Successful meal prepping can mean winning healthy eating for the week versus three consecutive nights of “Oops, I guess we’ll have takeout again.” It can save money, reduce food waste, and relieve the stress of finding a quick, healthy, budget-friendly meal at the last-minute on a busy day. But of course, anyone who’s prepared a week’s worth of meals in a single afternoon knows that meal prepping (especially without a plan!) can cause some damage to your time schedule and stress level. On the other hand, a solid plan of attack and a few essential kitchen tools can score you efficiency and an easy meal prep day. That’s why we asked our favorite preppers which kitchen tools they rely on to get the job done week in and week out. Snag their secret weapons; score some healthy meals. Simple as that!
- Organizational Containers
Meal prep containers were a favorite among many of the cooks we spoke to. A matching set stacks neatly in the fridge and helps prevent an avalanche when you open the door. Chungah Rhee of Damn Delicious adds, “It just screams meal prep and makes me feel so accomplished on Sundays when all these containers are packed and ready to go for the week!” The true definition of a good-for-you grab-and-go meal.
A spiralizer makes it quick and easy to swap healthy veggies for pasta in a slew of delicious zoodle recipes. Lindsay Livingston, RD, of The Lean Green Bean uses her spiralizer to create veggie noodles ahead of time for quicker dinner prep. Slice ‘em up and stash ‘em in the fridge for when you’re ready to whip up a low-carb dish.
- Mini Food Processor
Talia Koren at Workweek Lunch considers a mini food processor (often called a “mini prep”) a must for weekly meal prepping. She says, “I use it for pesto, tahini-based sauces and avocado-based sauces. It’s useful for prepping energy bites, too. I’ve also used it to make black bean burgers and butternut squash soup!”
Kitchen Tools for Meal Prep: Mason Jars
- Mason Jars
Sometimes you just don’t need a full-size container for every meal. That’s where mason jars come in, thanks to them being inexpensive, durable and eco-friendly. “I love them to make jar salads, parfaits, smoothie packs and homemade instant noodles,” says Denise of Sweet Peas and Saffron. (Watch her video here for details on exactly how to meal prep with mason jars.) Look for one pint standard or wide-mouth jars.
- Instant Pot
Lorena at Green Healthy Cooking says, “I’m currently obsessed with my Instant Pot both for everyday cooking and meal planning.” It’s perfect for quickly making a big batch of rice for the week without taking up precious stovetop space. (See Lorena’s guide to failproof Instant Pot rice here.) Denise at Sweet Peas and Saffron adds, “I also love making freezer packs with dinners that I can thaw and throw in the Instant Pot on a busy weeknight.”
- Kitchen Scale
According to Layla Atik at Gimme Delicious Food, a scale is another must-have for meal prep. Some recipes specifically rely on ingredients measured by weight so a scale is a must. Danielle Madden at Project Meal Plan adds that a scale is, “necessary for portioning out evenly sized meals and keeping track of calories.”
- Stasher Bags
Overwhelmed by the number of disposable baggies you’re going through now that you meal prep all the time? Madden has the answer: Stasher bags. “Stasher bags are plastic-free silicone bags that are great for storing food. They’re microwave-, dishwasher-, freezer- and sous vide-safe,” she says. “I’ll stick any kind of leftovers inside or use them to pack snacks for my husband. I love to use these in place of a Ziploc or other plastic bag!”