The 10 Best Meal Prep Containers
This wiki has been updated 27 times since it was first published in January of 2017. If you're new to meal prep, then you've probably just realized how quickly you can go through regular dishware when cooking a week's worth of lunches. Not to worry — these boxes are cost-effective and reusable, allowing you to store your food without having to dig into the formal china. They all come with secure lids, as well, so you don't have to fret about spilling anything in transit. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
July 22, 2019:
In order to be friendly to the environment and reduce carbon footprints, we tried to favor options that seemed likely to offer long-term durability, which is why you see so many glass and heavy-duty plastic models towards the top of the list. While these will add a little bit more heft to your backpack or meal prep bag, they'll also last for years, giving you plenty of bang for your buck.
The Grub2Go Japanese Original earned the top spot in part because its attractive design is a welcome departure from the basic glass and plastic models that otherwise dominate the space. It's more than just easy on the eyes, though, as it's also a convenient all-in-one meal system. You can carry two or more separate courses and a set of utensils in a neat little package, making it easy to eat just about anywhere.
The Freshware Ultimate don't look like much, but they're surprisingly useful for storing and carrying a single food item. They're more resilient than you might expect, and they have uses beyond the kitchen (they're great in a sandbox or for storing slime). Don't expect to use them forever, as they will trap odors after a while, but they're so inexpensive that you can replace them every few months without feeling it too much in your pocketbook.
Tupperware Freezer Mates Plus This set has special stain-guard technology to prevent last week's spaghetti sauce from showing up on this week's baked chicken breast. They're made to freeze food quickly, which helps lock in the flavor and texture. tupperware.com
How To Choose The Best Meal Prep Containers For You
The first thing to consider is the material they're made of.
If you're just getting started with meal prepping, the idea of cooking vast quantities of food for the whole week can seem intimidating. But if you're not prepared with a good set of containers, finding a place to store all the meals you make can be even harder than cooking them in the first place. That's why it's so important to choose the best meal prep containers for your individual needs.
The first thing to consider is the material they're made of. If you plan on taking your meals to work or school, you may want to go with plastic since it's lightweight and won't break as easily as glass if you drop it. However, glass tends to last longer than plastic and is usually safe for use in the oven, which is great for reheating dishes like lasagna. Some people like to use plastic containers for meals on the go and keep a few glass ones around for home use.
Next, decide whether or not you want dividers in your containers. Compartments are helpful for keeping your ratio of carbs, protein, and fat in check, and they're great for people who don't like different foods to touch. Some containers have fixed dividers, and others have removable ones that allow you to choose whether you want one, two, or three compartments.
For soups and other liquids, you'll want to make sure you choose a set of containers that have leak-proof lids. Some have silicone-lined lids that lock into place to ensure a good seal. It can also be helpful to buy sets with different colored lids if you're meal prepping for more than one person. That way, it's easy to tell whose food is whose.
What's The Big Deal About Meal Prepping?
There are few things I love more than cooking, whether I'm whipping up an old favorite or learning a new technique or recipe. The kitchen is my happy place. But on those days when I just don't know what to cook, making dinner can feel like a chore, and the idea of takeout or a frozen pizza becomes extremely tempting. Unfortunately, these types of meals are terrible for your overall health — and your waistline.
And it's not just for people who are trying to lose weight.
Research shows that eating highly-processed foods is linked with weight gain and a greater risk for obesity. But if your fridge and freezer are stocked with healthy homemade meals, it's much easier to resist eating something that's convenient, but terrible for you. That's one of the biggest advantages of meal prepping. Cooking big batches of balanced, nutritious meals once or twice a week means you won't have to worry about what's for dinner.
And it's not just for people who are trying to lose weight. Meal prepping can also help you see better results in the gym. No matter how much you work out, you're never going to look like a Greek god (or goddess) if you aren't eating right. Building muscle requires protein, and eating smaller amounts several times a day helps your body to use it more effectively than eating a huge portion of protein in one sitting. Preparing meals in advance helps you to tailor your diet and macros to your fitness goals.
In addition to its health benefits, meal prepping can also save you time and money. Rather than spending an hour or two on dinner every evening, you can devote half a day to cooking on the weekend and get it all done at once. And if you pay attention to sales and buy frequently-used ingredients in bulk, your grocery bill can shrink drastically.
Tips To Keep You On Track
No matter how enthusiastic you are about meal prepping, there will probably be times when you just don't feel like doing it. Here are a few ways to streamline the process so you don't get frustrated and quit altogether.
Find a few good sources for reliable recipes so you know where to go for new ideas when you get bored with the meals you're making. Look for recipes that make large batches or can easily be doubled. Sheet pan dinners, where your protein and vegetables are all cooked together on one tray, can really cut down your workload.
Blast your favorite music or podcast while you cook, try a new recipe that gets you excited, or enlist the help of a friend or significant other.
Lists are your best friend when it comes to meal prepping. Plan what you're going to make in advance and make a detailed grocery list. Try to choose recipes that have ingredients in common to make shopping easier, and stock up on things you use frequently so you don't have to go to the store as often. And don't be afraid of shortcuts. Anything that simplifies the process, like rotisserie chicken, canned tuna, and pre-sliced vegetables, makes it more likely that you'll stick to your plan.
Think about cooking methods when choosing your recipes for the week — you don't want to get halfway through and realize you have five different things that all need to go into the oven. And if you don't already have a slow cooker, now is the time to invest in one. You can throw all the ingredients for one dish into the Crockpot and forget about it while you cook the rest of your meals.
If the idea of chopping, slicing, cooking, and portioning all of that food in one day makes you want to give up before you even start, consider dividing the work over two days. Do all of your prep one day, then do the actual cooking the next. Weekends tend to be the best time for most people since it's hard to get in the mood to spend a few hours in the kitchen after a long day at work.
And finally, do whatever it takes to make meal prepping fun. Blast your favorite music or podcast while you cook, try a new recipe that gets you excited, or enlist the help of a friend or significant other. You're much more likely to keep doing something if you look forward to it — or at least don't dread it as much.