This Prep-and-Serve Set Eliminates Cross Contamination — and Is a Must-Have for Summer Grill Season

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rosemary salmon skewers on  a plate
Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Your kitchen holds on to many things: memories, aromas, family histories, and, unfortunately, bacteria. We know you do a great job cleaning your kitchen and washing your cutting board or, even better, keeping ingredient-specific cutting boards to reduce cross-contamination that animal products can bring. But we also know what it’s like when you’re rushing to get dinner on the table and you run out of time for your usual sanitary best practices.

The surest way to prevent raw meat juices from spoiling a meal is to not give them a chance to navigate anywhere they shouldn’t be. This prep and serve system from Cuisinart is one of the easiest ways to guarantee separation between ingredients. It’s super simple to use and takes the guesswork out of not mixing up clean surfaces with dirty ones. You — and your dinner guests — will be so glad you picked it up.

This set contains two large trays (10.5 inches by 17 inches) made of shatter-resistant melamine, which has the sheen of glazed ceramic but is much more durable. The red tray is meant to hold uncooked ingredients and the black tray is where you place your cooked food. By having color-coded trays, you’ll never mix up which one is for raw food and which is for finished food — and because of their sturdy construction, you can slice and dice directly on the black tray without worrying about scratching it.

Both trays are dishwasher-safe for easy cleanup, and since they’re built to the same dimensions, you can nest them to take up less room in your cabinets. While they help you maintain sanitary cooking habits inside your kitchen, they really come in handy when you’re cooking outdoors on a grill. The trick is to start by stacking the red tray full of uncooked ingredients on top of the black one and carrying them outside together. When you’re done cooking, move the black tray on top of the red and use it to bring your chargrilled delicacies to the dinner table. That way you don’t have to make multiple trips with different platters and can focus on the cooking task at hand.

Credit: Walmart

I also like that the trays have raised ridges on the bottom that elevate food just enough so excess fat and liquid can run off and not end up making the food soggy. It’s little details like these that make this simple yet effective set so useful — and because not every kitchen tool needs to reinvent the wheel in order to be worthwhile. Sometimes, a good idea is just a good idea, and these color-coded trays are a no-brainer.