New to meal prepping? This time-saving task involves preparing ingredients or cooking meals in advance that you can store and eat later. And with the help of a few essential kitchen tools, meal prepping can easily become your weekly habit.
What is Meal Prep?
It’s a rewarding kitchen activity of preparing food ahead of time for you to store then eat throughout the week. Meal prep can be done by cooking food in big batches, portioning full meals that you can reheat at mealtimes, or preparing ready-to-cook ingredients.
Why Meal Prep?
To save time, energy, and money
Make-ahead meals means you spend less time cooking during the week. It saves energy as you have meals or ingredients prepared in one go. Meals are also less expensive when cooked at home.
To reduce food waste
Meal prep teaches you to plan and only buy enough food that you need for a certain period of time.
To eat healthier meals
By meal prepping, you have full control of how you cook your food and what goes into every dish.
To bring out your creativity
One of best things about meal prep is it allows you to mix and match your prepared ingredients. Addition of herbs, condiments, and a few pantry staples also let you turn one prepared dish into something new.
To keep you organised
Meal prep keeps you focused and relaxed during your busiest days. By planning ahead, you don’t have to settle on eating unhealthy meals or cook dinner after a tiring day at work.
What Makes Meal Prep Easier?
Easy meal prep starts with a good meal plan. Make a checklist of the ingredients you need to buy then decide how you will be preparing them at home. Check if you have the proper kitchen tools and storage containers. Here’s a few essentials you’ll be needing.
1. Multi Cookers
Stovetop pressure cookers are important in meal prepping grains, rice, and meat in less time plus they can double as a stew pot or saucepan. A slow cooker is also a good option as it lets you cook while doing other prep tasks. On the other hand, a multi-cooker can do both pressure and slow cooking and more.
When choosing the right cooker, consider the meals you plan to frequently cook and the amount of food you need to prepare. Having an electric cooker may also be a better choice if you want your stovetop free for other meal prepping tasks.
2. Roasting Pans and Baking Trays
To save more time during meal prep, use the oven to prepare other dishes while cooking on the stovetop or with your electric cooker. Roasting pans have side walls, making them ideal for cooking proteins in larger portions or food with sauces. The lower rims of baking trays allow oven heat to easily penetrate food, which is perfect for quick roasting.
For meal prepping, versatile enamel baking trays are lightweight for easy cleaning and storage. These can also be used on gas and electric stovetops. Non-stick roasting pans are perfect for easy meal prepping with a quick clean-up. We also recommend having pans and trays in different sizes so you can fit more trays in the oven and cook different dishes at the same time.
3. Food processors, spiralizers, and mandolines
If you have a big family, peeling and slicing a large amount of ingredients can take time. Food processors let you prep faster with more consistent results. Choose a food processor with interchangeable discs or blades that can also grate, dice, or shred food so you can do more with one appliance.
Spiralizers and mandolines are also useful additions to your meal prepping kit. These tools let you add different textures and shapes to food, making meals more appealing. Spiralizer attachments that connect to electric mixers or food processors are ideal for easy meal prepping. For mandoline, it is good to have one that is heavy-duty; comes with non-slip feet; and can slice, julienne, and cut food into waffle shapes.
While waiting for your food to be cooked, you can make dips or make-ahead smoothies with a blender. Some blenders come with dedicated buttons for blending specific food items to make meal prep easier. Others are also equipped with adjustable timers to let you multitask and not worry about over mixing.
Stick blenders are more ideal when meal prepping soups, so you can blend directly in the pot without having to transfer hot ingredients into a regular blender jug. These also usually include interchangeable accessories, so you can use the same appliance for whipping and chopping when needed.
5. Meal Prep Containers and Glass Jars
After preparing and cooking your meal prep ingredients, transfer them in containers for fridge or freezer storage. Multi-compartment containers are best for storing full meals to go. Glass containers make contents easier to see and can also go into the oven for reheating food. Clip-top glass jars are great for storing dips, veggie sticks, smoothies and overnight oats in an airtight seal.