With kids around, meal prepping is super helpful. With a little forethought, and some good meal prep tools, you can feed your hungry crew fresh, healthy food and still have time to enjoy connecting with friends and family.
We’ve rounded up our favorite tools to make meal prepping easier, which surely will put a smile on anyone’s face.
The kitchen tools for meal prep differ from small handy gadgets to larger cooker devices. Your go-to utensils will depend on your needs.
However, for those with families to feed, you’ll want to focus on meal prep tools that allow you to cook a lot at once. That doesn’t mean you must stand in the kitchen for hours on end. Don’t believe us? Read on.
Our top five meal prep kitchen tools:
1. A Meal Plan
Yes, this may be obvious to some, but it was not for us. It is so tempting to just keep a running tally and not really plan things out. We even used Alexa for a while. And, while this all kind of worked alright, we always forgot items. We often did not have what we needed on the designated prepping day, defeating the whole purpose of meal planning. We also ended up having lots of this-will-do meals.
If you really want to increase your productivity and be able to relax about cooking for a week or more ahead, then you need a plan. Planners come in all shapes and sizes. We like the magnetic ones that you can leave on the fridge. List your groceries, cook, then heat your meals; it’s that easy.
2. Cutting Board
They’re are so many options. Some claim one type is healthier while others claim the opposite. We opted for practical ones that we can stick in the dishwasher, helping us stay healthier.
We like having a cutting board with a tray under it. This makes it easier to deal with bulk chopping efforts. And, we keep a drawer full of others in various sizes. It seems you can never have too many chopping boards.
3. Healthy Baking Mats and Cups
The oven is your friend. Repeat this mantra. Silicone baking mats and cups help keep you healthier by reducing your need for oils and papers for cooking purposes, keep your oven clean, are dishwasher safe, and they easily lay on top of your glasses in the dishwasher’s top rack, meaning you have to clean less things by hand (yeah!).
4. Instant Pot Vs. Slow Cooker for Meal Prepping
In theory, if you are meal planning, then you are not in a hurry when you’re cooking because you’ve made time for it. This is not how it works for me. When I am cooking in bulk, I want to get it done so I can go play with my daughter. So, full disclosure, I am an Instant Pot kind of guy. Some people, though, love their slow cookers (you’re welcome here, too). Either way, you will want one of these devices. They are game changers.
If you were born after 1990, then it might be helpful to explain what a slower cooker is; it’s this device. It cooks at a low temperature for hours while you’re away working or at the gym, for example.
I have wonderful memories of my grandmother’s pot roast, which she made in her slow cooker. It filled the whole house with the most amazing aromas for hours and the meat was so tender. Everyone loved it.
If this is how you want to cook, then please invite me for dinner. And, you might consider getting a 6-quart Cook N’ Carry slow cooker. It is one of the original “Crock-Pots” and it still has a great reputation.
The Instant Pot is basically an optimized Crock-Pot. It does the same, except it does it hotter and faster.
Many of these modern gadgets include a variety of settings, from a rice cooker to a pressure cooker. They make for an excellent all-in-one device that meet a variety of needs.
This original Instant Pot is widely popular, budget-friendly, and provides endless opportunities for meal prep. You’ll get seven appliance options and 14 programs to choose from.
5. Storage Containers
Raise your hand if you fantasize about Tupperware? No one? Well, I do. I’ve already designed my dream tupperware in my head… and it’s glorious. Until that becomes real, though, we are very happy to have the ones we have!
Table stakes for any good container is it needs to be able to change temperatures quickly and frequently without losing its seal or leak. And, of course, it must be dishwasher safe. These days, there’re an impressive number of options that do this. We prefer glass ones since we also want to save the world! We like this set and this one. They both work quiet nicely!
How Do We Meal Prep for the Week?
Everyone has a preferred style of meal prepping. You could get it done all in one go on the weekend. Some enjoy doing this for the sake of convenience. However, the pitfall we found with this method is that you’re committed to those exact meals for an entire week.
Instead, we like to prep ingredients in advance that we know we can use in a variety of ways. Chopped vegetables, minced beef ,or shredded chicken are good examples of food that give you some flexibility with the final product.
This way, we can be a bit more spontaneous a few days later when our schedule or cravings change.
For more information on how to tackle meal prep, please check out our article: How to Meal Prep Like a Pro: A Beginner’s Guide to Make-Ahead Meals.
Some Standard Kitchen Tools That Also Help with Meal Prep
- Chef’s Knife: Our favorite at the moment is the super popular Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife. It features an ergonomic handle, is easy to clean and sure to make meal prep easier.
- Measuring Cups: Look for an option that’s durable and comes with a mechanism that keeps them together. We love this set from Simply Gourmet. It’s stainless steel and contains 12 pieces, including cups and spoons.
- Basic set of pots and pans: It might sound obvious, but these kitchen tools aren’t down on your standard meal prep list. This is to remind us that prep often requires a bit of cooking before meal time. This 13-piece set from Gotham Steel is easy to clean and comes with cool-touch handles for safety.
Time to Start Meal Prepping
Whether you’re rushing your kids off to soccer practice with team snacks or having a family gathering mid-week, many scenarios require forethought.
The right kitchen tools can make all the difference in the world when you want to meal prep and plan. Not only do they aid in efficiency, convenience and organization, but these tools can make cooking more enjoyable for the whole family.
Get your children involved by introducing them to the meal planner, for example. Let the hubby get down and dirty with the chef knife. Enjoy the small moments and reap the rewards of meal planning today.