People often ask how I’m able to prepare meals so consistently. I’ve gotten so used to my weekly meal prep routine that it seems easy-peasy to me – but I know you may not feel the same way. Getting meals on the table can be challenging AF. When I really stopped to think about how I make meal prep so easy, I realized that I have a little help – from kitchen gadgets!
Well, not all of them are gadgets… I guess it depends on how you define ‘gadgets.’ (Electronics? Tools? Thingymabobs with whirlygigs? Sure.) Basically, I rely heavily on a handful of key items that make it easy for me to stay on track. I’m going to tell you about all of my faves and why I love them so you can meal prep like a pro too.
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I really love being able to throw ingredients in the crockpot and walk away. It’s almost like someone is cooking for me… (Ahhh, bliss.) A crockpot is pretty much a must-have if you’re into low-maintainence meals. There’s also something to be said for the smells. Nothing like the perfume of a big pot of chili wafting through your house to make you feel cozy (and hungry). I have this lovely red crockpot with a locking lid, which makes it perfect to bring to parties or tailgates.
2. Instant Pot
I would be shocked if you hadn’t heard of this guy yet. Everyone and their mother (literally) seems to have an Instant Pot or be talking about them. There’s a reason. This thing saves me hours in the kitchen. Pressure cookers take everything you love about slow cookers and makes all of that magic happen in less than half the time. It also performs more functions than a crockpot. You can sautee, steam, make homemade yogurt, rice, and… you can also slow cook. I will say that the slow cook function doesn’t always give me the same result I’d get using the good ole’ crockpot. The pot itself is a bit deeper than my crockpot, so it doesn’t cook things like stews as evenly. There are ways to adjust for that, but just my experience so far. (I’m still an Instant Pot n00b.)
3. Pampered Chef Micro Cooker
When I ask my clients what the toughest part of preparing healthy meals is, they usually say, “veggies!” They’ve got a point. Chopping, rinsing, and preparing them can be a major pain in the butt on a busy weeknight. For that reason, I highly recommend buying pre-cut fresh or frozen veggies for steaming. Quick and easy. Instead of using a pot on the stove to steam your veggies, this micro cooker heats up quickly in the mocrowave and can be thrown right in the dishwasher for easy cleanup.
4. Toaster Oven
Did you grow up with a toaster or a toaster oven? I never had a traditional toaster, so I got very familiar with the lovely toaster oven. This thing saves me so much time. It’s smaller than your oven (obviously), so it heats up so much faster. If you’re cooking for 1-2 people, you can prepare small batches of just about anything in here. I personally use it to make small batches of baked goods. I also use it as an alternative to my microwave almost every day. (No more chewy leftover pizza in my house!)
Have less than 5 minutes to eat? A smoothie can totally be a meal. Just blend and go! I personally love my Ninja blender because it’s convertible – it can be used as a full-sized blender or an individual-sized one. Need an idea for a filling smoothie to make in a pinch? Try this avocado piña colada smoothie.
I know this seems super fancy, but I promise it isn’t. A mandoline can make it so much easier to slice vegetables easily when you’re in a rush. Some attachments also allow you to shred and julienne foods, which is way faster than doing it by hand or dragging out a food processor. I used my mandoline to make sure the sweet potatoe rounds in my Sweet Potato Bites recipe were thin and even.
7. Food Storage Containers
Okay, this isn’t really a gadget, but it saves me a ton of time in the kitchen. Here’s why – I almost always cook with leftovers in mind. Cooking once and eating twice (or more) keeps me from having to cook every night. (Who really wants to do that?) Having a variety of sizes of food storage containers helps so much with making perfectly portioned leftovers.