Best Meal Prep Containers 2020

You have planned your recipes for the week-ahead and ready to start cooking, but where do you store your food and how can you keep it fresh? I got you covered, as this guide walks you through the best meal prep containers of 2020.

Storing and reheating your food is an important stage which you need to get right and choosing quality meal prep containers plays a vital role to ensure your food stays fresh.

Once you allow your food to cool down, within two hours, you need a quality food storage container which is beneficial if you are taking them to work every week.

This guide is dedicated to help you find the best lunch box which ticks all the boxes for a quality meal prep.

The best meal prep containers of 2020

Note: I will monitor this from month to month.

13 Piece Glass Meal Prep Containers

13 piece glass meal prep containers

Pros:

  • Great value for money
  • Variety of sizes to store ingredients
  • Made from borosilicate glass
  • Smart locking feature
  • BPA-free
  • Oven proof

Cons:

  • Requires more storage space
  • Lack variety for high volume make-ahead meals

In terms of value of money, this bundle is really hard to beat. At a first glance, the price might seem high but you get a 13 piece glass with a variety of sizes which works out extremely budget-friendly. These are ideal if you want to store ingredients to reuse with recipes during the week, as well as reheating your meals. This product is made from strong glass which is durable and long-lasting, which means this will only require a one-off purchase, rather than a repetitive purchase. However, if you plan to prepare a high volume of make-ahead meals, then you might be limited because this set comes in different shapes and sizes.

2 & 3 Compartment Glass Meal Prep Containers

glass meal prep containers

Pros:

  • 2 and 3 compartments
  • Customizable portion control
  • Ideal for make-ahead meals and storage
  • Made from borosilicate glass
  • Smart locking feature
  • BPA-free
  • Oven proof

Cons:

  • High price
  • Only beneficial if you want compartments

This glass bundle is ideal for make-ahead meals which encourages you to manage your portions with multiple compartments. I love the fact you have the option to choose between either two or three compartments because not all meals are the same and it allows you to be flexible. It will also encourage you to add more fruit and vegetables to your meals! However, if you do not want any compartments, you will have to search for a variation which should be available.

30 pack, Plastic Meal Prep bowls

Pros:

  • Great value for money
  • Ideal for one-pot recipes and make-ahead meals
  • Space for larger meals
  • Freezer and dishwasher friendly
  • Air tight lid
  • Ideal for individuals and families
  • Premium looking design

Cons:

  • Lid might seem flimsy
Bento style meal prep bowls

These bento style bowls are again amazing value for money considering you get a pack of 30 which is enough space for large meals and one-pot recipes. You no need need to worry about compartments because there is enough space to add your protein, carbohydrates, fats and veggies/fruits. They are easily stackable too.

3 Compartment, 20 pack, Plastic Meal Prep Containers

20 pack meal prep containers

Pros:

  • Great value for money
  • Ideal for managing portions
  • Freezer and dishwasher friendly
  • Air tight lid
  • Comes with 20x sauce cups, 20x forks and packing bag
  • Ideal for individuals and families

Cons:

  • Only beneficial if you want three compartment containers
  • Lid might seem flimsy

This bundle has been my favourite for a long time but this 20 pack deal (I have a 10 pack) is fairly recent and is an incredible deal for the price. As a result, if you have a family or decide to meal prep frequently, this is for you. It is perfect for portion control and is very lightweight. I can confirm that the lids will firmly lock and it is air-tight to even keep guacamole fresh! It may seem flimsy if you carelessly remove the lid because it is supposed to be locked and sealed. This bundle also feature sauce cups which I find handy for salad dressing and marinades.

Meal prep box with chicken burrito fillings
Example of a meal I made using this box

1 Compartment, 10 pack, Plastic Meal Prep Containers

1 compartment plastic meal prep container

Pros:

  • Great value for money
  • Ideal for one-pot recipes and make-ahead meals
  • Freezer and dishwasher friendly
  • Air tight lid
  • Comes with 20x sauce cups, 20x forks and packing bag
  • Ideal for individuals and families

Cons:

  • No compartments
  • Lid might seem flimsy

I use this bundle regularly because I cook many one-pot recipes and prefer to mix my food on one plate or container. This has also allowed me to replicated takeaway favourites such as sweet and sour crispy chicken, or home made favourites such as spaghetti bolognese, into a make-ahead lunch for work. The main advantage of this box is that you can fill more food, compared to the containers with compartments, due to the lid and space available. This is ideal if you want a lunch which keeps you full. You will be amazed how much food you can squeeze in here and it remains lightweight enough to carry in your work bag.

Sweet and sour chicken in a meal prep box
Example of a meal I made using this box

For example, a five pack of glass containers will cost around £20 / $24, whereas a bundle of twenty plastic containers will cost around £15 / $18.

How to pick the right Meal Prep container

There are many types of food storage containers which serve different purposes but I will be specifically talking about meal prep containers in this post.

These are designed to help keep your food fresh as possible for the upcoming week which can also be reheated and reused again.

It is important to figure out which type of product is best suited to you because there are plenty of variations such as glass and plastic material, not to mention, there are several compartments, shapes and sizes.

These are better than the regular lunch box, which you see in supermarkets, because they are specifically designed for better storage which is perfect for travelling, office workers and even a better replacement for kids lunch boxes at school.

Benefits of meal prep containers and what to look out for

As I have mentioned, the good news is that these food storage containers are specifically built for meal prep to easily stack in your fridge and prevent sogginess by keeping your food staying fresh.

Before you a buy a meal prep container, it is good to look out for the benefits and what to look out for in the product descriptions in case you want to search yourself.

Today, you should see the terms: BPA free, FDA approved, toxin free, air tight, leak resistant and so on.

But what do they all mean?

Is BPA free as safe as we think?

And what separates the best from the rest?

Here is what you need to know.

1) Encourages portion control

It is easy to overlook how we often overfill our plates and disregard portion control because as the old saying goes, our eyes are bigger than your belly, and when you are hungry it is likely you will fill up more than you need.

Meal prep containers will help control your portions which is easier to manage calories and build a balanced healthy meal.

It is also a money saving hack because you can evenly distribute a large cooked meal into several portions for the week which brings down your cost per meal extremely low.

For example, if you cook a large pot of spaghetti bolognese, these can be stored into multiple containers which gives you the flexibility to use for the following week or freeze for the month ahead.

As I have mentioned, it is a key strategy to losing weight because meal planning can help you determine the number of calories you will be eating per week and this allows you create macro-friendly meals.

For example, the three compartment container can encourage a macronutrient split as per below.

Pie charts showing macro splits
Source

By focusing on your goal, you have the freedom to adjust your meals accordingly which is why portion control is highly beneficial for many people attempting to losing weight or building muscle.

2) Perfect for storage

If you are going to prepare a month’s worth of food, chances are you will need storage space for your containers to fit inside your freezer.

This works in the same way as storing food in your fridge per week.

They are built to be leak-proof too which is great to store in your bag for work, gym or travel.

3) IT will keep your food fresh

Always lookout for containers with air tight lids because that is what will keep your food staying super fresh.

This is why I am comfortable for allowing my meals to last up to four to five days most of the time because the lids are tightly sealed.

The quality of seal is essential and it is a huge factor into ensuring the container is durable and locks properly which is what you should always look out for.

One hack which I often encourage is add a slice of lemon or lime to your container or individual compartment because not only does it prevent bad odours of certain foods, but it keeps it super fresh!

4) You will save save time

Meal prep is naturally time saving because you are doing all the work in bulk to save time for the week ahead.

This prevents you having to repetitively cook everyday which can help you accumulate many of hours of spare time to do whatever you want.

Containers help enormously because your meals are already packed,

5) They are Freezer friendly too

In case you plan to freeze your meals, always look out for freezer-friendly in the product description, which in most cases will be anyway.

Freezer meals can be convenient for long lasting dates and is handy in case you made more food than planned.

I rarely plan to freeze but there has been occasions when I have had spare meals which I needed to freeze for a later date.

This is dramatically helps prevent food wastage.

6) Great value for money

The good news is that meal prep containers are fantastic value for money because they are reusable, portable and designed to be durable.

You can buy a pack of 20 for £15.99 / $19.79 which is quite cheap per container, however it does depend on the type of material you prefer.

Types of meal prep containers

There are two main types which are easily available online which are plastic and glass.

They both have their pros and cons, but which one is better?

1) Plastic meal prep containers

Pros:

  • Budget-friendly
  • Often sold in bundles
  • Easily portable
  • Very lightweight
  • Reusable
  • Variation of shapes and sizes: compartments, bowls, etc
  • Microwavable
  • Freezer friendly
  • Can be used for dishwashers
  • BPA-free

Cons:

  • Shorter longevity (advised to dispose after 10 times of use)
  • May seem flimsy
  • Heat resistant not as good as glass containers
  • Not always resistant to odors
  • Cannot, and should not, use in the oven
  • “BPA-free” but alternatives might not be better.

2) Glass meal prep containers

The new containers are designed to be stackable and space saving, which can help you maximize the room in your fridge or freezer, and help prevent overfilling.

Pros:

  • Better longevity
  • Better value for money
  • Eco-friendly
  • Toxin-free
  • Oven-proof
  • Microwavable
  • Non-porus surface
  • Heat resistant
  • Better for the dishwasher
  • Freezer friendly
  • Resistant to odors

Cons:

  • More expensive compared to plastic containers (for a one off purchase)
  • Might not always be ideal for travel (risky if it shatters)
  • Heavyweight
  • Not great for photography!

Are all plastic meal prep containers really Toxin-free?

When meal prep containers were first sold online, there was little transparency in regards to the materials used and whether they are toxin-free.

I’m specifically referring to plastic.

Today you should see the terms “BPA free” in the product description which is an indication that it is safe to buy and reuse.

BPA stands for Bisphenol A, and this is a chemical used to make certain plastics, such as polycarbonate plastics, which are commonly used in food containers.

The problem is that this chemical can seep into your food which contains health effects, particularly pregnant women and infants.

The meal prep containers listed on this page are BPA-free which means during the manufacturing process, the BPA is removed.

But are they still safe to buy? According to new research, there is growing evidence that BPA-free alternatives may not be as safe as consumers think, and although you see the terms BPA free in the product title, it might not mean it is totally chemically free.

The bottom line is that you might want to stop reheating your food in microwave by directly using plastic containers.

Does this mean you should avoid buying plastic containers?

While it is advisable not to heat food from a plastic container in a microwave, they still have plenty of uses and benefits.

They are great for food storage and keeping food fresh, and because they are lightweight and portable, they are ideal to carry in your work or school bag.

You can empty the food onto a plate and heat it in the microwave instead, which is better because that ensures your food will be evenly cooked.

Also, they can be useful for eating cold foods such as salads or fruits. While glass containers do not have this issue, it should not totally rule out using a plastic version.

However, here is why glass containers is the clear winner and better value for money:

At first glance, the glass meal prep containers may seem more expensive opposed to its plastic counterparts.

In this case it is easier to choose plastic over glass because you will be spending less and you could be led to believe that you are saving money.

However, the longevity of plastic is not as strong compared to glass, and if you are meal prepping regularly, you will most likely need to purchase another pack, which ultimately means you have spent more on plastic containers.

Sticking with glass will last longer because you will be purchasing a better material that is more durable and long-lasting.

Not to mention, it is safer to reheat in the microwave and far more convenient in this respect.

You need to remember that products are cheap for a reason and buying quality is better value for money.

But, here is why and how I use both:

I meal prep every week, twice a week, and I like to use both plastic and glass because they both have their pros and cons.

When I travel to work, I get the train in the morning and I run 6KM on the way back, and plastic is ideal because it is lightweight, easy to carry in my bag and is more durable than you think.

I avoid microwaving the plastic container directly, and instead

If I carry glass, I fear it would shatter in my backpack.

However, on weekends, my first choice is glass which can directly go in the oven instead of the microwave and is much easier to clean.

Therefore, choose the product which suits you.

Want to learn more about meal prep?

how to meal prep graphic

Click here to read my full guide about meal prep and how to get started.

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