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We’ve all tried meal prep at least once in our lives and getting started with it is simple. However, the hard part is maintaining it over time. There are many reasons why someone would quit meal prepping, but your choice of meal prep containers shouldn’t be one of them. Using the wrong kind of meal prep container can make the process tedious, but the right one can help you store your food better.
When thinking about your next meal prep container, there is a lot to consider. Material is the first thing you’ll want to address. Plastic and glass have different shelf lives and you’ll want to keep that in mind when making your choice. Whether or not your set has a decent variety of sizes is another aspect to consider. Having more than one size works wonders for people who prep days or weeks in advance. And compartments can become a necessity to keep certain foods dry and to pack more food easily.
A great meal prep container can truly support sustainable food practices for your home. From an affordable plastic set to freezer-ready Pyrex, here are the best meal prep containers to have in your cabinets.
Best Overall, Plastic: Rubbermaid Brilliance 3.2-Cup Food Storage Container, 5-Pack
What We Like: Inexpensive, nests for storage, durable, lifetime warranty
What We Don’t Like: Single compartment
The Rubbermaid Brilliance Food Storage Containers are leakproof and trap in odors with ease with their rubber sealed lids. The lids snap into place and contain easy-to-clean vents for foolproof microwaving. Unlike other plastic containers, it has a clear finish that mimics glass so you can see right inside of it.
These lightweight containers are versatile, with the ability to go from your freezer to your microwave without defrosting, and none will absorb odors or stain from food, including tomato sauces. These durable containers come in a set of five, all the same size, though there are other sets and sizes available. Unlike some plastic containers, these will last you for years, and should any be defective, Rubbermaid offers a lifetime warranty.
The only con of this container is a minor one. No matter what size, it's only designed with a single compartment. If that’s not an issue, this meal prep container is a solid option.
"With the lid snapped down, Rubbermaid Brilliance containers never leak no matter what. The best part though is there's no post-wash stain or leftover smell, even if I've been eating red cabbage slaw." — Siobhan Wallace, Commerce Editor
Material: Plastic | Number in Set: 10 | What's Included: (5) 3.2-cup rectangle with lids
Best Overall, Glass: OXO Good Grips 16-Piece Smart Seal Glass Container Set
What We Like: Comes in a large set, leakproof, stain-resistant
What We Don’t Like: Can be fragile
This leakproof, glass containers come in two shapes, rectangle and circular for the best variety. The variety of sizes from OXO allows you the option to use any container to store your food successfully. While there are other single compartment choices out there, this one makes it easy with its large and small options to lighten your load.
With any glass container, there is the expectation that it remains stain-free over time and these containers deliver on this promise. It’s great in the freezer, microwave, and oven. The only downside is that they're a bit fragile when storing. Placing a paper towel in between these when nested should avoid any chipping.
Material: Glass | Number in Set: 16 | What's Included: (1) 1-cup round with lid, (1) 2-cup round with lid, (1) 4-cup round with lid, (1) 7-cup round with lid, (1) 4-ounce rectangle with lid, (1) 1.6-cup rectangle with lid, (1) 3.5-cup rectangle with lid, (1) 8-cup rectangle with lid
Best Budget: Snapware Total Solution Rectangular Plastic 10-Piece Food Storage Set
What We Like: Dishwasher safe, BPA-free, inexpensive cost per piece
What We Don’t Like: The lid can be a bit finicky
Made from the cloudy plastic most people know all too well, this Snapware set is a great choice for an affordable option. While these leakproof containers aren’t flashy, they are definitely high quality. Safe in the microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe, once the lid snaps on, it is effective at keeping all of your food sealed airtight until you’re ready to heat it up.
These inexpensive storage containers are all the same size, but since they’re plastic, it’s easy to carry one or more of these on the go. The containers only have one compartment, so it is great for people looking for a simple choice.
Material: Plastic | Number in Set: 10 | What's Included: (5) 3-cup rectangle with lids
Related: The Best Food Storage Container Sets
Best 3-Compartment: Prep Naturals 3-Compartment Glass Meal Prep Containers
What We Like: Durable, safe in the freezer and oven, includes labels and condiment cups
What We Don’t Like: The compartments are small
Prep Naturals is a 3-compartment glass meal prep container that is dishwasher, oven, freezer, and microwave safe. These containers are made from borosilicate glass, making them tough for any use and able to withstand small drops since accidents do happen.
What’s great is that this BPA-free container comes as a set of eight—though other sets are available—and has smart locking technology to keep liquids from escaping from the inside. Prep Naturals also includes sticker labels for you to write reheating instructions and small condiment cups that easily nest inside for your extra toppings or dressing.
A downside of this meal prep container is that the compartment sizes are pretty equal in size. But even that is minor to the quality this container provides.
Material: Glass | Number in Set: 8 | What's Included: (4) 4.5-cup rectangle with lids
Best for Salad: OXO Good Grips Leakproof Salad Container
What We Like: User-friendly, durable, has multiple components
What We Don't Like: On the larger side
The OXO Good Grips Leakproof Salad Container is designed with two levels that hold about 5.25 cups in total. This leakproof, dishwasher-safe container has four locking tabs that give it an airtight seal and keeps your wet and dry ingredients separated so there are no more soggy croutons in your Caesar salad.
What’s great about this container is that you can remove the plate-like top level to create one large bowl, and there is a 2-ounce dressing container, which can also be used for sauces or toppings. Though this container is designed for cold salads, it can be used for hot foods and is safe to put in the microwave.
Some cons are that it only comes in a set of one, so you'll need to pick up a few bowls for a full week of meal prep, and at about 8.5 inches around, a separate lunch tote might also be in order.
Material: Plastic | Number in Set: 1 | What's Included: (1) 5.25-cup round, (1) 2-ounce dresser container, lid
Related: The Best Mandolines
Best for Freezing: Pyrex 10-Piece Glass Meal Prep Set
What We Like: Durable, freezer safe, nonporous
What We Don’t Like: Single compartment
Whether it's lasagna or soup, the ultimate meal prep goal is a freezer full of ready-to-eat meals. Luckily, Pyrex makes its meal prep sets from tempered glass so you can fill them up and pop them safely in the freezer.
These can also go in the microwave, though you should thoroughly defrost your frozen meal first and remove the BPA-free plastic lids. Since this type of glass needs to warm up gently and can shatter at relatively warm temperatures, I'd recommend placing your thawed meal in a Pyrex bakeware dish before baking it in a hot oven. These containers are nonporous, so they won’t absorb food odors, flavors, or stains, and they come with a 2-year warranty on both the glass and lids.
Material: Glass | Number in Set: 10 | What's Included: (2) 3-cup rectangle with lids, (2) 6-cup rectangle with lids, (1) 11-cup rectangle with lid
Related: The Best Chest Freezers
If glass meal-prep containers are important, OXO Good Grips 16-Piece Smart Seal Glass Container Set (view at Amazon) is a great choice in terms of variety, especially for single compartment meal prep containers. The Rubbermaid Brilliance Food Storage Container, 5-Pack (view at Amazon) is also sturdy, inexpensive, and comes in a set.
What to Look for When Buying Meal Prep Containers
Glass containers are durable, and can be used in microwaves, ovens, and can freeze food well. But it’s also a fragile material, so taking the right precautions is important when using them, especially when there are extreme temperature changes. Plastic containers can also be used in the microwave and the freezer but can melt in the oven. There is also the issue of staining and lingering smells that some cheaper plastic containers have issues with, making it vital that you choose a higher quality plastic for your containers.
Sometimes one container isn’t enough. If you’re the type of meal prepper who is planning meals at least a week out, then having a set with variety helps. Some meal prep glass containers won’t come in large sets, and for those that do, they can be a bit pricey. Plastic, on the other hand, can come in large sets and for cheaper prices.
Whether you should choose a meal prep container with one or more compartments is solely dependent on your needs. Obviously, choosing a container with more than one allows you to package more meal components. On the other hand, these may not be versatile for different kinds of meals and you might run into issues storing them.
How often should you replace meal prep containers?
Considering that glass can last a bit longer than plastic, you won’t have to replace it for years. Once you notice any cracks in your glass container, it’s time to get a new one. Plastic can break down quicker. It’s time to replace those containers when you notice several scratches or tiny micro-cracks. And if plastic containers have begun to take on smells and stains as well, you should replace them as soon as you can.
How do you clean meal prep containers?
Glass and certain plastic containers are dishwasher safe, but you can also wash them with a non-abrasive dishwashing liquid and sponge. Some containers and lids may also only be safe on your dishwasher's top rack to avoid warping. For your health and safety, washing your containers as soon as possible post-meal is essential.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Robin Mosley understands the importance of choosing the right kitchen appliances. She is always researching and testing the latest kitchen appliances, utensils, and products as a food writer, and recommending them to food aficionados.
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