You know that meal prepping involves stocking up on groceries to make all the items on your menu. But before you hit the supermarket, you'll want to gather some essential equipment.
Meal prepping is all about maximizing your time in the kitchen. So it makes sense to have the basic tools and appliances that'll help you get the job done as efficiently (and deliciously) as possible. Here, we share exactly what you should buy to make meal prep a breeze.
The 13 Meal Prep Tools You Need
From batch-cooking quinoa to chopping veggies for a stir-fry, stock up on these essential staples to streamline your meal prep efforts tremendously. While you can shop around to find similar items, these are our top picks.
1. A Meal Prep App
A digital organizer can make mapping out several days' worth of breakfasts, lunches and dinners feel more manageable, especially in the beginning. "A meal plan journal or app can help you prepare for the week, making your menu and grocery list," nutrition expert Rachel Fine, RD, tells LIVESTRONG.com
The Plan to Eat app allows you to add recipes to get quick nutritional information and plug them into the weekly planner to generate a shopping list for just $4.95 a month.
2. A Knife Set
You don't need a million knives to cook your meals — just a few sharp, sturdy blades. A good knife set should have a large chef's knife for chopping, dicing and slicing, as well as a paring knife for smaller jobs (like segmenting citrus fruits).
You'll also want a serrated knife for slicing through bread or thick-skinned veggies like tomatoes or peppers, along with a pair of machine-washable kitchen shears.
Knife Sets We Love
3. Cutting Boards
If you don't already have a dedicated chopping surface in your kitchen, now's the time to get one.
Cutting boards made from non-porous plastic are easy to wash in the dishwasher, and they won't dull your knives.
To avoid cross-contamination, get a multi-pack and reserve one board for fruits and veggies and a separate one for meat and poultry.
"It might be helpful to get cutting boards of different colors to help you separate tasks while separating raw, fresh and cooked foods to avoid cross-contamination," says Bonnie-Taub Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com.
Cutting Boards We Love
4. Measuring Cups and Spoons
Measuring your ingredients helps you get a recipe right — and ensures that the nutritional information in your app matches up with the final result.
Cups and spoons made from simple stainless steel are easy to wash and won't run the risk of melting in the dishwasher.
Measuring Cups and Spoons We Love
- RM Importers Measuring Cups and Spoons, 16-piece Set ($31.49, Overstock)
- Simply Gourmet Stainless Steel Measuring Cups and Spoons ($29.99, Amazon)
- Vino Ninja Collapsible Measuring Cups ($11.50, Overstock)
5. Mixing Bowls
A nested set of mixing bowls in various sizes means you always have a bowl ready for whatever you might be making. Bowls made from simple stainless steel are lightweight, durable and you can toss the bowls straight in the dishwasher when you're done with them. Glass bowls are heavier, but they're dishwasher safe and smell-resistant.
Mixing Bowls We Love
- Wilton Covered Mixing Bowl Set of 3 ($18.99, Macy's)
- JoyFul by JoyJolt 5 Piece Glass Food Mixing Bowls With Lids ($70.12, Overstock)
- Heavy Duty Meal Prep Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls Set With Lids ($27.89, Overstock)
- FINEDINE Premium Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls ($24.99, Amazon)
6. Sheet Pans
Basic aluminum sheet pans are a must for roasting or baking everything from proteins to vegetables to big batches of granola. Larger pans are always better than smaller ones since they allow you to bake more at once without crowding your pan. To max out your productivity, keep at least two pans on hand.
Sheet Pans We Love
- Ayesha Curry 3-piece Baking Sheet Set ($27.99, Macy's)
- Classic Cuisine 3-piece Baking Sheet Set With Silicone Handles ($27.99, Overstock)
- Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker’s Half Sheet (2-Pack) ($23.99, Amazon)
7. Silicone Bakeware
Reusable, nonstock bakeware made with flexible silicone makes baking muffins along with individual quiches, frittatas or meatloaves super easy. "They work well for portioning out snacks like nuts or crackers, too," Fine says.
Silicone Bakeware We Love
- Chef Buddy Silicone Muffin Pan- NonstickReusable Baking Tray ($21.59, Overstock)
- Amazon Basics Reusable Silicone Baking Cups ($5.99, Amazon)
- RONCO Cook's Companion 4-piece Collapsible Silicone Bakeware Set ($25.81, Overstock)
- Wolfgang Puck 4-piece Silicone Collapsible Bakeware Set ($21.59, Overstock)
8. A Bakeware Set
For maximum versatility, get a nonstick bakeware set with several different sizes included. Use loaf pans for quick loaves of bread and meatloaf, round pans for frittatas and quiches (or hey, cake!) and square or rectangular pans for casseroles and baked oatmeal.
Bakeware Sets We Love
- JoyTable 15-piece Bakeware Set With Silicone Handles ($67.23, Overstock)
- Farberware Nonstick Bakeware 10-Piece Set with Cooling Rack ($39.99, Amazon)
- MALACASA Ceramic Oval Baking Dish Set ($35.99, Overstock)
9. A Food Scale
A food scale comes in great handy when you're baking or need to sort that big batch of chili out into individual portions. They can help you ensure that you're measuring ingredients correctly and that you're accurately reading the amount of macros and calories in your portions.
Food Scales We Love
10. A Food Processor
The food processor is the best tool for creating fresh dips, sauces and dressings fast. Plus, you can use the interchangeable blade discs to grate or slice vegetables or cheese without breaking a sweat. A 5-cup model is big enough for most tasks, but won't take over your entire counter.
Food Processors We Love
11. High-Speed Blender
Yup, they're handy to have even if you've got a food processor on hand. A high-speed blender is the best tool for making super creamy smoothies, soups or sauces, says registered dietitiann Andres Ayesta, RD.
That's especially true if you're incorporating ingredients that can get grainy, like nuts or seeds.
High-Speed Blenders We Love
- Ninja Professional 72-Ounce Countertop Blender ($69.99, Amazon)
- KitchenAid K150 3 Speed Ice Crushing Blender with 2 Blender Jars ($211.84, Overstock)
- Weston Pro Series Blender ($245.22, Overstock)
- Ninja Foodi Power Blender & Processor ($151.99, Overstock)
12. A Slow Cooker
The slow cooker is the easiest way to make hearty soups, stews, chilis or braises. (Just toss the ingredients in, turn it on and go do something else!)
Plus, using it to make slow-cooker recipes frees up your stovetop for other tasks like searing or sautéing.
Slow Cookers We Love
13. An Electric Griddle
Sure, you could cook whole-wheat pancakes or turkey burgers a few at a time in your trusty nonstick skillet. But a large, flat electric griddle means you can churn out an entire batch at once, says Ayesta. And that can add up to major time savings.
Cook entire meals like eggs and bacon, veggies and fish or chicken and potatoes all on one pan at the same time — it doesn't get simpler than that.
Electric Griddles We Love
- Aroma Housewares Smokeless Indoor Use Electric Griddle ($62.32, Overstock)
- Presto 22-Inch Electric Griddle ($49.99, Amazon)
- Litifo Smokeless Portable Electric Grill ($110.69, Overstock)