What you need to meal prep for your kids

From bestreviews.com
By
Stefanie Hammond
BestReviews

Want to get started on meal prepping with your own recipes? Next time you cook, double the quantity, then pre-portion and freeze the second meal to be used as dinner or lunch in the future.

Parents are juggling more than ever these days. Cooking after a long day at work can be a daunting proposition for the young professional starting a family. And you can’t send peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with your kid to school every day. Meal prepping is a system that helps you make something that’s nutritious but not time-consuming. With meal prepping, you prepare several meals at once, place them into separate containers and dole out servings throughout the week that can be reheated without cooking a full meal on each occasion.

In order to meal prep, you’ll need to find some great scalable recipes and a wide variety of storage containers. Once you’ve got these essentials down, you’ll be saving time while providing fun and healthy meals for your kids.

Meal prep essentials for kids at home

Meal planning cookbooks

Visual inspiration is a great solution to any meal prep rut. Meal prep cookbooks provide tons of recipes and batch-based ideas from breakfast to dessert. You don’t need to follow each recipe by the book either. Whenever you’re sick of a meal, your cookbook can serve as a handy guide on how to plan your own recipes for bulk cooking.

Vegetable choppers

Using the right tools in the kitchen will decrease the time spent preparing food. The quickest way to chop fruits and vegetables is with a mandolin. A spiralizer is the easiest way to make zoodles, a healthier alternative to noodles made out of zucchini.

Bento box

Just like Tupperware, there are many styles and sizes of Bento boxes. Some are more basic with only one or two compartments, others have several compartments or levels that lock together to create one solid piece. Bento boxes are convenient because instead of using multiple containers, you can put food into multiple compartments within a single container.

Cutters and press

Convincing your kid to eat their food is a lot easier when they are cut into fun shapes with sandwich cutters. Turn that cucumber into a star or some watermelon into a flower. Don’t like crust? Try a sandwich de-cruster for easy crust removal.

Reusable zip bags

Reusable zip bags are an environmentally friendly substitute for plastic-zip sandwich bags. They come in multiple sizes, colors and capacities. These bags can also be used for non-food items.

Containers

There are so many varieties of containers for meal prepping. Practically anything you can think of prepping has a container designed for it. Need containers for gelato or sweet treats? There are even containers to freeze and store spices, sauces and baby food.

Age-appropriate kid tools

Let the kids join in on the fun of meal planning with their very own set of knives or a unicorn cutting board. Kid knives are sharp enough to slice food but dull enough not to cut little hands. Cutting helps with hand-eye coordination and kids tend to eat food they’ve helped create. Always use these with adult supervision.

Best kids meal prep supplies

Best of the best

Keff Creations Complete Kids Cooking and Baking Set: available at Amazon.

Our take: This robust kit has everything you could think of to start your kids in the kitchen.

What we like: This set comes with 20 pieces including a cutting board, measuring spoons, apron, rolling pin, whisk and tongs. Put everything away in the handy storage bin or flip through the included recipe book for your next meal.

What we dislike: The chef’s hat is not adjustable.

Best meal planning cookbook

The Little Lunchbox Cookbook: Easy Real-Food Bento Lunches for Kids on the Go: available at Amazon.

Our take: The author, Renee Kohley, solves the perpetual sandwich, chips and apple dilemma of packing your child’s lunch. The book focuses on kid-friendly bento boxes with recipes that blend home cooking, leftovers and snacks.

What we like: This detailed book chock full of gluten-free, tasty recipes includes allergen-friendly recipes as well as a few dessert items and even some tips and tricks around the kitchen.

What we dislike: Depending on your location you might not be able to source all of the ingredients, but fortunately, the book provides substitutions.

Best selection of cutters

Sandwich Cutters Set for Kids by W-Sugars: available at Amazon.

Our take: This set has 14 adorable steel sandwich, fruit and cookie cutters guaranteed to make your kid’s lunchbox the most coveted meal at the lunch table.

What we like: The colorful rubber protectors work great for gripping the cutters and it’s safer for your hands. Even the pickiest of eaters will be encouraged to consume fun shapes like stars, hearts, flowers and dinosaurs.

What we dislike: The included toothpicks are made of plastic and don’t stand up to multiple uses.

Best Bento lunch box

Bentgo Brights Kids Lunch Box: available at Kohls.

Our take: This hybrid lunch-bento box with five compartments reduces the need to have both a lunch box and a bento box, saving you money and space in the cupboard.

What we like: Six vivid color options with contrasting trim make this a standout bento box for the stylish kid in your family. The tray locks inside of the case for extra protection and it’s both dishwasher and freezer safe.

What we dislike: There aren’t any handles, so it’s not the most convenient to carry, but it packs well and has kid-friendly latches.

Best bang for your buck

Silicone Baking Cupcake Liners by CAKETIME: available at Amazon.

Our take: These cupcake liners are a great, budget-friendly way to get started separating food into compartments without investing in a lot of equipment. The liners come in vibrant colors and four different shapes.

What we like: At just under $9 this set of 24 baking cups practically pays for itself as it doubles as food containers for your kids and actual muffin cups for your baked goods.

What we dislike: The muffin cups are flexible, not sturdy, so they aren’t good for liquids.
 

Stefanie Hammond is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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