(CNN) –

Americans are eating more and more at home and are facing new challenges in the kitchen. According to Supermarket News, 55% of buyers were questioned in a study called Covid-19 : Update on the eating habits of Americans – they say they eat at home more often because of the pandemic. For the New Year, we spoke to four meal preparation experts to gather these tips and tricks that can help you shop smarter, save money, save time and eat healthier.

All the experts we spoke to agreed that the most important part of the kitchen is the planning.

Allison Spangin, a certified personal trainer, nutritionist and NPC national competitor, said: Got a plan! Define your meal and snack ideas before shopping or ordering online. Jessica Wu, who calls herself the Bento lunch queen, agrees. Routine is everything, she says.

Applications such as MealPrepPro and Prepear can help you organize meal plans, recipes and shopping lists. If you prefer handwritten lists, a meal planner with a built-in grocery list section can help you keep track of what you plan to cook and what you need to buy on your next trip to the grocery store.

Tumbleweed What’s for dinner? The weekly magnetic page for planning meals

PHOTO:
Amazon

This planning workbook makes meal preparation easier. With a removable shopping list and a place to plan your weekly meals, this notebook sticks directly to your fridge to keep you on track.

Although all experts agree on the importance of planning, there are different approaches to the kitchen, and they stress that the kitchen is not a universal solution and that it is not just a matter of following a diet. I encourage people to see cooking as an act of self-care instead of following strict dietary rules, says Cara Harbstreet, a registered dietitian who focuses on intuitive eating. By doing this, you change your motivation to persevere in something that relieves stress or eliminates chaos, and can be very inspiring.

Spangin designates a day for cooking and suggests planning the kitchen for a day when you don’t have to do many other things to make it less stressful. Don’t you have more? Decide on two days of preparation, she says. For example, Sunday for the first part of the week and Wednesday for the second part of the week.

Wu made the kitchen part of his schedule. I like to cook when I’m already making dinner or lunch, she says. Cook as if you were cooking for seven, and you can freeze individual dishes to defrost for a quick lunch or dinner.

Ez Prepa Cooking containers, packaging of 20 pieces

Ez Prepa Cooking containers, packaging of 20 pieces

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Amazon

These three-compartment plastic trays are ideal for anyone just starting to prepare food, because you can portion them, heat them in the microwave and put them in the dishwasher when you’re done.

3 in 1 stainless steel bento lunchbox from GreenLunch

3 in 1 stainless steel bento lunchbox from GreenLunch

PHOTO:
Amazon

Such a stainless steel box is good for your wallet and the environment. It has three removable compartments that can be exchanged to plan your meals exactly the way you want.

Rubbermaid EasyFindLids Food Preservation Kit

Rubbermaid EasyFindLids Food Preservation Kit

PHOTO:
Amazon

It is always convenient to have a variety of containers of different sizes. Choose this 38-piece set from Rubbermaid with lids that snap into place at the bottom so you don’t lose them.

Storing portions the size of the food in the freezer can also help prevent boredom. Kevin Curry, founder of FitMenCook, said the first advice I give to novice chefs is not to get bored. Duller recipes make the cooking process much more difficult to follow.

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Delicious and bloody cooking – 115 simple recipes for a low calorie, energy rich life of Chungah Rhee

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Amazon

Don’t let anyone tell you that food doesn’t taste good. Get this book by author Chungah Rhee and inspire yourself for your next meal, from breakfast to comforting food.

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Cook, eat Cassie Joy Garcia all week.

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Amazon

The idea of cooking all your meals at the same time can be quite intimidating. Author Cassy Joy Garcia wants to help in this book by giving instructions on how to easily cook in a batch.

Spangin offers one last piece of advice for beginning chefs: Leave him alone. Come on, let’s go. Hungry! She emphasizes the importance of having nutritious snacks that can help prevent bad food decisions being made because of hunger. Healthy snacks also help you avoid ending up directly in the food you keep. Individually packaged snacks are a convenient choice, but buying snacks in bulk and storing individual portions in reusable silicone bags saves money and reduces packaging waste.

Meat for Mission Grass Beef Sticks

Meat for Mission Grass Beef Sticks

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Amazon

For those who want a tasty snack, try Mission Meats Fed Grass Beef Sticks. They are sugar free and contain a lot of protein to keep you going until your next meal.

Emerald 100 calories

Emerald 100 calories

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Amazon

Walnuts are a perfectly healthy snack because they contain healthy fats and a good amount of protein. This variant of the almond, walnut and cashew nut package is sure to become a household favourite.

Reusable silicone bags, set of 4.

Reusable silicone bags, set of 4.

PHOTO:
Amazon

If you want a bite to eat on the way, you have to get rid of your usual plastic bags. Stasher’s silicone storage bags are a revolution when it comes to keeping your food fresh without waste.

The experts we spoke to gave us some of their tips, tricks and favorite products for successful cooking. They also advise you to start small and remain flexible in implementing this new habit, as you will learn over time. Pay attention to what works and stick to it, says Shungin, referring to learning how to prepare food in a way that suits you.

1. Summarized: All the experts stressed the importance of making sure your kitchen is well stocked with the essentials for a successful kitchen. Spangin recommends investing in basic cooking utensils, storage containers, measuring equipment, spices and cooking oil. That way all you need is food, Curry adds. And don’t forget a quality cutting board and a chef’s knife! If you are looking for a new set of kitchen knives, check out our selection here.

Set of 5 blue granite pots and pans

Set of 5 blue granite pots and pans

PHOTO:
Amazon

Rubbermaid - Glossy Food Storage Containers, Set of 10

Rubbermaid – Glossy Food Storage Containers, Set of 10

PHOTO:
Amazon

Wildone Stainless Steel Set of 20 Measuring Cups and Spoons

Wildone Stainless Steel Set of 20 Measuring Cups and Spoons

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Amazon

Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef

Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife, 8 in.

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Amazon

Cutting board Homwe Kitchen 3 pieces

Cutting board Homwe Kitchen 3 pieces

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Amazon

McCormick Daily Multi-Purpose Kit

McCormick Daily Multi-Purpose Kit

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Amazon

Food selection 100% pure avocado oil spray

Food selection 100% pure avocado oil spray

PHOTO:
Amazon

2. Keep it simple: Wu encourages new food lovers to start small. If you’re just starting out, she says it’s a good idea to schedule one appointment a week so you won’t be overwhelmed. In the same way, she says that new chefs should stick to simple recipes. Familiarize yourself with the basics, she says. Start with simple recipes, you will feel comfortable cooking and it will become easier over time.

For those who are new to cooking or for those who are not used to cooking different things at the same time, the kitchen timer can solve both problems.

ThermoPro TM02 Digital kitchen timer

ThermoPro TM02 Digital kitchen timer

PHOTO:
Amazon

3. Small equipment, high power: The experts we spoke to loved small appliances that make cooking easier. One of Wu’s ways of making life easier is a mill that chops many vegetables at once, which can then be cooked or preserved raw.

KitchenAid Wireless Chopper, 5 cups

KitchenAid Wireless Chopper, 5 cups

PHOTO:
Amazon

Curry also depends on small devices. I couldn’t live without my Instant Duo Plus Sweat and my Breville Smart Stove. Spangin swears by the Instant Pot and his fryer, which saves him a lot of time. The Instant Pot is ideal for cooking bulk products such as soup, chili, stews, etc. An air fryer can also be a good option if you want to prepare your favourite food without too much oil or calories, unlike other cooking methods such as frying.

Instant Pot Duo Plus

Instant Pot Duo Plus

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Amazon

Breville's Smart Oven

Breville’s Smart Oven

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Amazon

Cosori Premium air fryer

Cosori Premium air fryer

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Amazon

4. Activate: Curry emphasises the importance of learning how to do different things at the same time in the kitchen. When I cook, I have three, four or sometimes five things on the table. I’m sweating. I jump around the kitchen like Remy from Ratatouille. According to him, this way of cooking not only saves him a lot of time, but also makes cooking more fun and pleasant. Turning on music or your favorite podcast while you’re getting ready can help make time go by faster and turn it into fun.

Generation

Amazon Echo Dot the 4. Generation

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Amazon

5. Think of the fridge as a buffet: One of the useful tricks I learned was to see my food as an assembly line instead of a ready-made individual meal, says Harbstreet. The assembly approach offers more possibilities and flexibility. When storing prepared food, Woo says you should keep hot and cold food in separate containers to make it easier to warm up hot food.

Rubbermaid FreshWorks saves on production costs, which is a combination of 2.

Rubbermaid FreshWorks saves on production costs, which is a combination of 2.

PHOTO:
Amazon

6. Stack it up: If you cook in bulk – and use these small appliances as an extra pair of hands – you can easily prepare meals all week long. I choose sources of protein like chicken and shrimp, carbohydrates like rice and sweet potatoes [and] I have fats like olive oil and avocado on hand for meals, says Shungin.

Natural glass cooking barrels, set of 5.

Natural glass cooking barrels, set of 5.

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Amazon

Aromatic kitchen utensils Stainless steel pot for rice cooking and tea heater

Aromatic kitchen utensils Stainless steel pot for rice cooking and tea heater

PHOTO:
Amazon

7. The host of the most important meal of the day: Preparing breakfast is sometimes the hardest part, says Harbstreet, but silicone moulds can be used to bake oatmeal, muffins, mini doughnuts and more. Woo swears by Mason’s oatmeal jars – and as she points out, they’re also great for storing salads and soups.

Paksch fancy pots, regular Mason Mouth pots, pack of 6.

Paksch fancy pots, regular Mason Mouth pots, pack of 6.

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Amazon

Silicone molds, package of 24.

Silicone molds, package of 24.

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Amazon

8. Cut with waivers: Cooking doesn’t mean preparing everything from scratch – in fact, experts agree that you should look for shortcuts to save time and money. The fact that you haven’t prepared a meal yourself doesn’t mean that it can’t fit into your cooking routine, says Harbstreet. The experts cited preserves such as bean cubes, corn and tomatoes, frozen vegetables and grilled chicken as time savers.

Just practice reading labels and looking for added salt or sugar, says Curry. Small things like opening, draining and rinsing canned beans to add to a salad or rice plate can save you time and energy when preparing a quick lunch or dinner.

Parts with progressive paint unit in powder coated steel, set of 3.

Parts with progressive paint unit in powder coated steel, set of 3.

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Amazon

KitchenAid Classic can opener Multifunctional can opener

KitchenAid Classic can opener Multifunctional can opener

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Amazon

9. Give the remains a new life: Curry has another suggestion to counter boredom in the kitchen and save time: Don’t be afraid of leftovers. Be creative with them! One of my favourite things is to experiment with a batch of leftover rice to see what kind of fast, cheap and delicious dish I can make. To avoid wasting food, Harbstreet advises you to clearly label your ready meals so that you know how long you should eat them.

Removable food labels Outus 132 pieces

Removable food labels Outus 132 pieces

PHOTO:
Amazon

10. Get dressed: Don’t forget the sauce or the gravy! They can play an important role in adding flavour to a dish and help keep boredom at bay. Experiment with a different sauce or seasoning every time you cook, Harbstreet suggests. Even if the base of the dish doesn’t change, you’ll be surprised how romantic and exciting your meal can be with this simple change. Separating dressing and sauces also prevents salads and fresh vegetables from becoming pasty.

Oxo Good Grips Salad Shaker

Oxo Good Grips Salad Shaker

PHOTO:
Amazon

Container with lid, set of 6 pieces.

Container with lid, set of 6 pieces.

PHOTO:
Amazon

Check out the food preparation containers below to help you incorporate these tips into your daily routine and keep your food fresh.

The Bento All-in-One Catcher Box

The Bento All-in-One Catcher Box

PHOTO:
Amazon

We can’t wait to get our hands on this versatile bento box from Lovina. It has four compartments and even a sauce bowl to store all our meals in a practical container.

DaCool insulated lunch container

DaCool insulated lunch container

PHOTO:
Amazon

This insulated lunch container can store hot and cold liquids for up to 12 hours. Make it a hearty soup for the winter.

Bentgo Fresh 3-room boiler

Bentgo Fresh 3-room boiler

PHOTO:
Amazon

We look at this set of Bentgo not only because the bins are cute, but also because they contain an extra partition to create a fourth compartment. The setting is the key to cooking pots that you can use from week to week.

C Cross-slotted glass cooking vessel, package of 10 pieces

C Cross-slotted glass cooking vessel, package of 10 pieces

PHOTO:
Amazon

These glass containers are useful if you want to see what’s inside quickly. However, because they are not separate, they are better suited for dishes such as pastas or stews that are served separately.

Umami Premium Bento Lunchbox

Umami Premium Bento Lunchbox

PHOTO:
Amazon

The white and bamboo finish of this bento lunchbox caught our attention, but fortunately it is as functional as it is elegant. It contains a sauce bowl, reusable utensils and two mobile separators for a smart kitchen.

Rubbermaid - Easy to find food storage containers, set of 21

Rubbermaid – Easy to find food storage containers, set of 21

PHOTO:
Amazon

This set of storage bins has a built-in air vent with a lid to prevent too much splash in the microwave when heating food. Critics find this box set of great value for a total of 42 pieces.

Oxo Good Grips Salad Container

Oxo Good Grips Salad Container

PHOTO:
Amazon

Preparing salads can be annoying because you usually don’t want to combine all the ingredients before you’re ready to eat. Try this round container for your next meal, which even includes a plate and dressing for a decent salad to go.

Foldable silicone food containers Vremi, set of 4 pieces.

Foldable silicone food containers Vremi, set of 4 pieces.

PHOTO:
Amazon

Foldable food preparation containers are handy when finishing a meal, but you don’t want the bowl to take up too much space on the way home or in the cupboards.

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