Our Favorite Meal Prep Tools – A Beautiful Mess
I always get a few questions every time I post a food photo with my glass food storage containers (like in this green curry recipe), so I thought I’d share not only my favorite containers, but other meal prep tools that lately I’ve found super helpful. Everybody does meal prep a little differently, and I’m planning to share more about how I do it and how I make it easy in a post soon (it’s on my list!). But the basic gist for anyone new to the concept is you prep a bunch of full or partial meals ahead of time, like on Sunday, so you can very quickly throw together meals all week long. Not only can this save you a bunch of time, but it can also help you eat better as you can plan and prep healthy meals and then you have no excuse when it comes to eating well all week long. Really, it’s simple, but like most things in life until you actually DO it you won’t see the awesome benefits. One thing that helps is having a few key tools that make the whole process that much easier. These are some items that I think are essential.
1. Glass Food Storage Containers – I have these two compartment containers as well as these round ones. I love the two compartment ones for storing leftovers or if I’m making a big batch of something to eat all week and I want to keep elements separate or store other things along with it (like fried rice or cauliflower dishes). The round ones are good for almost anything, but I use them most for making a big pot of soup and then storing 3-4 servings for easy lunches throughout the week. I love that the glass containers can be refrigerated, baked in the oven, warmed in the microwave, and hold up well to dishwashing. It’s seriously SO much better than plastic food containers!
2. Immersion Blender – I’m going to recommend a few different mixing/blending/chopping tools in this post, so don’t feel like you need to buy ALL of them if you don’t own any yet. But to be totally honest with you, I do own all of these and I love them and use them for different things. But you don’t need them all and if you don’t have the storage, don’t sweat it. OK, so I love to use my immersion blender to puree soups. That’s probably the task I use it for the most. I love that you can just stick the blender in the soup pot and you don’t have to transfer hot liquids from a pot to a blender. Many immersion blenders also come with different attachments, so they can act like an electric blender too (for whisking, think homemade whipped cream or mayo). And some can also act like mini food processors. So again, up to you and your needs, but I use mine for soup ALL the time. 😉
3. Water Tumblers – Although these are not strictly a ‘meal prep tool,’ I wanted to include them here anyway because I think there’s a lot of value in having and using a large reusable water cup. Staying hydrated is so important! Not only is it important for health (check out this article here), but I notice a big difference in my skin when I’m staying hydrated over when I’m not. And personally it’s easy for me to totally forget about drinking water once I start working or doing things in my day, so having a cute tumbler I can set by my desk, take in the car, or carry to the gym is really helpful.
4. High Power Blender – This is probably the number one thing I recommend to friends who are just starting to put their kitchen together, or registering for their wedding, etc. A high quality blender is SUCH a useful tool, although it can be a bit of an investment. This is the blender I currently have and it’s my favorite one I’ve ever used. I’ve had quite a few blenders over the years and my husband also thinks this is the best one we’ve ever had. It’s great for smoothies, soups, sauces, and blending dry ingredients (like hot cereal mix). We use it for smoothies almost every day!
5. Cutting Boards – I love wooden cutting boards for serving and photos, but when I’m ready to get down to my meal prep business, I almost always reach for one of our plastic cutting boards because they are easier to clean (you can throw them in the dishwasher). Bonus points if your cutting boards are a cute color—that will make all that chopping just a little more fun. 🙂
6. Food Processor – I know, this is the third blending-type tool! I warned you. 🙂 OK, so I have a smaller food processor and I like using that for tasks that don’t feel suited for my blender. For me, this is usually prepping cauliflower for cauliflower rice dishes, chopping nuts (like making non-dairy Parmesan cheese), and making smaller amounts of dips like hummus.
7. Good Knives – Personally, I’m not much a knife snob. I don’t really have one brand that I prefer over others, although I wouldn’t necessarily buy the cheapest knives you can find either. To me, there are two important factors to kitchen knives. First, choose something that feels good in your hand. I use knives for basically every kitchen task/meal I work on (even prepping for smoothies), so having something that feels good while you work is important. And second, invest in a knife sharpener and use it as needed. I cook a lot so I tend to sharpen my knives at least a couple times a year. Oh, and if you’re buying a set, I recommend picking one that includes kitchen shears (the scissors) because I use mine ALL the time.
8. Reusable Plastic Storage Bags – These are one item that I do not currently have but I’m realizing I need to get. I use plastic ziplock bags a LOT. I store prepped smoothie ingredients in the freezer, and I’ll store other prepped items (like cooked brown rice, or baked tofu) in bags in our refrigerator as well. I think it would be a better choice for the environment if I got some reusable bags to use instead, or at least for the majority of these tasks so we throw away less plastic throughout the year as a household. I do wonder how well these clean? Hmm. If any of you use these, let me know if you have any tips. And once I get and use some of these for a while, I can update you all as well.
Hope some of you found this helpful and I’d love to hear if you have additional meal prep tools you love to use that I didn’t list. xo. Emma