The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

Food Storage Containers of 2020

By Nick Miley ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Tuesday September 1, 2020
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Looking for a better way to store food? We researched dozens of food storage sets, isolating 2020's best 24 products for hands-on testing. Our analysis looked at both glass and plastic containers as well as reusable bags. Our highly experienced culinary team focused their investigation and testing on stackability, stain and smell resistance, closure method and effectiveness as well as construction material and durability. The following article outlines the top products and the tests we used to isolate their strengths and weaknesses.

1

Best Overall


Rubbermaid Brilliance (Set of 5)


Editors' Choice Award
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$19.99
at Amazon
See It

Number of Containers: 5 | Material (vessel/lid): BPA free plastic
Superior lid design
Compact storage
Prone to scratching
Some odor retention

The USA made Rubbermaid Brilliance is a modular food storage set that maximizes refrigerator space while offering nested stacking when not in use. The lids of these containers close securely with two easy to release hinged snaps. When opened, they reveal vents for breathability. This set of five containers covers a wide variety of sizes that facilitate large and small volume storage while supplying convenient stackability.

While the clear plastic of these containers looks more like glass, we noticed small scratches on the interior after just a few cleanings. Moreover, the vessel retained a light odor after tests with pungent foods. That said, the Brilliance product line offers superior durability for those taking meals to go as well as a recycling program that promises an afterlife for products that are no longer usable.

These transparent containers resemble glass though they will scratch in time.
These transparent containers resemble glass though they will scratch in time.

2

Best Glass Set


C Crest Glass Meal Prep Containers 10-Pack


Editors' Choice Award
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$29.99
at Amazon
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Number of Containers: 10 | Material (vessel/lid): Glass/BPA free plastic
Hinged lid snaps
Removable lid gasket
Relatively small volume
No modular stacking

The C Crest meal prep container set includes 10 glass vessels (5 x 1040 mL, 5 x 370 mL) that can hermetically seal with built-to-last plastic lids and hinged snaps. The silicone gaskets housed in the lids are also removable, making thorough cleaning possible. What makes this design so effective is that the moving parts on the units (i.e. the snaps) do not fatigue like the one-piece plastic lids of the lower-quality competitors. Accordingly, our testers felt confident that these lids could be secured continually without failure.

The design of the C Crest containers leaves little to complain about. However, the size of these vessels is not suited for large meal storage. Unfortunately, C Crest also does not provide customer service. This means there's no way to replace lids and vessels if they get damaged or lost. A final concern for those with smaller kitchens is that the units do not nest well for storage, so they will eat-up a bit of space in the cupboard. That said, this food storage system is durable, stain/odor-resistant, and the plastic is BPA free. Moreover, the containers can double as cookware (without lids) in a microwave or oven.

Hot red sauce was used for the stain and odor tests. The glass vessel showed no red hue following 12 hours in the refrigerator and a cleaning. The same can not be said for many plastic containers. No smell was evident either.
Hot red sauce was used for the stain and odor tests. The glass vessel showed no red hue following 12 hours in the refrigerator and a cleaning. The same can not be said for many plastic containers. No smell was evident either.

3

Best Reusable Bags


Newfit Reusable Ziplock


Editors' Choice Award
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$10.77
at Amazon
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Number of Containers: 6 | Material : BPA free plastic
High-quality pinch lock seal
Includes 6 silicone stretch lids
Prone to staining
Maintains some odor

The Newfit reusable pinch lock bags offer a great alternative to their single-use counterparts. The transparent material and heavy-duty zipper provide good visibility of the bag's contents and a complete seal that you can trust to not pop open even under considerable pressure. The materials are free from the most concerning chemicals such as BPA and PVC, while the silicone stretch lids included in the set are a great substitute to single-use plastic wrap.

As was the case with all the bags we tested, the Newfit proved to be susceptible to staining and lingering odor after storing acidic or oily foods. This product did not show nearly as much coloration and far less of an odor than others, but despite several cleanings, it remained significantly tinted following our tomato sauce storage test. Given the likelihood of staining, we advise discretion with the foods you choose to store in this bag. However, we would not let this staining issue deter their use. The dishwasher safe construction of these bags is robust, making them easier to clean and more reliable than their disposable alternatives. Additionally, they come with effective and easy to use silicone container covers that we found to be a godsend for sealing cans, jars, and bowls.

The sturdy pinch lock remains hermetically sealed even under pressure.
The sturdy pinch lock remains hermetically sealed even under pressure.

4

Best Nested Stacking Containers


Joseph Joseph 81108 Nest Lock Plastic 10-Piece


Top Pick Award
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$33.99
at Amazon
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Number of Containers: 5 | Material: BPA free plastic
Hinged snap locks
Assorted container volumes
Prone to staining
Can retain food odors

Two of the more frustrating aspects of food storage sets are that the containers take up a lot of cupboard space and the lids get lost. The Joseph Joseph Nest Lock's design does much to address these issues by sizing the containers to fit together like Russian dolls and designing the lids to secure one to another in a tapering stack. The result is an extremely compact storage size that still provides tons of container space. On top of this standard-setting storage size to container ratio, these units boast hinged snap locks for maximum longevity.

While we love the Joseph Joseph's stacking method, plastic containers are far more susceptible to scratching, staining, and retaining food smells compared to their glass counterparts. It should be noted that the Nest Lock fared better than most plastic units in this regard. Yet, you should still be selective about what you put into the unit if they want to maintain its transparency. That said, we think those with limited kitchen space will find this sacrifice more than worth the cupboard real estate saved.

The Nest is great for those with limited storage  however it shows slight staining from the tomato sauce storage test.
The Nest is great for those with limited storage, however it shows slight staining from the tomato sauce storage test.

5

The Economy Reusable Bag Set


Eoglo Reusable Storage Bag 11-Pack


Best Buy Award
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$11.98
(8% off)
at Amazon
See It

Number of Containers: 11 | Material (vessel/ lid): BPA free plastic
Easy to seal pinch-lock
Variety of sizes
Holds stains
Not dishwasher safe

If you have a big family and are trying to reduce the waste you drag out to the curb each week, the Eoglo storage bags could be a welcomed addition in your kitchen. This 11-pack comes with 5 sandwich-sized units, 4 snack-sized units, and 2 gallon-sized bags that can accommodate watermelon and the like for family outings. The pinch lock zipper achieves a great seal and it is easy to release as well. Finally, the transparent plastic is durable and makes food identification a breeze.

As with all the bags in this review, the Eoglo bags are susceptible to discoloration when oily or acidic foods are stored in them. Along with this discoloration often comes lingering smells. Yet, aside from having to be a little selective about what we stored in these bags, we had little to complain about with this cost-effective, reliable, and waste-reducing product.

Little compromise is made when swapping out single-use bags for reusable ones.
Little compromise is made when swapping out single-use bags for reusable ones.

6

Best Containers for Bulk Storage


Chef's Path Extra Large Containers (2-piece)


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$29.97
at Amazon
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Number of Containers: 2 | Material (vessel/lid): BPA free plastic
Snap Seal
Square shape fits well in cabinets
A bit flimsy
Seal snaps not hinged

If you are moving through a lot of ingredients such as flour, then having bulk containers is the way to go. The Chef's Path's two 5.2-liter units offer wide openings for scooping out the contents and include measuring cups for this purpose. Their square shape means that they fit well in a cupboard or on a shelf. The 4-snap, water-tight lids also help to keep the contents fresh and dry. The transparent BPA free plastic makes it easy to identify the stored items. If you have two similar-looking staples, however, then make use of the marker and labels that are included with this set.

Although the size, shape, and seal on these containers leaves little to gripe about, we are concerned about the long-term durability of the snaps securing the lids. Unlike some of the other containers in this review, the Chef's Path does not use hinges on their snaps. This means that a thin plastic strip prone to fatigue provides the movement needed for the snap to work. Additionally, the container itself is a bit thinner than we'd like. On the other hand, this thinness keeps them lightweight. The units are tapered to nest inside one another when being transported or not in use. All in all, these plastic containers offer a great alternative to single-use bags both for food freshness and environmental conscientiousness.

The Chef's Path set comes with measuring scoops and labels for convenient storage.
The Chef's Path set comes with measuring scoops and labels for convenient storage.

7

Best for Customer Service


Pyrex Simply Store Meal Prep Glass Food Storage Containers (9-Piece Set)


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$45
List Price
See It

Number of Containers: 9 | Material (vessel/lid): Glass/BPA free plastic
Replaceable lid and vessels
Doubles as cookware
Not watertight
No nested stacking

There's a lot to like about the Pyrex Simply Store set. What really distinguishes this storage system, however, is that Pyrex gives customers the opportunity to replace lids or vessels individually on their website. Surprisingly, this is quite rare for a food storage company and speaks to the pride this American manufacturer takes in their products. This set is also one of the few that comes in both a multitude of sizes and shapes. Given that these containers are legitimate cookware, we found the option of making various-sized casseroles and lasagnas fun and practical for on the go meals.

The reason the Simply Store set didn't rate higher in our evaluation is that the lids are not watertight, and the vessels can't nest together for storage. That's it. So, if you're looking for a well-made product that doesn't stain or retain odors, look no further. As an additional consideration, the lack of moving parts in the lid design reduces potential points of failure.

The form-fitting rubber lid lacks a watertight seal but makes up for it in durability and replaceability.
The form-fitting rubber lid lacks a watertight seal but makes up for it in durability and replaceability.

8

Best Free-Standing Reusable Bags


Leafy Home Silicone Ziplock Bags


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$18.99
(46% off)
at Amazon
See It

Number of Containers: 7 | Material: Silicone
Wide bottom
Good for cooking applications
Relatively difficult closure
Shows mild stains/odor

Although there were several reusable bags in our testing group that seal with a slider-bar, the Leafy Home performed the best of the bunch. The wide bottom of these bags makes filling easy because they can stand on their own. This feature also makes them good for cooking applications such as sous vide, steaming, or reheating in hot water. The seal is watertight and, while the bags do hold stains, they are some of the more stain-resistant of the reusable bags.

Despite being more stain-resistant than the other food storage bags in our review, the Leafy Home still displayed discoloration and lingering food smells following our red sauce test. Exacerbating this issue is the cupped shape of the bag bottom which complicates cleaning. An additional concern is the closure mechanism. The plastic bar that slides across the silicone bag can be grabby and difficult to close, so we occasionally had to resort to wetting this bar for lubrication on the larger bags. That said, if you're storing liquid foods or using the bag as a piece of cookware, they're hard to beat.

Of the free-standing bags we tested  those with slider bar closures worked best. Of those  the Leafy Home was the easiest to operate and provided the best seal.
Of the free-standing bags we tested, those with slider bar closures worked best. Of those, the Leafy Home was the easiest to operate and provided the best seal.

9

An Easy and Innovative Closure Mechanism


OXO 5-Piece POP Set


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$49.95
at Amazon
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Number of Containers: 5 | Material: BPA free plastic
Unique container sizes
Effortless closure
Prone to scratching
Expensive

Over the years the author has spent a lot of time in the kitchen with his grandmother. In recent years, he's noticed the increased difficulty that her hands have when opening jars or other sealed containers. When the OXO POP came across his desk, he immediately thought of how beneficial this system would be to her. These containers can open and completely seal with the push of a button. Having reviewed many products from OXO over the years, our team has come to expect high-quality manufacturing and elegant designs, and the POP series did not disappoint. The unique shapes, such as a spaghetti-sized model, and the crystal clear plastic will tempt you to leave them out on the counter as practical decorations.

The main reason this food storage set ended up at the bottom of our top-performers list is that there are only 5 containers in the set, and it is one of the more expensive products that we reviewed. Additionally, the plastic is prone to showing scratches. However, unlike the lower-end plastics used by some of the competition, these containers performed much like glass in the tomato sauce test, retaining no staining or odors after a quick cleaning in the sink. Finally, it's worth noting that OXO is a member of 1% For the Planet, the gold standard for environmental philanthropy, and any purchase contributes directly to this organization's programs.

The Pop performed really well in our stain test  showing no signs of stains after a night in the fridge with red sauce.
The Pop performed really well in our stain test, showing no signs of stains after a night in the fridge with red sauce.

Why You Should Trust Us


Senior Review Editor Nick Miley is an obsessive home cook who enjoys spending a Sunday afternoon cooking from scratch and storing up delicious meals for the workweek. He cut his teeth in the culinary business as a 16-year old prep cook for a busy riverside fish shack on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula. From then to now, Nick has tried out nearly every type of food container and knows a good product when he gets his hands on it. He has used this experience to research, buy, test, and rate kitchen products and share his findings with the general public.

The real test of a reusable bag's seal is the squeeze test. Despite many products looking simular  their quality varies considerably.
The tomato sauce test was devised to reveal which containers were in fact stain and odor resistant.  The test uses hot red sauce that is allowed to cool in the container and then is chilled in the refrigerator overnight.
The seal test involved filling the vessels with water  turning them upside down  shaking them  and then placing them on paper towels.

To evaluate the quality and functionality of the food storage sets in this review we focused on the materials, sealing mechanism, and stackability, as well as stain and odor retention. Additionally, we looked at the economy of the products and how many containers each set includes. We also investigated the possibility of replacing the lids and vessels and the social responsibility practiced by the manufacturers. The latter assessment includes product end of life plans and additional philanthropic activities.

How to Reduce Food Packaging Waste
Did you know that you can bring your own food storage containers to stores with bulk offerings? It's true. Make sure the container is clean and put a piece of masking tape on the lid so a store clerk can mark the weight of the empty container(s). At checkout, the clerk can tare the weight of the container to calculate the weight of the food you selected. This practice can eliminate the use of disposable bags while reducing trips to the store.

Analysis and Test Results


Our evaluation of food storage sets began with discussions about common frustrations with these products. Not surprisingly, most people's complaints fell into just a few categories. The first were issues with the lid — primarily ineffective seals or closure failures. Discoloration of the materials and linger smells was another concern. Finally, cupboard stackability and the inevitable lost lid that can't be replaced were further complaints. Accordingly, we devised tests to investigate all of these issues. The following are the details of this evaluation, including which product performed the best, and why.

Seal


For a food container to work effectively, it must be able to seal. This is particularly true if the container is to be used for transporting food outside of the house. Except for the Pyrex Simply Store, all of the products reviewed here displayed excellent sealing. However, just because only one of these containers leaked water when inverted, shook, and squeezed, does not mean that the methods for achieving an effective seal were equivalent.

The hinges on these gullwing snaps ensure the longevity of this high-quality seal.
The hinges on these gullwing snaps ensure the longevity of this high-quality seal.

We favored containers like the Rubbermaid Brilliance that have proper hinges connecting their snap wings to the lid rather than those with a thin piece of plastic like the Chef's Path. The latter design is common and seems destined to wear and fail in time. As for the bags, we preferred the zip or pinch lock models such as the Newfit because the seal is easy to make and the audible snap at the end confirms it has occurred. Conversely, the slider bar models were less to our liking. The main reason for this is the sticky nature of the silicone bag. The wider the opening of the bag, the more of a problem we had with them.

Slider bars can be a pain  particularly from this point on. We resorted to wetting the silicone on the bigger bags.
Slider bars can be a pain, particularly from this point on. We resorted to wetting the silicone on the bigger bags.

As a final consideration, we found that we preferred the containers that incorporate removable gaskets. The C Crest as well as the Chef's Path provide this feature, which makes cleaning that much easier.

Stains and Odor


If you've ever reheated spaghetti or lasagna in a plastic container, then you have a good idea of the orangish hue that a well-used food container can acquire over time. Given this disagreeable, though all too common outcome, we devised what we call the red sauce test.

The high-quality plastic of the center model looks more like glass. Background models show the orangish tinting.
The high-quality plastic of the center model looks more like glass. Background models show the orangish tinting.

The test was simple. We heated store-bought tomato sauce and poured it into the containers under review. We allowed the sauce to cool and then stuck the containers with the sauce in the refrigerator overnight. We then cleaned the containers in the sink. Because this test was conducted on just one of the units in each set, we were able to perform side-by-side, before-and-after comparison for coloration and smell.

It should come as no surprise that the glass models such as the C Crest and the Pyrex fared best, while plastic products like the Chef's Path and the Newfit bags were left colored and odoriferous. What was surprising and impressive is that some plastic models like the Rubbermaid and the OXO rendered results akin to glass models. Now that's some high-end plastic.

It's probably better to avoid putting oily and acidic foods in the reusable bags. Here we see a before and after examples of the red sauce test.
It's probably better to avoid putting oily and acidic foods in the reusable bags. Here we see a before and after examples of the red sauce test.

User Experience


This broad category of assessment covers product details such as stackability, the number, and the volume of containers in each set, the construction material, and whether they are BPA free. We also looked at where the products are made, whether the lids and vessels are easily replaceable, and if the company has a product end of life policy.

BPA free  replacable and American made -- the Simply Store containers have a lot of appeal.
BPA free, replacable and American made -- the Simply Store containers have a lot of appeal.

Rubbermaid, OXO, and Pyrex made good showings in this analysis. While these products don't nest as well as others, their manufacturing is of high quality. Rubbermaid is entirely made in the USA and they have partnered with TerraCycle to provide an end of life option for customers that have worn out their containers. Similarly, Pyrex manufactures all of their lids in the USA and much of their vessels as well. Replacement lids and vessels are available for purchase should you lose or break them. Finally, OXO is a member of the 1% for the Planet organization which is arguably the premier environmental nonprofit.

Good food on the go with no waste. Reusable bags are a great tool to achieve this goal.
Good food on the go with no waste. Reusable bags are a great tool to achieve this goal.

All the containers in our review are BPA free. As for stackability, the Joseph Joseph are head and shoulders above the rest as the entire set can fit into its largest container. The C Crest glass containers come in a set of 10 and the Eoglo reusable bags come in a pack of 11. At 5.2-liters, the Chef's Path bulk containers are among the biggest we've reviewed.

Conclusion


This review of food storage sets tried to cover everything you might want to know before purchase. Our investigation ranged from the quality and type of seal used to secure the lid to the container, stain and odor resistance, as well as an assessment of the user's experience. This last topic looks at the construction materials, the companies' conscientiousness including waste management, environmental policies, and the availability of replacement parts. Finally, we looked at space-saving products, set counts, and volume. In a fast-paced world, it's nice to have good food ready to go without creating any unnecessary waste. We hope that this article will aid you in that effort.

Nick Miley