So…you’re confused about oil. It makes sense. You’re walking down the isle at Trader Joe’s, and on your list is simply “oil”. What kind of oil do you get? Here’s how I break it down…

I cook mostly with Olive Oil and butter, and upon occasion Coconut Oil. I don’t ever use Canola or Peanut Oil. I keep a bottle of Vegetable Oil on hand for some baking or when I make hash-browns, but that’s about all I’ll use it for. I much prefer the flavor of Olive Oil for cooking, and especially for dressing.

All about olive oil:

Olive oil comes in a few varieties: Light, Extra Virgin, and Regular. I use regular olive oil for cooking and Extra Virgin for dressing. I usually spend less money on my regular olive oil, since when you cook with it, a lot of the flavor cooks out. I spend a bit more on the Extra Virgin Olive Oil, since I use it in dressings and to dip bread in. I want to make sure that it is not bitter, and that it tastes delicate. Light olive oil has a lighter flavor, but the same amount of fat and calories. Since I like the flavor of Olive Oil, I don’t tend to buy Light. Store your olive oil in a dark, cool place, to keep it from going rancid. Keep in mind that you cannot fry with olive oil and that it has a lower smoking temp, so when cooking anything higher than on medium/medium high, you’ll need to switch to coconut oil.

Coconut Oil:

Coconut oil is high in saturated fat, and is solid at room temperature. You’ll need to spoon it into the pan and then it will melt. Coconut oil tastes delicious and has a very high cooking temp, so I use it when stir-frying or frying. I do not use it too often as it does have more saturated fat, and tends to be more expensive than olive oil.

The Rest:

I try to not keep too many different kinds of oils on hand (mostly due to space). I don’t ever use Canola Oil or Peanut Oil. There are a few other kinds of oil, but they tend to be expensive and, in my opinion, unnecessary. Everything good in life can be made with olive oil or coconut oil (or butter, but that’s a whole different discussion).