Ultimate Guide to Meal Prep Containers (which is best?)January 9, 2021
Links to the items spoken about in the video:
Let’s start off with plastic meal prep containers. Whilst plastic is cheap and widely available, I don’t recommend using plastic containers for anything that requires heating above room temperature.
In a study done by Environ Health Perspect, July 1 2011, When plastic is exposed to common stressors such as boiling water, sunlight (UV), or reheating in any way including microwaves, plastic leaches estrogenic activity also known as EA, which basically means that those chemicals are altering your estrogenic hormones, which in simple terms is not a good thing.
What about BPA free plastic? Well, even BPA free products have been found that exposure to the stressors mentioned before still leaches of chemicals which cause estrogenic activity.
Plastic not only leaches chemicals, but it also leaves a residue and odour that’s hard to remove. Any strong flavours such as tomato-based dishes or strong spices such as turmeric will become almost permanently part of your container.
So, even though it’s cheap, I would avoid using plastic. If you do have plastic, don’t reheat your good inside the container, and wash them in cold water only (not a dishwasher). Throw away any plastic that has scratches or marks for the same reasons.
So next up is metal. Metal containers are fantastic and usually come in bento box style shapes which can be stacked on top of each other, and clipped to avoid spillage.
Metal is much better than plastic because it does not contain chemicals such as BPA or EA, and does not retain any residue or smell that plastic containers might.
They can be reheated using an oven, and frozen without any concerns.
The one huge downside to metal containers is that you cannot place them in the microwave since the buildup of electrons around the outer edges of a metallic surface will cause arks, sparks and can potentially destroy your microwave.
Another potential downside to metal containers is they are expensive. For the price of 10 glass containers, I can only purchase 1 metal container. Metal containers make great reusable lunchboxes but are simply priced too high to be used for meal prep since you’ll likely be wanting more than just 1 container.
And finally, my favourite glass containers. Glass is my preferred style of meal prep container, since glass containers can be frozen in the freezer, or reheated evenly and easily either in the oven or in a microwave.
While glass is a little heavier, it is worth the extra weight since you won’t risk chemicals (BPA and EA) from plastic leaching into your food when reheating. Most containers made from glass will come with a plastic lid. This is fine, but remember not to reheat your meals with the plastic lid attached, since you risk the plastic from the lid leaching into your food.
Plus, glass does not absorb food or leave any smell or residue behind once cleaned. Some meals that contain particularly strong scents or colours won’t be a problem when using glass containers.
So, let’s talk about sizes. The containers I use range from 60ml (2 floz) through to 700ml (23.5 fl oz) so here is a handy guide on which ones to use, and when to use them.
This 60ml 2 fl oz container is best used to keep individual sauces or syrups for your meal prep separate from the main meal, so these are always used in conjunction with an existing meal prep container of a larger size. I also find these containers useful for supplements.
I would recommend having 6 of these containers on hand, one for each day.
500ml (17 oz) containers are best used for breakfast sized meals such as chia seed pudding, egg-based dishes or even for keeping single serves of granola. This size is usually square and will fit in most bags easily. It’s also great also for keeping batch made sauces or guacamole and won’t take up much room in the fridge.
700ml (23.5 fl oz) – This sized container is best for large main meals or keeping larger quantities of individual ingredients separate from the other ingredients from within the same prep. You will find this size is handy for recipes that have a larger portion of vegetables, or larger style protein sources that you do not wish to cut.
In total, I would recommend having a minimum of 18 meal prep containers for each person. This is broken up into 6 breakfast containers, and 3 sets for 4 main meal-sized containers.