The most common question I get is: “Where did you get those containers?” In this post, I’m sharing the answers to this and other questions, based on my years of meal prepping experience! Here are my recommendations for The Best Meal Prep Containers By Size, Type & Use, so you can find exactly what containers you need to get started with meal prep!
In this post, you’ll find all of my meal prep container recommendations organized by size, type and use, so you can easily find what you’re looking for, even if you don’t know exactly what you need!
Please keep in mind that I’m only human and I have not tried every single brand out there! This information is based on my experience trying various brands and using meal prep containers consistently for over five years now.
I’ve also included a Q&A section with answers to other common meal prep container related questions I see, with products linked when appropriate.
Note about product links within this post:
All of the products linked in this post are links to affiliated Amazon sales pages for the product recommended. I have purchased some of my containers on Amazon, but not all of them. I include Amazon links for every product so you can see the specific product I’m talking about. However, I will be sure to note if I actually purchased the product on Amazon, or if I bought it elsewhere such as Target. Some items are better to buy in stores, but I still want you to see what I’m talking about!
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Q&A on Meal Prep Containers
Recommendations by Container Size
Recommendations by Container Type
Recommendations by Container Use
Before you start, just know that this post will be recommending 95% glass containers. If you’re looking for recommendations on the best plastic containers to buy, you may need to look elsewhere. Using glass vs. plastic tends to be a personal preference, with strong proponents on each side. I use glass containers for food storage 90% of the time, silicone containers about 8% of the time, and plastic for the remaining 2% of the time. Here’s why I’m a freak about using glass containers.
Why use glass containers instead of plastic for food storage?
- Glass containers are simply more durable than plastic containers. They will hold up to dishwashing, microwaving, and freezing better than plastic containers can.
- Glass containers are better for the environment. As mentioned above, plastic containers are far less durable, which means you’ll have to purchase replacements more often than you would with glass. Glass is 100% recyclable, and can be recycled over and over again without losing integrity. Plastic however, is not 100% recyclable, and is most often made of brand new materials (specifically, oil! through polymerization). Only around 10% of plastic is recycled in the U.S. (info from NatGeo article “We Made Plastic” by Laura Parker).
- Some glass containers can go directly from the freezer to the oven, specifically ones made with borosilicate glass. This special glass will not break or crack under extreme temperature changes like regular glass can. You should look for this type of glass if you plan to freeze meals and then heat them up in the oven in the same dish.
- Glass won’t get any weird food stains or smells. Your mom has one, my mom has one (sorry mom), everyone’s mom has one – it’s a plastic tupperware dish that has held lots of red pasta sauce over the years and it’s pretty much orange at this point. We deal with it, but nobody really wants that to happen.
Q & A on Meal Prep Containers
What containers are best for meal prep?
Depending on the intended use, certain containers may be better than others, but in general, the best containers for all-purpose meal prep:
- are made of glass, borosilicate if you freezer to oven cook;
- are dishwasher, microwave and freezer safe;
- have airtight lids (lids are usually plastic even if the container is glass);
- are BPA free;
- are clear/see through.
Not all containers will meet all this criteria and of course other kinds of containers have their uses, but it’s a good place to start if you are just buying containers for the first time. If you’re looking for an all around multipurpose container set, I would recommend the 24-piece Snapware glass container set (affiliate link!), or the 18-piece Pyrex glass container set (affiliate link!). The Pyrex set is a slightly better price but does not have snaplock lids. The Snapware containers are better for traveling.
Where do you get the best meal prep containers?
- Target – I can always find Pyrex or OXO brand snaplock containers at Target, plus tons of other things related to Pyrex (even fancy Pyrex containers with designs if you’re into that). Individual containers are usually cheaper at Target or Marshall’s than ordering online, but it looks like the 18-piece Pyrex glass container set (affiliate link!) is around $1.50 cheaper to buy on Amazon if you have free shipping.
- Marshall’s – Around here, Marshall’s is the go-to for on-brand clothing and housewares at discount prices (I think TJ Maxx is similar). I’m really good at finding random crap there! One thing they carry is a LOT of individual glass (and plastic) containers in varying shapes and sizes. Perfect if you’re not trying to buy a 24-piece set, and you just need a container or two. This is where I got my OXO 1-cup glass prep container (affiliate link!), cheaper than Amazon.
- Amazon – Some items are better to buy in stores if you find good deals, but there are some items you can only get on Amazon. For example, the 3 compartment glass meal prep containers (affiliate link!) from Prep Naturals that I use can only be found on Amazon. Plus, some bigger containers sets are probably just easier to purchase online instead of search in stores for (convenience is always a plus with online shopping! – here’s a link to my Amazon store meal prep essentials list)
- Costco – Costco has the smallest selection, but usually the best prices for what they have. They always have at least one large glass meal prep container set, so check there first for good prices if you aren’t super picky about brands.
How many containers do you need for meal prep?
To get started with meal prep, at the very minimum I would suggest having one large container with a lid, and at least four individual meal sized containers with lids. There is no real limit to how many meal prep containers you can use for meal prep, or at least I haven’t found it yet!
In the large container, such as this 7-cup Pyrex round glass container (affiliate link!), you can store almost anything you batch prepped ahead for future meals: oatmeal, soup, chopped produce, enchiladas, fried rice… large portions of anything you have meal prepped or leftover.
Most ‘meal prep’ recipes on the Internet make four meals that are portioned out into individual containers. If you’re planning to take your meals to go, I would recommend these 3 compartment glass meal prep containers (affiliate link!), or these 1 compartment glass meal prep containers (affiliate link!). You can also use 4-cup Pyrex round glass containers (affiliate link!), but the plastic lids will tear after long term use and are not quite as airtight as snap lock lids.
What size meal prep containers do you use?
I use meal prep containers of all sizes – small, medium, large, and even containers that are more of a bag than a classic container. I also use mason jars, small glass prep bowls, rectangular containers with compartments, round containers without compartments… and the list could go on.
All the different meal prep containers I use are scattered throughout this page, but here are the containers I use most often in my home:
- Glass Meal Prep Containers w/Compartments: I own both the 2 compartment glass meal prep containers (affiliate link!) and the 3 compartment glass meal prep containers (affiliate link!). We use these for lunches almost everyday and the snaplock lids are good for traveling. Though they say dishwasher safe, I hand wash all lids to help them last longer.
- Mason Jars: I use wide mouth mason jars of all sizes, but I specifically like to use half pint wide mouth mason jars (affiliate link!) for storing homemade dressings or individual desserts and yogurt parfaits. I also use quart size wide mouth mason jars (affiliate link!) for liquids like homemade almond milk or broth.
- Random Pyrex: Rectangular, round, big, small. I use them all, depending on how much leftovers are left! Over a pound of leftover carnitas? Large rectangular Pyrex. One serving of leftover ground breakfast sausage? One cup round Pyrex. Two more servings of leftover soup? Two medium round Pyrex for individual servings. It just depends on what it is and what containers I have available. Since these Pyrex lids are not snaplocks, these containers usually don’t travel; I mostly use them for storing prepped foods in the fridge.
- Silicone Storage Bags: I use multiple sizes of these Stasher Silicone Food Storage Bags (affiliate link!). I use them *mostly* for storing leftover produce or cut citrus. They do not hold liquids well, but anything else works just fine. They are freezer, sous vide, microwave and dishwasher safe.
Can you reuse meal prep containers?
Yes!! This should certainly be your goal. I avoid plastic containers because after normal use, microwaving and dishwashing, they will warp, break, and get discolored. One of the main reasons I meal prep is to reduce food waste, but in my opinion, this includes all waste involved with food storage and preparation. It is important to invest in meal prep containers that are reusable on a long term basis.
How do you wash your meal prep containers?
Glass containers & glass jars – Dishwasher, any rack wherever there’s room.
Meal prep container snaplock lids – I hand wash all snaplock lids to help them last longer.
Plastic lids (not snaplock) – Top rack of the dishwasher (because I’m lazy).
Silicone bags – Top rack of the dishwasher, upside down and spread over a couple prongs (is that what those are called?) so they stay open.
Can you freeze meal prep containers?
Yes, most containers are fine to freeze as long as they say ‘freezer-safe’ on the label somewhere. I have frozen every container I own with no problems. That being said, freeze smart! Here are a few things to remember about freezing foods in containers:
- Don’t put hot foods or liquids directly in the freezer. Refrigerate them for a few hours first.
- Don’t fill glass jars to the top – leave a couple inches for the liquid to expand.
- Use borosilicate glass if you plan to cook something frozen directly in the oven.
In my home, we just have a bottom-of-fridge sized chest freezer that normally holds lots of ButcherBox (affiliate link!) meat, smoothie fruit, and random frozen vegetables (okay, and the occasional bag of Trader Joe’s Orange Chicken). I don’t have lots of room to experiment with, which is why you normally won’t find many freezer meal recipes on my site. For some expert advice on freezing, read Plastic Free Freezer Storage Ideas from Sweet Peas and Saffron, and 7 Tips for Freezer Organization from Meal Plan Addict.
Do you ever use plastic containers?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: We have some left from before we got married, and I’m not going to get rid of them just because they are plastic. They are still perfectly functional as containers and have their uses.
I use plastic containers for things that will not be going in the microwave and for things that need to travel lightly. I also use them if I think I may not get the container back (though I think I always have gotten them all back!). I also occasionally use gallon Ziplocs for freezer items that just won’t fit into a container. Nobody is perfect! My use of Ziplocs has decreased drastically since I started using Stasher Silicone Food Storage Bags (affiliate link!).
My Recommendations by Container Size
Libbey Small 6.25 ounce Glass Bowls with Lids (affiliate link!) – I use these most often when I’m preparing ingredients for a meal I’m cooking or prepping ahead of time. It holds small amounts of sauces, spices and fresh herbs well. The lids are handy too! (TIP: I also use these glass bowls when I make IP Lava Cakes!)
Half Pint Wide Mouth Mason Jars (affiliate link!) – These are great for mixing ingredients for homemade sauces, but also for prepping individual servings of breakfast and dessert. I use them for my Whipped Greek Yogurt, or for homemade yogurt parfaits!
OXO 1-Cup Glass Prep Container (affiliate link!) – This differs from the containers listed above because it has a snaplock lid and is great for traveling. I own one of these and I got it from Marshall’s, cheaper than Amazon.
Reusable Silicone Baking Cups (affiliate link!) – Obviously these aren’t something you can seal food inside, but I do use them to prepare food for meal prep. They’re also useful to keep food removable if you want to microwave one part of a meal but not all of it!
3 Compartment Glass Meal Prep Containers (affiliate link!) – I get the most questions about these containers! There are several brands out there and I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t tried them all. But I’ve had these containers made by Prep Naturals for a while and they get the job done when you want to keep foods separate in the same container. I do hand wash all snaplock lids to help them last longer, but I put the glass in the dishwasher. I purchased these containers on Amazon. I use these containers for things like my Chicken & Hummus Plate Lunch Meal Prep or this Easy Turkey Pinwheels Meal Prep.
2 Compartment Glass Meal Prep Containers (affiliate link!) – These containers are similar to the containers above, but have only two compartments instead of three. I also got these containers on Amazon, and hand wash all the lids. I use these containers for recipes like Buffalo Chicken Salad Meal Prep, and Instant Pot Honey Garlic Chicken Meal Prep. This brand also sells 1 Compartment Containers, but I have not personally purchased those. Another brand of similar containers that I see highly recommended includes the 24-piece Snapware Glass Container Set (affiliate link!) which comes with four lunch sizes containers.
Pint Sized Wide Mouth Mason Jars (affiliate link!) – These jars are a bit bigger than the half pint and fit more stuff! I also use mason jars large than this size as well. I use them for freezing and storing foods, usually liquids like homemade almond milk or broth.
4-Cup Pyrex Round Glass Containers (affiliate link!) – I own six of these and they are constantly in use. I use them for lunches that don’t need compartments, chopped & prepped produce, individual portions of dinner leftovers, pretty much anything and everything food related.
6-piece Pyrex Rectangular Container Set (affiliate link!) – I really like these larger rectangular containers for storing large portions of leftovers meals or meal components. While I don’t use these larger containers for individual meals, they are really good for storing leftover casserole, soups, and big dishes with lots of leftovers! However, avoid new Pyrex for freezer to oven baking (cheaper glass may crack or break).
7-Cup Pyrex Round Glass Container (affiliate link!) – Again, great for storing prepared produce, or large portions of any prepared food you have leftover! The beauty of these containers is that pretty much anything will fit into them. The 18-piece Pyrex glass container set (affiliate link!) also includes a 7 Cup Round container. However, avoid new Pyrex for freezer to oven baking (cheaper glass may crack or break). I’ve found single 7 Cup round containers at Marshall’s for cheaper than Amazon!
8-Cup OXO Borosilicate Glass Container (affiliate link!) – I do not personally own this container but I adore all OXO products, and this will be a next purchase. It is made for freezer to oven cooking, and uses borosilicate glass, a better option than Pyrex for extreme heat changes.
8-Piece Pyrex Mixing Bowl Set (affiliate link!) – I use these mixing bowls of all sizes for everything! It is really nice to have large mixing bowls to prepare food, and then be able to slap a lid right on it and put it into the fridge. While not necessarily what you think of for meal prep containers, I store prepped food in these all the time, so I had to include them!
Stasher Silicone Food Storage Bags (affiliate link!) – I use multiple sizes of these silicone bags. They’re freezer, microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator and even sous vide safe. I use them *mostly* for storing leftover produce or cut citrus. They do not hold liquids well, but anything else works just fine.
This is the only silicone or other non-plastic based storage bag I have tried, but they work great for me. To wash, I place them in the top rack of the dishwasher, upside down and spread over a couple prongs (still not exactly sure what those are called) so they stay open.
My Recommendations by Container Type
Compartment meal containers – I have personally used these 3 Compartment Glass Meal Prep Containers (affiliate link!) made by Prep Naturals the most often for individually prepared meals. Almost always lunches, but occasionally dinners or breakfasts too. They have snaplock lids which make them great for travel, however I do hand wash the lids to help them last longer. This brand also sells 1 compartment glass meal prep containers (affiliate link!) and 2 compartment glass meal prep containers (affiliate link!).
Glass Jars – I own both Kerr and Ball brand mason jars. Since I don’t do much canning, I’ve never noticed any differences between the brands. I just grab the better deal! I think Target carries a lot of different mason jars, and I found 12 of these Pint Sized Wide Mouth Mason Jars (affiliate link!) at the regular grocery store (this link is for just 3 jars!) that I couldn’t find online. That being said, I did get my Half Pint Wide Mouth Mason Jars (affiliate link!) on Amazon.
I have not tried out this brand myself, but it comes highly recommended. I would trust Weck Jars for the same purposes as mason jars – they’re super popular and I can see why! These 12.5 ounce Tulip Weck Jars (affiliate link!) are next on my list to buy.
Bowl Containers – I own the most Pyrex bowl containers because they come in the most affordable sets, plus some of these items have been gifts. But they also work really well for my needs. I own at least six of these 4-cup Pyrex round glass containers (affiliate link!), two of the 7-cup Pyrex round glass container (affiliate link!) size, this 8-piece Pyrex Mixing Bowl Set (affiliate link!), and a lot of the little containers that come in this 18-piece Pyrex glass container set (affiliate link!).
I have not tried out this particular size of these other brands, but I would also trust and use everything in the the 24-piece Snapware glass container set (affiliate link!) and the OXO Snaplock Storage containers.
Storage Bags – The only brand of non-plastic food storage bags I use are Stasher Silicone Food Storage Bags (affiliate link!)! They did once send me two free Stasher bags for a product review (link to Stasher Silicone Food Bag Review!), but I’ve purchased at least 5 more with my own money since! They’re freezer, microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator and even sous vide safe. I use them *mostly* for storing leftover produce or cut citrus. They do not hold liquids well, but anything else works just fine.
Snack Containers – These are listed here last because they aren’t as important as meal containers or leftover food containers, but they’re still helpful in food prep and reducing plastic baggie waste. I was given a set of Whiskware Stackable Snack Containers (affiliate link!) and they are so cute! We actually do use them sometimes, especially during Whole30 when this stack of containers was basically my husband’s breakfast. Also works great for dips and dressing!
My Recommendations by Container Use
These recommendations will vary depending on who you ask, and everyone’s opinion is valid because we all have different experiences with different kinds of containers. My recommendations are based on the 5+ years of meal prep and home cooking experience I have! Not a LOT of years, but I practice almost every day 🙂
For storing lunches or other individual prepared meals: These 3 Compartment Glass Meal Prep Containers (affiliate link!) are the ones I get the most questions about. They’re made by Prep Naturals, and they also sell 2 Compartment Glass Meal Prep Containers (affiliate link!). These containers are made with borosilicate glass and are dishwasher, freezer, microwave and oven safe. They have snaplock lids which I wash by hand, but I wash the glass in the dishwasher.
These 4-cup Pyrex Round Glass Containers (affiliate link!) also work great for individual meals that don’t need compartments (soups, salads, rice bowls, etc).
For freezing: I have frozen every kind of container I own, including all the ones listed here. My general advice is to just be smart when you freeze food. Don’t put hot foods or liquids directly in the freezer – refrigerate them for a few hours first. Don’t fill glass jars to the top – leave a couple inches for the liquid to expand. Use borosilicate glass if you plan to cook something frozen directly in the oven. Learn what foods do and don’t freeze well.
For storing prepped meal components: Any size glass container with an airtight lid will work. If you’re just getting started and you plan to prep produce and other meal components (as opposed to individual meals), I would suggest a large set! I own and use almost every item in the 18-piece Pyrex glass container set (affiliate link!). The other large set I see that comes highly recommended is the 24-piece Snapware Glass Container Set (affiliate link!).
I use the bowls in this 8-Piece Pyrex Mixing Bowl Set (affiliate link!) for everything! It is really nice to have large mixing bowls to prepare food, and then be able to slap a lid right on it and put it into the fridge. While not necessarily what you think of for meal prep containers, I store prepped food in these all the time, so I had to include them!
For freezer to oven cooking: High quality glass containers made with borosilicate glass work best! I don’t do much freezer to oven cooking, but I would always be sure to use borosilicate glass. Larger glass containers can get expensive, so these are good to ask for as gifts. This 8-Cup OXO Borosilicate glass container (affiliate link!) would work, as would these 1 compartment glass meal prep containers (affiliate link!) made by Prep Naturals for individual frozen meals.
For prepping & storing storing sauces: I always make my sauces in mason jars so I can put a lid right on the container when I’m done, or put the lid on to shake and mix the sauce. For smaller amounts, I use Half Pint Wide Mouth Mason Jars (affiliate link!). For larger amounts, I’ll use Pint Sized Wide Mouth Mason Jars (affiliate link!).
For storing large amounts of leftovers: Big Pyrex containers are great for this purpose. I use bowls from my 8-piece mixing bowl set to store food all the time – not just for mixing! I also use the larger containers in this 6-piece Pyrex Rectangular Container set (affiliate link!) to store multi-serving leftovers like soups and casseroles. If you don’t have larger containers, it works perfectly fine to portion out leftovers into smaller containers!
For travelers: I have not personally tried this product, but I often see the HotLogic Personal Portable Oven (affiliate link!) highly recommended for people who don’t have access to a microwave but still want a hot meal. It sounds too good to be true, but the reviews say otherwise. I’ve also seen it recommend on Facebook in meal prep groups. I think it actually works! Leave a comment below if you’ve tried it.
For kid lunches: I have not personally tried these products (I don’t have kids), but they are very cute and I see them used all the time on Instagram. There’s the Yumbox Bento Lunch Container for Kids (affiliate link!), and then a metal version called the PlanetBox that are not on Amazon but are super eco-friendly and fun. Other kinds of children lunch boxes exist of course, but I love how these are compartmentalized and perfect for kid meal prep!
For transporting snacks: We most often use Stasher Silicone Food Storage Bags (affiliate link!) for snacks, and occasionally I’ll use my Whiskware Stackable Snack Containers (affiliate link!) if I don’t want the snacks to be crushed. Great for traveling with hard-boiled eggs, berries and nuts!
That’s it for all of my meal prep container recommendations!! If you have any questions about the products I’ve described, please let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer. If you’re looking to get started with meal prep, check out How to Meal Prep for Beginners! It’s a great place to start!
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