If you believe in building good habits, eating well, and pushing yourself to the next level, you’re probably someone who would thrive with a structured meal platform. Whether you like to cook a big meal on Sunday to last you for a few days, are controlling for portion size, or want to lay out every single breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a week, let The Manual introduce you to some of the best meal prep containers on the market.
Whichever meal prep containers you use, your choice should be dictated by your lifestyle. Find the right on-the-go option that fits your schedule and feel confident in your caloric intake.
Best Plastic Meal Prep Containers
We focused on BPA-free plastic containers for their lightweight and low cost. Featuring temperature resistance, easy clean-up, and impressive durability, these plastic options came out on top as the most preferred food storage containers in the world of meal prep.
Leakproof, microwavable, BPA-free, and freezable, these meal prep containers from Reditainer may look like you standard take-out box, but these are far more sturdy and reusable. They also do not warp when reheated. Thanks to the clever bento-like divider, the smaller section fits one cup of veggies and the larger section fits one cup of complex carbohydrates. This affordable option is great for school lunches, leftover meals, and portion control. Whether you’re back-to-school shopping or just planning lunch ahead of time, these microwave-safe plastic containers can help you prep like a pro.
These three-compartment food prep containers feature clear lids, deep capacity, and self-insulated polypropylene to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Made with non-toxic BPA-free materials, the plastic can be reheated, tossed in the dishwasher, or left in the freezer for later use, however you’ll need to hand wash each lid individually. The containers are stackable, which will help you avoid the Tupperware avalanche that threatens to swallow you every time you open your cabinet.
Prep work doesn’t have to be expensive (though it can be time-consuming). Taking a cue from Japanese bento boxes, each leak-proof food container from The Meal Lab offers plenty of compartmentalized space for all your eats. The No. 1 best-seller in meal-prep containers on Amazon, the boxes boxes are solid, durable, and guaranteed not to warp, crack, or otherwise come apart. If you’re looking for an affordable food container that is reusable, dishwasher safe, freezer safe, and airtight, these plastic trays should do the trick.
Best Glass Meal Prep Containers
Glass containers, with their resistance to stain and smells, are also another good option. However, while glass containers on the whole are healthier than plastic, their poor portability and inherent break-ability outweigh their positive attributes, making them a second-choice for the hardcore meal prepper. The casual lunch-bringer may be more kind.
This 18-piece set of wide-mouth glass meal prep containers comes with a variety of different sizes to meet your varying food storage needs. including an option for snack foods. The stain-proof, odor-free, spill-proof, containers feature easy latching lids that ensure a secure airtight seal, making certain your meal won’t find itself in the bottom of your lunch bag. The lids are made from BPA-free plastic, but aren’t designed to be used in the microwave and, since they feature a soft silicone rubber seal, probably shouldn’t be put in the dishwasher. However, the glass bottoms are microwave-, oven-, and freezer-safe. Just don’t drop them.
This heavy-duty glass meal prep container from Ikea offer portability, convenience, and surprisingly durability. Since you start with a set of three, this is great for those who are looking to ease into meal prep rather than diving in head first. As my personal lunch container, this glass dish has stood up to countless cycles through the microwave and dishwasher, as well as a few falls onto the kitchen floor. And, like Glasslock, this food storage container sports a snap-lock lid that seals in both air and liquids, ensuring nothing gets out, not even odors.
This eight-piece glass set from Rubbermaid easily covers a week’s worth of tasty office lunches. Constructed with sleek, crystal-clear tempered glass, these containers can go straight from the fridge to the oven or microwave and back again. With nested sizes and thin snap-on lids, they are easy to store in your freezer or cupboard without taking up too much space. Whether you’re looking for a better way to store leftover food or just want to prep ahead of time for the week, these glass containers are a great mid-range option to help meet your needs.
Best Stainless Steel Meal Prep Containers
Another food storage option is to carry your meals in a stainless steel meal prep container. While this material won’t be the most practical for people in colder climates, there’s something effortlessly stylish about these vessels. Plus, they’re excellent at keeping hot foods steaming hot.
The three-in-one stainless steel container set from Ecolunchbox is a great environmentally-friendly option for meal prep. While they’re not totally leak-proof, they’re still great for both damp and dry foods as they come equipped with vice-like clips. Unlike glass meal prep containers, however, this metal food container is absolutely not safe for the microwave.
A great way to tackle meal prep is to make a soup, stew, or chili that willl last you through the week. And once you’ve cooked up for your favorite liquid meal, store it in the airtight 16-ounce thermal container from LunchBot. Its stainless steel body holds up to 2 cups of food and perfectly regulates temperatures. It’s also a great option if you want something warm with your cold lunch but don’t have a microwave available.
For a more traditional look, check out this two-tier stainless steel lunch box from To-Go Ware. The individual boxes keep ingredients separate and snap together for easy transportation. The lunch box is great for all temperatures and is dishwasher safe.
Best Meal Prep Kits
If you want a versatile meal kit that includes more than just a container, you might be interested in a meal prep kit, which include plastic containers with additional useful items and temperature control measures. Although these sets might be great for car commuters, they have multiple pieces, making them somewhat awkward for other forms of commuting. A kit might not be the best choice for those of us riding bikes or hopping on public transportation.
This kit was built to set your up for success all day. The meal prep bag comes with three full-size BPA meal containers and an ice pack to keep your edibles chilled. There are three, separate insulated compartments to hold your food storage containers. The bag also provides easy access to snacks and hold two shake/beverage bottles.
This prep kit has modular containers that snap together to stay organized, including a blue ice freezer pack to keep your food cool. Rubbermaid makes a variety of different sized food containers (and insulated bags) that piece together to build the kit that is just right for you.
Article originally published November 16, 2016.