Here are the BEST Meal Prep Containers and Tools that help me keep on track with my weekly meal prep! Say goodbye to takeout and hello to healthy homemade meals that save you time and money! (Updated 2020)
Meal Prep Containers Don't Have to Be Complicated
Have you ever wanted to be more organized when it comes to your work week lunches?
Well, buying the proper meal prep containers doesn't have to be complicated! I have listed out the best meal prep containers for the job, and NO I have NOT given you a million different options to choose from. Just the basics, so you can buy what you need, leave what you don't, and get right down to prepping with ease!
Maybe you decide to start creating just one or two beginner meal prep recipes a week, like a sheet pan recipe or egg cups. Well, when it comes to sticking to your weekly meal prep, you're going to want to make sure you have the right tools for the job.
The meal prep containers listed below will get you through the work week with ease and will last longer than those crappy plastic containers that seem doomed to get lost at work or end up cracked and in the garbage.
Not all Meal Prep Containers Are the Same
I prefer to stock my kitchen with all glass containers – plain square glass meal prep containers work perfectly as storage for most recipes, but I also like to have some bento boxes on hand so you can store a meal and a couple of snacks/sides/sauces inside the same container separately.
Glass meal prep containers are safe to reheat and fit more easily in the dishwasher to boot so they are my number one choice of storage for most recipes. Plastic tends to break more easily, and it's not always dishwasher or microwave safe but they are cheaper so you have to weigh your options and what's more important to you.
Do a Meal Prep Container Audit
As a first plan of action, you should go through your kitchen and get rid of old, cracked containers or ones that are missing lids and dedicate a generous amount of cupboard space for your meal prep containers. From there, you can take an inventory of what you have and what you still need, and it will be so much easier for you to meal prep each week.
Here are THE BEST Meal Prep Containers and Kitchen Tools:
Listed below are my top recommended meal prep containers – I have all of these on hand in my kitchen and they help my food last longer and make it easier to store and reheat my food. With everything from glass containers to bento boxes, mason jars, slow cooker liners and more, these meal prep tools will make your meal prepping go a lot smoother!
Weekly Meal Prep Plan
If you're new to meal prep and need a plan to get started, you'll want to download my FREE 4-Week Meal Prep Plan below. It's going to give you 4 weeks of meals, 4 weeks of recipes, full meal prep plans to help you prep ahead for the week, all nutritional info, filled out grocery lists and more! Once you have your meal prep containers in hand, get the plan for what to cook!
Glass meal prep bowls – these are my fave because you can easily reheat your leftovers in the microwave and they're dishwasher safe! These really are the only meal prep containers you need. They fit the perfect amount of food for one serving, and they fit very neatly inside a backpack/purse/gym bag so they transport well. And they don't leak either! Forget the plastic options and all those wacky sizes of containers because these are perfect for the fridge or freezer and are a great way to portion out your food.
Glass round containers – Once you have your meal prep containers for leftover meals, you'll also want to get a variety pack of containers for other purposes. Sometimes you'll only have a half portion of food left that you want to save, or you'll want to store a sauce or side dish in a smaller container. Whatever the reason, you will also want a bit of variety in your size of containers. Again, I recommend you go with glass here because they will last you a lot longer, they're dishwasher/microwave safe and they just make your fridge look a lot more organized. You can easily see what food you have in the fridge, which will help you eat it up and know what you have on hand.
Mason jars – these are great for salads where you're layering a bunch of different ingredients. Dressing goes in the bottom with your protein and acts as a marinade, while your lettuce stays fresh up top! I like having a variety of mason jars on hand, from the smaller ones for homemade dressings and sauces, to larger ones for salads. Medium-sized mason jars are great for yogurt parfaits and smoothies. Again, you can easily see what's in the container and they are spill-resistant containers that won't break like plastic will.
Salad containers – if you're not a fan of the mason jar, these salad containers are key for separating your dressing! They are a bit fancier and one of those optional choices for purchasing, so don't feel as though you need to have these in your kitchen to meal prep properly. They are just a cool option (or gift idea!) for the person who takes salad for lunch a lot.
Bento box – these are so fun for your work week lunches and are super kid friendly! Keep everything separated with a bento box, snacks and all! I recommend these if you like separating your ingredients out and don't like to take snacks in separate containers or bags. Like the salad containers, these are an optional add-on for your kitchen, not something that's mandatory for you to have to meal prep.
Foil Containers – these are SO perfect for freezer-friendly foods. I'll make a big batch of lasagna once or twice a year and freeze it in these containers, then I have a hot meal that can be heated in the oven after a long workday. You can freeze a ton of food in foil containers if you're planning on reheating food in the oven – just make sure to label the top of the container when freezing!
Freezer bags – they are so perfect for freezing a bunch of meals that you can thaw on the counter and then dump in the crock pot. They are disposable though, so they are something you need to buy more and more of. Plastic can also be wasteful, so I've listed another option that gets the same job done below.
Reusable silicone food bags – These reusable food bags get the same job done as the plastic freezer and sandwich bags but these are made with a safer material and you can re-use them for less waste! They're freezer, microwave, oven and dishwasher safe so you can use them in just about any way possible. Fun fact: they are also waterproof and the company that sells them claims that you can also use them to keep your phone dry if you're out and about near water. Pretty cool huh?!
Ziploc bag holder – these are awesome for when you're making a marinade and need to put your chicken breasts in the bag with no mess. They're also awesome for if you're making some freeze ahead recipes. You can just add all the ingredients one at a time! They will work with the disposable plastic freezer bags, or they will work with the silicone bags linked above.
Tongs – I know this tool seems super basic, but tongs really help with plating and putting all your leftovers away! I recommend having at least two or three on hand for meal prep, along with wooden spoons and silicone spatulas.
Sheet pans and muffin tins – you can never have too many of these on hand! I like to get a variety pack so I can cook a whole bunch of different meals. The round cake pans work for quiches and frittatas, while the sheet pans help with sheet pan meals. The muffin tins of course are great for muffins and egg bites.
Meal Prep Appliances
There are probably some meal prep tools that you don't have enough of (like metal sheet pans or a rice cooker, for instance) and having these ready to go in your kitchen can seriously minimize the amount of time you spend in the kitchen every week.
I would be lost without my Instant Pot or Crock Pot when it comes to meal prepping hands off, so I've also listed some additional tools that I recommend if you're looking to cut back on your actual hands-on cooking time.
Kitchen Scale – Know exactly how much meat you're using for a recipe with this handy kitchen scale. It comes in handy for portioning out all your food when you're not sure how to divide everything.
Vitamix – I absolutely LOVE my Vitamix! It helps me make homemade sauces in a flash and you can often freeze leftover sauces for future recipes. It's also really great for smoothies and protein shakes, and it crushes ice like a pro. Though not often thought of as a meal prep tool, a blender is a great basic to have in your kitchen.
Immersion blender – An immersion blender is a great tool to have in your kitchen for soups – you can blend right inside the pot without worrying about transferring to a blender. It's also great for sauces if you just don't have room for a blender in your kitchen.
Rice Cooker – a rice cooker can cook more than just rice! Prep your quinoa, couscous and other whole grains ahead of time with ease. No second guessing or burning either! I know it probably seems like one of those meal prep tools that you don't really need, and something that will clutter up your kitchen, but I use mine very frequently and it takes the guesswork out of cooking grains. It's handy to just set it and forget it while I prep other things.
Instant Pot – I would be lost without my Instant Pot! It can quickly batch cook gigantic recipes so if I'm in a rush or have no time to cook a certain week, I will make a big batch of chicken and rice in it and I've got lunch all week long! Like the rice cooker, it's a set it and forget it type of thing. Not mandatory to have in your kitchen by any means, but it certainly helps.
Crock pot – Crockpots are a lifesaver for busy weeknights – you can cook everything while you're at work and come home to a hot meal. Much like the Instant Pot, this appliance is a dump it and forget it type of deal, and you can also meal prep giant batches of food at a time by using it.
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