The 12 Best Meal Prep Containers to Keep Food Fresh for Longer

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Choosing the best meal prep containers can help you keep portions in check and avoid potentially harmful chemicals.
Image Credit: Nophamon Yanyapong / EyeEm/EyeEm/GettyImages

The Essential Kitchen features our favorite products, tips and recipes to help optimize your cooking space and prep healthy meals quickly and easily.

Between planning, shopping and cooking, you've worked hard to prep several days' worth of healthy meals. To reap the most from your efforts, make sure to pack your food in only the best meal prep containers.

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The right meal prep containers will keep your food fresh for longer so that it tastes as good after a few days have passed as it did when you first cooked it.

Quality containers will also help keep spills at bay and make it easy to see exactly what you have stocked in the fridge — both keys to minimizing food waste.

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There are about a million options to choose from, so we set out to find the ones worth buying.

How We Chose

If you're looking for basic glass meal prep containers, a lightweight plastic option that's BPA-free or something to tote your soups or smoothies in, this list of best meal prep containers has you covered.

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We chatted with dietitians for their favorites and asked for tips on choosing quality meal prep containers. The products on this list were all chosen based on the following criteria:

  • Material safety and durability
  • Lid seal
  • Convenience
  • Ability to store
  • Other features

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Tip

Check the resin identification code (RIC), located inside a triangle on the bottom of the container — and only go for those labeled with numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends.

Avoid containers with code 3, as these contain phthalates, code 6, due to styrene, and code 7, because of the bisphenols, including BPA, unless labeled as "biobased" or "greenware," per the American Academy of Pediatrics.

1. Best Glass Multipack: Bayco Glass Food Storage Containers

You'll get 12 containers and 12 lids in this solid set.
Image Credit: Bayco Glass

This 24-piece set offers round and rectangular glass containers in 12 different sizes, so you've got options for when you're storing large batches or smaller portions.

Plus, they're microwave-, oven- and freezer-safe. You can freeze glass containers, but pay close attention to safe thawing practices.

Buy it:Amazon.com; ​Price:​ $39.99 for 12

2. Best Large Glass: Razab Glass Storage Containers

These glass meal prep containers are perfect for lunches and dinners.
Image Credit: Razab

The set of eight 30-ounce containers is ideal for storing large batches of just about anything. The locking, snap-on lids are spill-proof and water-tight, and these containers are even oven-safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit — without the lid, that is.

Buy it:Amazon.com; ​Price:​ $43.99 for 8

3. Best Plastic: Fullstar Food Storage Containers

These plastic prep containers hold up to 28 ounces.
Image Credit: Fullstar

These plastic meal prep containers come in three sizes — two 59-ounce rectangular containers, six 25-ounce containers and six 11-ounce containers — and are perfect for prepping a week's worth of breakfasts, lunches, dinner and even snacks.

The lids are airtight and leak-resistant, and very importantly, the plastic is free of the endocrine-disrupting chemical bisphenol-A (BPA). They're also microwave-safe for under 5 minutes without the lid.

Buy it:Amazon.com; ​Price:​ $29.98 for 14

4. Best Plastic Bag Alternative: SH Pure Reusable Silicone Food Storage Bags

Pack fruits, veggies and nuts in these resealable bags.
Image Credit: SH Pure

Zip-top bags have the benefit of laying flat when they're being stored and taking up minimal space in the fridge or freezer when they're in use. But, they're usually made with plastic that contains BPA and waste can be an issue as they're not typically recycled.

These large silicone bags are a cleaner, greener alternative that's heat- and cold-resistant and have an airtight zip-top. The best part is they're easily washable and reusable, so you always have them when you need them.

Buy it:Amazon.com; ​Price:​ $9.99 for 4

5. Best Smoothie Containers: Nakpunar 16-Ounce Mason Jars

These Mason jars are the solution to taking your smoothies on the go.
Image Credit: Nakpunar

Simple glass Mason jars are great for storing single-serve smoothies and juices that you can grab before heading out the door. The jars in this 12-pack are just the right size for a filling blended drink.

Bonus: Unlike most canning jars, the lid is just a single piece, so you don't have to fiddle with a flat top and a ring.

Buy it:Amazon.com; ​Price:​ $32.99 for 12

6. Best Bento Box: Prep Naturals Glass Meal Prep Containers

These compartmentalized containers are perfect for portioning out salad dressings, nuts, seeds and the like.
Image Credit: Prep Naturals

If you like the idea of packing lunches or dinners in individual compartments, these 24-ounce glass bento boxes are just the thing for you.

The snap-on lids keep spillage at bay, and the tall dividers inside the containers keep foods separate (so the chicken won't get tossed with your fruit!) — even if the container gets jostled around.

Buy it:Amazon.com; ​Price:​ $41.33 for 3

7. Best for Kids: MISS Big Bento Box Kids

This kid-friendly bento box fits right in your kiddo's lunch bag.
Image Credit: MISS Big

If you're looking to make lunch-making duty as painless as possible, this kid-friendly bento box is definitely worth a look: It has separated segments for you to put different food items so they won't touch, making it easier to plan well-rounded, nutritious meals.

"This Bento box comes with its own small fork," says Dana Ellis Hunnes, Ph.D., MPH, RD. "Even though it says no BPA or chemical dyes, we still won't microwave with it in my house because it's plastic. But, it's definitely a nice bento box and it hasn't leaked for us in over a year!"

Buy it:Amazon.com;​ Price: ​$14.99

8. Best Vacuum-Sealed: ZWILLING Fresh and Save Meal Prep Container

Keeping your food fresh requires that the container be sealed properly.
Image Credit: ZWILLING

"These are ideal for storing fresh fruit, cut veggies and cooked proteins," says Rachel Fine, RDN. "The vacuum system is easy-to-use and convenient for busy mornings. My produce is kept fresh for longer — up to an entire week longer than your standard storage container!"

Buy it​: Amazon.com; ​Price​: $14.99

9. Best for Baby Food: Wean Green Ween Tubs

Save your prepped baby food in the fridge or freezer with these meal prep containers.
Image Credit: Wean Green

Glass, non-toxic and sturdy, these durable baby-food containers are perfect for families with kids of all ages, Fine says. "The smaller size is perfect for purees and cereals, and the larger size is perfect for leftovers."

And even if you're not feeding any little mouths, you can also use these small meal prep containers to keep condiments, freshly chopped herbs and sauces fresh for longer, saving them for later use.

Buy it​: Amazon.com; ​Price​: $19.99 for 4

10. Best for Soups and Liquids: CorningWare Soup Mug

Store soups, stews and other liquid recipes in these easy-to-grab storage mugs.
Image Credit: Corningware

Because these soup storage mugs are made with durable stoneware and BPA-free plastic materials, they are safe to use on a daily basis, says Christina Jax, RDN, LDN.

"These stackable and microwavable meal prep containers are perfect for healthy soups and broths that you batch-cook for the week," she says. "They are also great for prepping morning meals such as smoothies bowls and overnight oats."

Buy it​: Amazon.com; ​Price​: $19.19

11. Best Stainless Steel: U-Konserve Round Nesting Trio

These stackable stainless steel meal prep containers are easy to store in the fridge.
Image Credit: U-Konserve

Stainless steel is another material to look for in a meal prep container: It is plastic-free and does not have BPA, explains Jonathan Isbill, RD, LD.

That being said, Isbill recommends these stainless steel containers from U-Konserve: "They are super kid-friendly because the material is less likely to fall and break like glass containers," he says. Plus, the silicone lids are easy to clean.

Buy it​: Amazon.com; ​Price​: $27.99

12. Best for Snacks: Kilner Snack On The Go

With a convenient small compartment in the lid, these small meal-prep jars are perfect for smaller bites.
Image Credit: Kilner

Because these jars have two compartments, are dishwasher-safe and can hold hot and cold food with ease, Kristi Ruth, RD, LDN, says they are perfect for snack time.

"Use these jars from Kilner for taking bites and snacks like veggies and dip, chicken salad and crackers, yogurt and granola and so much more on the go," Ruth says.

"The stainless steel cup insert is an ideal size for holding granola, dip, guacamole, hummus, dressing, tuna, egg salad, chicken or chickpea salad. The options are endless!"

Buy it:Target.com;​ Price:​ $11.99

What to Look for in a Meal Prep Container

Before you go shopping or fill your virtual cart with meal-prep containers, keep this checklist in mind.

Air-Tight Lids

Lids with airtight seals keep air from getting to your food so it stays fresher longer, Andres Ayesta, RD, says. And they can help prevent annoying spills if the container tips over.

Different Sizes

A mix of big and small containers helps you max out storage space in your fridge. Use big vessels for large batches and smaller ones for portioning out individual servings that you can take for lunch or stow in the freezer.

BPA-Free Plastic

Plastic containers often contain potentially endocrine-disrupting chemicals like BPA or phthalates that can leach into food, especially when the plastic is heated or exposed to bright light. The risk of leaching is higher with hot or wet food, but it can occur with dry food too, Ayesta says.

Glass containers are naturally free of BPA and because they're clear, you can see exactly what's inside.

If you choose to go with a plastic option, make sure it's listed as BPA-free.

Storing Your Prepped Food

Good-quality containers with airtight lids will keep your prepped food fresher longer. But ​how​ long depends on what kind of food you're talking about. Heed these general storage guidelines from Ayesta:

  • Veggies, beans or grains:​ Up to 5 days
  • Meat or poultry:​ Up to 3 days
  • Seafood:​ Up to 2 days
  • Smoothies:​ Up to 2 days
  • Salads:​ Up to 5 days when stored without the dressing.

Tip

“Pack salads with the wetter ingredients (like tomatoes or zucchini) at the bottom and drier ingredients on top,” Ayesta says.

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