When it comes to healthier eating habits, meal prepping is key, but starting out can be a little overwhelming. To help you get more organized in the kitchen, we asked nutritionists Gal Shua-Haim, MS, RD, Deborah Murphy, MS, RDN, and Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN from the healthy, prepared meal delivery service Daily Harvest for their go-to healthy eating essentials and rounded up the best products to help make meal prepping a total breeze.
1. Cast Iron Skillet
"Although not a necessity" — arguable — "a cast iron skillet really takes a simple meal to the next level," Shua-Haim says. "Since they heat evenly and stay hot, you're able to get a nice sear on your proteins and a great char on your veggies. One pan meals are so in right now, and being able to transfer your food from the stovetop to the oven is a HUGE time (and dish) saver!"
Our pick: Le Creuset Signature Skillet, starting at $120
2. Pressure Cooker
"Whole grains and beans have long cooking times, but a pressure cooker is the ultimate time-saver," explains Blatner. "It cooks foods like steel-cut oats, brown rice, and beans up to 70% faster."
"I swear by my Ninja blender when I'm looking for fast and easy meals," Shua-Haim says. "One thing I always recommend to clients when they're looking for something quick is a fruit and veggie smoothie. You can pack in tons of nutrients with both frozen and fresh ingredients, and add in yogurt, nut butter, and/or protein powder for extra volume and flavor."
Our pick: Ninja Professional Blender, $73.99
4. Chef's Knife
"Incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet is the best way to start eating healthier, but it also means you'll be doing a lot of chopping," Murphy says. "Make sure you have a really good chef's knife so meal prep is less of a chore."
Our pick: Our Place Everyday Chef's Knife, $70
5. Cutting Board
"Of course a cutting board is great to chop up all the week's produce in advance so it's ready to throw into salads, stir-fries, and grain bowls. But cutting boards are also perfect to serve no-cook, mezze-style dinners of olives, cheese, veggies, hummus, seed crackers, and fruit," Blatner says. "Basically a balanced cheese plate for dinner on those days your meal prep has run out!"
Our pick: Five Two Bamboo Cutting Board, $59
6. Glass Storage Containers
"Doing some meal prep on the weekend is a great way to set yourself up for eating healthier throughout the week," Murphy says. "Invest in a set of spill-proof glass storage containers so you have something to store all your prepped foods in the fridge. Plus, there is no guessing what is inside since the glass containers are clear. They also make packing your lunch for work a breeze."
7. Reusable Food Storage Bags
"You can't have meal prep without great storage containers and bags. Food storage bags are especially great because they often take up less space than bulkier containers," Blatner says. "Pro-tip: Make sure the containers and bags are clear so you can see what's in there and nothing gets forgotten."
8. Reusable Water Bottle
"Too many of us do not drink enough water. Stay hydrated in style by investing in a cute reusable water bottle," Murphy says. "Bonus points for reducing your plastic waste by opting for a reusable bottle." If you're bored of plain water, Murphy suggests adding fresh fruit, cucumber, or mint to your bottle in the morning to infuse your water with some flavor.
Our pick: W&P Porter Wide Mouth Water Bottle, $35
9. Mixing Bowls
"Mixing bowls come in all sizes perfect for making undressed green salads, grain salads, and protein salads like tuna and chicken," Blatner says. "Get mixing bowls with a lid so they can easily transition from prep to storage."
10. Lunch Bag
"People often think of meal prep as just for dinner, but prepping a balanced lunch ahead is smart since many people skip, order expensive salads, or just grab protein bars or whatever is around," Blatner explains. "The best way to carry that lunch now that many of us are heading back to the office ... an insulated lunch bag."
Our pick: Lokass Insulated Lunch Bag, $18.99
11. Fridge Organizers
After taking the time to prep your meals, you're going to want to make sure you don't forget them in the fridge. "Having clear fridge bins, dividers, and organizers can help you keep track of your labor of love," Blatner says.
Our pick: Seseno Refrigerator Organizer Bins Set, $25.99
12. Meal Prep Delivery Service
"There are plenty of weeks when meal prepping doesn't happen how we plan," Blatner says. "Having a freezer stocked with Daily Harvest bowls, flatbreads, smoothies, and more makes eating delicious meals loaded with fruits and veggies possible, even on the busiest weeks."