you’re lucky. What she has is a fantastic blender, a food processor that does her slicing and dicing as well as shredding, and a 16-20 oz. smoothie maker. Nothing stops this thing. It has settings for straight blending, cutting or shredding. It has a special intuitive pulse setting. It goes from blender cup to blender jug to food processor very easily, and I have not once used this thing and been disappointed in it. I was getting along fine without a Ninja in my life. Now I’ll look at a meal project and say, “Yeah, I’ll just grab the Ninja. Smoothies. It makes them. Shredded carrots. Ditto. Want applesauce? No problem. I make my chili with peach purée. Purée has never been easier. It’s definitely worth the buy and can easily be purchased on Amazon.
Sauté pan: My mom uses stainless steel. She loves them. She takes excellent care of her pans, cleans them well, and uses them all the time.
I hate them.
Give me non-stick any day. I honestly tried my mom’s pans. I actually didn’t have a choice if I was planning to cook, but that’s beside the point. When I was finally working again, I went to the store and bought myself an 8″ nonstick sauté pan. This is for eggs, panfrying meat, sautéing veggies. It does everything Mom’s pans do but better. Okay, Mom doesn’t think so, and you may not, either. Whether it’s stainless steel, aluminum, non-stick or cast iron, you’re going to need a sauté pan. Get the size and type that you prefer. There is no right or wrong here.
Sauce pan: Not everything I cook is done in my saute pan, though I do give it a good effort. Soup, chili, sauces and even eggs will go in the sauce pan. Again, I don’t need a large one. It’s only me. In this case the pan is stainless steel, and again, it’s my mother’s, but I love this steel pan. I can do a quick sauté of my meat or of garlic and onion before cooking the rest of my meal.
Soup pot: What do I need a soup pot for if I have a sauce pan? More than just soup. I need it for stock (which, I’m not going to lie, my mother makes). Mom is not always going to be around to make bone broth for you. Invest in a good soup pot. It will come in handy.
Broiler/roaster: If I put meat in the oven, it’s going under the broiler. I don’t do it because I want something non-fat. Paleo is not exactly a non-fat diet. I do it because it tastes good. It’s often a convenient way to cook when you have every burner on the stove in use. And if you’re roasting something for hours, nothing beats a good roaster than will fit two chickens and veggies to boot.
Muffin tins/bread pans: No, you aren’t eating grains, but these pans do a lot more than just bake bread. Muffin tins are great for mini quiches that will go in the freeze and check out this great banana bread recipe for the bread pan. If you have these pans, don’t throw them out because breads and sugar are out. Use them.
Cookie sheets: See the comment above. I have a wonderful chocolate chip cookie recipe on this site I have baked poultry cutlets and veggies on cookie sheets. Keep a hold of them.
I can’t say enough about having a crock pot or about this one in particular. It can be programmed for a 10-hour cook time rather than just six or eight hours, and it immediately shifts to “Keep Warm” when the cooking is over. I can fit a good-sized chicken in it or a large roast, or enough food to feed a (very) small army. My slowcooker has always been utilized more in the winter, a season when getting home from work is not always going to be in the time I want due to traffic or weather or traffic because of the weather. What I’m never doing is sitting in traffic biting my nails because I know I was suppose to be home to turn off the slowcooker an hour ago. I know it’s switched over to “Keep Warm,” and my dinner will still be good eating when I arrive.
Get Some Good Knives
You’re going to need one that will cut through raw meat with no problem. You’re going to need a good paring knife. And you’re going to need a good vegetable knife for any slicing and dicing your Ninja doesn’t do. Make them sharp. Make them last. In my Paleo kitchen, the knives are the only thing I use as often as the pans.
Start with the basics. As you progress into your diet, you will discover what else you may want, be it electric skillets, kettles or gadgets. Only you know how you’re going to enjoy your Paleo meals. Only you know how you’re going to want to cook them. Make your kitchen a comfortable and convenient place for you — specificially you — to work so you can make use the tools you choose.