Looking for the best meal prep containers? Learn what a chef, RD and meal prep expert looks for in food storage containers.
I've tried many types of food storage containers over the years and, let me tell you, quality matters.
When you prep most of your food at the beginning of the week, the type of container you store the food in makes a difference. If you want your food to stay fresh until the end of the week, you need a quality container. There's nothing worse than putting in the time to meal prep and finding that your food is less than fresh when you go to heat it up.
Well friends, fear not, today I'm sharing all of my food storage container expertise so that you can invest in a quality set of meal prep containers with confidence.
The Best Meal Prep Containers – What I Look For
Here are a few factors I always consider when buying food storage containers:
I personally prefer to buy glass food storage containers. Not only do I not have to worry about BPA, I also just find that they keep food the freshest.
High Quality Lids
Have you ever had the experience of buying new containers, only to have the lids warp within a few months? It's pretty frustrating to say the least.
I look for lids that are BPA-free, but also that have an airtight seal and are sturdy enough to keep their shape.
Hand washing your lids, or at least sticking to the top rack of your dishwasher, will also help them last longer.
I know it can be tempting to get meal prep containers in *all the sizes* but, trust me, it's so much easier to just pick a few shapes and sizes and get multiples of them. This makes it super easy to store the containers and find the appropriate lids when needed.
Stacking / Nesting
Along the same lines, in my mind, the best meal prep containers should nest for storage and stack easily in the fridge.
I put my meal prep containers through a lot and I need them to be relatively temperature proof. Look for something that can safely go in the freezer, as well as the microwave. Bonus if they're oven safe!
Why I Only Use Glass Food Storage Containers
Of all of the above criteria, probably the most important to me is using glass food storage containers.
Why? For several reasons.
First of all, even with BPA-free plastic, there are chemicals that can potentially leach into your food. This means with plastic containers you not only have to avoid heating food in them, you should also avoid placing hot food in the plastic containers. In contrast, you can place hot food directly in glass containers without waiting for the food to cool.
The chemicals contained in plastic containers vary by the type of plastic used. If you'd like to know what type of plastic your containers are made of, check the bottom of the container. There should be a little triangle with a number between 1 and 7 inside. You can check a chart like this one to determine which type of plastic was used and what chemicals may potentially leach out.
Another reason I think glass makes the best food storage containers is that glass containers do not absorb stains or smells from food. This means they actually last much longer. This offsets the initial higher cost of buying glass.
Glass containers are also much better for the environment as many plastic containers cannot be recycled.
Lastly, glass containers mean fewer dishes, which I'm all about! You don't have to transfer food from a glass container to another container or pan to heat it up. This alone makes the decision easy for me.
But what about BPA-free plastic?
BPA, or bisphenol A, is a component used in plastics to make them more durable and help maintain their shape. Some studies show that BPA can mimic estrogen and act as a hormone disruptor, as well as impact your thyroid.
Thankfully, more and more BPA-free products are available. While this is an important step, many manufacturers have actually replaced BPA with BPS, which it turns out may be problematic as well.
It's virtually impossible to avoid all plastics in our society, but I feel more comfortable storing food in non-plastic containers when possible.
Why I love Snapware Containers
So taking all of these factors into consideration, what are the best meal prep containers?
After much experimenting, Snapware glass containers are by far my favorite.
I've found that while many containers work well at first, Snapware containers are durable over time. Perhaps most importantly, the lids don't warp! It's super frustrating to buy a new food storage container and have it rendered basically useless because of a warped or cracked lid. I haven't had this happen with Snapware containers.
They're made out of high quality Pyrex tempered glass, meaning they're strong and can withstand a wider variety of temperatures than non-tempered glass. They come with BPA-free lids that create an air tight seal.
I've always used these erasable labels in the past, but this set has lids you can directly write on and erase! I find labeling key for anything I stick in the freezer so I remember what it is and how long it's been in there.
Glasslock is another excellent brand that I recommend.
How to Keep Your Food Storage Containers Organized
Perhaps the only downside to meal prep is you need a lot of containers. I've had small kitchens in the past and I know it can be hard to keep them organized. (I actually made a video on this exact topic in my early Prep Dish days!)
As I mentioned above, one thing that really helps with organization is choosing just a few types of containers and purchasing 6-8 of each type so you have enough. I personally like to have small, medium and large containers. Sticking to just a few sizes ensures you can easily stack the containers on your shelves.
Another kitchen organization hack I love is using these undershelf baskets to store meal prep container lids. Lids can be hard to keep organized and it's super annoying to have them spilling out everywhere in your kitchen cabinets. These baskets work like a charm!
I want more meal prep and kitchen organization tips!
There's little I'm more passionate about than helping make homemade meals a little more feasible (and less stressful!) for families. Here are a few articles I've written on meal prep and organization over the years: