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One time I prepped 12 freezer meals in a single day. It was a bad idea.
I wouldn’t recommend going that route but even casual meal prepping can be an undertaking. That’s why it’s so important to have the right tools to make it as painless and quick as possible.
So here are the things you need, and the stuff that’s nice to have, to make meal prepping a part of your weekly routine.
Best Meal Prep Containers
When it comes to meal prepping you ideally want a few different types of containers. You don’t need all these containers but these are the best of the best types of containers to use.
If you can only afford one type of container then get two orders of these 3-pack glass storage containers. You theoretically only need six containers to prep six meals. The single compartment makes them versatile and glass means they won’t stain if you have a red sauce in there.
This type of lid is also preferable because you’ll be taking them on and off quite a bit. I love Pyrex but it’s not on the list because those lids crack so easily. Also, this type of glass is oven, freezer, microwave, and dishwasher safe. That’s really important because you have the choice to cook right in your prep container. #TeamLessDishes
Because it’s convenient to have more than 6 containers and nice having them in varying sizes I also have plastic containers. I use them for sauces, salads, and anything I don’t plan on reheating once it’s made.
You definitely want plastic that’s BPA free even if you don’t plan on microwaving in it because let’s face it, it’ll happen. And these lids are heavy duty so they won’t crack like cheaper plastic lids. Lastly, they snap together for tight storage.
3-Compartment Glass Containers
When you’re ready to graduate past the basics, 3-compartment containers are the only other containers I suggest. Again, I prefer glass that’s oven and freezer safe as it gives you the option of avoiding gratuitous microwave use.
These particular containers are my favorite for the cutlery storage. This 3 pack comes with its own cutlery so your fork won’t be hanging out in your purse all day til lunch. Just me?
3-Compartment Plastic Containers
And for the large family or completely overzealous, there’s the 15-pack plastic 3-compartment containers. These black containers won’t show stains, are dishwasher safe, and BPA free.
They have a heavy duty corner flap to prevent lid breakage and are made of a sturdy plastic, unlike those “disposable” Tupperware you’ve been using for years.
Other Meal Prep Essentials
Now that you have a place to store your goodies here are some of the things you’ll want to have to make your meal prep life easier.
Gallon and Quart Freezer Bags
Every meal prepper should have a box of freezer bags on hand. Gallon size for soups and stews and quart size for individually frozen veggies. Whenever I open a bag of frozen veggies and don’t use it up I put the bag in a freezer bag to prevent freezer burn.
Aldi store brand freezer bags work just as well as name brand so save your money. And whenever freezing something in a bag, lay it flat for front load freezers or on a rimmed baking tray in top load freezers. You’ll usually thaw overnight but on the off chance you don’t, you don’t want any stuck crevices keeping you from removing your meal.
Use parchment paper to line baking trays when you’re baking or roasting to eliminate cooking spray, use less oil, and make clean up easier! I also use it to freeze things individually that could stick together. Usually mangoes, bananas, and bean burgers. Once they’re frozen you can bag them up and they won’t get clumpy.
Rimmed Baking Trays
If you can only have one baking tray it better be rimmed. I know they’re not the best for baking pizza on but they’re the best for everything else.
Labeling is essential when you’re prepping. No one expects you to remember why you diced one onion and sliced another. Bags are easy because you can write directly on them but you’ll want tape to label containers. I don’t advise leaving containers in your freezer for months in which case you don’t need to buy freezer safe tape.
Having multiple cutting boards is the way to go, especially if you eat meat. These no-slip plastic boards are safe and more hygienic than bamboo.
You need good sharp knives to make this process go fast, otherwise, you’ll be chopping ALL. DAY. LONG. Knives really do make a world of difference when cooking at home and it is completely worth it to get a good set. Thankfully, you can find a good set for less than $30. A block that comes with scissors and a sharpening tool is a must-have for knife sets.
Multi-Use Electric Cooker
A multi-use electric cooker isn’t necessary but makes things go a lot faster. Once you’ve been doing this a while you’ll wonder how you ever got along without one. And I recommend multi-use cookers because they eliminate clutter and complication in your home.
My favorite starter multi-use electric cooker is the Aroma 3-in-1 rice cooker, slow cooker, and steamer. I used it at least twice a week even with meal prep. I make a batch of rice for the week and slow cook a freezer meal on Friday, you can even steam some veggies while cooking the rice.