Now is the time for breaking out the notebooks and planning out those New Year's resolutions for 2020. For many, health and wellness goals are at the top of the list, but let's be real — they can be pretty tough to stick to. According to The Veg Report by Daily Harvest, nearly two in five ( 39%) Americans think that committing to healthier eating habits is more difficult than sticking to a budget ( 32%), being more organized ( 32%), and maintaining a better work-life balance ( 16%). In fact, over 57 million Americans said, "they fall back on unhealthy meals because meal prep and cooking are too difficult."
We get it — meal prep can be overwhelming when you don't know where to start. So we asked Daily Harvest nutritionists Gal Cohen, MS, RD and Deborah Murphy, MS, RDN for their go-to healthy eating essentials and rounded up the best products to help make meal prepping in the new year 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," Cohen 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!"
2. Pressure Cooker
"Pressure cookers are perfect for cooking up meals fast and in bulk so you can split your meals throughout the week," explains Murphy.
"I swear by my Ninja blender when I'm looking for fast and easy meals," Cohen 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."
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."
5. Cutting Board
"You're going to need a cutting board along with that chef's knife to chop and dice your ingredients essential for meal prepping," Murphy explains.
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
Cohen suggests keeping reusable snack or sandwich bags on hand for "a more compact way to carry your food and prep quick snacks to eat on-the-go."
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.
9. Mixing Bowls
"Mixing bowls are essential for prepping your ingredients for the week ahead, whether you use them [for marinating] meat, mixing batter, or making sauces. You can also get mixing bowls with lids, which are perfect for making salads," says Murphy.
10. Lunch Bag
Now that you've got your meals prepped, you need a trusty lunch bag to carry your meals to and from work, or wherever else you need to go. Murphy recommends an insulated lunch bag to keep your meals fresh until you eat them.