So you're going to start meal prepping, and of course, the biggest concern is what you'll be eating, but there is another important consideration to keep in mind — how should you store the prepared meals?
Without containers, there’s no way to store and carry your food — which makes containers a pretty important piece in your meal preparation toolkit.
Let's be honest, you may not know where to start. Should you invest in expensive glass meal-prep containers? Or is it okay to use leftover takeout containers? And how many do you actually need to buy?
That's why we're bringing you answers to these questions and more...
What should I look for in meal prep containers?
One of the biggest debates in meal prep is whether it matters what material your containers are made from. And it's normal – there are so many choices of materials for containers: metal, silicone, glass, or plastic — it really comes down to personal preference and what fits your lifestyle.
Glass and metal meal-prep containers are obviously better for the environment, but when it comes to our bodies, all are safe if you know what to look for.
Do you want to be able to reheat your meal in the container?
Plastic containers that are BPA-free, and made for food storage, are totally safe to use and put in the microwave. Food-safe containers will have the numbers 1, 2, 4, or 5 on the bottom. This indicates the type of plastic used to make the container. If a container has 3, 6, or 7 on the bottom, it's not safe to use.
Whatever material you choose for your meal prep containers, make sure they will work for you.
Right size ✅
There are many different size and shape options out there for meal-prep containers, but what's most important is that they fit the meals you want to prepare and fit into your fridge or freezer easily.
If you are following a meal prep routine to stop yourself from buying unhealthy lunches, then make sure you are adhering to the right portion sizes. Otherwise, you might end up either making too much food and having it go to waste or accidentally overeating. Buying containers that are too large can make it more likely that you will pack a larger meal than you really need. If you’re trying to avoid overeating, stick to a container size that fits your meal without having lots of extra space!
A suitable layout 🍶
While single-compartment meal-prep containers work just fine for most people, there are loads of containers with compartments to help keep meat and vegetables separate. They're also good for the times you want to reheat part of a meal, but not the whole thing, or want to keep salad ingredients separate to avoid sogginess.
Freezer-safe material 🧊
Not all containers have the same rules for reheating, washing, and freezing. When you're buying containers, it will say on the package if they can be frozen.
Meal prep food safety is important – the containers should seal properly to reduce bacteria growth. If you plan to freeze meals in their containers, they need to be safe for freezing.
Leak-proof lids 🍼
This is another area where paying a little more for your meal prep containers is worthwhile, because you definitely want leak-proof lids on your containers!
How many meal-prep containers do you need?
Many people are unsure of exactly how many meal-prep containers they need when they're first getting started. Ultimately, it depends on how many meals you plan to make ahead of time.
To find the number of containers you really need, do a realistic count of how many meals you can see yourself prepping each week and go from there. You can always get more if you need more!
The best thing about investing in good containers is that they last a long time.