Getting started: A guide to Storage Containers for Meal Prep

One of the first things you need to get started with meal prep is the right containers. Storage containers for meal prep should be sizeable, easily transportable, leak-free, and don’t break the bank. 

I’ve been meal prepping for years, and over that time it’s become clear that certain designs and brands are just superior to others. So I’ve made this storage container guide to cover everything you need to know about:

  1. Choosing between glass, stainless steel, or plastic
  2. Finding the right size meal prep containers
  3. Knowing how many containers you’ll need for meal prep
  4. Shopping your meal prep containers

1. Glass, stainless steel, or plastic?

Meal prep containers are available in a variety of materials. Each of them is appropriate depending on your meal prep needs. I personally prefer glass for meals that need to be reheated because they are microwave and oven safe. I prefer to store meals that don’t need to be reheated in stainless steel containers because they are more lightweight than glass and more enjoyable to eat out of than plastic.

While it’s ideal that none of us uses plastic at all, I believe that small changes have massive impacts. So don’t beat yourself up about purchasing a set of plastic meal prep containers. The reality is that those containers are reusable and will end up saving the environment big time when it comes to the packaging you would have consumed if you shopped and ate out more regularly, as opposed to meal prepping. 

I store food such as salad dressing, cold snacks, side salads and even batches of muffins in BPA free plastic containers with a lid with snap-lock. They are lightweight and come in all the sizes I need.

Here’s a list of the pros and cons of the different materials of meal prep containers, so that you can make your own informed decision.

Glass

Pros of glass containers

  • Reheat friendly (microwave and oven safe)
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Doesn’t stain or absorb smells
  • Suitable for tableware (it looks neat enough to serve and eat out of)
  • Durable
  • If they have a lid with snap-lock, they are usually 100% airtight and leak-proof
  • Safer for the environment compared to plastic containers

Cons of glass containers

  • Heavy (heavier than stainless steel and plastic)
  • Breakable if dropped on a hard surface
  • More expensive than plastic

Stainless steel

Pros of stainless steel containers

  • Lightweight
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Doesn’t stain or absorb smells
  • Suitable for tableware (it looks neat to serve and eat out of)
  • Durable and almost unbreakable
  • If they have a leak-resistant lid, they are leak-proof
  • Safer for the environment compared to plastic containers

Cons of stainless steel containers

  • Not reheat friendly
  • More expensive than glass and plastic

Plastic

Pros of plastic containers

  • If BPA free, reheat friendly (microwave-safe)
  • Dishwasher safe (to be 100% safe, put them on the top rack of your dishwasher)
  • Lightweight
  • If they have a lid with snap-lock, they are usually leak-proof
  • Less expensive than glass and stainless steel

Cons of plastic containers:

  • Can stain easily and absorb smells
  • Less eco-friendly than glass and stainless steel containers

2. Finding the right size meal prep container

Main meals

One of the most-asked questions I receive on social media is, “which size meal prep containers do you use?”. Since this question has a rather long answer, I thought I’d sum it all up in one thorough blog post.

Personally, I consume moderate-sized main meals and store these meals (and eat them out of) 630 ml glass Lock & Lock containers for meals that need to be reheated. For meals that don’t need to be reheated, I opt for 850 ml stainless steel U-Konserve containers. No reheat meals are usually higher in volume, because they contain raw veggies, hence the larger size of the container.

My partner, however, consumes large-sized main meals (I double the VMPS recipes for him) and enjoys consuming meals that need to be reheated in 1L glass Lock & Lock containers. He’s not the biggest fan of no-reheat meals, so he doesn’t have different meal prep containers for those meals.

If you follow the Vegan Meal Prep Sunday recipes, then using these containers sizes will fit your main meals perfectly. If you are still figuring out which meal size is appropriate for you, then it can help to experiment using different sizes of affordable meal prep containers. Once you have figured out which size fits you best, you can upgrade to more durable containers.

Snacks, side salads and salad dressing

For snacks and side salads, I use 200 ml or 400 ml Sistema containers. If you follow me on social media, you will know that I love simple snacks and side salads. Side salads help add different textures and more raw foods to your meals. I thus recommend investing in these sizes of containers along with your main meal containers. Lastly, for salad dressings and sauces, I use 100 ml Lock & Lock containers. They have the tightest snap lock and will never leak on you.

3. How many containers do I need to start meal prepping?

If you are new to meal prep and are not sure how many containers to buy to start your journey, I recommend starting with six main meal containers. This will allow you to prep two different dishes (three breakfast meals and three lunch meals or three lunch meals and three dinner meals), which is a great place to start.

I hope this guide has helped you reach a decision about which meal prep containers are best as you gear up for your meal prep journey! I have been using these brands for years, so I can truly say they have my stamp of approval, so follow the links below to begin shopping with ease!

4. Shop your meal prep containers

Glass

  • 630 ml | Lock & Lock | Amazon
  • 1L containers | Lock & Lock | Amazon

Stainless steel

Plastic

  • 100 ml Lock & Lock containers | Amazon
  • 200 ml Sistema containers | Amazon
  • 400 ml Sistema containers | Amazon

Don’t forget to share your meal prep journey with me! Use the #VeganMealPrepSunday hashtag so I can see how your meals turned out. Happy meal prepping! 

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