The BEST meal prep containers, equipment and tools that will help you prep healthy, portable lunches, freezer-friendly dinners, and an organized fridge.
Hi hi hi!
It has been quite awhile since we last talked meal prep containers on the blog…a whole year, actually! And in that year, I’ve experimented with new containers, added a whole lot of freezer-friendly dinner recipes to the blog, and just thought it was time for an update.
So here we go: the best meal prep containers 2.0…2017 edition!
Now, if you’re anything like me, you can’t resist a kitchen gadget that will make your life just a little bit easier, so I made a video with my favorite meal prep tools. Some of them are pretty fun! Check it out below!
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Let’s talk specifics
1. Glass storage containers:
First of all: why glass? I made the switch to glass last fall and have not regretted it for a second.
- they are better for the environment: when you invest in glass, you are less likely to be throwing your meal prep containers away, the way you might with plastic. They can be washed and re-used hundred of times!
- no chemicals! I know most plastic containers are BPA-free these days, but who knows what other chemicals may be lurking in them.
- they don’t hold smells or get stained
- your food heats more evenly
- they are durable! In one year, we’ve only ever broken one glass container (ahem…Ben has only broken one). They’ve been through our dishwasher hundreds of times. They still work great.
I am very opinionated on glass storage containers, because I have tried a LOT of them out and let me tell you: some of them are better than others.
My pick for the BEST meal prep containers? Snapware 2 cup glass storage containers!
Snapware 2 Cup Glass Storage Containers– Why do I love thee so? It’s all about the snapping lids. Even after well over a year and who knows how many times through the dishawasher, the lids have not warped and always snap on perfectly.
Not only that, but I’ve really put these containers through the ringer…they’ve been frozen, microwaved, put through the dishwasher, and used to store countless meal prep recipes. I own at least 15 of these….and can’t recommend them enough, they really are the best meal prep containers!
Snapware 6 Cup Glass Storage Containers– Again, I just love Snapware brand in general. These 6 cup glass containers are great for storing meal prep dinners, energy bites, veggies, you name it.
Kinetic 22-Piece Glassworks– This is actually the first set of glassware that I bought. I use it routinely, and it comes with a variety of sizes, which is great when you’re just starting to invest in glass storage containers.
My only complaint on these guys is the lids…they are so much more difficult to snap onto the containers than Snapware. That being said, once they are on, they are secure. I use these often, especially for storing dinner prep components in the fridge, but for everyday meal prep lunch recipes, I rely on my Snapware.
OXO Good Grips 8 Cup Leakproof Food Storage Container– I bought these to have some freezer-friendly large sized storage containers as an alternative to gallon freezer bags, however I found after freezing these for a couple of months, the lids have become quite difficult to snap on.
Which really surprised me because the lids feel like they are great quality and I really respect the OXO brand, as all of my other OXO kitchen equipment is of amazing quality. These would still be great for fridge-storage, however based on my experience, I wouldn’t recommend for the freezer.
Corningware Meal Mugs– I work from home these days, but when I was working away from home, I loved using these to store soup, chili or anything that will be re-heated at work, as I was never able to find a thermos that would keep food heated until lunch. These re-heat your food evenly, and are easy to eat your food out of.
The only caveat is that you need to keep them upright, as they may leak in your lunch bag. I never had this issue, though!
2. Plastic Storage Containers:
We do still use some plastic storage containers.
Rubbermaid 1/2 Cup Food Storage Container– This is what I use for dips, dressings, small portions of trail mix, etc. I have yet to find a small glass storage container that would do the trick for this. Let me know if you have a recommendation for me!
EasyLunchBoxes 3-Compartment Bento– There are some awesome looking multi-compartment glass storage containers coming out these days, yet sadly, they are ridiculously pricey here in Canada (I refuse to pay $30 for one container). Hopefully the price comes down and I can try them out. For now, we use these 3-compartment plastic containers for food that requires a few compartments during storage.
Cuppow Canning Jar Lunch Box Adaptors– Turn your wide-mouth mason jar into a 2-compartment storage container! These are great for holding dip for veggies and dip or granola for parfaits.
They are a bit of an investment but are BPA-free, dishwasher safe, and made from recycled materials. I don’t mind paying a bit more for a product that is good for the environment as well as useful!
3. Glass Jars:
Hi, my name is Denise and I’m a jar-a-holic. I love canning jars, and use them for almost everything you can think of: smoothie packs, jar salads, salad dressings, parfaits, veggies & dip and yes, I actually drink out of them, too!
Wide-Mouth Pint Jars– If you’ve ever tried eating a parfait out of a tapered mason jar, you know: no beuno. For recipes like parfaits or overnight oats that are served out of the jars, I highly recommend some wide-mouth jars.
1/2 Pint Jars– Now, I’ve had problems finding these specific jars on Amazon.com, but I’ve linked to a similar one.
These are awesome for smaller portions…I make my stir fry sauces in them, and use them occasionally for trail mix when I run out of my 1/2 cup storage containers. I have not had any issues freezing liquids in this size of jar.
4. Freezer Equipment:
Whether it’s a freezer-friendly dinner recipe or a freezer slow cooker meal, these are the essentials that I use in my kitchen!
Jokari Baggy Holder– This little baggy holder makes prepping meals SO EASY. The arms are extendable and you can use it on smaller quart bags for things like freezer chicken marinades (no more raw chicken touching the outside of the bag!), and when they are extended, they hold a gallon-sized freezer bag perfect for freezer slow cooker meals.
Short term (1 week or so), they can be stored in a large storage container, but long term, you are going to be at risk for freezer burn. I don’t want you to waste food, so invest in a good gallon-sized freezer bag when it comes to freezer slow cooker meals.
I’m going to keep on looking for a more eco-friendly alternative and let you know as soon as I find one, OK?
Quart freezer bags– For freezing chicken in a marinade, I recommend a bag, because you are going to reduce freezer burn and maximize coverage of the chicken with the marinade. Get a good one that won’t leak when you thaw.
Erasable Food Labels– The number one rule for freezing meals? LABEL YOUR FOOD!
I’ve been loving these erasable food lablels from Jokari: stick them on your meal prep container one time. Label with any pen. The writing stays on until you scrub it off. The labels stay on through the freeze/thaw process, going through the dishwasher, heating in the microwave etc. So handy!
Bernardin Plastic Freezer Jars– I’ve been nervous to use glass jars for freezing soups & stews because I’m worried about them shattering. For now, I’ve been using these plastic freezer jars, and love how they are so durable, have screw-cap lids, and a fill line so you can leave enough room for expansion. These ones also hold a good portion and were a worthwhile upgrade from my old system: used yogurt containers.
5. Kitchen Essentials
These are my favorite tools that make meal prep a breeze.
5 Quart Slow Cooker– You guys saw this coming, didn’t you? I have used this basic and affordable model from Crock Pot for about 5 years now. It does it’s job well.
One of my favorite meal prep tips is to rock your crock pot! Get it working for you while you focus your energy on more important things.
2.5 Quart Crock Pot– I more recently added this smaller slow cooker to my collection and am surprised by how much I use it. It’s great for a smaller batch of chicken, and for half batches of basically all my slow cooker recipes. Which is really great if you are a smaller family!
Rice Cooker– I know, you can totally cook rice on the stove-top, but if you are like me, you get distracted, walk away and the rice boils over and then you have a big mess to clean up. With a rice cooker, you put your ingredients in, push ‘start’ and walk away. No more mental energy needed.
I use my rice cooker more than I ever thought I would and use it for all grains as well including quinoa and barley. PS- Yup, I’ve tried the rice cooker function on my Instant Pot and just can’t get that gorgeous, fluffy rice the way my rice cooker gets it <3
Cookie Scoop– Another kitchen gadget I thought I probably would never use…but I use it all the time! Mostly for scooping energy bites, but also for forming even-sized meatballs. I use the 1 tablespoon cookie scoop for energy bites and the 1.5 tablespoon cookie scoop for meatballs.
Tell me: what is your favorite way to use your Instant Pot? I know it will be a huge timesaver once I get into using it more often.