Changing the way you cook and eat may sound daunting when it comes to having all the right kitchen tools. Your essential kitchen tools really aren’t as complicated or as expensive as you might imagine.
Yes, the foods seem strange, the preparation seems strange and the fermenting seems stranger yet. But the tools to be this strange aren’t!
I will explain my use of just a few common essential kitchen tools for traditional living that you might already have in your kitchen.
I use glass jars all the time. I keep the jars from everything I empty unless they are chipped or without their lid. Because it is just my husband and I for now I buy spaghetti sauce rather than make it. Spaghetti sauce jars are my favorite size for making kefir. I know just how big to let my kefir grains get for these jars and the screw on, one-piece lids are handy for shaking and storing in the fridge.
I buy Eden Sea Salt. These jars are the perfect size because my fingers can reach to the bottom and they have wide mouths. These jars are the perfect size for portioning out my homemade lotion I make from Wellness Mama’s recipe. If I keep the whole
batch of lotion in my bathroom it molds before I get it used. With these smaller jars I can keep one lotion jar in my bathroom and pull another out of the fridge when I run out.
Jam and jelly canning jars are perfect for smaller cosmetics. I keep my homemade deodorant from Mommy Potamus in these jars. They are convenient to store in the drawer and small enough to travel with. The only down side to these jars is they have a two-piece lid. I scavenge from other jars though, to find a solid lid that fits.
Speaking of lids. If you buy applesauce or mayonnaise in the plastic quart containers, those lids fit glass quart and jelly jars! Also, the sifter lid off of parmesan cheese containers comes in handy on quart jars.
For the tightest fitting lid for storing things, grab these small and wide mouth lids.
And lastly, my beloved gallon-size pickle jars. This size of jar is perfect for storing farm fresh milk in as I’ve previously discussed. I also use these jars for making kombucha. A coffee filter fits over the mouth perfectly for any fermentation process. The wide mouth allows for easy cleaning. I scrape the labels off and make them into pantry storage jars as well. I store my noodles and wheat berries in them.
Stainless and Glass Mixing Bowls
I use my stainless and glass mixing bowls almost every day. No stinky flavors or colors get left behind because they are non-porous. And I try to avoid plastic wherever I can. I can use a metal scratchy on them without fear of ruining them. Recipes that call for fermenting or overnight soaking prefer no plastic be used. I find these bowls for cheap(er) at thrift stores and garage sales!
My favorite is my huge stainless mixing bowl for making homemade bread.
One colander is really all I need. I use it to wash fresh fruits and veggies. A colander is useful during canning season for cooling veggies that have been blanched. I lay a cheese cloth inside to strain finer things like kombucha and broth. And a sieve is just plain fun for kids in the dish water or bathtub!
Wooden and Stainless Mixing Spoons
Again, just avoiding plastic where I can. I like wooden spoons for stove top cooking because the handles don’t get hot. My favorite are Pampered Chef wooden spoons. They don’t stain and are very sturdy.
I did not go out and buy a wheat grinder just because I wanted to eat healthier. I waited and watched for a deal somewhere. Then out of the blue someone offered me their’s because they didn’t use it anymore. Perfect! I’m partial to the Whisper Mill grinder only because that’s what I grew up with and was familiar with. But there are many others that will grind wheat just fine. Including non-electric ones!
The secret to fluffy, 100% whole wheat bread (without a bunch of fillers to make it fluffy) is fresh ground flour. Using flour within 30 minutes of grinding is when all the nutrients are still in tact. This is why you get a brick when you try making 100% whole wheat bread with whole wheat flour off the store shelf.
I like to make both white bread and whole wheat bread. And sometimes I use half of each flour.
Update: It looks like the Whisper Mill has been replaced by the Wonder Mill.
Cast Iron Skillets
I love my cast iron skillets! They are a safe cooking surface that doesn’t release any unwanted gasses when heated. I fry our eggs in them every morning. Grilled cheese sandwiches are to die for when done in cast iron. My skillets are well seasoned so I rarely have a sticking problem. Plus, they shed a bit of iron every time you use them so hopefully we won’t see anemia in our household!
Cast iron is one of my secrets for making the best hash browns ever.
Stainless Steel Cookware
…or any cookware that is not non-stick. I prefer stainless because it is durable and won’t chip. Stay away from anything aluminum and non-stick. Aluminum is not stable when heated and reacts with acidic foods like tomato products. Non-stick coating releases harmful gases each time it is heated. They don’t last long and you have to be so careful about not scratching them. They are just high maintenance in general. I find high quality stainless cookware at garage sales and thrifts stores.
Read More: Building a Stash of Quality Cookware
A food processor is not necessary but it replaces my need for a blender and a salad shooter. On a day to day basis I use it to make bread crumbs out of my dried up heels, chop nuts, make smoothies and grate veggies. When I make sauerkraut it takes no time to shred all my cabbage. No more slicing with a chef’s knife! I also use my processor for homemade laundry detergent.
My husband has a hard time with textures of certain foods. The food processor works great for blending salsa, stewed tomatoes or even soup. By blending these things I can still make lots of recipes, just without the chunks!
Crock Pot or Instant Pot
You can call me old school because I haven’t jumped on the Instant Pot bandwagon yet. Again, I’m not going to go out and buy an expensive appliance just because someone says it will make my life easier. I will wait and watch for a bargain if I really want it. In the meantime, my crock pot plays a crucial role among my essential kitchen tools. I use it to make roasts, soups, broth, lard and desserts. Some even make yogurt in it.
Update: I got an Instant Pot from my mother-in-law for my birthday this year! It’s intimidating to learn, but I’m getting the hang of it.
Read More: How to Make Lard
Glass Leftover Containers with Lids
I am hooked on these! Pyrex and Anchor Hocking are the two brands I’m most familiar with, but I’m sure there are several other reputable glass storage containers out there. By using these, plastic does not come in contact with my food. The best part is its easy to see the contents when perusing the fridge for leftovers! I put the glass dish in my dishwasher but wash the lids by hand because I don’t want them wearing out.
My favorite thing about using glass leftover containers is how easy warming up leftovers – without a microwave – is. And even with a microwave, glass is best.
Now I am not saying that you must have these kitchen tools to prepare healthy meals at home. I just want to share with you how easy it is to get started eating healthier with the tools you already have. Or tools that are cheap to find at garage sales and thrift stores. I hope this gave you some ideas for your kitchen.
What are some of your essential kitchen tools?
P.S. This is also a great list to reference if you are stumped on what to gift at the next wedding on your calendar!