Is meal prep something that you struggle with? Maybe it's because you just don't have enough time, you get overwhelmed by the process, you don’t know what to make, or maybe you just don't have the right tools. In this blog, I will share my favorite go-to things that I have to have when I meal prep and why you need them in your kitchen!
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First off, these are products that I actually use in my kitchen all the time. These are not products that someone has told me to pedal and push onto you. These are things that I literally use in my kitchen on a weekly basis, sometimes, multiple times a week. I could not make it through my meal prep if it weren't for these items.
Don’t run to the store, buy a bunch of ingredients and start playing Jamie Oliver in your kitchen without containers, because what will happen? You won’t have anything to put that yummy food in. You need something good, durable, and will stand the test of time because containers can be expensive. Get something worth the money you spend as you don’t want to replace them after a few trips to the microwave.
There are two kinds that I use regularly:
The Pyrex. This is a sturdy, glass container with a thick plastic lid. These are a MUST anytime I have something with fatty meat, such as chicken thighs. Though a delicious protein, sometimes they can give off greasy juices due to the fat content. Also, anytime storing pasta or tomato based sauce or soup, these work wonderfully because you're not going to have any staining. When you reheat in plastic, sometimes tomato-based recipes will stain your containers and they don't look very appetizing when the meal is devoured.
The OXO. These plastic locking containers are leak-proof and they have a really nice plastic thick plastic band around that's going to lock all the feasties in. It could be soup or steak. It will lock it in without a leak in your lunch bag. They clean up easily and do not retain odors.
Maybe you got one for Christmas one year and shoved it in that guest room closet, thinking you would get it out one day. Maybe you opted for the air fryer instead of the Instant Pot on that after Thanksgiving special. No matter what, you need an electric pressure cooker in your life if you are serious about meal prep. I have two, one name brand and the other from Pampered Chef. Both are great and have a few different features. Ultimately, they both do the same thing. You can cook anything you would in a crock pot, oven, or stove in one of these magic babies in a fraction of the time and you still get all the juiciness, tenderness, and meatiness.
This is really a fix-it-and-forget-it-for-a-couple-of-hours type of mechanism. For someone who has a busy lifestyle, like myself, this is great! If you have chores to do around the house, a shower, or maybe you just want to take a nap because life has you tired, food fantasies can be cooking up deliciously while you get all your stuff taken care of!
Technically, you can cook rice in the pressure cooker, BUT I like to use the rice cooker. It’s smaller, and it’s just for rice. Simple settings: White or Brown. Start, delay, off. I love cooking my quinoa in a rice cooker versus the stove. Quinoa is such a great, healthy grain and I actually prefer quinoa to rice. I like to add chicken stock or vegetable stock, fresh garlic, mushrooms, onions, and maybe a dab of butter. When I'm making rice or quinoa on the stove, it comes out disgusting, watery, and weird, okay? I admit I suck at cooking rice on the stove, but in the rice cooker, it's magical and it's perfect every time.
Part of meal prep is prepping your veggies, potatoes, or your meats. Ensuring you have a great set of knives for prep work is essential. Dull knives can actually be extremely dangerous. I love the Henckel knives. They are very sharp and the metal goes all the way through to the end of the handle. It's not some cheap piece of wood and a little blade that's kind of sandwiched in there. Henckels also has a lifetime guarantee on their knives.
I got these for Christmas and I use them daily. I had Ronco knives and I kept them. They're phenomenal as well. Whichever knife set you purchase or own, make sure you have a knife sharpener to keep the blade sharp. Always hand-wash them and never put them in the dishwasher, as it will dull the blade.
You guys, I use this tool all the time. Probably my all-time favorite. It's super easy to use. This vacuum sealer comes with “starter” bags, but purchase extra as you will want them. One of the keys to meal prep is buying your meats and ingredients when they are priced right. That may or may not be when you “need” them. A vacuum sealer will ensure that your grocery sale treasures will remain delicious and good when you are ready to use them. Bring them home, divide them out, write the date and weight, and seal it up! Pop in the freezer or fridge and your are set!
Sometimes when your paycheck doesn't stretch as far as you want it, you have to dig in the freezer and say, “what can I make with these pork chops?” You defrost them and you have a delicious meal. The food vacuum sealer is probably one of the best investments you can make, especially if you're on a budget, you're trying to eat healthier, or you just want to get into meal prepping.
I hope that you have some of these items in your kitchen already. If not, then it's time you looked into getting them or put them on your wish list. The holidays will be here before you know it. If you would like to see more info on these products and how I use them, check out my Facebook Live where I go over all 5 tools! Be sure to say hi and give me some feedback in the comments. I love hearing stories, tips, and advice from my audience.
Let me know which one of these you love or want to add to your kitchen!
Until next time, Keep Life Zesty.