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9 Must-Have Kitchen Essentials for Meal Prep on a Budget

There’s an entire online culture built around Meal Prep these days, and for a good reason! Wasting less food, ways to cut down on eating out & ordering in, and trimming off grocery store expenses are all targeted in this budget-friendly craze.

Some people might call them “glorified leftovers”, but planned meals can save you time and money. Meal prep will also give you control over your eating habits, if you stick with it.

Consistency will be key here! Meal prep Sundays can become a waste of resources if you still end up buying food on the go, or eating out.

Instagram influencers and fitness gurus will give you all the inspiration you need to get motivated about meal prep, but cooking hundreds of dollars’ worth of food for 7 meals isn’t for everyone.

Buying and cooking in bulk is the budget-savvy way to go!

Here are 9 must-have kitchen essentials for meal-prepping on a budget:

  1. Meal prep containers

Turn your fridge into a grab & go station for the entire family. A pack of 20 Bento box-style containers are the perfect starter kit for a couple, or a small family.

Of course you can buy glass containers, but these reusable sturdy plastic containers are much lighter in weight, and they take up less space in both the fridge and your to-go bag.

Dishwasher and microwave safe, easy to clean & store!

  1. Insulated bag

A multipurpose insulated bag will pay for itself in no time. You can use it as a lunch bag, a picnic cooler, a bag to keep your coffee warm, or your fruits cold and crisp.

You can also use it as a no-spill insulated grocery bag for your meat and frozen products.

Get it in a neutral unisex design so anyone in the family can use it. Go for a 2 pack and you’ll be amazed at how many things you end up using these robust bags for.

  1. Crockpot / Instant pot

Ever check Pinterest for top meal prep recipes? I bet you can’t find one list that doesn’t have a Crockpot/Instant Pot recipe somewhere in there.

And that’s because cooking in them is just so convenient!  You can cook a dump dinner with a Crockpot, while prepping your lunches. Any kitchen tool that requires minimal attention will save you time to be more efficient.

As for the Instant Pot, there isn’t much you can’t make in it! You can pressure cook for quick protein add-ins to your meals, or cook sides like rice without worrying about burning any pots to a crisp.

  1. Food sealer kit

Buying in bulk should become the norm if you’re serious about keeping a tight grocery budget. But even buying in bulk can become wasteful if you don’t pre-portion the food correctly before storing in the freezer.

A vacuum sealer starter pack (with rolls & bags included) can also help you save on food storage space if you don’t have a deep chest freezer.

You can freeze single-meals or cuts of meat in just the right portion size for your tried & true recipes.

  1. Silicone trays for pre-portioning

Speaking of pre-portioning, cooked or store-bought sauces will often go to waste if you don’t freeze them soon enough after the first use.

These handy silicone ice-cube trays have 15 x 1.25-inch square cubes. You can use them to easily freeze portions of your favorite marinara sauce. Once frozen, you can move the cubes to Ziplock bags.

You can also do this with stocks, so you can always have true flavor bombs on hand when cooking large batch meals.

  1. Stockpot

Buying food in bulk, and batch cooking meals will often leave you with loads of odds & ends from bones, random cuts of meat, to veggies and herbs.

A large volume stockpot, left to simmer for several hours will go unnoticed as you take care of other more labor-intensive parts of your meal prep.

The flavor of a concentrated stock will have you craving homemade meals!

You can also use the stockpot as a pasta strainer or as a steamer.

  1. Waffle maker

Waffles, hash browns, pancakes, Paninis, omelets and so much more can be cooked in large batches using a large capacity waffle maker.

The shape of the end-product is perfect for saving space in your freezer & your to-go containers. Triple the breakfast recipes you know & love and make ahead even a month’s worth of easy meals.

  1. Silicone baking mats

These reusable silicone baking mats can save you the expense of buying new oven trays, as they never get food stuck on them, or go brown & sticky.

Roll out dough on them, bake cookies and pizza all in one place, without having to repurchase rolls of baking paper.

  1. Planner

When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Wise words!

Use this meal-prep focused planner to get your plan in place. From pantry inventory, to weekly inspiration to stay on track; all in all a budget-friendly way to stay on top of your goals!

It has 29 weeks’ worth of meal planning along with a grocery list for each week and a meal prep strategy section.

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Written by Patricia Egyed

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