The Meal Prep Tools You Absolutely Need in Your Kitchen

Quarantine life came with many lessons—from the practical to the downright sanity-saving (yeah, you really *should* leave the house for a walk at least once a day). And in our family, some of the greatest “aha” moments happened in the kitchen. Case in point: every recipe tastes more worthy of a Chrissy Teigen cookbook when you have the right meal prep tools. 


To fortify our stash of kitchenware, we turned to SwearBy editors—after all, they have the best (ahem) taste. Here, must-have kitchen tools, from cookware to knives; each one guaranteed to make your meal prep easier.

The Always Pan

When we heard this pan is eight kitchen tools in one, our ears perked up. “As someone who lives in a postage stamp-sized apartment, the Always Pan is a game changer,” raves Katie Macdonald of the 10-inch aluminum workhorse with chemical-free ceramic coating. “It heats evenly and quickly, working as a frying pan, sauté pan, steamer, skillet, saucier, and saucepan. Plus, it includes a beechwood spatula that nests neatly into the handle as a spoon rest, as well as a stainless steel steamer basket that doubles as a colander. It’s dishwasher-safe, too, but the nonstick coating means you can just wipe it clean with a soft sponge and warm, soapy water.” Even Julia Child would be wowed. 

PL8 Professional Vegetable Chopper

That burning, teary-eyed thing that happens when you chop onions? According to Emily Lougran, it just doesn’t happen anymore with this gadget—a hinged stainless-steel chopper that dices, mince and, yes, chops with one firm press. “This is my favorite kitchen gadget because it makes food preparation fast, super easy, and painless,” she says. “I mean, only the best meals start with chopped veggies, right? I’ll be using this to make soup all winter long.”

Lodge 6 Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

“We received this as a wedding gift and I’m so glad we did,” says Caitlin Kimmet of this dutch oven, which is practically guaranteed to last a lifetime (and then some). “It weighs about 80 pounds (ok not that much but it sometimes feels like it does), but there is nothing that I would rather have in my kitchen. It cooks stew. Roasts. It bakes sourdough bread from your pandemic sourdough starter. It can do it all. It’s super easy to clean and really does last and last. We’ve used it at least once a week for over a year and it looks the same as the day we got it.” Did we mention it comes in umpteen sizes and colors, including a shade of fire engine red that brings a farmhouse look to any studio apartment in Brooklyn?

Crate & Barrel Over-The-Sink Mesh Colander

Never thought I’d say this, but I need this over-the-sink mesh colander. Bad. “I have been searching for the perfect colander for what feels like forever,” says Alana Kysar, who is apparently my spirit shopper. “This is the best one I’ve found so far. It’s great because you can prop it up on the sides of your sink when you’re pouring out pasta water and not worry about the pasta sitting in that unavoidable pool of water that forms because the water doesn’t drain through as fast you’d like.” Also: it’s made of stainless steel that won’t leach creepy things into your food (yes, I’m looking at you, crappy plastic colander I’ve been using waaay too long.)

Crate & Barrel Rosti White Melamine Mixing Bowls with Lids Set

Ok: how often is a kitchen tool inspired by royalty? At least once. These bowls are modeled after Danish originals designed in 1954—and named for Princess Margrethe, who is now Queen of Denmark. And they’re as practical as they are fanciful. “You’re gonna want a set of nest bowls and these have the added bonus of a set of lids, which is great for things like marinades—you can whisk them up and then add your meat or veggies, pop on the lid, and put it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it,” says Alana Kysar. But if I’m being honest, I’m in it for the royal factor 👑.

Hi! [Insert waving blonde emoji here] I'm a Colorado-based freelance writer, and I'm Niles Crane-level picky about everyyyyything.