Think of your kitchen the way men think of their garage. They wouldn’t try to cut down a tree with a pocket knife, right? They have the right tool for the job. This list contains not only my favorite meal prep containers, but every piece of equipment that is essential for meal prepping (and really just cooking in general) successfully.
Is Meal Prepping Expensive?
Actually meal prepping will save you money. When you have food readily available you’re less likely to go out and there’s virtually no waste. Plus, I’ve made the list below with a tight budget in mind and hand-picked each item that had the best rating/price ratio on Amazon so you can buy what you need conveniently. However, feel free to use this list simply as a guide to shop around. Click here for several meal prep-friendly recipes you can use!
Where Are Other Places to Buy Meal Prep Necessities?
Bed Bath and Beyond is a good resource to use if you keep a stash of coupons and want to buy on a budget. If I know something is cheaper I’ve told you on the list. But again, I put the Amazon list together because some people (myself included) just want to click the button, order and have it tomorrow.
Best Way to Use This Checklist
First, download the checklist here. Check off the things you have and then click away on Amazon or make a list of what you will need. If you can’t afford it all now, make a wishlist on Amazon or other everyday registries (like myregistry.com) and have others buy for birthdays or Christmas.
What are the Best Types of Meal Prep Containers?
For the sake of the planet, I prefer reusable containers. Yes, there are plenty of disposables on Amazon, but this list will not include them. I also avoid plastic unless I’m using it for dry goods (chips, nuts, pretzels) or things I won’t be heating. NEVER microwave in a plastic dish and it’s best not to wash in dishwasher because in either case they leach BPA and other chemicals into your food. Glass containers are definitely my fave.
The Ultimate List of Meal Prep Containers and Kitchen Essentials
Glass Meal Prep Containers
- 11 cup Pyrex Glass Dishes – for family size ready-to-heat meals. I use these rarely
- 6 up Pyrex Glass Dish (4 pack) – for 2 serving meals or components for meals. (These are the ones I use the most and I have about 10)
- 10 piece set (best deal with 2 3-cup, 2 6-cup and 1 11-cup) – a good starter set, but you will probably want either two of these sets or one of these plus extra 3 and 6 cup bowls.
- 22 oz glass meal prep dishes (set of 10) – These are perfect for single serving meal prep.
- 32 oz Mason jars (case of 12) – Order on Amazon for convenience, but really Target, Joann Fabric or Hobby Lobby are cheaper by far. For make ahead salads see below for plastic alternative. Do not use to freeze liquids.
- 4 oz Mason jars (case of 24) – Very useful as prep bowls, dip containers for snacks and to hold small amounts of prepped ingredients.
- 16 oz wide mouth Mason jars (case of 6) – For dressings and sauces and to freeze anything that is liquid.
- Wide Mouth Pour Spots (case of 3) – Genius way to convert wide mouth jar to a dressing container.
Plastic Meal Prep Containers
- 9 cup bowls BPA Free 2 pack – These can be for family sized salads or large quantities of prepped ingredients.
- 5 cup Bowls 3 pack For make ahead salads instead of 32 oz jars.
- 1/2 cup Bowls 6 pack – For storing small amounts of prepped ingredients.
Meal Planning and Organization
- White Magnetic SheetBoard for Fridge 11×17 or 12 x 8 – I use the 11×17” every day to plan my meals, keep track of grocery/toiletry needs and to note what needs to be eaten soon.
- Magnetic marker holder – I attach this to my white board so my markers are handy.
- Eraser for Dry Erase Board – Also attached to my white board. (It’s magnetic, too.)
- Label Once – labels for containers, erasable and reusable through several washings.
- All-purpose floursack towels – For eco-friendly drying of produce and storing of washed greens. They don’t throw lint. Again, if you have an IKEA, buy their 79 cent towels with red trim instead. I literally have 30 or more of these!
Cutlery and Food Prep
- 8″ Chef’s Knife – IKEA no longer makes the knife that I bought, but this one has amazing reviews and if you’ve ever watched Babish on YouTube, he knows his stuff.
- Knife set (8” chef’s, 3.5 paring and serrated knife for bread and tomatoes) – Same brand as above but entire set is under $70. I couldn’t find the Babish 3.5 paring knife by itself, but I do recommend having a good paring knife.
- Knife sharpener – While it’s good to have knives professionally sharpened at least once a year or so, this is a good once a week or “as needed” sharpener.
- Heavy bamboo cutting board with an edge for liquids 18×12, 20×14, 24×18 – I use the 18×12 because like it to be large enough I can do all my meal prep without having a bunch of little bowls sitting around. The other two are even bigger. They make great charcuterie boards. Bamboo is naturally antibacterial.
- Smaller dishwasher safe cutting boards – Three different sizes for little jobs and keeping raw meat separate. These are dishwasher safe and BPA free.
- Y-shaped peeler – I use this for everything. It works well with round produce and larger items, like butternut squash, apples and potatoes.
- Microplane Grater – For grating ginger, garlic, hard cheeses, nutmeg and chocolate.
- Citrus Squeezer – Also look at Bed Bath and Beyond if you have a coupon, they may be less there. Sometimes Marshalls, Home Goods or Ross will have them at a discount, too.
- Large stainless steel bowl set – I love the medium sized for tossing family sized main dish salads, the small for mixing meatloaf/burger/meatball mixtures since they are dishwasher safe and the large one I fill with water and vinegar for washing veggies prior to prep day. The smallest ones can be used for just about anything.
- Large colander – For draining veggies after washing on prep day. You can use any colander that has plenty of holes or slats for draining off extra water.
Small But Mighty Electronics
- Nutribullet Blender Combo –I use this for making very smooth sauces, smoothies and nut butters. You can also find this at Costco many times for a lot less.
- Cuisinart Stick Blender – I have use this mostly for making mayo. If you have a food processor you can use that instead. This one is a little pricey. I haven’t tried it, but this lesser expensive one gets great reviews.
- Mini Chopper – This is the Cuisinart that I have but in chrome. It is the best value of the higher end models, but here are a couple of alternatives that are less expensive. Both get good reviews, but are smaller. I haven’t tried either.
- Instant Pot 6 qt – Seriously not an indulgence, I use it constantly! This is the next step up from the one I have. If you want larger (they don’t make the one I bought any more)
- Ninja Air Fryer – Again…I have been known to use this for every meal. It’s better than a toaster for toast and bagels!
- Instant Pot/Air Fryer Combo – I bought this for my son and he says it’s awesome especially if you don’t want to make room for two more electronics.
- Food Processor – My very favorite for the price. Makes food prep even easier.
Cookware and Utentsils
- 12” cast iron skillet – I use this one most in cooking for 3 of us with leftovers.
- 10” cast iron skillet – This size is for medium jobs like 1-2 chicken breasts, fish fillets or small steaks.
- 8” cast iron omelet pan – Servings for one or making eggs for 1-2
- 3 qt stainless steel saucepan with lid – All purpose saucepan for everything.
- 7 qt stainless steel dutch oven – Perfect for making soup, stews, braises. Goes from stove to oven and can be used as an all purpose everything pan that won’t fit in the 3 quart.
- Large Baking Sheets (about 16 x 12″)1 pack or 3 pack – I have 4 and use them all.
- Unbleached Parchment Sheets – fit the baking sheets perfectly!
- Spider – A strainer/ladle that I use all the time to remove pasta, skim broth or soup, etc.
- Spatula – It’s a set of three because I use these for eggs, scraping bowls when baking, etc.
- Whisk – One big whisk is all you need but this set has three.
- Bamboo Utensil Set – Can be used in any cookware. If you have an IKEA nearby, I like their bamboo utensils better.
- Instant Read Thermometer – this truly is an essential. You can’t cook meat well without one.
Note: There may be affiliate links in this post. That means I may make a small commission that helps keep this blog running, but you never pay more. In fact, you often get a discount. Any products I recommend are products I love to use myself. If you have any questions, please see Disclaimer for more info or to contact me regarding this policy.