Nutritionist-Approved Meal-Prep Containers

Health and Wellness | Health Tips | Nutrition

Looking for nutritionist-approved meal prep containers? You’re in the right place! Whether you’re a construction worker needing sturdy, on-the-go options, a teacher looking for quick, healthy bites between classes, a busy professional, or a driver seeking convenience without compromising on health, this post is for you.

Meal prep is about making your food fit seamlessly into your busy life while prioritizing health, nutrition, and your personal taste preferences. With so many options out there, it can be overwhelming to choose the right containers. 

Questions about microwave safety, the ideal size for your lunch or dinner, or the best containers for keeping your fruit fresh are common. 

Today, I’m going to demystify the process, making it easy for you to select the perfect containers for your meal prep needs.

overhead view of meal prep chicken and rice

Why Meal Prep?

Meal prepping isn’t just a trend; it’s a lifestyle shift that embraces a healthier, more organized version of yourself. It’s not just about saving time in the kitchen; it’s about ensuring every meal is a building block for your well-being. 

Imagine starting your day knowing your meals are aligned with your health and weight loss goals, packed with nutrients, and tailored to your taste. By dedicating a few hours to preparing your meals for the week (or month), you’re setting yourself up for success. Plus, meal prepping is a wallet-friendly approach to eating—bulk buying and cooking cut down costs significantly. 

For those aiming to manage their weight for or sustain their long-term weight loss goals, meal prepping is a game-changer. It allows you to be in charge over portions and ingredients, making it easier to track your intake and stay on course. 

Need some inspiration? Check out these 5 easy meal prep ideas for weight loss to get started!

choosing the right meal prep container

Choosing the Right Meal Prep Container

Finding the ideal meal prep containers is more than convenience—it’s about making a commitment to your health and lifestyle. The right containers keep your food fresh, ensure safety, and can even make your meal look more appetizing. 

With so many choices out there, how do you pick the best ones for you and your lifestyle? In this section, I’ll cover the key factors to consider, ensuring your meal prep containers meet your needs in terms of safety, convenience, size, and capacity.

Want to jump ahead to my list of approved meal prep containers? Click here

But first, let’s start with the question I get the most often…

Are Plastic Meal Prep Containers Safe?

The safety of plastic containers is a valid concern, especially with studies linking certain plastic components like phthalates and bisphenols to health issues. 

While BPA-free plastic containers are generally regarded as a safer meal prep choice for storing dry snacks or salads, they’re not foolproof. Alternatives to BPA, specifically BPS and BPF, found in “BPA-free” products, may not be as safe as presumed. 

Research from institutions like the University of Texas and Washington State University indicates potential cellular disruption from BPS, even in minimal quantities. 

If you’re worried about reheating food in plastic due to potential chemical leaching, switching to glass is your best bet. Glass is inert and doesn’t interact with your food, making it a safer option for heating. 

For cold storage, high-quality, BPA-free plastic containers are generally safe, but it’s important to stay informed about the latest research and regulations regarding food-safe materials.

lunch prep with plastic container and lunch box

Safety and Convenience 

When it comes to prepping your meals ahead of time, safety is as important as convenience. Microwave-safe containers are a must for hassle-free reheating, but the material of your containers is just as important. 

Plastic meal prep containers are lightweight and convenient, but, as I’ve mentioned, not all plastics are created equal. Look for BPA-free plastics to avoid chemicals that could leach into your food. 

Glass meal prep containers, on the other hand, are a great alternative – they’re microwave and dishwasher-safe and don’t hold onto flavors or colors from your food. While glass is heavier and can be more fragile, its longevity and ease of cleaning often make it a favorite for meal preppers. 

Choosing the right material means balancing the pros and cons to find the perfect match for your meal prep routine.

metal meal prep containers

Size and Capacity

Choosing the right size for your meal prep container is important, not just to make sure your meal fits inside but also for portion control

Containers with built-in volume measurements can be incredibly handy since they eliminate serving size guesswork, aligning your meal prep with your nutritional goals and helping you avoid portion distortion — when perceived portion sizes become skewed over time. 

Whether you’re prepping for one or two, opting for containers that help you manage your portions can make your meal prepping efficient, healthy, and stress-free.

Selecting the appropriate size is important to prevent freezer burn, particularly for items you plan to store long-term. A snug fit means less air around your food, which means your food will be less likely to develop freezer burn. 

Some people prefer using containers designed for specific foods like tomato sauce for pasta on the go or salad dressing which can streamline your meal prep, especially when they neatly nest inside larger containers, saving space and keeping flavors separate. These compartmentalized containers are great for organizing meals without mixing components. 

The Best Meal Prep Containers to Get You Started 

Choosing the right meal prep container can make all the difference in your food’s freshness, taste, and how much you enjoy your meals. To make your selection easier, I’ve picked out four top-notch options that cater to a range of needs and preferences. 

professional woman eating salad on lunch break

Whether you’re a fan of the neat organization of a bento box, the simplicity of deli-style containers, the sturdiness of glass, or the eco-friendly appeal of bamboo lids, there’s something here for everyone.

  • Bento Box Style Plastic Container
    Perfect for portion control and keeping your food categories neatly separated. These dishwasher-safe, BPA-free containers are a hit for their practicality and the way they maintain the integrity of your meal’s flavors and textures.
  • Deli-Style Containers in Assorted Sizes
    Trusted by professionals all around the world, these are the all-rounders of meal prep containers. Available in a range of leak-proof sizes, they’re perfect for any meal size, from substantial dinners to small snacks. Their stackable nature makes fridge organization a breeze.
  • Glass Bento Box Style with BPA-Free Lid
    Combining glass with a BPA-free lid, these durable containers are not just about keeping your food fresh; they’re about doing it in style and with the peace of mind that comes from using safe materials. The larger size is the perfect size for a meal for one or you can have fresh fruit or veggies on the go with the two small containers.
  • Glass 2-Compartment Container with Bamboo Lid
    These containers offer a touch of elegance with their sustainable leak-proof bamboo lids. The two compartments keep your ingredients separate and fresh, and the glass construction ensures your food’s taste is never compromised.

Sealable Vacuum Bags for Long-Term Meal Prep

While not your typical container, sealable vacuum bags, like this Amazon favorite, offer a fantastic meal prep solution and long-term food storage. Ideal for keeping dry foods fresh longer—especially when buying in bulk—these bags are also perfect for preparing freezer meals. 

By removing air, they extend the shelf life of your food and prevent freezer burn, allowing you to prep meals days, weeks, or even months in advance. 

You can easily freeze soups and stews when you cook a big batch and just move from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before you want to eat it. This is also great for packing hard cheeses and other foods in a bento-style box without mingling the flavors. 

With these options, you’re well-equipped to step up your meal prep game. Each option is designed not just to store your meals, but to complement your lifestyle and dietary goals. 

Now, let’s talk about how meal prepping can seamlessly integrate into your daily routine, no matter your profession or lifestyle.

man prepping chicken and rice

Meal Prep Ideas for Every Walk of Life

Meal prepping isn’t just a practice; it’s a lifestyle that is adaptable to everyone, from the busy professional to the empty nester. It’s about embracing the concept of ‘food as fuel’ in our lives, however that looks for you.

Let’s jump right into how meal prepping can fit into your life, no matter your job or daily schedule. It’s all about finding smart, tasty ways to keep you fueled and ready, every single day.

Meal Prepping for Teachers, Busy Professionals, Drivers on the Road, and More

Meal prepping is a solution that caters to your individual pace and gives you a tailor-made solution to keep you nourished throughout the day. It’s all about customizing your food to match your lifestyle, ensuring that no matter how hectic your day gets, your meals are conveniently and healthily handled.

For example, teachers can enjoy quick, nutrient-rich salads (like this Chickpea Tuna Salad) or wraps during brief breaks. Busy professionals in an office setting may prefer noodle bowls or pasta salads, perfect for a fast-paced day, while drivers can grab snack boxes filled with breakfast bars, nuts, fruits, and sandwiches for energy on the road.

packed lunch meal prep for the road

Nutrition on the Go

When you’re rushing to the 4 pm gymnastics practice with the kids or squeezing in a quick visit to the gym before work, it’s tempting to choose convenience over nutrition. 

Imagine if, instead, you had a bag filled with homemade granola bars or an avocado arugula omelet wrap waiting for you. And when you’re out tackling a day of back-to-back meetings or chauffeuring the kids from one activity to the next, it’s easy to skip those gas station snacks for your own Green Goddess salad

Meal prepping makes these healthy, delicious choices not just possible, but effortless, connecting your busy life with the joy of good food. This is meal prepping at its finest, turning your busiest days into opportunities for nourishing, enjoyable eating.

Meal Prep for Every Lifestyle

Let’s face it, meal prepping is a bit like a superpower for managing life’s different stages. From the non-stop days of parenting to the quieter moments of retirement and beyond, your meals can be as ready as you are. Choosing the right containers can make your meal prep feel like a breeze, no matter where you are in life’s journey. 

For busy moms, finding meal prep containers that are both tough and kid-friendly is key. Sturdy, BPA-free plastic containers are a great choice as they can withstand the rough and tumble of family life. They’re not just durable; they come in sizes that cater to everyone’s appetite, from the littlest munchers to the grown-ups. 

Colorful options can make mealtime fun and appealing, especially for kids. Easy-to-open containers are also a plus for smaller hands. For instance, this set of four colorful overnight oats containers would be perfect for those quick, nutritious breakfasts on busy mornings. For those longer journeys or days out, this 5-compartment snack spinner is ideal for keeping toddlers happily snacking and entertained. 

woman preparing a salad while watching video

Once the nest empties, your meal prep might shift towards enjoying a bit more leisure. This might be the perfect time to explore more elaborate containers for those carefully crafted meals, like this 3-tier stainless steel option or this all-in-one option with foldable forks and spoons. 

For the work-from-home warriors, the kitchen is just a few steps away, but time is still of the essence. These glass containers that go from the fridge to the oven not only keep your meal prep organized but also make cleaning up a breeze. They’re perfect for those who want a quick, healthy meal without the fuss of mealtime prep interrupting their flow. 

In retirement, life might slow down, but the importance of convenient, healthy eating doesn’t. Meal prep remains a reliable ally. Compact, easy-to-open containers are perfect for portion control and maintaining a balanced diet. This timeless Stanley thermos has been a best seller for decades for a reason, perfect for bringing homemade soup to enjoy on the golf course, on a road trip, or while tending your garden.  

If your hands aren’t working quite the way they used to, this stainless steel bento-style lunch box is a great option for those looking for ease without sacrificing style. Its easy-open feature makes it a practical choice for hands that appreciate a gentler touch, ensuring mealtime is always a pleasure, not a challenge.

Storing and Preserving Your Meals

Keeping your meals fresh and safe is just as important as preparing them. Whether you’re stashing away soups in freezer-safe mason jars or using versatile containers that transition from freezer to oven, the right storage can make all the difference. 

chicken and vegetable lunch in glass meal prep containers

Best Practices for Freezing and Refrigerating Your Meals

Storing your meal preps properly is vital for maintaining freshness and ensuring all of your hard work doesn’t go to waste. 

When freezing, look for silicone freezer cubes or oven-safe glass containers that seal tightly, protecting your food from freezer burn. 

For refrigeration, glass containers are excellent as they don’t absorb flavors and can easily be reheated. 

Always remember to cool your cooked meals before storing, use dissolvable labels to label them with dates, and ensure leftovers are reheated to the recommended temperature to enjoy your meals safely and deliciously.

Follow these steps to keep your meals fresh, flavorful, and safe: 

  • Cool Before Freezing: Let cooked food cool completely before freezing or refrigerating to maintain texture and flavor. Avoid putting hot food directly in the fridge or freezer as it raises the temperature, risking other foods’ safety.
  • Choose the Right Containers: Use freezer-safe glass containers, silicone, or BPA-free plastic containers for freezing. Glass containers are ideal for refrigeration and reheating.
  • Leave Some Space: When using jars or containers for freezing, leave some space at the top as food expands when frozen.
  • Label and Date: Clearly label each container with the content and freezing date. This helps in managing your stock and ensuring you use the oldest items first.
  • Maintain Safe Temperatures: Keep your fridge below 40°F (4°C) and your freezer at 0°F (-18°C) to ensure food safety.
  • Reheat Properly: Thaw frozen meals in the refrigerator overnight or use your microwave’s defrost setting. Reheat food to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to make sure it’s safe to eat. 

broth or soup on the go with a thermos

Where to Buy Your Meal Prep Containers (Dietitian Approved)

Dietitian-approved meal prep containers doesn’t mean overspending or settling for dull designs. 

While your typical kitchenware aisles or the big box stores offer plenty of options, sometimes the best finds are in the least expected places.

Beyond the Kitchen Section: Look beyond the usual kitchenware sections. The camping and outdoors section can be goldmines for durable containers built to withstand extreme conditions like this Hydro Flask Food Jar. If you live in a hot climate or need containers that can handle the heat of your car’s interior during a long workday, these are ideal.

Baby Aisle: Don’t overlook the baby aisle. It’s packed with small, secure, and perfectly portioned containers that are great for snack-sized meals or meal prep fruit portions. These small containers are usually freezer-safe and are made with materials safe for young children, adding an extra layer of safety to your meal prep. This 7-portion tray would be great for a charcuterie board on the go – and it comes in two colors.

Sporting Goods Stores: For those who need their meals to stay put and fresh even in challenging conditions, check out the boating or sporting goods stores. Here you can find coolers and containers designed to protect food from direct sunlight and heat, perfect when you’re out and about for long periods. A friend of mine took this backpack cooler to the beach and it kept her snacks cool all day out in the Florida sun. 

Sustainable Choices: Get creative with what you have at home—many items are already food, freezer, and oven-safe. For prepping fruits or simple snacks, sometimes simplicity wins; think of reusing glass jars or any food-safe container you already own.

For a wider variety, online platforms like Amazon offer convenience with doorstep delivery. Prefer shopping in person? Stores like Walmart, Costco, Target, and Aldi have a wide range of meal prep containers to suit any preference. 

use jar for salad meal prep container

Mastering Meal Prep: Your Path to a Healthier Lifestyle

From finding the perfect, dietitian-approved containers that fit your lifestyle to meal storage for freshness and safety, meal prepping is about simplifying your nutrition without compromising on taste or health. 

Remember, the right container is not just a vessel; it’s your partner in sustaining your wellness goals.

Ready to make meal prepping a seamless part of your routine? Book a call for personalized advice and take the first step towards a balanced, nourished life. 

My Favorite Meal Prep Containers: 

Affiliate Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links to the products I recommend are affiliate links. This means I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through these links.  I only recommend products I genuinely love and stand behind. 

Voula Manousos’ writing is featured in the “Winchester Living Magazine” and “The Winchester Star” of Wicked Local.

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