African American woman spooning chickpeas into mason jars holding meal prep salads

Experienced Meal Preppers Share Their Must-Have Kitchen Tools

By Megan Edwards,

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From improving your health to reducing food waste, there's no shortage of reasons to start meal prepping—but getting into the habit can be daunting if you aren’t equipped with the right tools. To help meal prepping newcomers take the plunge, we’ve asked members of our Forks Meal Planner community to share their favorite kitchen gadgets that make plant-based batch cooking a breeze. From blending up velvety smooth sauces to slicing veggies into perfectly sized pieces, these meal prep tools are ideal for vegan home chefs who love to get a headstart on their weekly meals. Don’t feel like you need to buy every single item: Invest in one or two that you know would help make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable and efficient. Happy cooking!

Editor’s note: FOK may collect a small share of sales from some of the links on this page, though it doesn’t influence our product picks.

Ninja Foodi Smoothie Bowl Maker | $120

This 1200-watt powerhouse is perfect for making plant-based sauces, spreads, smoothies, and soups. In addition to manual blending, the easy-to-clean base comes programmed with four preset functions: smoothies, extractions, bowls, and spread. This set comes with two blender cups and one bowl that all feature drip-proof lids so you can easily take your creations on the go. 

“The Ninja Smoothie Bowl Maker is perfect for a one-person household. I use it for everything from almond butter, to nice cream, to cashew-based sauces, to making my own almond flour. Its small size makes smaller batches super easy but it still has the power of a big blender!” —Regina B.

ONCE FOR ALL Safe Mandoline Food Slicer | $43

Never worry about cutting your fingers again with this versatile mandoline that can thinly slice, dice, and julienne to create perfectly uniform ingredients. A manual hand pump works the blade as you press veggies through a chute using a beveled tamper, ensuring your precious hands stay far from any sharp parts. The standing design is collapsable for easy storage and the stainless steel blade is easy to clean between uses?

“I love this mandoline for helping me prep veggies ahead on Sundays. You can change the setting to slide and dice, and I appreciate the safety features on this model, including the push top.” —Jessica M.

Instant Pot | From $80

One of the most loved meal-prep tools of all time, the Instant Pot is clutch for anyone who batch-cooks dry beans, soups, and stews, and more. Simply load up your ingredients, select the right setting, and press a button to get a delicious meal without all the elbow grease. Beyond pressure cooking, this multicooker can bake cakes, steam veggies, slow-simmer soups, cook rice, and more. 

“On Batch Cook Sundays I like to have three going at once!”—Patti P.

Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker | $215

If you want perfectly cooked brown rice every time you make a curry or a stir-fry, this rice cooker is worth the price tag. The Neuro Fuzzy’s built-in software monitors water and rice levels and adjusts cook times for perfect results—even if your measurements are less than perfect. The cooker holds a capacity of 5½-cup (shown) and 10-cup capacity and features a nonstick inner pan that makes for easy serving and cleanup. The digital menu allows you to select different cooking times based on the type of rice you’re using, and the extended keep-warm function ensures you have ready-to-eat rice whenever you need it. 

“It’s one of my most used appliances. I’ve had it for about 10 years and use it 2–3 times a week.”—Caresse S.

All-Clad D3 Stainless Everyday 10 Piece Pots and Pans Set | $650 for 10 pieces

If you're ready to upgrade to the Cadillac of stainless Steel cookware, now is the time. Normally upwards of $1,400, All-Clad’s sleek 10-piece set is more than 50% off right now. Cook up a storm with 8.5-inch and 10.5-inch skillets, 1.5-quart and 3-quart saucepans with lids, a 3-quart sauté pan with lid, and a 6-quart stockpot. The contoured handles are easy to grip, drip-free pouring rims eliminate spillage, and they’re all oven-safe up to 600℉. 

“I use the medium saucepan for making oatmeal and whole grains like bulgur, rice, farro, etc. The large saucepan is great for making chilis, soups, and stews, while the large skillet is ideal for making all kinds of dishes. It’s easy to water sauté in these pans and they are well-made in the USA!”—Cammy N.

Pyrex 3 Cup Rectangular Glass Storage Dishes with Cover | $28 for set of 4

Store all of your perfectly portioned meals in these durable glass Pyrex containers to make weekday dinners super simple. The sturdy glass is nonporous, which means it won’t absorb odors or stains, and the tightly stealing lids are BPA-free. Featuring microwave-, oven-, and freezer-safe tempered glass, these stackable containers are great for storing leftovers so you have a tasty meal ready to go on nights when you don’t have time to cook. 

“I love the Pyrex containers for leftovers and food prepping! They create easy cleanup and can even be warmed [sans lids] in the oven.”—Shannon D.

Veggetti Spiral Vegetable Slicer | $11

This handy meal prep tool creates perfect curly-cue produce in a matter of minutes. Zucchini, squash, carrots, cucumbers, and potatoes can all fit inside the hourglass-shaped spiralizer and turned into wavy noodles with a simple twist of the wrist. The dual stainless-steel blades can create either thick or thin noodles, allowing you to have more control over the finished product. 

”The spiralizer is a simple handheld one but it does the job great as well as not taking up a lot of kitchen space.”— Shannon D.

Braun 4-in-1 Immersion Hand Blender | $90

While it doesn’t do everything a standing blender can do, a good immersion blender is ideal for creating velvety smooth soups directly in the pot—no messy transferring required! This powerful 350-watt hand blender is ideal for achieving a creamy consistency thanks to its super sharp stainless steel blade. The ergonomic handle is easy to maneuver, and the detachable head is easy to clean. Not to mention, this set comes with a whisk attachment, a food processor bowl, a masher, and a beaker for small-batch blending. It’s a mini blender, food processor, and hand mixer in one.

“I use this mainly on soups, but it’s also great for mashing potatoes or beans!”—Shannon D.

Oxo Salad Spinner | $30

Clean and dry leafy greens like a pro with this simple and effective salad spinner. The non-slip base is great for gripping even the sleekest countertops, and the built-in brake button ensures total control. Plus, the basket doubles as a colander, the outer bowl is attractive enough to serve a salad in, and the pump can locks down to the lowest position for compact storage.

"It's the only salad spinner I've owned that works."—Donna S.

Tofuture Tofu Press | $24

Gone are the days of stacking a pile of cookbooks on top of your tofu to press out the moisture! This nifty professional press, which is BPA-free and dishwasher-safe, does all the work for you. Simply sandwich your tofu block between the two green panels, give it a squeeze, and empty out the water collected in the bottom tray. 

“I love this tofu press. I bought two so I can always have one rotating in.”—Angie H.

Cuisinart Push Chopper | $25

Get perfectly minced garlic, chopped nuts, mashed herbs, and sliced veggies in a matter of seconds with this sleek stainless steel push chopper. The enclosed base means you don’t need to break out the cutting board, and the dishwasher safe parts are easy to clean. Plus, pumping the push blade is a great way to get out some pent-up aggression in the kitchen! This is a great tool for batch-chopping aromatics that will be used in multiple recipes throughout the week. 

“Small enough to be convenient and very easy to clean. The rotating blade works well to quickly chop or mince items. I always use it for onions and garlic, though it also works well for nuts, peppers, or any other small job.”—Liz C.

Dexas Rainbow Flex Mats Cutting Boards  | $20 for set of 8

Every plant-based meal prepper needs a good set of cutting boards, and these non-slip mats are just right for chopping veggies. At 11x8 inches, these thin boards smaller than most, so you can pull out as many as you need for a prep session, and they take up less space in the cupboard and dishwasher. The nonporous BPA-free surface is designed to keep knife blades sharp and can easily bend to funnel ingredients straight into a pan. Plus, the eye-catching colors will bring some added cheer into your kitchen decor. 

“I typically prefer natural materials, but for a cutting board I find a lightweight, flexible mat perfect for storage, bending, and pouring over pot, and easy to clean.”—Tonya U.

High Speed Blender | Varying prices

High-speed blenders were recommended by nearly every Forks Meal Planner user, which means this is a must-have item in your plant-based kitchen. Blenders run the gamut in terms of size and price, so it’s important to find one that matches your cooking needs and budget. Check out our high-speed blender guide to take a look at our top picks and figure out which one is right for your kitchen. 

Forks Meal Planner is FOK’s easy weekly meal-planning tool to keep you on a healthy plant-based path. Sign up today for a free two-week trial—no credit card required! To learn more about a whole-food, plant-based diet, visit our Plant-Based Primer.

About the Author

Headshot of Megan Edwards

About the Author

Megan Edwards

Megan Edwards is a staff writer and content producer for Forks Over Knives. She is also a certified RYT-500 yoga teacher who is passionate about cultivating holistic wellness through plant-based eating, mindful movement, and meditation. With a background in journalism and marketing, she supports both the online presence and quarterly print magazine for Forks Over Knives.
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