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7 Must-Have Kitchen Tools for Making Easy Grab and Go Meals

Kitchen Tools for Grab and Go Meals

When I was in grad school studying nutrition, I would sometimes have to pack a whole day’s worth of grab and go meals.

It was important to me to make my meals because there were not many healthy options available to buy on campus.

I found the following kitchen tools essential to making easy grab and go meals.

If you’re a busy person who doesn’t always want to go out to eat, this blog post will help you start bringing healthy meals made from home on the go with you!

Check out the Meal Planning Guide for Busy Professional Women, filled with time-saving meal planning tips. 

Note: This article contains affiliate links, which are at no cost to you but help me make a small profit on this blog. I only recommend products I use and/or believe would be beneficial to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Must Have Kitchen Tools for Grab and Go Meals

1. Mason Jars

Mason jars are super trendy right now, and for a good reason. You can fit healthy meals like overnight oats or salads into these jars and easily take them on the go with you.

They’re a must have for busy people. When you finally have free time, make a meal and place it into the jar. Then when you are in a rush, just grab the jar and go! (But don’t forget a utensil to eat with!)

The Ball Mason Jars 32 oz & 16 oz Bundle with Non Slip Jar Opener is a great starter kit because it comes with two sizes of mason jars as well as a jar opener for when you screw the lid on too tight.

Recipes You Can Make with It:

  1. Blueberry and Grilled Peach Quinoa Parfait by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
  2. 8 Classic Overnight Oats by Wholefully
  3. Quick and Easy Mason Jar Frittata by Dakota Layers
  4. Healthy Taco Salad in a Mason Jar by Evolving Table
  5. Sesame Noodle Salad with Ginger Tofu Cubes by krista and jess
  6. Greek Mason Jar Salads by Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice
  7. Spinach Salad in a Jar with Mozzarella, Orzo & Snap Peas by Earthbound Farm
  8. Pumpkin Macaroni & Cheese by Caramel Potatoes
  9. Creamy Italian Herb Pasta Salad by Sweet Phi
  10. Chili with Cornbread by The Pleasant Pantry

2. Meal Prep Containers

Meal prep containers are another easy way to carry your food on the go. Similar to mason jars, you can cook and pack your meal ahead of time with these containers.

These containers can carry breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack. I personally prefer a three compartment container so I can pack a main dish and then some healthy sides in the other two compartments such as veggies or fruit.

These stackable containers have three compartments and are microwave and dishwasher safe: Freshware Meal Prep Containers [15 Pack] 3 Compartment with Lids, Microwave/Dishwasher/Freezer Safe. One of many promising reviews on Amazon said: Great for meal prepping and organization. I’m definitely going to buy more! Looked amazing in my fridge and didn’t take up too much room!” ~Symone
meal prep containers for grab and go meals
You will probably want to pack these inside of a lunch box, and I got you covered, it’s tool #6!

Recipes You Can Make with It:

  1. Avocado and Egg Breakfast Meal Prep by Damn Delicious
  2. Meal Prep Pancakes with Strawberries by Meal Prep On Fleek
  3. Turkey Taco Salad by Damn Delicious
  4. 8 Pasta Salad Ideas by Eazy Peazy Mealz
  5. Chicken & Hummus Plate by Project Meal Plan
  6. Thai Chicken Wraps Meal Prep Bistro Boxes by Gimme Delicious
  7. DIY Starbucks Protein Bistro Box by Number 2 Pencil
  8. Chicken Fajita Meal Prep Lunch Bowls with Cilantro Lime Quinoa by My Food Story
  9. Curried Tofu Salad Meal Prep by Budget Bytes
  10. Tuna & White Bean Salad Meal Prep by Budget Bytes

3. Muffin Pan

Did you know you can make more than just muffins in a muffin pan? There are a lot of common meals like meatloaf or mac and cheese that you can turn into portable muffin form!

If you would like to take more than one muffin on the go with you, wrap them in foil (tool #4) or place them into your meal prep container (tool #2).

I recommend using a larger muffin pan like the USA Muffin Pan, 12 Well, Nonstick & Quick Release Coating, Made in the USA from Aluminized Steel. By having 12 wells like this pan, you can make more than one recipe at once. That way you can have a complete meal all in muffin form (how fun!).

For example, based on the recipes below, you could make a meal of meatloaf (recipe #4) with garlic knots (recipe #7).

Recipes You Can Make with It:

  1. To-Go Baked Oatmeal by The Wholesome Dish
  2. Veggie Quiche Cups To-Go by Best Food Cloud
  3. Spinach Almond Amaranth Breakfast Muffins by kiipfit
  4. Meatloaf Muffins with Mozzarella and Sun-dried Tomatoes by The Dinner Mom
  5. Mac & Cheese Muffins by emily bites
  6. Baked Sloppy Joe Cups by Ready Set Eat
  7. Muffin Tin Garlic Knots by Spiced
  8. Mini Caprese Deep Dish Pizza by Cafe Delites
  9. Tuna Salad Bean Cups by Muffin Tin Mania
  10. Zucchini Fritters by Yummy Toddler Food

4. Aluminum Foil

Aluminum foil is something everyone should have in their kitchen. What’s more, it is incredibly useful for on the go meals.

Aluminum foil can keep food warm, and you can wrap up food that may otherwise not be so portable. I typically use foil as a way to cover and hold food you can eat with one hand, such as burritos, sandwiches, wraps, etc.

A well-known and trusted brand for aluminum foil is Reynolds Wrap Aluminum Foil.

Recipes You Can Make with It:

  1. Homemade Granola Bars by Kitchn
  2. Grab and Go Breakfast Wraps (3 Ways) by Cotter Crunch
  3. Skinny Omelette by 101 Cookbooks
  4. Peanut Butter, Strawberry & Banana Quesadillas by Ambitious Kitchen
  5. Broccoli Cheddar Soup Mini Pies by Half Baked Harvest
  6. Curried Lentil Hand Pies by My San Francisco Kitchen
  7. Chicken, Spinach & Cream Cheese Tortilla Wrap by Tried and Tasty
  8. Turkey Cranberry Almond Wrap by Tastes Better From Scratch
  9. Spicy Tuna Wrap by Goodie Godmother
  10. Hearty Winter Wrap Sandwich by POPSUGAR

5. Smoothie/Shake Bottle

I typically recommend the use of smoothies and shakes for an easy breakfast or snack. However, a growing trend is shake replacement meals, which can be a viable option for lunch or dinner if the shake has the proper nutrients.

I recommend making sure your shake has at minimum 200 calories, 3 grams of fiber, 10 grams of protein, and 33% Daily Value of vitamins and minerals.

When making your own shake or smoothie, you can tell if you are on the right track if it contains fruits, vegetables, whole grains like oats, chia or flax seed, and a source of protein like nuts, nut butter, Greek yogurt or protein powder.

You can take smoothies and shakes as on the go meals with the BlenderBottle Classic Loop Top Shaker Bottle, 28-Ounce 2-Pack. The bottles have a blender ball, which allows you to mix your smoothie by shaking it.

Recipes You Can Make with It:

  1. Skinny Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Shake by One Sweet Mess
  2. Matcha Vanilla Smoothie by Love & Lemons
  3. Green Protein Smoothie by Wallflower Kitchen
  4. Vanilla Oat Protein Smoothie by Leah’s Plate
  5. Strawberry Orange Smoothie by Peanut Butter and Peppers
  6. Kale, Berry and Acai Power Smoothie by Deliciously Ella
  7. Raspberry Almond Chia Smoothie by Delightful E Made
  8. 2-Minute Avocado Smoothie by Nutrition Stripped
  9. Papaya Mint Ginger Smoothie by POPSUGAR
  10. Cashew Date Shake by Downshiftology

6. Lunch Box

If you are frequently taking full meals on the go, you need a lunch box. Find a good-looking adult lunch box that you don’t mind carrying around with you.

Get a large enough one with at least two compartments so you can pack more than one meal or snacks if needed. Two compartments also allow you to keep hot and cold foods separate.

A lunch box I recommend is the Lifewit Insulated Lunch Box Lunch Bag for Work/School/Meal Prep, Dual Compartment [with Blue Ice Pack]

lunch box for grab and go mealsOne of many promising reviews on Amazon said: It’s an awesome lunch bag. Well made and looks durable. I like the Double decker design, I can store hot & cold foods separately inside the bag. I like being able to put lighter things in the top section, and heavier below. Satisfied with this purchase.” ~Richard

7. Ice Pack

Speaking of lunch boxes, you will need an ice pack to put in your lunch box if you are transporting food that needs to be kept cold. Here are the ice packs that I use: Fit & Fresh Cool Coolers Slim Reusable Ice Packs, Set of 4. So far they have lasted 4 years without any issues. Their flat and compact shape is perfect because they do not take up much room in my lunch box or freezer.

If this post helped you, share it with your friends on social media.

Check out the Meal Planning Guide for Busy Professional Women, filled with time-saving meal planning tips. 

Kitchen Tools for Grab and Go Meals

Samantha Shuflin, MS, RDN, LDN is a Chicago-based registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) with a master’s degree in nutrition. She helps busy professionals thrive through nutrition & wellness.

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