A rice cooker
Board-certified naturopathic doctor, registered dietitian and certified nutritionist Dr. Olivia Audrey says many people include a serving of rice in their balanced meals. This is because it’s a healthy carbohydrate source, leaving us feeling satisfied and fulfilled for hours. However, cooking rice on the stove can be time-consuming since if you don’t keep a watchful eye on it, it can burn or stick to the bottom of the pot. Dr. Audrey recommends a rice cooker so you can prepare large batches and then use them throughout the week.
Try: Continental Electric Steamer/Rice Cooker, $36.99
A slow cooker
If you haven’t discovered the magic of a slow cooker, get ready to be dazzled. As Dr. Audrey raves, you can measure out your recipes, throw it all into the slow cooker, let it simmer while you work for six to eight hours — and voilà! You have dinner ready, without any hassle. And psst: consider doubling the serving size, so you have leftovers for tomorrow, too.
Try this: Crock-Pot 6qt My Time Slow Cooker, $49.99
A food scale
If you are trying to lose weight or better manage how much you eat in a day, you need a way to measure what you’re consuming. Since most people don’t fully understand what a ‘cup’ or a ‘four ounces’ looks like, a kitchen scale can help tremendously. In fact, Abrams says a kitchen scale is crucial to getting your nutritional values, calories and macronutrients, right for every meal. “Once you prep your food, weigh it all out and break it down into each day,” she recommends. “This way, you’ve pre-counted your meals and can cruise through the upcoming week without needing to look at your tracking app.”
Try this: Ozeri Pronto Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale, $11.04
While your blender may have been frequently used in college to whip up margaritas, this kitchen staple can also help you make a wide variety of nutrition-forward foods. That’s why nutritionist, wholeness coach and weight loss expert Melissa Kathryn calls it a must-have. “Blenders are fantastic for creating healthy dips, pureed soups, smoothies, dresses, cauliflower rice, and sauces that you can freeze or use that week,” she raves.
Try this: HUROM Hexa Power High-Speed Blender, $349.00
A cupcake pan
The cupcake or muffin pan you whip out to celebrate a pal’s birthday is much more versatile than you realize. As Kathryn shares, this kitchen essential allows you to make portable-size snacks and meals, including batch cooking egg muffins, protein bites, and more. Since they can be a pain to clean sometimes, consider laying parchment paper down first to make it easier to tidy up.
Try this: Amazon Basics Nonstick Carbon Steel Muffin Pan, $12.89
A fun way to make your beloved Italian pasta dishes better for you is to swap out the flour-filled noodles with vegetable alternatives. From zucchini to butternut squash, Kathryn says a spiralize is ideal for creating all sorts of nutritional swirls.
Try this: Betty Bossi Midi Spiralizer, $19.97
Functional nutritionist Risa Groux, CN’s favorite tool is a mandoline. She uses it for julienne veggies, such as zucchini, carrot and parsnip noodles for soups with sauce. She can also use it to make healthier potato chips since it can create very-thin slices.
Try this: Mueller Austria Premium Quality V-Pro Multi Blade Adjustable Mandoline, $29.99
A good knife
If you haven’t invested in a quality knife, consider this your nudge. While you can definitely find inexpensive options everywhere, a well-made knife will make it easier to slice through hard produce and make it less likely you cut yourself, according to Kathryn. Plus, when treated with care and sharpened every few months, a knife is an investment you keep for many years.
Try this: Hast 8” Chef’s Knife, Edition Series, $119.00
A mini chopper
Part of the hassle of meal prepping is chopping all of the ingredients into small sizes. When you have a recipe that calls for onions, peppers, carrots, and five other veggies, it could take an hour to get through the dicing section alone. To the rescue is a mini chopper, recommended by Melissa Snover, the CEO and founder of Nourished. She uses it to mix up a variety of vegetables, herbs and spices. “It’s super handy, small, and saves me from all of the tedious choppings when it comes to onions and the like,” she raves.
Try this: Phillips Kitchen Multichopper, $34.95
An air fryer
Think about your meal routine: do you tend to spend time oven baking potatoes, vegetables and meats? If so, you could cut that time in half and use less oil by investing in a quality air fryer. As Abrams shares, you can even make a roast chicken! “If you don’t already have one, be sure to get one immediately. You’ll wonder how you got along without one so far,” she says.
Try this: TaoTronics Air Fryer, $119.99
Food storage containers
It may not be the most exciting purchase, but it’s one that will make your fridge far less of a mess: storage containers. “These will ensure you’re completely organized with your meal preps and are always ready to go, wherever you’ll be eating your meals,” Abrams shares. To go the extra mile, you can even label the containers by the day of the week, so you can quickly grab, heat up and go.
Try this: Collapse-It Storage Container Set, $39.99
A smart herb garden
While necessary to complete flavorful and dynamic lunches and dinners, herbs can cost a pretty penny when you buy them each week at the grocery store. Rather than shelling out this dough, Snover recommends growing your own! She has one in her kitchen where she nurtures chives and other varieties, as well as tomatoes, lettuce and more.
Try this: Deluxe Culinary Herb Grow Kit, $45.00