These ten items are all you need to work your way around the kitchen! I keep these items on-hand and all times and usually have a backup inventory just in case I run out.
All of these items are great for cooking for a healthy lifestyle! They are paleo, gluten free, lactose free, sugar free, and Whole30 compatible.
I put the items in order of how often I use them from least used to most used. When I am traveling and know I will have a kitchen available to use, I like to pack at least my top 3 items!
Disclaimer: the flours are not Whole30 compatible if they are used to re-create technically compatible versions of junk food such as pancakes, cookies, bread, pizza, muffins, etc. This is considered “SWYPO” and not compatible. For more information on SWYPO, check out the Whole30 website.
10. ARROWROOT STARCH
Arrowroot starch (also called arrowroot flour) is a gluten free starch that is derived from tropical plants. It’s used in cooking as a thickening or a coating. I like to use it as a thickening for sauces, like for orange chicken or gravy. It is also great to use as a coating for fried chicken.
9. COCONUT FLOUR
Coconut flour is made out of – you guessed it – coconut! It’s made from coconut pulp that is dried out and ground down into a fine powder. I use coconut flour when I bake my favorite paleo cookies. It’s also great to mix with almond flour for a chicken tender coating.
8. ALMOND FLOUR
Almond flour is by far my most-used flour. It’s made out of blanched almonds, which means the skin of the almond is removed before it is ground down into a flour. I use almond flour in tons of recipes including meatballs and breaded chicken. It’s great to use as a base for paleo baking in muffins, bread, cakes, and more.
Ghee is a type of clarified butter. Ghee is made by heating up butter, which separates the milk solids and water from the butterfat. This process removes the milk solids (proteins and salts), which leaves only the fat. Since the milk solids are removed, it is considered lactose free. Ghee is a great substitute for butter! It has a great taste that is very similar to butter. It is a versatile fat that can be used for cooking or as a plated fat. I love using it for cooking when I make egg scrambles or roast vegetables. It’s delicious as a plated fat on top of a baked potato or steamed vegetables.
6. BALSAMIC VINEGAR
Balsamic vinegar is an intensely flavored vinegar made from grape must. It is wonderful to use as a base for dressings and marinades. I love the distinct flavor it adds to my dishes! I use it on salads, roasted veggies, and for marinating steak.
5. OLIVE OIL
Olive oil is a liquid fat made by pressing olives and extracting the oil. Olive oil is super versatile! I love mixing it with balsamic vinegar for a quick and easy salad dressing. It is used as a base for homemade mayonnaise and other salad dressings like dump ranch. I use it for marinades, cooking, and as a plated fat.
4. AVOCADO OIL
Avocado oil is oil extracted from the pulp of avocados. It is similar to olive oil in the ways it can be used. I tend to use avocado oil more often than olive oil because the flavor is not as bold. It has a higher smoke point than olive oil, which makes it a better option for cooking at high temperatures, like when I am sautéing, baking, searing, or frying. Avocado oil is my go-to oil for roasting vegetables, and I use it to make my perfectly roasted brussels sprouts.
Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil
3. BLACK PEPPER
Of course I need to include some spices in my pantry essentials! Black pepper is an absolute must-have and can be used on nearly any dish. It adds a wonderful, subtly spicy taste.
Salt is absolutely crucial to have in your pantry! Salt enhances the flavor of any dish – it makes food taste more like itself. Additionally, when you are eating more whole foods and less pre-packaged, processed foods, you are removing much of the sodium from your diet. You need to have salt to make sure your electrolytes are balanced.
Most of the time when I’m cooking a simple meal, I will spice using salt and pepper, and that’s it! Similarly, when I meal prep, I will use just salt and pepper so that later I can add other spices to change up the flavor of the dish. My favorite salt is Morton Fine Sea Salt. Keep in mind that sea salt does not contain iodine, which is a necessary nutrient found in table salt – so make sure to include both sea salt and table salt!
I almost always have my set of travel salt and pepper shakers when I am on-the-go. I keep one in my purse and one in my lunchbox!
Are you ready for my #1 essential pantry item? Drumroll, please…
1. COCONUT OIL
Coconut oil takes the #1 spot as my most essential pantry item! Coconut oil is an edible oil extracted from coconut meat. This oil is so versatile! It can be used in a variety of ways from cooking to home care.
Coconut oil has a high smoke point (approximately 450 degrees) so it can be used in cooking techniques that require high heat such as frying and searing. I love using it for pan frying eggs or sausage on the stove.
Coconut oil makes a great substitute for butter, especially in paleo baking. It can be used to make salad dressings, reheat leftovers on the stove, or for seasoning a cast-iron skillet. Even further, it can be used as a moisturizer, like on your cuticles, lips, or hands!
Trader Joe’s has great little 0.5 oz coconut oil packets that I take with me while traveling.
THERE YOU HAVE IT!
That wraps up my essential pantry items list. I hope this helped you as you plan for cooking in a healthy kitchen! What is on your pantry essentials list? Let me know in the comments!