Buying Guide for Food Storage Containers
Why buy food storage containers?
A good set of food storage containers is a necessity for anyone who likes to cook or meal prep. Food storage containers can be used to store food and leftovers in the cupboard, pantry, refrigerator, or freezer, depending on the food in question. They can come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and sturdiness. Food storage containers are generally considered superior to items like plastic bags because their (often airtight) lids help prevent foods from going stale too soon and keep smells better contained. Not to mention that food storage containers are much more durable and sturdy than plastic bags or aluminum foil and are reusable to boot. Keeping your food in these containers also provides superior organization and allows you to make more efficient use of your fridge space, especially if the containers are stackable, as many are.
What should you look for in food storage containers?
- Material: Almost all food storage containers will be made of plastic or glass. Glass may be clear, frosted, or colored, is very sturdy, and doesn’t stain, peel, or affect the taste or smell of the food it contains. It’s almost always dishwasher and microwave safe and may have glass, wooden, or plastic lids, depending on the brand. It also lasts a long time. Plastic is lighter, won’t shatter if dropped, and tends to be easier and more flexible to store. However, not all plastic containers are dishwasher and microwave safe, and they usually don’t hold up as long.
- Size: Food storage containers can come in a wide range of sizes. They may be small enough for half a cup of food or large enough to contain several quarts, with plenty of size options in between. Many food storage containers are sold in sets, and the containers in a set may vary in size, or they might all be the same size. And even if two containers have the same capacity, one might be short and long while the other is tall and narrow.
- Quantity: How many food storage containers are you looking to add to your collection? They may be sold individually or, more commonly, in sets. If you’re looking for a set, be aware that the number of containers per set can vary wildly. A set may be as small as 2 to 4 containers or have 40 pieces or more. Sets of 14, 16, 21, and 24 are also quite common. Note that the number of pieces in a set usually counts both the container and the lid, so a set of 24 would consist of 12 containers and 12 lids.
Is there anything else you should look for in food storage containers?
There are a few different features you can look for in your food storage containers beyond the basic requirements. Most containers will be dishwasher safe, but others are microwave and/or freezer safe as well. Microwavable food storage containers will often have vented lids. Some may be better equipped to store wet or dry foods. Some will be odor-resistant and/or leakproof. And others will have airtight lids or lids with flaps or clips that secure the food inside better. Consider what you’re looking for in your food storage containers and what features will be most useful for your cooking habits or storage needs.
Our Picks for the Best Food Storage Containers
Rubbermaid EasyFindLids Food Storage Containers
A large quantity but affordable set of food storage containers that come with handy snap-lid seals.
Pros: This 42-piece set of food storage containers won’t break the bank despite its high quantity. Made of BPA-free plastic, these containers are safe for reheating in the microwave, storing in the freezer, and washing in the dishwasher. The walls are thick and strong enough for daily use, and the lids snap together at the base to reduce the risk of leaking. The design of the lids makes them stackable on top of each other, whether in the fridge or in storage. This set includes 21 assorted food containers and 21 matching lids, consisting of a mix of 0.5-cup, 1.25-cup, 2-cup, 3-cup, 5-cup, and 7-cup containers. Other packs are also available.
Cons: Though containers come in six different sizes, only the three larger sizes have vented lids to ensure your food won’t splatter when used to heat food in the microwave. Thus you probably won’t find the smaller sizes as useful in the microwave. Also keep in mind that the snap-on lids reduce the risk of leaking, but they’re not 100% leakproof or airtight.
Bottom Line: With these thick plastic containers, you won’t have to blow your entire household budget just to buy a new set of food storage containers, especially since you get such a high quantity in return. The tradeoff for the lower price is that these particular containers aren’t completely leakproof or airtight, but they’re still an extremely reliable set for storing your leftovers.
Zip Top Reusable 100% Silicone Containers
An adorably designed set of standing snack containers for kids that are perfect for the playroom or road trips.
Pros: Whether you’re giving snacks during playtime or need to keep the little ones occupied on a road trip, these reusable snack containers are the perfect solution. The zip-top design makes cleanup a snap and keeps snacks fresh if your children can’t finish them in one sitting. The adorable designs will make these fan favorites as well. The silicone is made from food-grade materials and is safe to use in dishwashers, microwaves, or freezers.
Cons: While adorable, the smaller size might limit the types of snacks you can store in them.
Bottom Line: Cute and efficient combine in this adorable set of four resealable silicone snack containers.
Chef's Path Airtight Food Storage Containers with Lids
A pack of extra-large food storage containers ideal for stashing dry foods and ingredients in the pantry.
Pros: These food storage containers were designed with dry goods—the type you store in the pantry or cupboard or countertop in mind, though they’re fridge and microwave safe as well. They’re perfect for holding pasta, rice, flour, coffee, granola, etc. You get 14 containers with four different capacities, either 0.8, 1.4, 2, or 2.8 liters. If those capacities are still too small for your purposes, there is an even larger set available too. The plastic material is BPA-free and clear so that you can see the contents without opening the bin. The hinge locking system provides airtight, leakproof storage to keep your food secure and fresh for longer, protecting against air and water alike. The containers can be stacked on top of one another for more efficient use of pantry, cupboard, or tabletop space. Besides the containers and their lids, you also receive a set of measuring spoons and labels with a chalk marker so that you can label the contents of each container if desired.
Cons: Depending on the size of your cupboards or the amount of space between shelves in your pantry, these containers may not fit inside either properly, especially the taller ones. And due to the shape of the lids, they are a bit tricky to dry since water often gets under the silicone rings.
Bottom Line: If you often bake or cook a lot of pasta or rice, you may prefer to store your ingredients in separate containers instead of bags for more security and less risk of accidental leaking or spilling. If you don’t want to deal with messy flour bags or stale pasta, consider these large food storage containers designed for dry foods and baking supplies like sugar or flour.
FineDine 24-Piece Superior Glass Food Storage Containers Set
The perfect solution for meal prep or sustainable storage for leftovers, safe for oven and freezer use too.
Pros: Whether you’re meal prepping or simply storing last night’s leftovers to take with you for lunch the next day, this 24-piece set of glass containers is a great option. Along with being leakproof, you’ll like that these come in a range of sizes—11 ounces, 12 ounces, 13 .5 ounces, 17.5 ounces, 21.4 ounces, 27 ounces, 32 ounces, and 35 ounces. Each container comes with a matching snap-closure lid. This set is dishwasher safe but can also be placed in the freezer or oven.
Cons: Although the containers are dishwasher safe, the lids are not.
Bottom Line: Keep foods fresh with this smart set of glass storage containers.
Fullstar 50PCS Food Storage Containers with Lids
The varying shapes and sizes of these leakproof food storage containers make them ideal for storing a wide variety of meals and leftovers.
Pros: If you like to meal prep, you won’t want to pass on these food storage containers, though they’re perfectly suitable for leftovers and bringing lunch or snacks into the office as well. You get a nice large quantity of containers, 24 in total, plus their lids, labels, and a marker in order to label the foods and meals inside. They’re also especially handy for meal prepping since the containers come in a mix of circular, square, and rectangular shapes in 10 different sizes, including a few small dressing cups for sauces or dressings. Each container is leakproof, airtight, and watertight thanks to the snap-lock hinge lids and rubber seals, and they’re compatible with the fridge, freezer, microwave, and dishwasher alike. They’re also easy to stack on top of each other.
Cons: Though you get an excellent range of container sizes, none of them are extra-large; they’re not suitable for holding large bags of flour or high-volume meals, for instance, and some consumers found the dressing cups a little too small. The lids can also be tricky to dislodge, especially for those with arthritis or other hand and finger mobility issues.
Bottom Line: Meal prepping for the week is extremely useful for those with busy schedules or on nights when you don’t feel like cooking and you need a good set of food storage containers to hold your prepared meals and/or their components. Thanks to the high quantity and varying shapes and sizes of these containers, they’re the perfect choice for your meal-prepping needs.
Unless you order takeout or eat out every night, you’ll almost certainly benefit from having at least a few food storage containers at home. They’ll not only help keep your leftover food safe to eat for longer but will ensure your fridge is better organized as well.