Nothing really compares to the accomplishment of nailing a meal prep Sunday and having delicious, good-for-you dishes to eat all week. With a fridge full of health-ified fast food — you’re ready to grab-and-go with an appetite-controlling breakfast, an anything-but-boring salad for lunch, and something warm and delicious waiting for you at dinnertime. Meal planning has other benefits, too. One study found that spending an hour-plus on food prep daily can lead to better diet choices, particularly when it comes to munching on more fruits and veggies. Having home-cooked meals can also help you consume fewer calories, other research found.
The only real downfall: All that washing, chopping, baking and storing can take time. Thankfully, we found the solutions to all your planning woes. These meal prep tools make every move go a little more smoothly — and quickly. From peeling eggs to slicing veggies, here are the 15 gadgets you need to keep in your kitchen.
1. Weigh It In
Take the guesswork out of portion sizes and calorie counts with the Escali SmartConnect Kitchen Food Scale. It can analyze more than 8,000 foods, telling you the weight, nutrients and calories. Plus, if you have the Escali SmartConnect app, it sends the info right to your food journal, so you can see exactly what you’re putting in your body. Bonus features: It has a kitchen timer to keep you from over cooking a dish and a glass surface that allows for easy clean up. ($70; amazon.com)
2. So Fresh, So Clean
Wear the Veggie Scrub Veggie, Fruit and Herb Washer as a mitt to scour foods like carrots or cucumbers. Or use it as a colander by placing smaller items, like cherry tomatoes, blueberries or herbs inside the pouch and running it under the faucet. Its durable bristles get rid of dirt and debris so you can enjoy all the deliciousness of fresh produce, without the risk of eating extra grime. ($10 for set of two; amazon.com)
3. Skim the Surface
Cute, convenient and foolproof, the Crate and Barrel Veggie Peelers will be your kitchen staple. Choose from a serrated, jaw-like edge for tomatoes, julienne style slices for carrots (that’s long, thin strips) or straight-edge peeling for potatoes. Better yet, buy all three so all your ingredients get just the right cut. ($6 each; crateandbarrel.com)
4. Zoodle Heaven
Kick up your veggie intake with the wallet-friendly OXO Handheld Spiralizer, which turns everything from zucchini and carrots to beets and potatoes into a pasta-like dish. (Then you can try all these yummy veggie pastas.) Just grab your cylinder-shaped produce of choice — it should be 1 1/2-inches in diameter—place the flat end against the blade, and use the topper to hold and twist. Voilà, you’ve got low-carb noodles! ($15; amazon.com)
5. The Slice Is Right
A mandolin with a rubber handle for a no-slip grip, four settings for thickness and a size small enough to store anywhere (even your picnic basket) — that’s what you’ll get from the soon-to-be-released Chef’n SleekSlice. It creates consistently sized cuts with every swipe, making it ideal for slicing tomato to add to a cool Caprese salad or for figs mixed with fresh greens. ($19; chefn.com)
6. The Cutting Edge
This Fiesta 7-Piece Cutlery Set with Lemongrass Cutting Board doesn’t only look good, it works well too. The stainless steel knives cut through even the toughest pieces of meat, starch or veggie — and the pop of color will help brighten your kitchen, too. ($50; amazon.com)
7. Convenience, Cubed
When a recipe calls for chopped peppers, apples or any kind of produce, you’ll want the OXO Vegetable Chopper with Easy-Pour Opening on hand. It cuts fruits and veggies into 1/2-inch cubes and has convenient measuring marks in the attached cup so you can see exactly how much you’re carving up (2.5 cups max). When you’re done, pour the contents right into your mixing bowl sans spills. ($25; amazon.com)
8. Math Made Simple
Sure, Google makes figuring out how many tablespoons equal one cup a no brainer, but why get your phone dirty when you’re slicing onions and garlic? Instead, use the Crate & Barrel Kitchen Conversion Cutting Board, which shows fluid and dried measurements right on its surface. Recipe adjustments just got simpler. ($30; crateandbarrel.com)
9. Temperature Rising
Squash those fears about food borne illnesses. The Taylor Slow Cooker Digital Probe Thermometer lets you check the internal temperature of meat, poultry or fish whenever you want (no judgment if that’s every 30 seconds), thanks to its magnetic backing that sticks to your slow cooker and a probe that’s slim enough to fit under the lid. It also has a fold-out stand if you prefer to keep it on the counter. ($10; target.com)
10. Slow Cooker Upgrade
You can literally make all of your meals in one piece of equipment with the Black + Decker All-In-One Cooking Pot. It has six functions: rice, sauté, slow cook, risotto, pasta and keep warm — and it takes the extra leg work out of most of them. The automatic keep-warm tool senses when rice is almost done and turns down the temp, and the automatic stirring arm makes sure your risotto hits the ideal texture. There’s also a steaming basket for veggies. Once you try to this seriously souped up slow cooker, you’ll never go back. ($75; blackanddeckerappliances.com)
11. Oh Sheet!
One sheet of the Cookina Parchminum Paper is equivalent to buying 25 boxes of aluminum foil or parchment paper — that’s how many times you can re-use it. Place your favorite foods on it in the oven (anything from salmon to chicken to squash) and none of them will stick, even without oils or sprays. Then throw it in the dishwasher for an effortless clean up. ($10; cookina.com)
12. Shell It Out
Say goodbye to crunchy egg shells sticking to (and ruining) your go-to snack. The Eggstractor Egg Peeler takes the outer layer off of hard-boiled eggs 10 times faster than you would by hand — and minus the frustration of missing those little pieces. You’ll also get an accompanying book of 101 egg recipes, so you can find even more ways to enjoy the brain health-boosting food. ($5; amazon.com)
13. Pan Party
Every nutrition-conscious cook needs a pan like this to make veggie-packed muffins or frittata for breakfast on the go. And the Pure 6-Cup Silicone Muffin Pan means you won’t have to scrap out any leftover crust or flakes. Simply twist the dish and your mini meals should pop right out. You can also heat up leftovers right in the pan (it’s microwave- and oven-safe) or chill extra scoops of your smoothie (like one of these top meal preppers) by storing it in the freezer. ($20; bedbathandbeyond.com)
14. Box It In
The foolproof way to pack a healthy, portion-controlled lunch: The Bentology Portion Perfect Weight-Loss Bento Kit. It has a 1 1/4-cup BPA-free container for healthy proteins (like salmon or lean turkey), a 2/3-cup box for whole grains, 1 2/3-cup section for veggies, ¾-cup spot for fruits and 1/8-cup container for healthy fats, like olive oil. Keep your waistline in check with the weight loss workbook that accompanies it, plus access to live support from an online coach who will keep you motivated. ($23 or $34 with insulate sleeve; amazon.com)
15. Temp-Regulating Tote
Igloo’s Everyday Tote Gingham features leak-resistant zippers, an antimicrobial liner and insulation to keep foods hot or cold for hours. Its long straps also make it comfortable to carry on your commute, and looks so stylish you won’t feel like a kid en route to the school bus. ($17; igloocoolers.com)
Disclosure: All products featured on our site are hand-picked by our editorial team in the hopes of getting you closer to your health and fitness goals. We only recommend products we love and believe that you will, too. In some cases, you might come across an affiliate link on our site, which means we receive a small commission should you decide to make a purchase.