If You’re Cooking at Home More Often, Invest in These Handy Meal Prep Tools
Because who can afford to eat out every night in this economy?
Even if you only casually watch the news, you know that we’re kind of, sort of arguably in a recession. Heck, even if you never watch the news, you’ve noticed that prices have skyrocketed due to record inflation. These days, a quick dash to the grocery store for bacon and eggs can be anxiety-inducing, so going out to eat has gotten far more challenging. As restaurants reluctantly raise menu prices to offset inflation, patrons (who are also paying more for groceries, gas, rent, and various consumer goods) are staying home. And let’s not even talk about how quickly a few UberEats orders can add up.
Not only are plenty of us cutting back on impromptu restaurant trips and takeout sessions, but many are also investing more time in elaborate and extensive meal prepping sessions. It’s smart to think ahead since we all know how it goes: When we procrastinate fixing a filling lunch in advance, it suddenly becomes so much more likely that we’ll end up using a mid-afternoon break to run straight to our favorite cafe, bakery, or drive through. And spending $20 on a limp, sweaty, sandwich feels fine in the moment, but we definitely feel the burn later.
With frugality in mind, we’ve sourced our favorite products that make meal prep easier and — dare we say — fun. Because the prospect of cooking in a cluttered kitchen can be pretty demoralizing, we’ve focused on the very best cookware, bakeware, and food storage sets to keep you organized. As an added bonus, these items are as Instagrammable as they are functional. If you’ve always been envious of coworkers and friends who pack cute lunches, you can take this opportunity to embark on your own aesthetic journey. And if this list inspires an organizational kick, we’ve also scoured the Internet for the best food storage options and multi-use cookware to help you save counter and fridge space.
Best Meal Prep Containers, Bowls, and More
Stasher Stand-Up Trio
These reusable, microwave-ready, dishwasher-safe silicone bags are adorable. Not only do they cut down on plastic waste by eliminating an endless need for disposable baggies, but they’re also designed to stand up straight. That way, if you get hungry while you have a billion things to do, you can plop one of these bad boys down on your desk and easily snack as you work.
Porter BYO Lunch Bundle
Remember how exciting lunch boxes were when you were a kid? If you normally toss your lunch into a grocery bag or an old tote, it might be time to regain some of that childhood fun by gifting yourself a lunch container that’s actually appealing. This lunch bundle is bento inspired, so it includes a single bowl with an optional divider tray if you’d like to keep your food in separate tiers. It also comes with utensils that are packaged in their own little silicone carrying case. How quaint!
Anyday Microwave Cookware Bundle
If you’re still stuck on the idea that microwaves are only good for heating up frozen dinners and leftover pizza, we think this cookware bundle will revolutionize the way you cook. These sleek containers are completely microwavable — yes, even the metal lids (the metal is smooth curved, so it’s perfectly safe). The containers are designed to lock in moisture while also venting excess steam, so you can actually cook a variety of dishes from scratch. And the cookware doubles as food storage, so after eating you can simply throw the containers in the fridge.
Public Goods Square Glass Food Storage
If you’re intrigued by the idea of food storage containers that can be thrown in this microwave, this Public Goods set can do you one better: Each of these containers is also oven safe. If you bake above 300 degrees, you’ll have to remove the lid, but the containers themselves can handle temperatures up to 500 degrees. After you’re done eating, you can pop these containers into the fridge, freezer, or dishwasher — so clean-up is sure to be a breeze.
Ball Mason Jar 10-Pack
You know them, you love them, and some of you can’t live without them: The classic, handy, durable, endlessly versatile mason jar. They have a special place in our hearts for their ability to store dry goods, moist leftovers, and liquids of all kinds — all while giving off an effortless farmhouse chic vibe. If you haven’t experimented with mason jars, this wallet-friendly set is a great starting point. Oh, and if you need extra glassware, sipping from one of these is extra satisfying, for some reason.
Our Place Perfect Pot
This gorgeous dutch oven does it all: It can boil, crisp, bake, braise, roast, steam, strain, pour, serve, and store. And with a 5.5-quart capacity, you can do some serious batching for the week ahead. Made of nonstick ceramic, this pot can be cleaned with a few thorough scrubs. And did we mention that with over 3000 reviews, this pot still has five stars? One glowing recommendation says that “it’s fast, light, and looks good enough to put on the table! It’s my favorite for steaming, pasta, soup, and even made sauce with no staining.”
Caraway Bakeware Set
Of course, meal prep isn’t just about steaming and simmering. However, many of us have a cabinet or shelf cluttered with mismatched, clunky bakeware. If you’ve been avoiding your disorganized baking tins and pans, this set could help you fall back in love with homemade muffins, scones, cookies, and sheet pan meals. It comes with two baking sheets, a muffin pan, a rectangle pan, and — most importantly — cabinet organizers. And this set also does away with baked goods sticking to your sheet pans. One reviewer exclaims, “I have never had bakeware where I didn’t have to coat with some sort of non-stick product, and even then food would stick. Everything slides out of these!” No more scraping.
Instant Pot Duo
We seriously can’t get enough of the instant pot. This versatile appliance boasts nine different uses. It’s a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, sauté pan, yogurt maker, sterilizer, and food warmer. If you’re in a rush, the pressure cooker function will whip up your favorite dishes “up to 70 percent faster than traditional cooking methods.” On the other hand, if you want that homey, luxurious feeling of letting something slow cook on the counter for hours, that’s an option, too.
Material Kitchen ReBoard
If you’re still using an old, stained, scratched plastic cutting board, it might be time to hit refresh. This kitchen reboard is so pretty, it will make you excited to chop and slice your vegetables and herbs. Oh, and if you feel guilty about replacing your old plastic board because you don’t want to feel wasteful, we’ve got good news: Each reboard is made from recycled kitchen plastic scraps and renewable sugar cane. Plus, buyers say the boards are remarkably easy to clean.
Our Place Knife Trio
A dull knife can make food prep abysmally slow, not to mention dangerous. Luckily, all you need in your kitchen is a good chef’s knife, paring knife, and serrated knife — and this set has all three. Plus, this set features colorful handles that can coordinate with your kitchen (we love the vibrant azul shade). If you pair these knives with an equally stunning cutting board, you’ll give your counter space the kind of makeover that will make ordering takeout seem like the least glam activity on earth.
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