Whether you’re an avid meal prepper or a beginner, these meal prep essentials will help to up your meal prepping game by making the process easier, faster, and more structure and organized.
If you follow my YouTube channel, you’ll know that I love meal prepping healthy and delicious recipes. Not only does meal prepping help you to stay on track with your healthy eating, but it also saves money and time. And by being properly equipped, it makes the meal prepping process more enjoyable and less of a hassle.
Healthy Meal Prep Menus
If you’re planning your next weekly meal prep menu, I’ve linked all of my healthy meal preps for you below for easy reference. All of my meal preps are healthy, nutritious, and focus on consuming only whole (minimally processed) foods. Additionally, all of the recipes are ALWAYS gluten free and 99% of the time of are grain and dairy free (or include substitution ideas).
- Weight Loss Meal Prep #1 (breakfast frittata, broccoli salad, chicken meatballs & gravy, & frozen yogurt bark)
- Weight Loss Meal Prep #2 (grain free pancakes, healthy pasta salad, turkey chili stuffed sweet potatoes, & flourless brownies)
- Weight Loss Meal Prep #3 (egg muffins, lower carb burrito bowl, chicken thighs, & dairy free creamed spinach)
- Weight Loss Meal Prep #4 (overnight oats, healthy chicken nuggets, cucumber dill salad, & grain free meatloaf)
- Weight Loss Meal Prep #5 (chia pudding, fiesta chicken burgers, chicken thighs, & salmon)
- Anti-Inflammatory Meal Prep (turkey sausage apple hash, salmon patties, turmeric detox smoothie, golden turmeric chicken soup, & chocolate gelatin pudding)
- 5 Make-Ahead Healthy Lunch Recipes (chicken bacon ranch pasta salad, avocado egg salad, creamy carrot blender soup, honey lime fruit salad, date balls, and olive quinoa salad)
Meal Prep Must Haves Video
Meal Prep Essentials for Storage & On-The-Go Eating
First, I’m sharing the meal prep must haves for storage and on-the-go eating. If you carry your breakfast and lunch to work daily, you’ll definitely benefit from this list.
#1 – Meal Prep Containers
There are tons of meal prep containers to choose from and they come in varying sizes. Personally, I like to use the individual containers to divide my meals in advance. My favorite meal prep containers on Amazon are the glass ones. They come in a set of 5. And, I have a set with dividers and another set without dividers.
My 3 Favorites Glass Meal Prep Containers:
- Glass Containers (with dividers)
- Glass Containers (no dividers)
- Glass Containers (no dividers w/ air vent lid)
#2 – Sauce Cups
Sauce cups are a must have for on-the-go eating. They’re great for storing salad dressings, dips, nut butters, syrups, salsas, hummus, etc.
There are lots of different options on Amazon. My current favorites are these stainless steel sauce cups because they have a leak-proof silicon lid and they’re dishwasher safe.
#3 – Portable Cutlery
This is something that many people forget about until they actually need it. But, of course, having portable and reusable cutlery is not only a necessity for eating, but it’s also a great way to save on plastic since they’re reusable. There are lots of options on Amazon for portable cutlery, but these two are my current favorites:
- Miniature Stainless Steel Cutlery Set (super compact design, my #1 fav)
- Wheat Straw Cutlery Set (BPA Free, great for those who don’t want metal cutlery)
#4 – Portable Lunchbox Oven (how I reheat food)
The #1 question I get on my meal prep videos is “How do I reheat my food?” and my answer is… it depends. It depends on whether I’m eating at home or on-the-go. If I’m eating my food at home, I’ll reheat it either in the oven on a low temperature (around 200 degrees F.) or on the stovetop, depending on what the food item is. For instance, if it’s pancakes, I’ll reheat in a skillet on the stovetop. If it’s the breakfast frittata, I’ll reheat on a low temperature in the oven. Of course, you can also use a microwave to reheat your food, and I do use it on occasion if I’m in a hurry.
On the other hand, if I’m away from home, I’ll use this portable lunchbox oven to reheat my food. The way it works is the lunchbox itself is insulated and there’s a removable heating plate inside the lunchbox. You set your meal prep container on top of the heating plate, plug the cord in to an outlet, zip up the lunchbox, and wait for it to heat through.
It usually takes about 30-45 minutes to heat pre-cooked food, so you’ll want to make sure you plug it in in advance. You can use glass containers, stainless steel, ceramic, and some plastic containers with this lunchbox oven. Even though it does need to be plugged-in in advance, it’s works super well and completely worth it if you don’t want to use a microwave to reheat your food.
- Portable Lunchbox Oven (with regular plug)
- Portable Lunchbox Oven (with car plug)
#5 – Reusable Ziplock Bags
I mainly use reusable ziplock bags for prepping my smoothie freezer packs. Y’all know how much I love smoothies, but lets be real here… sometimes I just don’t feel like pulling out all of the individual ingredients that go into a smoothie. Well, that’s why I use smoothie freezer packs!
With smoothie freeze packs (here’s a video showing you how to make them), you can prep your smoothies days/weeks in advance without compromising on flavor or losing nutrients due to oxidation (from pre-blending). All you have to do it all all of the smoothie ingredients to these reusable ziplock bags and when you’re ready to consume it, just dump it into a blender, add your favorite liquid, blend, and enjoy!
Of course, you can also use these reusable ziplock bags for regular food storage. These save on tons of plastic and are great for the environment!
- Quart Size Reusable Ziplock Bags (the ones I use for smoothie prep)
- Multi-Size Reusable Ziplock Bags (great for food storage)
#6 – Glass Mason Jars
Having a variety of glass storage jars is essential for meal prep (at least for me!). The pint size mason jars are great for taking smoothies on-the-go, overnight oats, chia pudding, vegetable storage (in water), etc. You can use the larger, quart size mason jars for smoothies as well. I also like using them when making mason jar salads.
Of course, you can also use glass jars for regular food storage, canning, homemade jellies and jams, and for pre-portioning out things like almond butter, salsa, dips, etc.
- Pint Size Mason Jars (great for smoothies, overnight oats, chia puddings, etc.)
- Quart Size Mason Jars (great for smoothies, salad-in-a jar recipes, etc.)
- Medium Size Glass Jars (also great for overnight oats, chia puddings, etc.)
- Mini Mason Jars (for sauces, jellies, etc.)
Bonus Mention – Adjustable Silicon Travel Bottle
If you don’t like carrying your drinks in glass containers on-the-go or if your job doesn’t allow glass containers, then I also love this adjustable silicon travel bottle.
#7 – Mason Jar Lids
Mason jars usually always come with the metal canning lid. However, sometimes I lose them or they begin to rust over time. So, I like to have back-up lids for my glass jars. I use the twist-on lids anytime I’m taking drinks or smoothies on-the-go and the wooden bamboo lids for prepping things like chia pudding and overnight oats.
- Twist-On Mason Jar Lids (great for taking drinks & smoothies on-the-go)
- Bamboo Mason Jar Lids (great for prepping overnight oats, chia pudding, etc.)
Meal Prep Essentials for in the Kitchen (Cooking)
Okay, now lets get into some of the meal prep essentials for in the kitchen when you’re actually cooking and prepping the meals. These kitchen tools will not only help to speed up the meal prepping process, but they’re also great basics that you should have in your kitchen anyway, especially if you’re trying to cooking more from home
#8 – High Speed Blender
Other than my pots and pans, there’s no other kitchen essential I use more than my high speed blender. Not only are healthy smoothies a big part of my healthy diet, but I also use my blender to make blender soups, homemade almond milk, coffee drinks, smoothie bowls, homemade salsas, protein shakes, etc. Having a good quality, high speed blender on hand, is essential in the meal prepping process.
Which blender is best?
I get asked all of the time which blender is best. There are lots of great ones on the market, so it really depends on your budget. If you’re an avid meal prepper and home cook, then I always recommend investing in a blender that’ll last you for years. For instance, I bought my Vitamix blender back in 2013 and it’s still running perfectly today (2021)! So, it was well worth the investment.
However, if you’re just starting your health journey and still a beginner in the kitchen, then I would suggest investing in a more affordable blender just to make sure you’re committed to this healthy lifestyle longterm before making a big investment.
Here are the blenders I recommend and are considered the “best” in their price range:
- Larger Budget: Vitamix High Speed Blender #1 (for those who are committed to this healthy lifestyle longterm & love to cook/prep!)
- Medium Budget: Vitamix Explorian Professional Blender (still really really good!!)
- Lower Budget: Home Geek High Speed Blender or this Ninja Professional Blender (great for those on a budget but still want to make great smoothies!)
- Lowest Budget: Ninja Blender (FYI: may not break down and blend leafy greens in smoothies as well as the others)
#9 – Food Processor
A food processor is another kitchen essential when meal prepping and for general food prep. Food processors are great for chopping, grating, and even blending certain foods. I use my food processor to make anything from date balls to my grated carrot salad.
- Cuisinart 11 Cup Food Processor (this is just like the one I have)
- Cuisinart 8 Cup Food Processor
#10 – Handheld Immersion Blender
This kitchen gadget is a must have if you’re wanting to get an extra smooth texture or puree fruit. I use this all the time with making cauliflower mash, mashed carrots, etc. to get that extra creamy texture that resembles real mashed potatoes. I also use it anytime I need to mash fruit for a recipe. For instance, my Flourless Brownies call for mashed bananas. After mashing them with a fork, I then go in and puree the bananas with my immersion blender and it really makes a big difference with the final texture of the brownies. This gadget saves a ton of time in the kitchen because you can quickly blend or puree certain foods instead of having to transfer it to a blender.
#11 – Muffin Tin
With meal prepping, we make a lot of egg muffins, regular muffins, and healthy desserts, such as chocolate nut butter cups, fat bombs, etc. Having a muffin tin on hand is always a good idea!
- Regular Size Muffin Tin (set of 2)
#12 – Silicon Muffin Cups
Of course, you don’t necessarily need muffin cups to use a muffin tin; however, it does make the process much easier in terms of clean up and removing the food from the actual slots. Personally, I prefer silicon muffin cups over paper cups because they’re reusable.
- Silicon Muffin Cups (multi-color pack)
- Silicon Muffin Cups (neutral gray color)
#13 – Spiralizer
With a spiralizer, you can turn foods, such as zucchini, squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes, into noodles. I love making zucchini noodles, especially for my weight loss meal preps, because not only are they low calorie, but they’re also a great way to sneak in extra vegetables.
I have a Chicken Meatball Marinara with Sauteed Zoodles on my Lunch Meal Prep blog post, and it is super delicous and extra filling!
#14 – Mandoline Slicer
I love using my mandoline slicer to make healthy chips, such as sweet potato chips, regular potato chips, plantain chips, etc. With a mandoline slicer, it ensures that you slice the chips at the perfect thickness every time (compared to hand slicing it). It also serves as a grater.
#15 – Cutting Board
With meal prepping, we do a lot of slicing and dicing, so it’s always a good idea to have a cutting board. I have both a wooden cutting board and a plastic cutting board. For my YouTube videos, I tend to use the wooden one (because it’s prettier on camera). But, in real life, I actually use the plastic cutting board anytime I cutting raw meats, such as chicken breast, because it’s easier to clean the bacteria off of the plastic cutting board compared to a wooden one, which is more porous. I use my wooden cutting board for chopping everything else (vegetables, fruits, etc.)
- Wooden Cutting Board (the exact one I have)
- Plastic Cutting Board
#16 – Strainer
With meal prepping, we also do a lot of rinsing of fruits, vegetables, etc. So, it’s good to have several size strainers for that.
#17 – Baking Sheets
Because we do a lot of baking when meal prepping, having multiple baking sheets is essential. Baking sheets can be used to roast vegetables, bake cookies, and so much more!
- Baking Sheets (set of 2)
#18 – Parchment Paper and/or Silicon Baking Mat
Of course, you can bake directly on your baking sheets. But, for easy clean up, I like to use both parchment paper and my silicon baking mat.
#19 – Cooling Rack
This is one of those things that I didn’t know how much I needed it until I bought it. It’s great for anything that needs to cool off before consuming, including cookies, brownies, homemade breads, desserts, etc.
- Cooling Rack (set of 2)
#20 – Mixing Bowls
We also do a lot of mixing when meal prepping things like meatballs, pancakes, casseroles, desserts, etc. So, I recommend having a variety of mixing bowls on hand as a basic kitchen essential. Personally, I prefer the glass mixing bowls, but plastic and stainless steel bowls are also great!
- Pyrex Glass Mixing Bowls (with lids)
- Glass Mixing Bowls (on Amazon)
- Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls (with lids)
- Plastic Mixing Bowls (BPA Free)
#21 – Measuring Cups & Spoons
Another kitchen essential when meal prepping and cooking in general is measuring spoons and measuring cups. We do a lot of measuring when making meal prep recipes, so make sure you’re stocked with these before starting your first meal prep menu.
- Pyrex Glass Measuring Cups (set of 3)
- Glass Measuring Pitcher (1 Liter)
- Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons
- Stainless Steel Measuring Cups & Spoons Set
#22 – Ninja Foodi All-In-One System
Technically, this isn’t a must have when it comes to meal prepping, but it doesn’t speed up the process. The Ninja Foodi can pressure cook, air fry, steam, broil, bake, slow cook, and even dehydrate. I love using it to steam my vegetables in large quantities. I also love using the pressure cooker option anytime I need to cook up some chicken breast really quickly like I did for my grain free burrito bowls. Of course, you can air fry so many things, including chicken thighs, sweet potato chips, plantain chips, etc.
- Ninja Foodi All-In-One System (8 quart)
Okay, y’all! Those are my meal prep essentials to help make the meal prepping process easier, faster, more convenient, and more structured and organized. Comment below some of your favorite meal prep essentials!
Hi Kayla, thank you so much for all the information and recipes! Is it possible to freeze the mealpreps (lunch and diner)?
Yep! Pretty much all of my meal prep recipes can be batch prepped and frozen for later use. 🙂
I’m so excited that I found you. I have so much inflamation, my eyes are always red because of it and my fingers are full of arthrightis. I have copied some of your meal prep recipies and can’t wait to get started. On a tight low budget, but have most of the things, but want to be able to get the freezer bags. I also have type 2 diabetes and want to reverse it somehow. thank you again for your generosity in sharing your information
Glad I found you! Thanks for the information and your time to provide all the great information.