The 10 Most Important Products for Meal Prep, According to Chefs
Professional chefs are accustomed to cooking in bulk, so we tapped into their expert knowledge to find the best products for meal prep at home.
Meal prepping is becoming increasingly popular as a way to eat healthier while saving time and money. But with so many products on the market, how do shoppers know which ones are essential for successful meal prep? We spoke to professional chefs from around the country to get their opinions on the best products for batch cooking. From high-quality knives to airtight containers, these chefs shared their must-have items that make cooking and storing meals easier and more efficient. Read on to discover their top picks.
1. Glass Containers
Jessica Randhawa, head chef and recipe creator for The Forked Spoon says, “These Glass Meal Prep Containers with 2 Compartments are my absolute favorite meal containers.” She explains, “Having two compartments is perfect if you prefer to keep flavors separate from each other or to prevent a sauce from making something soggy.” These glass meal prep containers are not only environmentally friendly but are also freezable, microwavable, and dishwasher-safe for added convenience.
2. Non-Stick Pans
According to Kyle Jones, Head Chef at Craft Wood Fired Catering, “Having the right tools in the
kitchen can really make a difference when it comes to efficient meal prepping.” His number one must-have? A high-quality non-stick pan. With so many options to choose from, it’s easy for shoppers to become overwhelmed when trying to pick the best model. Jones says, “I prefer to use carbon steel or hard anodized aluminum for my pans because the heat conductor is more efficient, and the non-stick surface minimizes sticking and makes cleanup a breeze.”
3. Muffin Pans
Meal prepping can get messy and create a sink full of dishes, but this hack from Michael Smith, Director of Culinary Operations at Texas Christian University Dining, will significantly cut down on cleaning time. He suggests using a muffin pan when meal prepping at home. He says, “You can prep all your ingredients and hold them in the muffin pan compartments until needed,” adding, “then when you’re finished, you have one pan to clean.”
4. A Chef’s Knife
Most professional chefs agree that a key tool in every kitchen is a high-quality knife. A sharp chef’s knife makes chopping fruit, vegetables, meat, and fish a breeze and allows users to hone their knife skills. While there are countless options on the market, the pros love Victorinox, and their 6 Inch Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife is an excellent affordable option that’s versatile enough to be used for nearly any kitchen task.
5. Bento Boxes
Many people do meal prep when following specific diets to help ensure they’re getting the right balance of macronutrients. Executive Chef Patrick Tipton loves using EZ Prepa Bento Boxes for this purpose because they have three compartments that can be used to portion out protein, vegetables, and carbohydrates. They’re microwavable and dishwasher safe, adding to their versatility.
6. Kitchen Scale
Several of the chefs we spoke with recommended using a kitchen scale when meal prepping with diet restrictions in mind. Weighing food is a key component in portion control, and an easy-to-use scale makes the process a breeze. While kitchen scales may not be considered a staple for many home cooks, they’re used for both cooking and baking and are available at an affordable price.
7. Collapsible Produce Washer
One of the most tedious parts of meal prep is washing produce. With the right products, however, this essential step can be a little more convenient. Chef and cookbook author Mareya Ibrahim recommends this collapsible washer/drainer, which allows users to wash their fruits and veggies before transporting them to a work area. Since the base of the device features a plug, there’s no risk of dripping water everywhere.
8. Stackable Plastic Containers
In professional kitchens, chefs use stackable plastic containers for food prep because they’re affordable and versatile. Chef Amy Riolo recommends using them at home as well, saying, “I like to clear a shelf in the refrigerator and set it up like a prep area in a restaurant or a salad bar.” She suggests using them to store sliced vegetables, cooked grains, and chopped protein separately before combining them for lunches.
9. Aluminum Pans with Lids
Robbie Shoults, chef and owner of Bear Creek Smokehouse, says, “I want simplicity and easy cleanup, so with that being said, aluminum pans and lids are the ticket for me,” adding, “Aluminum pans come in dozens of sizes, which is great, depending on the amount of food you’re prepping.” While aluminum pans are often treated as single-use items, these ones are dishwasher-safe and can be reused as needed.
10. Shaker Bottle
Smoothies make for easy, healthy meal replacements, but they don’t always fare well when they’re made ahead of time. Make your smoothie taste like it’s straight out of the blender using a shaker bottle like this one. Pro baker Ella Ding says, “Smoothies and shakes are a great way to get your calories and nutrients in without sitting down for a meal.” She recommends using a bottle shaker to re-blend your smoothie right before drinking it.