Knowing your way around the kitchen may not be something that you’ve practiced for a majority of your life, but if you intend to take your nutrition to the next level, you will more than likely be spending a lot of time with your kitchen tools. Sure, you can get by with just one plate, one set of silverware, and eyeballing portions. But at some point you may decide that you want to kill it at prepping your meals efficiently, and you will want the weapons to do so. I spend a lot of time committed to my eating habits, but I want to minimize my time preparing it. I take meal prep very seriously, so here are some helpful ways to utilize your kitchen tools, and become a pro at prepping meals!
Tupperware & shaker cups
I list this one first, because the more committed you are to your diet, the more you will be handling these things. In fact, I rarely wash dishes anymore….I wash Tupperware. You have about 3 options here: Cheap plastic Tupperware that can be thrown away after so many uses and won’t break if you drop them, better quality plastics which you will want to hang on to but that won’t weigh down your cooler, or very nice glassware that may cost more and be heavier to handle, but will last you a long time and eliminate the concern of hormone disruption from xenoestrogens found in plastics that are exposed to heat. I also use shaker cups, and baby formula dispenser containers to store my measured protein powders, creatine, and amino acids during workouts, then just add water when I need to consume them. You can also choose to use paper plates, and plastic utensils to stock in your car or locker at the gym for on-the-go eating.
Cutting Tools & Graters
If you like to chop up veggies and meat, buying the proper knives and cutting boards for each task will save you a ton of patience. I used to be a one-knife-fits all person, but now I grab whichever one is appropriate for the density or size to which I would like to dice.
I would also consider the vegetable chopper, spiralizer, and slicer/mandolin in this category, especially for making vegetable pastas, chips, and salsas. Graters can be used for hard cheeses, or citrus zest to add to recipes.
Cook and Bake Ware
I try to keep things that I have to wash to a minimum, but there are a few varieties of these tools that I use each week to mass prep. I always use a big non-stick skillet or wok for my veggies and ground meats, and at least one or two large glass baking dishes for my chicken and fish. A cookie sheet always comes in handy for halved potatoes or crispy spinach. Occasionally, I will use a muffin tin for oatmeal muffins or baked egg whites. If I will be traveling, I look for aluminum tins with paper lids to not only carry and pack my food, but to use in an oven if a hotel has an efficiency suite or a friend has a grill. These can also serve as containers for your meals after you are done with cooking in them. You will also probably want a strainer of some sort, for washed veggies and pastas.
This is pretty basic, but it’s easy to forget all of the sources that can be used to cook your food at home or away from home. Of course, there’s the stovetop, oven, and microwave for just about anything. You can also use the grill, firepit, or smoker to use outside for meats and vegetables. If you are camping, you can wrap your food in aluminum foil to roast over a campfire. You can also find an Air Fryer for crunchy fries and other recipes. And if you are traveling around buildings or in your car, you can use a plug ins like portable hotplates/burners, electric heating lunchboxes, quesadilla makers, electric skillets/grills/griddles, a waffle maker, or even an electric kettle for hot water in your oats, or your French pressed coffee/ tea.
Again, pretty straightforward, but use your refrigerator, freezer, mini fridge, cooler/electric cooler, coldbags, and ice packs to keep things chilled. You can also keep your meals in the freezer so that they only thaw to a safe temperature on long days, and keep your other foods colder longer.
Blenders, Processors, Mixers, & Grinders
Blenders can be used for more than just protein shakes. Any blender can be used for bulletproof coffee, protein ice creams, and protein shakes. A heavy duty blender like the Vitamix or Ninja could also handle some vegetables to dice, puree or even make your own nut butter or milk! Hand mixers and food processors are also great for blending ingredients before baking, or making mashed potatoes. I use a coffee grinder to also grind up seeds into a finer “meal,” or turn my oats into oat flour.
Pressure Cookers, CrockPots, Slow Cookers, and Steamers
I never knew what I was missing until my sister gave me a crockpot one Christmas. I had always heard my mom and aunts speak of them, but I had never used one. Now I don’t know what I would do without one. I use it for my weekly crockpot chicken recipe, sweet potatoes, soups and stews, slow roasting meats, and cooking rice or quinoa. It is very beneficial if you are gone all day and need to set a recipe to be done when you get home several hours later. You can even find mini crockpot lunchboxes to take to work and plug in when you arrive to eat later in the day. My boyfriend upgraded us to the multifunctional Breville Pressure Cooker, which also steams, sauté’s, reduces, and sears foods, all with a press of a button and saves a ton of space and it’s so easy to clean. A rice steamer also comes in handy for quinoa, or steaming vegetables.
You can store most of your cooked items in tupperwares, bowls covered in plasticwrap or foil, and ziplock bags. I buy the tiny jewelry bags from a craft store to package up my supplement capsules and tabs for easy travel (just mark them with a pen so you know what is in there!) I also use condiment cups to ration out my nut butters, and to also keep myself in control rather than having the dangerous freedom of reaching into the jar one too many times. I measure my allotted tablespoons of nut butter into each cup, then seal it with the lid. That way, I know exactly what my serving is, and that there isn’t any more. I also use these condiment cups for my bulletproof coffee oils/butter/dressings/condiments or other liquid when traveling. I treat my ice cube trays as storage too. I pour my measured and melted butter, olive or coconut oils into each compartment and stick it in the freezer. When I need to cook with 1 TBS of oil, I know that’s how much in a compartment, so I pop it out and toss it in the heated skillet (or my hot coffee for my coconut oil/butter), or add it to a Tupperware meal and let it come to room temperature. You can even season your olive oils with herbs to give it more flavor and aroma before freezing. I do this with leftover coffee, to make frozen coffee cubes to throw in my coffee if it’s too hot without watering down the flavor.
This category will include your measuring cups (for both dry and liquid) and measuring spoons. Some of these you can find in one item that multi measures certain amounts to cut down a drawer space. You will most definitely want a food scale in your kitchen. A simple old fashioned scale will work. I prefer a digital scale so I don’t have to spend as much time guessing. And if you want to get really fancy, the Escali digital scale can sync with an app on your phone to provide not only weight, but also nutrient value found in the food that you are measuring. This is a good choice for If It Fits Your Macros or flexible dieting.
Miscellaneous Kitchen Tools
I use aluminum foil each time I prep, to line my baking dishes (or even Crockpot liners) and make cleanup easier. I also use it to wrap my sweet potatoes to bake in the oven. Speaking of potatoes, a fabric microwavable potato bag is great for a quick option to cook them. You can also buy microwavable steamer bags for potatoes and other vegetables.
I’m sure that I’ve forgotten to mention something in this article, but this should give you more than enough ideas to at least start mastering your meal prep for the week!