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Planning and prepping meals ahead of time, whether just for the day or for an entire week, takes some real dedication and effort. It follows, then, that the containers you’re putting your carefully prepped meals into should be given just as much consideration.
The last thing you want is to spend hours prepping your meals for the week only to have them leak out of a flimsy container or spoil before the week’s end.
To help you get the most out of meal prepping, we’ve compiled a list of the best meal prep containers.
Why should you meal prep?
If you’re the kind of person who regularly submits an assignment five minutes before the deadline or does all of your Christmas shopping at 9 pm on Christmas Eve, the idea of preparing a week’s worth of meals in a single day may seem daunting, dreadful, or downright impossible.
But even the greatest procrastinators among us can learn to meal prep, and you should, because the benefits of meal prepping are something anyone can appreciate.
It’s a lot harder to be tempted by fast food, frozen meals, delivery, takeout, or “instant” anything when you have fully prepared meals waiting for you in your fridge or freezer — and avoiding those temptations can save you a boatload of money.
While it’s fine to indulge in these options every now and then, eating frozen meals, takeout, and fast food regularly can actually cost you a lot more money over time. Meal prepping saves you from compulsive food spending, and that can only ever be a good thing.
Spending 2 to 3 hours at time prepping a week’s worth of meals may seem tedious and time-consuming, but it can actually save you many hours in the kitchen.
If you’re already taking the time to prepare most of your meals at home, you’re likely spending at least 15 – 30 minutes to prepare each meal and, assuming that you’re eating three meals a day, that quickly turns into up to 10 hours a week spent cooking.
I don’t know about you, but I think those hours would be much better spent with family and friends, reading a good book, exercising, catching up on my favorite show, or doing just about anything but standing in front of a stove. (But, maybe that’s just me!)
Another major benefit to meal prepping is that it encourages you to eat healthier. Eating a vegan diet is already a lot healthier than eating animal products, but not all plant-based meals are created equal.
A frozen vegan meal, for example, may be vegan, but it’s also packed with sodium. On the other hand, prepping a wholesome, balanced meal ahead of time helps you avoid the pitfall of choosing convenient, yet unhealthy meals and snacks.
Maintaining the healthy habit of meal prepping is a great way to prevent unwanted weight gain.
Waste less food
Saving time and money are probably reason enough for most people to consider meal prepping regularly, but this simple habit may actually help us waste significantly less food, which is better for the planet.
Every year, about one third of all the food produced globally — about 1.3 billion tons of it — ends up getting thrown away, which means that all the energy used to grow, harvest, transport, and store that food is being thrown away, too. (1)
Much of the food waste in the western world is attributed to consumers’ habitual over-buying, because food is relatively cheap and we tend to buy much more than we need. When you commit to meal prepping, however, you buy and prepare only what you need.
This simple act may not save the world, per se, but it can help you significantly reduce your contribution to the global food waste crisis, and that’s definitely worth doing.
Tips for vegan meal prepping
Meal prepping for the week doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re preparing 14 to 21 different meals at once (I don’t think anyone would want to meal prep if that were the case!).
Rather, it’s about preparing ingredients that can be quickly and easily thrown together to make meals throughout the week, and/or making large batches of a couple of entrees that can be rationed out over the course of a few days.
To get started, outline your meals so you have a clear idea of what ingredients you need to buy and prepare. Prepping for breakfast generally requires less time and effort than prepping for lunch and dinner.
Some simple breakfasts that would work well for meal prepping include overnight oats, chia seed pudding, and muffins, along with chopped fruit and nuts. You can find more breakfast inspo on our list of 25 Brilliant Vegan Breakfast Recipes.
If you’re prepping ingredients to be thrown together later for lunch and dinner, make sure to have a healthy balance of plant-based proteins (think tofu, tempeh, legumes, and beans instead of pricey mock meats), healthy carbs, and veggies.
On your designated meal prep day, you can soak or boil your brown rice, quinoa, barley, or whatever other healthy carb you choose as your base, cook and season your proteins, and wash, peel, and chop/shred your fruits and veggies. You may also consider making a couple of different dressings or sauces to help add variety to your meals.
With this method of meal prep, you have the freedom to make different combinations so you’re not eating the exact same thing for every lunch and dinner. If you’re looking for meal prep inspiration, why not try prepping some bountiful Buddha bowls and satisfying salads?
You can always find more easy vegan meal prep ideas on YouTube, like the one down below from Cheap Lazy Vegan:
What to look for in meal prep containers
There are a lot of different meal prep containers out there, but knowing which qualities matter most to you will help you narrow down your options.
Plastic or glass?
One of the very first decisions to make regarding your containers is whether you want plastic or glass. Both materials have their fair share of pros and cons, so we’ll go over the most important ones in order to help you make the best decision.
Plastic containers tend to be more affordable than their glass counterparts, and they can often be bought in much larger quantities, as we’ll see on our list later on.
Plastic containers are much lighter, making them easier to transport. They’re far less likely to crack, chip or splinter if they’re dropped or stacked, making plastic containers an ideal choice if you’ll be using them for young children (or your accident-prone self).
On the other hand, plastic containers are far less durable than glass, making them susceptible to warping in the microwave or dishwasher — and it goes without saying that they’re not oven-safe! Plastic is also permeable, allowing it to stain and absorb food odors.
Plastic containers tend to be grease magnets as well, and depending on the quality of the plastic, you may find that getting them completely clean is nearly impossible.
Discolored, warped, greasy plastic containers will usually get thrown out instead of being recycled, as they’re not often made with recyclable grades of plastic. That means more non-biodegradable waste in overflowing landfills.
Plastic containers may offer some short-term convenience, but if they’re not built to last, they’ll end up being a long-term inconvenience for Mother Earth. If you do choose plastic, make sure it’s durable, not disposable.
Glass meal prep containers offer superior insulation and durability. They’re much easier to clean since they don’t absorb colors, odors, or grease from food, and they’re usually safe to use in the oven, microwave, and dishwasher without a problem.
Glass containers are less likely to need replacing over time, but if they do, they’re much easier on the environment (although, it’s worth noting that pretty much any glass container is going to come with a plastic lid, so they’re not 100 percent eco-friendly, either).
The most significant downsides to glass meal prep containers is that they’re more expensive than plastic on average, they’re much heavier, and even the thickest of glass can still crack or splinter.
They’re also bulkier and harder to store; you’ll need to pad them if you stack them to prevent cracking (if they’re even stackable in the first place, that is — and some aren’t).
We’ll take a look at some of the best glass food storage containers on our list, but before we do, let’s note the differences between the main types available.
Tempered glass vs. borosilicate glass — what’s the difference?
When shopping for glass meal prep containers, you’ll come across two main types of glass: tempered and borosilicate.
Tempered glass is treated with extremely high heat to make it more durable and shatter-resistant, which is why it’s commonly used in car windows, shower doors, and other similar applications.
Borosilicate glass, commonly used in lab equipment like test tubes and the popular Pyrex brand of food storage containers, has boron oxide added to it to make it more resistant to thermal shock.
Tempered glass is sturdier overall but it’s not equipped to go from one extreme temperature to another. Borosilicate glass is more fragile and expensive, but it’s virtually impervious to thermal shock.
If you plan on subjecting your meal prep containers to freezer-to-oven cooking regularly, you’ll want borosilicate; if not, tempered glass will work just fine.
Bisphenol A, better known as BPA, has been used in the linings of plastics used for food storage (among its many other applications) since the 1960s, but its safety has become a point of contention in recent years.
While the FDA still maintains that BPA is “safe at the current levels occurring in foods,” some independent studies have argued that those findings are based on industry-funded studies that may be biased or incomplete. (2, 3)
Because of the public fear surrounding BPA, most companies have opted to remove it from their products, and that applies to nearly all of the containers on our list. If you are concerned about BPA, but don’t find a set of containers here that suits you, just make sure that whatever you do end up buying is clearly labeled as BPA-free.
Put a lid on it!
One of the single most important features of your meal prep containers is the quality of their lids. Meal prep containers are designed to be taken on the go, but a flimsy or leaky lid can make that basic function seem impossible by causing a mess and ruining your carefully prepared meals.
When considering a set of meal containers, it’s essential that you pay close attention to what other users have to say about their lids. They should be completely leakproof, sturdy, easy to clean, and easy to use. Avoid lids that have a history of staining, warping, breaking, or being difficult to open or close.
Size and compartments
Before picking out a set of meal prep containers, make sure you have an idea of what size you’re looking for and how many containers you want.
Most containers hold an average of 3 cups of food, but some sets will come with several containers of different sizes, including small containers for snacks, fruit, salad dressing, etc., and extra large ones to fit entire entrees.
For those who prefer to keep their ingredients separate, look for compartment meal prep containers, which usually have two or three compartments (but rarely more than that).
Cleaning and storage
Finally, you’ll want containers that are easy to clean and store. Dishwasher-safe containers are ideal, but most lids should be washed by hand to extend their lifespan. Avoid choosing bulky containers that don’t stack neatly inside of each other if you have very limited storage space.
Read through user reviews to get a more accurate idea of what it’s like to clean and store a specific set of containers.
The best meal prep containers, Reviewed
Now that we’ve gone over the nitty gritty details of meal prepping and choosing the right containers, it’s time to review 10 of the best food storage containers.
Misc Home BPA-Free Glass Food Storage Containers with Lifetime Lids
This value pack of 10 BPA-Free Glass Food Storage Containers with Lifetime Lids by Misc Home is your quintessential glass meal prep container set: 10 identical, single-compartment glass containers with plastic lids.
Each container is supposed to hold 3 cups of food, but several disgruntled users have reported that they actually barely fit 2.5 cups.
For the most part, these containers live up to their other claims; they are in fact leakproof, and safe to use in the microwave and oven (excluding the plastic lids, of course). Users widely agree that these containers are easy to clean, with most reporting success running these through the dishwasher, lids and all.
However, some customers noted that they are prone to chipping and breaking when stacked on top of each other, so they may not be the sturdiest set on our list.
Most users find these lids to be sturdy, leakproof, and easy to open and close, but some have claimed that their lids arrived damaged. A handful of other users have encountered issues with the lids breaking when trying to open them.
Overall, there is nothing particularly bad or good about the Misc Home set of glass containers. They’re user-friendly and leakproof, but they’re not necessarily the most durable, and with a 2.5 cup maximum capacity, they may be too small for some users.
- Easy to clean
- Leakproof lids
- Prone to chipping and breaking
- Too small for some users
- Lids may break
NYHI Direct 48 oz Plastic Disposable Salad Containers with Lids, 50-pack
Customers love these 48 oz Plastic Disposable Salad Containers by NYHI Direct because of their large capacity. While they are not just for salads, they are best suited for cold dishes because they don’t hold up well in the microwave.
Users also like that these containers are leakproof and relatively sturdy. Stacking and storing your extra bowls and lids is easy, but storing ten of these in the fridge would be a nightmare due to their height. According to customers, the lids are relatively secure, but a few have reported difficulty removing the lids and getting them to snap into place.
While these containers may be reusable up to a certain point, they will eventually need to be tossed. The seller doesn’t make it clear whether these containers are recyclable or not, only that they’re made from “thick PET plastic material,” which may or may not be recyclable depending on its grade.
These containers are supposedly BPS-free, but the seller doesn’t mention anything about BPA, which should send up a red flag to the conscious consumer.
If you’re looking for multipurpose, reusable food storage containers or if you’re concerned about BPA in your containers, you probably shouldn’t choose these.
- Large capacity
- Easy to store empty containers
- Secure lids
- Not the most eco-friendly
- Not suitable for hot meals
- Awkward to store several of them in the fridge
- Likely not BPA-free
5-Pack Glass Meal Prep Containers by MealPrep
These Glass Meal Prep Containers by MealPrep are available in single-compartment or 3-compartment designs, which hold 29 ounces and 35 ounces of food, respectively. The glass is thick and resistant to breaking, and the plastic lids are BPA-free.
Customers like that these containers are safe to use in the microwave and can handle oven temps of up to 450°F. They’re also easy to clean, whether you wash them by hand or throw them in the dishwasher.
According to users, the lids are genuinely leakproof — if you can get them to close. Many buyers have complained that their lids don’t fit perfectly, making them impossible to close or seal all the way, which causes leaks.
While this is a frustrating problem, most of the users who reported having this issue said that MealPrep’s excellent customer service team made sure they received replacements for their defective containers.
Overall, these are some of the best glass meal prep containers out there, but the quality of their lids may be inconsistent.
- Easy to clean, dishwasher-safe
- Oven-safe up to 450°F
- BPA-free lid
- Doesn’t break or crack
- Great customer service
- Lids may be difficult to open/close, prone to breaking
SimpleHouseware 1 Compartment Reusable Food Prep Storage Containers, 28 oz
Another option for plastic meal prep containers are the 28 oz 1 Compartment Reusable Food Prep Storage Containers made by SimpleHouseware. These are black containers with semi-transparent lids, sold in packs of either 16 or 50.
These BPA-free containers may look familiar, as they’re commonly used as takeout containers for some restaurants. While they easy to stack and store and can hold a decent amount of food, they are not really built to last.
Users report that the lids break easily and can be difficult to open. These aren’t the easiest containers to clean, either, as running them through the dishwasher can easily warp them, and they are a magnet for grease.
Don’t bother putting these in the freezer; several customers complained that freezing these makes them extremely fragile and likely to crack. They also don’t hold up well to more than a couple of minutes of microwaving.
All in all, if you’re looking for plastic meal prep containers, you can probably do better than these.
- Easy to stack and store
- Not freezer-safe
- Lids can be fragile, hard to open
- Easily warped in dishwasher or microwave
Bayco 8 Pack Glass Meal Prep Containers
The Bayco 8 Pack Glass Meal Prep Containers can hold 4.1 cups of food each, making it one of the higher capacity glass containers on our list.
Customers claim that these containers are sturdy, leakproof, and easy to clean. It’s also clear that these hold up well in the microwave, dishwasher, and oven. The lids, naturally, will need to be left out, which can be frustrating but is perfectly understandable.
On the subject of lids, this seems to be the only negative we can find about these. Some meal preppers have found the lids to be subpar, but they do seem to be in the minority.
At the time of writing, these glass containers are on offer, so you might want to try them out for yourself.
- Easy to clean
- Holds quite a bit of food
- Lids may fail over time
Elacra 9 Piece Leakproof Glass Meal Prep Containers with Locking Lids
The Elacra 9 Piece Leakproof Glass Meal Prep Containers with Locking Lids comes with five square and four rectangular containers in various sizes, each with locking, BPA-free plastic lids, making these a great option if you’re looking for a variety of sizes.
These are made with borosilicate glass, which makes them safe to use in the oven and microwave without having to worry about thermal shock.
While the containers themselves hold up fine to the heat, you’ll want to avoid putting the lids in the microwave or dishwasher, as some users have noted that they are prone to warping.
The lids are airtight for the most part, but some buyers have noted that the rubber seals on the lids has a tendency to fall off when they’re washed, and they can be a pain to put back on. Some users have also experienced that these containers chip when stacked, so storing them efficiently without damaging them may be tricky.
While some users like the different sizes of these containers, others found the size differences too subtle, making it easy to get lids mixed up (and kind of defeating the purpose of having different sizes in the first place).
Buyers have generally had great experiences with Elacra’s customer service reps, who are ready to help you if you have any issues with your purchase.
- BPA-free, airtight lids
- Great customer service
- Rubber trim on lids tends to fall off
- Prone to chipping when stacked
- Lids are not dishwasher- or microwave-safe
- Different sizes are impractically nuanced
EZ Prepa 32 Oz 3 Compartment Meal Prep Containers with Lids
The EZ Prepa 32 Oz 3 Compartment Meal Prep Containers are a great option for anyone looking for affordable, reusable plastic meal prep containers with multiple compartments.
Like the SimpleHouseware containers we saw earlier, these are solid black containers, but the lids on these are bit more transparent than the SimpleHouseware ones.
Users of the EZ Prepa containers claim that, for the most part, they hold up well in the dishwasher, freezer, and microwave. Others have commented that the plastic is quite thin and fragile, so you’ll want to handle them with caution, especially when they’re full.
Users like that each compartment is deep and can hold a lot of food. You probably won’t need all 20 containers at once, but luckily these are easy to stack and store. Most customers have found that the lids fit just fine and are leakproof, but a handful of others have encountered issues with getting the lids to snap securely in place.
If you want a lot of containers for not a lot of money, these are a great option — but don’t expect to have the same set for years to come.
- Easy to store
- Leakproof lids
- High capacity, deep compartments
- Not built to last
- Lids can be hard to put on securely
Popit! 20 Mix Piece Set of Borosilicate Glass Meal Prep Containers
The 20 Mix Piece Borosilicate Glass BPA-Free Meal Prep Containers by Popit! include a variety of square and rectangular containers that can accommodate entrees, snacks, dressings and sauces, and just about anything else you might need.
Many users appreciate that variety of sizes and generally have good things to say about the lids, which are sturdy and leakproof (but not recommended for microwave use). Because these containers are made of borosilicate, they have a very high heat tolerance of up to 750°F (not that you’ll be cooking anything at that temperature, but it’s still oddly reassuring).
This is a fairly low-maintenance set of containers that you can run through the dishwasher or nuke in the microwave without worrying about it cracking.
The biggest drawback to these containers is that, according to several users, they are very prone to chipping, particularly when storing or stacking them. A few users even reported finding shards of glass in their food (yikes!).
While these instances are few and far between, there are enough of them to raise concern, which isn’t alleviated by the fact that Popit! only offers a 30-day money back guarantee on this product. If you want meal prep containers with a more reliable guarantee, you’ll want to pass on these.
- Oven-safe up to 750°F
- Dishwasher-safe (including lids)
- Sturdy, leakproof lids
- Variety of sizes
- Can go from freezer to oven
- Prone to chipping and flaking
- Very short-term money back guarantee
Rubbermaid Brilliance Food Storage Containers
The Rubbermaid Brilliance Food Storage Containers are available in 14-piece sets that include seven differently sized containers with locking lids.
While these are made of BPA-free plastic, they share some helpful similarities with glass containers. For starters, they’re crystal clear like glass, making it much easier to know what’s in each of your containers when storing them in the fridge.
Like glass, these are easy to clean and won’t stain, even when used to store tomato sauce and other notorious stainers, plus they don’t absorb food odor, according to happy customers.
Users also like that these are dishwasher-safe, freezer-safe, leakproof, and excellent at keeping food fresh (definitely a plus when you’re storing a week’s worth of chopped fruits and veggies).
They also like the vent on the lids that allows steam to escape so you can microwave with the lid on. As an added bonus, these containers come with a lifetime warranty.
There are a few common complaints about these containers’ lids, including that they are prone to cracking in the microwave, they’re awkward to store because they don’t lie flat, and they seal the containers almost too well, making them difficult to remove at times.
Some users also advise that the listed capacities of each container are inaccurate because the depressed lids take up space within the containers.
Overall, these are a prime choice for anyone who wants no-fuss, plastic meal prep containers that are built to last, but the lids aren’t 100% perfect.
- Crystal clear
- Locking lids with steam vents
- Stain resistant
- Won’t absorb food odor
- Extends life of fresh foods
- Lifetime warranty
- Lids may crack in microwave
- Lids can be inconvenient to store
- Lids can be hard to open for some
Utopia Kitchen 18 Piece Glass Food Storage Container Set
The Utopia Kitchen 18 Piece Glass Food Storage Container Set comes with nine borosilicate glass containers — 3 round, 2 square, and 4 rectangular — and nine BPA-free, four-latch plastic lids for an extra secure fit.
According to most users, these containers are leakproof, dishwasher-safe, oven-safe, and freezer-safe, making it easy to store, reheat, and clean your containers without having to transfer your food to another container or dish.
While these are generally pretty sturdy, some users have found that the lids don’t hold up well to microwaving, so you’ll have to remove them before heating up leftovers. The lids can also be a bit fragile and, if you’re unlucky enough to receive defective ones, you may find them nearly impossible to close completely.
It’s not clear what Utopia Kitchen’s warranty is for this particular product, but a handful of users have raved about the quality of their customer service.
- Variety of sizes
- BPA-free, leakproof lids
- Good customer service
- Lids may warp in microwave
- Lids may break when trying to open them
And the best meal prep containers are…
There are a lot of great meal prep containers out there, but our favorite on this list is the Rubbermaid Brilliance 14 piece set. While we generally recommend choosing glass and other biodegradable materials over plastic, these containers are not designed to be tossed out after a few uses — they’re built to last.
Unlike lower quality, disposable plastic containers, the Rubbermaid Brilliance food containers are stain-resistant and they don’t absorb your food’s odors, so you don’t have to worry about your fresh cut fruit smelling like last week’s curry.
These are safe to use in the dishwasher, freezer, and microwave, but be mindful of the lids: some users have reported that the lids crack after a couple of minutes in the microwave. The lids may also give you some trouble when trying to store them, but the empty containers stack neatly.
Overall, the Rubbermaid Brilliance containers are the best plastic food storage containers that we found in our search, and they outperformed the glass containers we reviewed, most of which are prone to chipping and cracking when stacked.
No matter which containers you choose for meal prep storage, you’re making the conscious decision to eat healthier, save yourself time and money, and do your part to reduce unnecessary food waste.
If you click a link on this page and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.
About The Author:
Cristina is a writer, doggy daycare attendant, and vegan of nearly a decade. She earned a B.A. in Comparative Literature with a minor in gender studies from University of California, Irvine. As an undergrad, she served as president of the university’s animal rights club and conducted and presented research on the intersections of feminism and veganism.
When she’s not writing or taking care of dogs, she enjoys reading everything from autobiographies to YA fantasy novels, tending to her houseplants, cooking, and drawing. She lives in Southern California with her boyfriend and their dog.
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- earth.org | 20 Facts About Food Waste | https://earth.org/facts-about-food-waste/
- FDA | Bisphenol A (BPA): Use in Food Contact Application | https://www.fda.gov/food/food-additives-petitions/bisphenol-bpa-use-food-contact-application
- Sarah A. Vogel, PhD, MPH, MEM | The Politics of Plastics: The Making and Unmaking of Bisphenol A “Safety” | https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2774166/