Meal prepping can help you save money, help you to eat healthier and can also help you to lose weight.
If you are finding you don’t have time to cook in the evening but have some time at the weekends then it is worth investigating this phenomenon. There is a whole world of meal prep enthusiasts and some who claim to owe their considerable weight loss success on meal prepping alone.
So if you’re reading this post I guess that you are already thinking of starting to meal prep. Congratulations, you are on your way to a healthier new you!
Of course, the first thing you should invest in are some containers to store your meal prepped food. There are so many different types to choose from it can be difficult to decide what is best.
I’m sure you have a lot of questions such as what type and size should meal prep containers be. Read on to find out!
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What makes the perfect meal prep container?
Before you pop out to purchase your new meal prep containers, check out my buying checklist to help choose the best for you.
- Leak-free. If you are going to store liquids then this is a definite requirement. You don’t want salad dressings etc. leeching out into your bag!
- Air-tight. This is very important because food lasts longer when the container is air-tight and it stops other smells in your fridge from creeping in.
- See-through. It is very convenient if the material is transparent. You won’t have to keep opening lids to check the contents which leads to the food lasting that bit longer.
- BPA-free plastic. If your container includes plastic (glass containers usually have plastic lids) check it is BPA-free (more on that later).
- Microwave safe. Important if you will need to reheat your food later.
- Dishwasher safe. It helps if you can bung your container in a dishwasher.
- Freezer safe. Most plastic and glass containers will be freezer safe.
- Oven-safe. If you need to reheat in the oven then you definitely need this box ticked.
- Big enough to hold 3 cups of food. For a single portion, your meal prep container needs to be big enough to hold 3 cups of food which is about 820mls.
Plastic VS Glass
Choosing what your meal prep containers are to be made of is the first decision you need to make.
I actually have both kinds. I use plastic when I know there will be no need to reheat the food, and glass when I know I will want to put them in the oven or microwave.
If you don’t have a fridge or a microwave at work check out my meal prep lunch ideas that stay fresh without a fridge. Plastic would work great for you in that case.
Are plastic meal prep containers safe?
BPA (Bisphenol A) is an organic compound used to manufacture plastics that contain polycarbonate. That includes things like food and drink containers and it can also be found lining metal products like food cans and bottle tops.
BPA hasn’t been banned from use, unfortunately. It is said to have carcinogenic properties and so is best avoided.
You can find out if a plastic contains BPA by checking the number stamped on the back. The numbers 1,2 and 5 are considered BPA free. If you see the number 7 then there is a possibility it contains BPA.
The good news is that plastic containers marketed for meal prepping are usually advertised as BPA-free so it isn’t difficult to source the safer kinds.
Why choose plastic meal prep containers?
If you can find BPA free containers (which isn’t hard to do) then you will find that there are certain advantages to going for plastic over glass.
- Weight. Plastic is lighter than glass and is often easier to stack in your fridge than glass.
- Shatterproof. There is no danger of shattering or cracking plastic like there is with glass.
- Price. You might find that plastic versions are cheaper.
Why choose glass meal prep containers?
Glass containers can go in the oven whereas plastic obviously cannot. If you pick borosilicate glass then it is fine to put it in the oven from frozen.
Here’s where you might want to choose glass over plastic.
- Better for the environment. Plastic waste is a worldwide problem. Going for glass means that the impact is less.
- More durable. Your glass meal prep container is likely to last longer than plastic.
- Oven safe. If you think you will want to bake your meal prep in the oven then it is useful to choose glass because there will be no need to transfer it to an ovenproof dish.
- Doesn’t stain. Glass doesn’t stain like plastic can.
- Doesn’t retain smells. Glass also doesn’t tend to retain smells.
How many meal prep containers do you need?
It is best to start with a small number and work your way up depending on how you get on with meal prepping and how many meals per week you find you need to prepare.
Both of the containers types that I recommend below come in a set of five which is a good number to start with.
What size should meal prep containers be?
For single servings, a good size for a meal prep container is around 820mls which is about 3 cups of food. This should be enough space to store a single meal.
Bento style containers have dividers that allow you to keep different foods separate which is great if you have things you want to keep from getting soggy or you don’t want liquids to mix. Or you want to reheat part of a meal.
The best meal prep containers
Good quality meal prep containers will last longer. It’s worth paying a little more for the best quality. I have picked out two that are the perfect size for single servings. They both have an 820ml – 840ml capacity which is around 3 cups of food.
A lot of the products available come in multiple sizes but for a single serving, you only need one size. It’s a waste to get another size unless you plan to use that size for something else. Both of these allow you to buy a set of five in one size which is perfect to get you started.
Glass Meal Prep Containers with Transparent, Steam Vent Lids
These glass meal prep containers are a perfect single portion size. The containers are made from borosilicate glass which makes them safe to use from the freezer to the oven. The tops have a snap-lock mechanism which makes them leak-proof and air-tight. They also have a steam vent which allows you to put hot food in them.
These containers stack very well in the fridge. However, they don’t stack so well inside each other so you will need a bit of space to store them.
These containers have an 840ml capacity which is approximately 3 cups of food.
Sistema 82002 To Go Multi Split Meal & Food Prep Containers
If you prefer the convenience of plastic, these meal prep containers take up minimal space in your fridge and the plastic is BPA free. The tops are snap locking leak-free and air-tight. They also have dividers inside them to keep different kinds of foods separate.
These containers have an 820ml capacity or about 3 cups of food.