Meal prep containers are a must when commuting to the office. Homecooking saves me spending money on a sad sandwich, plus, I love it when colleagues compliment my domestic goddess-like skills.
There are so many great food storage containers, but plastic takeout boxes are not it. And just like socks in the dryer that go missing, I haven't got time (or energy) to play a game of go fish with lids and containers. Not to mention my rage when they get stuck between my kitchen drawers or warp in the dishwasher.
Enough hating on them, because I've been on the lookout for more useful kitchen items. So whether you want an eco-friendly solution, a colorful container, or something to make packed lunches look pretty, we've got some tasty picks to pack up your eats.
9 meal prep containers that minimize food waste
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Freezer safe and fancy
Sizes: 6 sizes (1-4 cup capacity)
Colors: Pink, purple and blue lids
Made from: Glass and BPA-free plastic
There's nothing better than when you're too tired to cook, only to find an already-prepared meal that just needs defrosting. And, what beauties these containers are with their pastel-colored tops. If you live with people who have specific dietary requirements or allergies, you could easily "label" or color code their dishes with a dedicated lid. This is a mixed set with the smallest vessel holding 1 cup of food and the largest able to accommodate 4 cups.
From $9.94 / £8.38
Slimline and sustainable
Sizes: 1 size
Made from: Natural wheat fiber
Most of us want to refrigerate our lunches once we get into the office. So it makes sense to have a slender container to keep your food in. These 3-in-1 stackable containers made from wheat fiber material are not just super sustainable kitchen picks, but they look very Instagrammable too and can slot into your handbag or rucksack easily. Each comes with its own fork and spoon to gobble up your gourmet eats...or even leftover takeout — no judgment here.
$25 / £24
For soups and salads
Sizes: 2 (16oz / 24oz)
Made from: Borosilicate glass and LFGB-certified silicone
Pastel tones are a great way to season your kitchen with color, especially when all your kitchen appliances (including said microwave you're reheating leftovers in) are either stainless steel, white or black. These leakproof bowls are great for soups and salads to keep your lunch or leftovers fresh, and most importantly, in the bowl. Shotgun the blush and mint ones!
For keeping your food flaming hot
Sizes: 1 size
Made from: Stainless steel
You might be mistaken for thinking that Crockpot™ just makes good slow cookers, and that's OK. Because what we're showing you is essentially a portable food warmer. Yes, that's right, no queuing for the microwave, which means no hotspots or having to go next after someone has made the unforgivable sin of nuking fish in the communal kitchen. What's more, no more stained plastic from spaghetti or chili!
$8.96 / £9.95
To keep your food fresher than ever
Sizes: 4 sizes
Colors: 1 size
Made from: BPA-free plastic and silicone
Editor-approved, these Fresh & Save containers by Zwilling are brilliant if you like batch cooking for the week and you want your third meal to taste as fresh as the first. Bacteria thrives when oxygen is present, so by creating a vacuum you can keep food for up to five times longer. And if you like to marinate your food, you can do it in as little as half an hour! Just bear in mind you need to buy the vacuum pump (opens in new tab) with it, or you might be better off investing in the entire set.
For separating your sustenance
Sizes: 2 sizes
Made from: Polypropyleen (PP), Acrylonitril butadieen styreen (ABS), Thermoplastisch elastomeer (TPE)
Trust us, you won't get that "Smonday" feeling when you've got the contents of this meal prep container to look forward to at work. This BPA-free container has a 1.5 liter capacity to cram in everything you like, including hard-boiled eggs you've cooked in your air fryer and other healthy tidbits. It even comes with its own fork so you won't have to hoard one at your desk... Just note you can't put it in the microwave or freezer, so it's best reserved for summertime snacks and lunches.
Budget but brilliant
Sizes: 5 sizes
Colors: 3 mixed-color sets
Made from: Silicone
If you're a Ziploc fan through and through, take note of these silicone bags. I've been guilty of using those multipack plastic bags as single-use food storage *slaps wrist*, but I wouldn't dare throw these rainbow-colored beauties in the trash. They're with me 'till I die goddammit! These are so great for a small kitchen or fridge where real estate is a rarity, and boxes and bowls are simply too bulky. If every day you're shuffling (and not in a good way), take a look at our guide on how to organize Tupperware, so you're not playing Tetris.
A bamboo box for eco households
Made from: recycled bamboo
We love a good sushi bar lunch... but the price of rolled fish, avo, and rice has gone up lately. So why not create your own oriental-inspired midday meal in this recycled bamboo box? If maki and nigiri aren't your thing, you can switch things up with something that takes your fancy. It's practically fusion, and the material ticks the boxes for eco-friendliness!
For carting around your snacks
Sizes: 2 sizes
Made from: BPA-free plastic
If you're that person that wishes McDonald's served up their burger pickles as a menu item — you'll love this! This drainable food storage container means you don't have to stick your hand in a jar to access those briny bites. Pickled onions, olives, and sundried veggies in oil (think roasted tomatoes, peppers, and artichoke hearts) can all be picked at, without getting greasy or smelly hands.
Is glass or plastic better for meal prep containers?
"Although glass offers the convenience of being able to see through the material, tempered glass can break if the impact is hard enough, so that’s where a reusable plastic food container could come in handy, especially if you’re on-the-go," says Diahann Lugo, Culinary expert at Tupperware (opens in new tab).
"If you take your prepped meals from the fridge to your work bag, to your car – or other modes of transportation – then into your office. This is where reusable plastic containers, like the Tupperware CrystalWave (opens in new tab) or the Tupperware Vent N Serve products (opens in new tab), serve as great options. What’s great about the Vent N Serve products is that you can store, prep, freeze, and microwave food in these containers, which makes meal prep and eating super simple,"
"I love using our Tupperware PremiaGlass for produce after cleaning them so I can use throughout the week and being able to see through the container is great. Of course, it looks beautiful in the fridge too. If I’m going to take some of this produce for a picnic or meal on the go this is where our Big Wonders Bowls or even Lunch-It containers are wonderful options, especially because there is a divider and can help you to easily portion your meal per ingredient."
How do you transport meal prep?
"If I’m going to take something for a picnic or meal on the go, I prefer to transfer it to a reusable plastic food container to virtually eliminate the concern that it could potentially break; this is where our Big Wonders Bowls (opens in new tab) or even Lunch-It (opens in new tab) containers are wonderful options, especially because there's a divider and can help you to portion your meal per ingredient easily," says Lugo.
Are meal prep containers worth it?
“As reducing food waste and saving money continues to be top of mind for 2023, meal preparation containers that help with this will be top of the shopping list," says Lydia Mallinson, Content Marketing Manager at STAUB (opens in new tab) and ZWILLING (opens in new tab).
"Vacuum sealable food storage containers that extend the life of fresh ingredients and also enable you to digitally track use by dates are a great way of keeping the kitchen not only super organized, but also more efficient and less wasteful. Plus, there’s the added bonus of extra money saved by not letting food go to waste and utilizing every inch of leftovers,"
"Compared to regular, non-vacuum sealable meal prep containers, the advantage of vacuum sealing is that it significantly reduces the amount of air surrounding the food. This lowers the oxygen content and delays oxidization and the aerobic process. As the vacuum-sealed box or bag has minimal air content, there’s a reduction in moisture - so no more mold or limp ingredients. What’s more, food’s flavor, taste, vitamins, and nutrients are all preserved for longer - perfect for everything from meat and fish to dairy, herbs, soups, and sauces. For best results, allow food to cool to room temperature before sealing and avoid opening the lid unnecessarily to prevent air entering inside.”