For those of us looking for efficient ways to prepare our meals, investing in practical kitchen tools that simplify meal prep can make a tremendous difference. I’m sharing with you five of my favorite meal prep kitchen tools that have helped me to eat healthily and happily.
With this five-blade spiralizer, I forgo the energy crash from high-carb pasta (whether whole wheat or regular white) and incorporate more low-carb, anti-inflammatory vegetables like zucchini and squash for low-calorie, paleo, and gluten-free (did I add kid-friendly?) meals. I spiralize the veggies, boil them for 2-4 minutes and voila! You can also eat them au naturel for a crunchy, raw-veggie meal. My favorite spiralizer recipe: zucchini noodles with creamy pesto sauce.
The blades are interchangeable so that you can shred your veggies crude or fine, make angel hair pasta, curly fries, or flat curlicues. I’ve tried three of the blades and I’m happy with the results. You can also spiralize apples, carrots, beets, turnips, potatoes, and daikon.
Mini-prep food processor
This Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus is extremely sturdy and efficient for chopping or grinding onions, ginger, garlic, peppercorns, seeds, nuts, and hard cheeses. I tend to cut up my onions and garlic on the weekend and keep them refrigerated for use during the week, so this is where the Mini-Prep Plus really shines. It has holes at the top to add liquids like oil; for example, if you’re making the pesto in the zucchini noodles with creamy pesto sauce recipe. For recipes that call for sauces or home-made salsa, or the quick chopping or grinding of several seeds and spices, the Mini-Prep Plus is a must. I’ve also used it, much as you would use a coffee grinder, to grind coconut flakes, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds for the seed porridge with chopped pear recipe that was part of the detox I offered in the winter.
The Cuisinart Pro Classic 7-Cup Food Processor gives you more options than the Mini-Prep plus and is a dream when it comes to slicing, shredding, and chopping vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and even some meats. For example, I used it to chop up the chicken sausage in the minestrone recipe from the winter detox, and that made for a richer, tastier recipe.
I’ve not yet conquered all of the many features of the Pro Classic, having limited myself to the chopping blade for now, but it was perfect for my meal prep for the winter-wonderballs recipe that I used at a recent event.
Why should you get a good quality food processor? It can speed up your meal prep as you knead dough for homemade bread, or shred carrot and cabbage for coleslaw, and it has a large enough feed tube to hold whole fruits and vegetables for processing. Plus, it’s easy to use and clean, is BPA-free, and boasts excellent warranties.
I am a mason jar evangelist! What’s not to love about clearly seeing what’s in your fridge and pantry and the variety of sizes of jars available? Mine range from the tiny ones with shaker lids (I put Himalayan salt in one) to the half-gallon jars with the sprouting lids (great to put spinach and other leafy greens), and a hearty number of the half-pint, pint, and quart sized jars.
For example, I now put my berries in the pint and half-pint jars in the fruit bin of my fridge because they keep much longer than they would in the plastic clamshell containers they’re sold in. It’s easier for me to measure portions from the wide-mouthed jars, especially for grains (kasha, oats, bulgur, and farro), seeds and powders (pine nuts, chia seed, collagen, maca powder) and rice (basmati, jasmine, brown) that I use regularly. Although plastic is clearly lighter and unlikely to break, the glass jars are great to carry salads or fruit to work or to eat at home. Jar salads can last for days in the fridge if you pack them on the weekend.
I got my Blendtec Total Blender Classic about five years ago and it is a kitchen workhorse. I love making smoothies for breakfast because they’re an effective way to boost your body’s immunity, improve skin and digestion, and add a variety of healthy ingredients to ensure maximum nutrition first thing in the morning. My smoothies generally includes berries, dark green leafy veggies, coconut flakes, frozen fruit, and a green or superfood powder. It takes about 45 seconds for the blender to produce a belly-filling, nutrient-rich smoothie.
I’ve only used the smoothie, whole juice, soup (for a yummy butternut squash soup), and ice cream (for pineapple orange popsicles) functions, but the Blendtec also has pre-programmed functions for making batters, dressings, dips, marinades, yogurt, and fondue and to crush ice.
The benefit? With a heavy-duty blender like the Blendtec, you can make meals to your specifications, rather than depending on store-bought (and normally calorie- and sugar-heavy) versions.
So, what are some of your go-to kitchen tools for healthy meal prep?