We don’t have to sell you on the benefits of meal prepping—it saves time, money, and stress. When you know how to meal-prep (and actually do it) there’s no need to wander aimlessly around the grocery store, spend another $15 on take-out, or stress out over less-than-healthy choices made because it’s 8:30 pm, you’re hangry, and have no idea what’s for dinner. Luckily, taking about one hour on a Sunday (or whatever day works for you) to prep your meals for the coming week isn’t as hard as you think. In fact, it’s easy…if you have the right tools. Here are six basic—but important—things you need to be a meal-prep pro.
1. Good Knives
Any ol’ knives will work, right? Nope. Have you ever tried cutting a tomato with a dull knife? Enough said. Dull knives mean more slipping (and, possibly, more cut appendages) as well as more time spent trying to hack through a piece of chicken or slice a cucumber. Unfortunately, cheap knives aren’t made to last and high- quality knife sets can carry a sky-high price tag. So look to start your collection with these three classics—and spring for the best version you can afford:
-8-inch Chef’s knife
A Chef’s knife was originally developed to cut through thick slices of meat, but this standby staple works well for slicing through potatoes, squash, and a variety of vegetables, too.
A good-quality long, serrated, bread knife can slice through even the thickest of crusty sourdough loaves. Just don’t use your new knife as an excuse to start gorging on white bread.
-3-inch Paring Knife
A paring knife is useful for the smaller, finer details of meal prep: think slicing carrots and radishes, or peeling a cucumber.
2. Glass storage containers
Storage containers are essential when meal prepping; after all, once you’ve cooked up your grains, grilled your meat, and sliced your veggies, you need a place to store all that good food. While your old assortment of mismatched plastic containers might do the job, chemicals found in certain plastic containers can leach into food when heated or microwaved. Opt for slightly pricier glass storage containers instead.
3. Storage bag holder
If your meal-prepping involves storing lots of food in gallon-size zip-top bags before parcelling out individual meals—or just for easy weeknight access—or prepping freezer meals, a bag holder can be a life-changing kitchen tool. OK, maybe that’s overstating it just a bit, but seriously, a bag holder like this Bag Well model can make transferring your food into bags easy and mess-free.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the Instant Pot. If not, well, get acquainted with the wonders of the multi-cooker. Depending on the brand and model you buy, a multi-cooker can replace almost every other countertop appliance you might own—think slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, and even yogurt maker all in one.
5. Mason jars & lids
Mason jars might remind you more of grandma’s strawberry jam than supreme health and fitness, but these uncomplicated kitchen tools can make meal prepping easy, and meal eating mess-free. They’re an especially great (and pretty) way to prep and store healthy breakfast staples like yogurt parfaits and overnight oats, and are great for layering salads so ingredients don’t get soggy.
6. A high-powered blender
Make breakfast a breeze by prepping smoothie ingredients ahead of time; then tossing them into a blender. And while a basic blender will do, a high-powered blender like the Vitamix is the holy grail of healthy eating made simple.