How to Choose the Right Meal Prep Containers

When you embark on your meal prep journey, choosing the right containers to do the job can be a bit of a minefield. Sifting through all the different shapes, sizes, and materials on your own is enough to make your head spin. As if you weren’t already busy enough.

Today we’re going to take you through a fool-proof guide to buying the best meal prep containers for your goals. We’ll go over what to look for, what to avoid, and much more.

Best Meal Prep Containers

We researched and tested some of the best meal prep containers to find the options that are both affordable and durable.

Single Meal Containers

Bowls:

Great for salads, stews, casseroles, and soups.

Rectangle:

Super versatile containers that work well for just about any meal.

Jars:

Excellent for breakfast dishes like overnight oats and smoothies.

Bulk Meal Containers

Great for dividing your ingredients into separate compartments.

Portable Cups

Essential for transporting liquids like smoothies or juices.

Sauce Containers

Great for homemade snacks, sauces and condiments.

Lunch Boxes + Bags

Essential for the traveling meal prepper.

Veggie Storage + Produce Containers

Great options for storing meal prep ingredients in bulk.

Dry Goods + Grain Storage

Storage options for dry ingredients like rice, beans, and oats.


How to Choose the Perfect Meal Prep Containers

Before you jump in and purchase a bunch of different food prep containers that may or may not be suitable, there are a few simple questions that can help you figure out exactly what you need.

What do you need your containers for?

This will help you determine the size and material you should choose for your containers.

  • What type of meals you’re looking to prep?
  • How much do you typically eat?
  • What method of meal prep are you likely to use?

For example, containers for your breakfast meals might need to be smaller than your typical lunch and dinner time containers. You might even need a few miniature pots if you’re looking to prep snacks, condiments, or desserts.

And if you’re going to be bulk cooking ingredients as opposed to individual meals, you might want to opt for bigger storage containers as opposed to single portion ones.

Do your meals need to be reheated or frozen?

It’s important to keep in mind that various meal prep container materials respond differently to heating and cooling.

The Pros and Cons of Meal Prep Containers

Here’s a comparison of different types of food storage containers to help you decide which type is best for you.

Glass Containers

  • Store well in the fridge.
  • Perfect for reheating in the microwave or oven.
  • Non-porous and super easy to clean.
  • Freezer-safe options are available, but standard glass typically doesn’t respond well to freezing (and may shatter).

Plastic Containers

  • Great for refrigerating and freezing.
  • Can usually be reheated in the microwave if it is microwave-safe.
  • May stain or hold onto odors.
  • Typically not good for oven reheating as it may melt.

Metal Containers

  • Store well in the fridge
  • Can be reheated in the oven.
  • Microwaving is a big no-no as it results in uneven heating (and may also be a fire hazard).
  • Like glass, the smooth surface makes metal containers super easy to clean.
  • Can be stored in the freezer, as long as you leave room for food to expand.

The takeaway:

For cold meals: Glass, metal, and plastic containers are all great options if you’re storing your meals in the fridge and then eating them cold.

For warm meals: If you want to heat your meals up, glass container is the most versatile option (unless you’re storing in the freezer, in which case you’re better off with metal or plastic containers).

Pro Tip: If you opt for plastic containers, BPA free is the way to go.

The chemical has been shown in research to leach into the contents of containers (your food). While small bouts of exposure are probably okay, more prolonged ingestion can potentially have negative impacts on the brain, prostate and blood pressure.

Container Size Matters…

If you’re seeking a one-size-fits-all approach, containers that are 6-9 inches long by 6-9 inches wide, and 2-3 inches deep typically work well for most people.

Meal prep containers can be found in all shapes and sizes. What’s important is that you find a container size that fits in with your current dietary goals.

That means shooting for something that’s not so small that you’re likely to undereat, but not so big that you’re going to fill up on more food than you need. We’re looking to hit that sweet spot somewhere in the middle.

Travel-Friendly Meal Containers?

Many people get into meal prep because it’s a convenient way to have healthy food on the move. If that’s you, it’s important to make sure your containers are as secure as possible.

When you’ve been looking forward to reheating that homemade curry at lunchtime, the last thing you want to discover is it coating the inside of your bag…

Plastic and metal containers are typically more travel-friendly than glass, as they’re less likely to break.

Most will come equipped with a tight, leak-proof lid, but it might be worth doubling up your container inside a ziplock bag and surrounding it with some padding if it’s likely to get bashed around en-route.

There you have it.

From shape to materials and everything in between, everything you need to know about meal prep containers.

Have a favorite vessel? Anything we missed on our shopping list? Get in touch and let us know.

Happy meal prepping!

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