The phrase “Meal Prep” can be a little intimidating. I tend to think of those Instagram pictures of food containers, delicately made just right to make them picture-worthy. How about you? Those people may have way too much time on their hands; and as moms, we simply don’t have time for that!
Meal prep doesn’t have to be scary; in fact, you can make it really easy! These 7 best tools for meal prep are what I use almost weekly to prepare things like chopped vegetables and breakfasts for the week. You probably have most of these items in your home already; here’s how you can use them every week in your meal prep.
A good knife and cutting board
I spent a good portion of my meal prep time chopping vegetables; and if I don’t have a good knife, this part will take forever. Make sure you’ve got a reliable set of knives with a sharpener, that will last you through years of meal prep!
Multiple-sized cutting boards can be helpful depending on what you’re using them for. When I slice my apples, I use my smallest one because apples don’t take up much space; but I use the biggest one when I cut up large vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower heads.
If you think you have enough food containers, you might need more. Seriously. When I finish prepping all of my vegetables for the week, suddenly I find myself with no extras for whatever I need later in the week. It’s amazing how fast these containers disappear!
The more variety you have with containers, the better. The 6-cup+ ones are awesome for storing a whole head of cauliflower, sliced carrot sticks, or baked muffins. You can use smaller 2-cup ones for soups/pasta bakes, and divided containers to store dinners that have a meat and veggie sides.
Have you ever shredded a whole 2-pound bag of carrots by hand? Let me just tell you how tedious that is. First of all, I’m mentally done after just peeling the whole lot of them. Then I have to shred each one by hand and pray my hand doesn’t slip and get cut on the shredder.
Now, if I have a bunch of veggies to shred at once, I use my food processor. I still have to peel my carrots, but now all I have to do is feed them into my food processor and less than a minute later I have a huge pile of shredded carrots!
My slow cooker is one of my favorite kitchen appliances, meal prep or not. I love being able to throw ingredients in there and have dinner ready in a few hours with no other effort. It’s also amazing for meal prep, because you can cook a bunch of chicken breasts at once while you do other things in the kitchen. The more hands-off you can be with your prep, the more you can get done!
Gallon-size freezer bags
While I love using my food containers, some items just won’t fit. Mine aren’t big enough to hold a dozen muffins, so I have to put them in a gallon-size bag and lay it flat in the fridge. I also use it for whole loaves of bread that I haven’t sliced yet.
Since the word “freezer” is in its name, these bags are obviously great for freezer meals, too. My favorites are the slow cooker “dump” meals, where you throw a chicken breast and a bunch of veggies and sauces in the bag, freeze it, and empty the frozen bag into the slow cooker when you’re ready to cook. It takes like 30 seconds to start cooking, and you now have a hands-free dinner!
Measuring cups are mostly good enough when you’re doing meal prep; but if you like being precise in measurements, get a food scale! They’re pretty cheap and don’t take up a lot of space; in fact, mine always sits on the kitchen counter because I use it every day!
The best part of muffin tins is that you don’t have to just make traditional muffins. You can use them to make egg cups, pancake bites, or even hard boiled eggs! I have two sets of regular-sized tins, and even a mini muffin tin that makes 24 muffins. You can easily make a couple batches of muffins and put half in the freezer for another week.
You don’t have to be Instagram level to pull off successful meal prep! Using the items above, most of which you probably already have, you can make sure you have good meals available for your family and don’t have to resort to eating out! What are your favorite meal prep tools? Share in the comments below!
Jaime is a Nutrition Coach and professional writer. She enjoys cooking easy meals, running, and learning more about food.
Jaime specializes in helping women with ADHD learn to meal plan and cook healthier meals without getting overwhelmed.