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15 Shop Essentials to Help You Master Meal Prepping

Let's start planning.

January 12, 2023
Photo by James Ransom

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Alright, I’ll admit it: I’ve never meal-prepped. I’ve thought about it, and I’ve planned to do it, but I’ve never successfully brought my scribbled-down list of weekly lunch and dinner recipes to life. Grocery shopping has always caused a certain level of panic to shoot through my body—maneuvering around a tiny, crowded, aisle with a cart or overflowing basket just to get a jar of peanut butter is my personal nightmare—so I tend to get in and out as quickly as humanly possible. The problem with this? It often leaves my cart filled with items I didn’t account for and missing ingredients I was counting on. And while that’s ok (I love a good challenge), it does thwart the prepping plans.

To finally end this chaotic approach to an errand that should make my life easier, I’ve decided that 2023 will be the year I finally begin meal prepping. That doesn’t mean that I’ll be eating the same things day after day or will no longer go out to eat. Instead, I’ll be filling my fridge with foods that have a recipe waiting for them.

Because my experience is nonexistent, I sought advice from those who have been meal-prepping for years. First up, my former roommate Connor VanAllman. Every Sunday, he would plant himself in our kitchen and spend the day chopping and roasting until he had Tupperware containers filled for the days ahead. “It can be tough to cook a week of food if all of it needs the same cooking method,” he says. “So, I plan out my meals that way. Protein I can cook on a stovetop, vegetables that I can roast in the oven, and rice in a rice cooker (instead of taking up more space on the stove).”

Next, I wanted to check in with someone whose meal prep experience comes with always being on the go. Camille Thorpe, a California-based flight attendant, suggests sticking with meals that are easy and you know you’ll want to eat. “One of my favorite things to make for my bag is fresh spring rolls,” she says. “They make me feel fancy, especially with an almond butter sauce (since no peanuts are allowed on airplanes). Yes, tofu and quinoa bowls might be healthy, but I know they will end up in the trash.”

Don’t be mistaken though: Easy to prepare doesn’t necessarily mean repetitive. Abby Kaplan, a New York-based analyst who brings lunch to the office when she goes in, says choosing versatile recipes and ingredients is the most essential part of successfully meal-prepping. “You want something you can eat many different ways so you don’t get bored of it.”

Feeling inspired to give this kind of prep a shot? Keep reading for 15 essentials from our Shop that’ll help make meal prepping a breeze.

To help with the prep

Photo by James Ransom

1. Yamazaki Cookbook & Tablet Stand, $25

If you’re someone who likes to follow recipes rather than wing it, this stand will help keep them handy.

Photo by Ty Mecham

2. Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Baking Sheets, $24

You’ll need a reliable baking sheet to roast batches of vegetables, fish, or other proteins that are on your meal-prep menu.

Photo by Ty Mecham

3. ZWILLING Enfinigy Digital Kitchen Scale, $49.99

Use a digital scale to measure out ingredients and avoid filling your sink with dirty measuring spoons, cups, and bowls.

Photo by Rocky Luten

4. End Grain Cutting Board, $70+

With three different sizes, this teak cutting board (using wood leftover from making furniture) has your chopping covered.

Photo by Julia Gartland

5. Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Deep Dutch Oven, $380 $199.99

The versatility of this cast-iron dish makes it a no-brainer for a night of prepping.

For help with the storing

Photo by Rocky Luten

6. Souper Cubes, $34+

This silicone set makes portioning out soup, pasta, or even pre-blended smoothies a breeze.

Photo by Rocky Luten

7. Mepal Microwaveable Nested Storage Boxes, $65+

Streamline your meal’s fridge-to-plate journey with this microwavable dish that doubles both as a stackable storage container and a microwave-safe bowl.

Photo by Ty Mecham

8. Bee’s Wrap Reusable Food Wraps, $18+

For snacks that don’t require a spill-proof container, this reusable alternative to traditional plastic wrap will keep things like bread, cookies, or nuts organized in a more sustainable way.

Photo by MJ Kroeger

9. Resuable Zip-Top Storage Bags, $21.99+

Staying in the sustainability mindset, these reusable zip-top storage bags are an easy replacement for disposable plastic bags that will help keep your snacks organized.

Photo by Rocky Luten

10. Mepal Veggie & Fruit To Go Cup, $28+

Keep your ready-to-snack-on raw fruits and veggies accessible and crisp in these travel-friendly cups that double as a portable colander.

Photo by Mark Weinberg

11. Onyx Stainless Steel Tiffin Lunch Box, $24+

If you’re bringing your meals on the go, this multi-tiered stainless steel lunch box will keep your salad, soup, sandwich, or stew perfectly in place.

Photo by Bobbi Lin

12. Mepal Salad Lunch Box with Dressing Container, $40

If you prefer to meal-prep batches of salad or grain bowls, this clever lunchbox is for you. Not only is it spacious and dishwasher safe, but it also eliminates the need for packing a separate dressing container—that’s right, there’s a mini dressing container built into the lid.

Photo by Julia Gartland

13. Mepal Modern Large Bento Box, $40

This large bento box makes it simple to portion out a full meal into a single container. The ample space allows for different dishes to comfortably sit next to each other without any accidental mixing— which means your soup will never accidentally spill onto your sandwich bread.

For help with the commute

Photo by MJ Kroeger

14. Multi-pocket Canvas Market Tote, $55+

Like the idea of a lunchbox but need something more versatile? This canvas market tote has enough storage to comfortably hold your meal, with additional pockets for anything you might pick up or need to carry throughout your day.

Photo by Rocky Luten

15. Picnic Time Insulated Cooler Bag, $34.95

If your meals are temperature-sensitive and you tend to be on the go, this insulated cooler bag is a perfect place to store your freshly prepped lunch or dinner while keeping your items their desired temperatures.

Do you meal prep? Let us know in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Julia is a Senior Editor here at Food52 and a freelance writer. She has written for Grub Street, Eater, PUNCH, Edible Brooklyn, and more. She is based in Brooklyn, NY.


Robin January 29, 2023
What about the bowls and lids shown in the picture? I would like to know what brand and where to find those.
kwgoller February 3, 2023
please let us know! the globes with black (navy?) lids?
kwgoller February 3, 2023
Found them. Made by Swell. Unfortunately, small. Only up to 14oz
Robin February 3, 2023
Thank you! Small but nice though, maybe they will come out with some larger ones.
[email protected] January 29, 2023
What about healthy products? Melamine is not something I would buy. I look for tempered glass pieces (as a diabetic, I don't need small shards to cut my feet when they break) I need cook on clay, clay coyote, flameware (and other flameware that doe not use PTFE, PFOA. I don't see these things on your site.
meg January 29, 2023
Mostly, what I cook takes 15 minutes, and all from scratch. All that pre chopping and prepping just seems like leftovers, which I often have, like say, chicken, and then I don't have to pre plan or pre cook anything. No pre week prep for me thanks.