Meal prep sounds easy and doable until you realize you don’t have some of the things that make it worth the time, effort and don’t make you want to just order out! The list below is the set of basics I found helpful when getting into meal prep, and I promise to share more items that I use frequently as we continue to talk meal prep, healthy meals and workouts – keeping in mind what will make things as streamlined as possible!
Slow Cooker (I have two of these and I use them ALL THE TIME) –
The only way to cook while you work or have fun! There are so many sizes and features, but the one feature I think is critical is a digital timer so that you can set more precise cook times, especially if you might be out longer than the cook times needed.
Half Sheet Pans (I have eight of these, they are constantly in use) –
Whether you need to freeze cookie dough quickly, roast some vegetables, bake some chicken, transport food to/from the grill or make a bag of french fries….these pans are so versatile AND can go in the dishwasher! They are not non-stick, so you will need a bit of canola or olive oil spray to keep things from sticking.
Non-Stick Skillet Set (I am loving this one these days, and you can find them at Marshall’s) –
These pans heat up quickly and evenly, are a breeze to clean. I use mine to cook the best scrambled or over-medium eggs, and heat up leftovers without anything sticking, and without having to use a microwave. Obviously, I can’t use these to heat leftovers when I’m not at home, but when working from home or on the weekends, these pans are a permanent fixture on my stove. And, on those large food prep/cooking days, they are a quick clean-up and reuse pan, which I can’t say for all of my beloved pans!
Cutting Boards (I have a couple of sets, similar to this set) –
Having a few boards helps you cut produce and raw meats without any cross-contamination; helps keep the counters clear (you can pick-up the boards and move them easily), and you can cut/season your proteins and vegetables right on the cutting board and carry them to the grill (if it’s grilling season!). And – being dishwasher safe, you will be able to sanitize your cutting boards between uses. If you happen to have a wood cutting board as well, it makes a great serving platter or cheese board, if you are short on serving pieces when you’re prepping for company!
Mini Waffle Maker (I’ve had this one for years, it’s fantastic) –
If you’re buying toaster waffles and hash brown patties all the time, invest in this $10 waffle maker. It cooks individual waffles up in minutes, and you can freeze them for the week (we usually make a batch for a weekend breakfast, and freeze whatever we don’t eat). It also works with tater tots or shredded hashbrowns to make homemade (season as you’d like!) hash brown patties – another great make and freeze breakfast item.
Desktop Food Warmer (I’ve used this one for a few years, and have the larger size as well) –
After all of your hard work prepping food for the week, don’t settle for waiting in line for the microwave or trying to maintain multipe thermoses to keep meals warm. This food warmer is perfect to heat up a breakfast sandwich (in foil) or a bowl of soup – all while you work on your latest report. No excuses to skip lunch again!
Glass Jars with Screw Top Lids (I bought a set of large and small of these, they last forever) –
These jars work for almost anything – storing dressings, veggies and dip, salads with dressing (just make sure it’s on the bottom!), pudding, overnight oats, chia pudding, the list goes on. They are also diswhasher-safe and durable – I don’t recommend dropping them on the ground, but they can withstand a bit more rough handling than regular glass. They also make a great vessel to hold last minute gifts, like those cookie kits we’ve all received before (just find a recipe online!)
2Qt. Beverage Containers (I have multiple of these, they are durable and long-lasting) –
Use these containers for making cold-brew coffee, mixing lemonade or iced tea, holding sangria, leftover beverages, etc. Also great for taking where glass containers aren’t safe or allowed, such as on boats. Having a few means you can store a few different beverages at once, and are great for parties.
Freezer and Fridge Containers (these are the ones I’m currently using) –
Whether freezing or refrigerating your prepped food, these containers are able to withstand various uses. and have tight fitting lids so that they can transport easily without spilling on your way to the office. As an aside, it does help to have a few smaller and plastic containers for condiments and smaller portions.
Permanent and Wet Erase Markers –
For marking all of your prep, if using ziploc bags (for meats, etc.) use a permanent marker to keep track of what the item is, when it was purchased and any other instructions, such as preparation information if there is a marinade, has a coating, etc. For your reusable containers, make sure to use wet erase markers so that you can reuse the container for other items. Make sure to wipe it off BEFORE you put them in the dishwasher so that the marking doesn’t stick.
What are your favorite meal prep items? Anything on this list also your go-to? Make sure to let me know in the comments below and continue to follow me on Instagram and Facebook for the latest meals and recipes coming out of my kitchen!