Based on the assumption that everyone has a few kitchen basics like a saucepan with a lid, a frying pan, stirring spoons, and spatula – here is a list of kitchen tools that will help your basic meal prep go smoother and faster.
1. A good vegetable knife
I use these knives to chop, slice, dice, shred and julienne most vegetables.
Global G5 Nakiri Vegetable Chopper in 18cm and 14cm.
Victorinox 8cm Cutlery paring knife
2. A vegetable peeler
A Y-peeler will suffice but I grew up using this straight potato peeler and believe me it is the best. This IKEA 365+ VÄRDEFULL peeler is the sharpest I have found.
3. A deep/wide colander
Very useful for rinsing veggies or washing herbs and removing all the grit.
4. Good kitchen scissors
I recently invested in William Whiteley Kitchen Scissors and they are a dream. But most brands will do the trick.
5. A good chopping board
I have a huge rectangular Acacia end grain chopping board. It is sturdy and very easy to clean.
6. Prepping plates
I have a set of 20 Falcon enamel pasta plates left over from when I did the workshops. They are amazing when I want to prep veggies. Each plate is about 24cm wide which makes it easy to portion and lay out and group all the veggies I want to chop. Laying out veggies in their separate plates is one of the first things I do after a market shop. It helps me visualize what I have and plan out the meals at the same time. I also use one plate to collect all the peels and veggie waste (which either ends up in the compost or in the chicken pen).
7. A good food processor
I use a Kitchenaid KFP1333 Food Processor and an Artisan Food Chopper.
8. A High Powered Blender
I use Vitamix or Nutribullet.
9. A Spiralizer
Paderno 3 Blade Spiralizer that I bought at Williams Sonoma
10. A Box grater
I have a simple one I bought at the supermarket.
11. Meal prep Storage
- Glass jars – I use Kilner and Ball Mason.
- Glass containers – I use Glasslock in rectangular and circular shapes
- Plastic containers – Lock & Lock
12.Things I like to do while Meal Prepping
Watch Netflix, Listen to Music on Spotify, Listen to Podcasts.
Basic Veggie Based Lunch Meal Prep
What is it?
This meal prep is strictly prepping the veggies and accompaniments. It is not cooking entire dishes (I’ll be covering that later) which tends to become a full-on cooking session. Pop the quinoa on, process some cauliflower, grate, spriralize and chop some veggies, boil or roast some corn, make a pesto and chutney, whip up some hummus and quickly pickle some onion.
What does it do?
What this meal prep allows me to do is to have options available for literally 5-10 minute after school snacks, pre-dinner hunger pangs, my own work lunches and lunch boxes for school and work. It allows me to eat better, lighter and daily (yep! No more skipped meals because there was nothing to eat!). Reducing rice intake and increasing vegetable intake especially cauliflower has helped me lose 8 kilos in the past 8 months while strengthening my stomach. It also increases the amount of vegetables the boys are eating especially after school. I find they are snacking much more healthier and enjoying it too.
How to do it?
A. Cauliflower Rice (store in lidded air-tight plastic containers with a little square of paper towel/ 3-4 days)
Wash and pat dry cauliflower with a paper towel. Remove the green leaves and woody bits of the stalk attached to the leaves. Break florets into a bowl/plate and try to include as much of the stalk as you can. Place cauliflower florets and stalks in the bowl of a food processor and process as below.
- Coarse – Pulse the food processor 4-5 times to get a coarse version of cauliflower rice. (Used for Cauliflower Fried Rice, Cauliflower Couscous, Cauliflower San Choy Bow, Cauliflower Burgers, Cauliflower Biryani)
- Fine – Process the cauliflower for a minute to get a finer textured cauliflower rice. (Used for Cauliflower Tabbouli, Cauliflower Falafels, Cauliflower Pizza Crust)
B. Quinoa (store in fridge in lidded glass containers / 4-5 days)
Prepare quinoa using the instructions here. When making quinoa, always remember to rinse it several times (to remove the bitter coating on the seeds) and use a 2:3 quinoa to water ratio. White quinoa or a mix of White and Red works best for most recipes.
C. Zucchini Noodles (store in lidded air-tight plastic containers with a little square of paper towel / 3-4 days)
Wash and pat fry zucchinis with a paper towel. Choose zucchinis that are longer and thicker to get really long noodles with a nice green peel. Trim the ends of the zucchini and prepare them in the two ways below
- Spiralize some using a spiralizer. Use kitchen scissors to give them a chop once or twice so they are not super long and easier to eat. (Used in soups or noodle dishes, Veggie pastas)
- Grate some zucchinis using the box grater. (Used in Zucchini Sweetcorn Fritters, Zucchini Slice, Zucchini Bread)
D. Carrot Sticks (store in glass or plastic wide mouth jars / 2 days)
I find peeled and chopped carrots to be a great after school snack with hummus or any kind of homemade dip (the kids can help themselves to them whenever they need). I also find it great to munch on mid-morning when I feel a bit hungry. I only chop two or three carrots as I want to use them up in a day or to. Storing them in water in a jar helps them from drying out. They only keep well in the water for 1-2 days after which the water strips them of their flavour, so be mindful of that.
E. Pickled Red Onions (store in fridge in glass jar / 1-2 months)
These are the quickest pickle to make at home and add a wonderful crunch to your meals (salads, Buddha bowls, curry bowls, sandwiches, wraps) instantly. They are also full of gut-health boosting nutrients and great to have in the fridge. They take 5 minutes to make and 30 minutes to be fully ready.
RECIPE // Pickled Red Onion
2 red onions, peeled and sliced and cut into ½ cm rings
1 teaspoon raw sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
¾ cup rice wine vinegar
4 sprigs of thyme
½ teaspoon red chilli flakes (optional)
Place onion rings in a small bowl. Pour boiling water over the onion. Make sure onions are covered. Drain after 2 minutes.
Place sugar, salt, vinegar, peppercorns, thyme and chilli (if using) in a jar and mix well. Add onion pressing down the rings in the liquid. Pop the lid of the jar on. Place in fridge. Ready to eat in 30 minutes. Will keep for 1-2 months in the fridge.
F. Pestos, Dips, Chutneys (store in fridge in jars / up to a week for most and up to a month for harissa)
I like to make one or two pestos or dips every week. It is amazing what a difference adding a huge spoonful of pesto does to a lunch bowl that you have put together in 5 minutes. Instant deliciousness and wow factor! My favourite is a Green Chutney that I have been making since I was in high school (so probably definitely more than 2000 times). I could eat this on everything but it is really good for Indian inspired meals, this Harissa is gorgeous on Mediterranean inspired meals and this Vegan Basil Pesto is gorgeous for that extra kick of flavour no matter what you are eating.
RECIPE // Spicy Thai Pesto
1/4 cup (40g) raw peanuts
1/2 cup coriander leaves
1/2 cup basil leaves
1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
juice and finely grated zest of 1 lime
1 garlic clove
2.5cm piece of ginger
2 teaspoons vegan fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil
Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth.
G. Hummus (store in fridge in a lidded glass bow/ 6-7 days)
Hummus is - pardon my analogy but like comfortable supportive underwear. It holds everything together, makes you feel good and is the ultimate backup. I have a bowl of hummus ready to go every week. It usually doesn’t last past the first two-three days and is a miracle worker in lunch bowls and lunch boxes adding a boost of protein. Great to snack on with carrot sticks and amazing to smear on a plate and top with roast veggies. Make this basic version and add variations of spinach, roasted red capsicum, beetroot, sweet potato or turmeric for a different coloured hummus every single time.
RECIPE // Green Goddess Hummus
1 can (400g) chickpeas
1/4 cup tahini
3 roasted garlic cloves
½ cup baby spinach
½ cup rocket (arugula)
1 tablespoon chopped spring onion
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup (60ml) aquafaba (chickpea soaking liquid from the can)
1/4 cup (60ml) warm water + 2-3 tablespoons extra
1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes
Process all ingredients (except extra water) in a small food processor until smooth. If too thick add extra water (1 tablespoon at a time) until desired consistency reached.
H. Savoury Raw Sauces (store in fridge in glass jars for up to 5 days)
Savoury raw sauces require no cooking. They are quickly put together by blending a few ingredients in a blender or food processor. They are excellent for drizzling generously over salads, quinoa bowls, fritters or dipping roast veggies in. I make at least one or two of these per week - some favourites include Turmeric Tahini Sauce and Sour Cashew Cream Sauce.
I. Shredded + Chopped Cabbage (store in fridge in lidded glass or plastic containers / 4-5 days)
The fastest meal prep item which will reward you with even faster fried rice, stir-fries and okonomiyakis. Thinly slice cabbage for one container and finely chop cabbage for another container.
J. Spring Onion (store in fridge in lidded glass/steel containers / 7 days)
Chopped spring onion will keep in the fridge for a week or even more, much longer than the whole stalks which will start drying out. Spring onion is a great flavour booster and gut promoting vegetable. It adds that burst of green especially if you are low on herbs.
K. Boiled Sweetcorn (store in fridge / 4-5 days)
I like to buy Sweetcorn at the markets when I know it has come from a small farm and not commercially produced. It is richer in colour and sweeter too. Remove the husks of the corn and place the cob in a large saucepan of boiling water. Add ½ teaspoon ground turmeric and cover and cook for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the saucepan and allow to cool. Either store whole in the fridge by wrapping in foil or use a sharp knife/sweetcorn peeler to remove the kernels in a lidded glass bowl.
PRACTICAL USES OF THIS MEAL PREP
Besides all the recipe links I gave in the preparation above, here are some quick meal ideas that I turn to time and time again. Wherever I feel like I need to add protein, I’ll opt for some quick pan-roasted tofu or salmon or a poached egg (who am I kidding? … scrambled or fried really). Sometimes, I will add everything I have prepped in a bowl with whatever else I have on hand and call it a Buddha Bowl. It’s hip, people!
Meal 1 (Will make 2 serves)
Coarse Cauliflower Rice + Chopped Cabbage + Spring Onion + Carrot Sticks
Make this 5-Minute Cauliflower Fried Rice.
Meal 2 (Will make 2 serves)
Spiralized Zucchini Noodles + Thai Pesto + Spring Onion
Make this Spicy Thai Zucchini Noodles in 10 minutes (my favourite!).
Meal 3 (Will make 2 serves)
Grated Zucchini + Sweetcorn Kernels + Spring Onion
Make a version of these Zucchini Fritters and serve on Hummus with salad greens.
Meal 4 (Will serve 2)
Quinoa + Pickled Onion + Pesto
Roast sweet potato with garlic and cinnamon OR Steam a fish fillet with soy sauce and Shiaoxing Wine and serve with all of the above
Meal 5 (Will serve 2)
Shredded Cabbage + Quinoa + Green Chutney + Pickled Onion
Make this Keralan Cabbage Stir Fry, Poach or Fry an egg and serve with the above.
Meal 6 (Will serve 2)
Spiralized Zucchini + Corn Kernels + Shredded Cabbage + Savoury Sauce + Spring Onion
Make this Zucchini And Corn Coleslaw using this Turmeric Tahini Sauce recipe. Such a healthy twist! Bulk up protein with chickpeas or smoked salmon.
I hope you enjoyed the first basic meal prep session here at Cook Republic and found some new ideas and inspiration for healthier weekly meals. I would love to hear what you think in the comments below. Please feel free to ask any questions or provide your feedback. I am writing up more meal prep sessions - Better Breakfasts, Fast Dinners, Weekly Meal Preps Covering Breakfast To Dinner, Vegan Meal Prep etc.. if you have any special requests, please let me know. Big love! x