The Best Food Storage Sets of 2020
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 are completely secured with two easy to release hinged snaps that, when opened, reveal vents for breathability. The set of five containers covers a wide variety of sizes that make large and small volume storage possible while conveniently stacking.
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 following tests involving 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.
The C Crest meal prep container set includes 10 glass vessels (5 x 1040 mL, 5 x 370 mL) that are hermetically sealed with built-to-last plastic lids and hinged snaps. The silicone gaskets housed in the lids are removable, making thorough cleaning possible. What makes this design so effective is that the moving parts on the units (i.e. the snaps) will not fatigue like the one-piece plastic lids of the lower-quality competitors. Accordingly, one can be sure that these lids can be secured continually without failure.
The design of the C Crest containers leave little to complain about. However, the size of these vessels is not suited to big meal storage. Unfortunately, C Crest does not provide customer service. This means there's no way to replace lids and vessels if damaged or lost. A final concern for those with smaller kitchens is that the units do not nest well for storage, and 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 be used as cookware (without lids) in the microwave and oven.
The Newfit reusable pinch lock bags offer a great alternative to their single-use counterparts. The transparent material and heavy-duty zipper provides good visibility of the bag's contents and a complete seal that you can trust not to pop open even under considerable pressure. The construction material is free from the most concerning chemicals such as BPA and PVC, while the silicone stretch lids included in the set provide 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 when acidic or oily foods were stored in the bag. While this product did not show nearly as much coloration and far less of an odor, it was, despite several cleanings, significantly tinted following our tomato sauce storage test. Given the possibility of staining, we would advise discretion with the foods you choose to store in this bag. However, we would not let the staining issue deter their use. These dishwasher safe bag's construction 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.
Two of the more frustrating aspects of food storage sets are that they take up a lot of cupboard space and the lids get lost. The Joseph Joseph Nest Lock's design does much to address both of the issues by sizing the containers to fit together like Russian dolls and making the lids secure one to another in a tapering stack. The result is an extremely compact storage size that provides tons of container space. On top of the 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 as compared to their glass counterparts. It should be noted that the Nest Lock faired better than most plastic units in this regard. Yet, one has to be somewhat selective about what they put into the unit if they want to maintain its transparency. That said, we think that those with limited kitchen space will find the sacrifice well worth the cupboard real estate saved.
If you have a big family and are trying to reduce the waste taken to the curb each week, the Eoglo storage bags will 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 will accommodate watermelon and the like for family outing outings. The pinch lock zipper provides a great seal and it is easy to get undone 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 the discoloration often comes lingering odors. 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.
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 (measuring cups are included for this purpose), and the 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. However, if you have two similar-looking staples, then make use of the marker and labels that are included with the purchase.
Although the size, shape, and seal on these containers leave little to gripe about, we do have some reservations regarding 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, although this helps to keep them light-weight. Moreover, the units are tapered to nest one inside the other when being transported or when not in use. All in all these plastic containers offer a great alternative to single-use bags both for food freshness and environmental conscientiousness.
There's a lot to like about the Pyrex Simply Store set. However, what places this storage system apart for the class is that Pyrex provides customers the option to replace both lids and vessels individually on their website. Surprisingly, this is quite rare and speaks to the pride that this American manufacturer takes in its product. 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 that the Simply Store set didn't rate higher in our evaluation is that the lids are not watertight and the vessels don't nest 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 limits potential points of failure.
There were several reusable bags in our testing group that are sealed with a slider-bar, however, the Leafy Home performed the best of the lot. The wide bottom of the bag makes filling it easy as it will stand on its own. This feature also makes it good for cooking applications such as sous vide, steaming, or reheating in hot water. The seal is watertight and, while the bag did hold stains, it was one 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 complicated cleaning. An additional concern is the closure mechanism. The plastic bar that slides across the silicone bag can be grabby and difficult to close such that we resorted to wetting it for lubrication on the larger bags. That said, if you are storing liquid foods and using the bag as a piece of cookware, it's hard to beat.
Over the years the author has spent a lot of time in the kitchen with his grandmother. In recent years he has observed the increased difficulty that her hands have given her when opening jars and the like. When the OXO POP came across his desk, he immediately thought of how beneficial this system would be to her. These containers open and completely seal with the push of a button. Having reviewed many products from this manufacturer 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 have you leaving them out on the counter as practical decorations.
The main reason that this food storage set ended up on 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 as it showed no staining and retained no odor 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 a purchase contributes directly to this organization's programs.
Why You Should Trust Us
Senior Review Editor Nick Miley is an obsessive home cook who loves to spend 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 shake on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula. From then to now, Nick has tried out 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.
To evaluate the quality and functionality of the food storage sets under review we focused on the construction material, the sealing mechanism, stackability, as well as stain and odor retention. Additionally, we looked at the economy of the products and how many containers each set includes. Moreover, we investigated the ability to replace the lids and vessels and the social responsibility assumed by the manufacturers. The latter assessment includes product end of life plans and certain philanthropic activities.
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. Put a piece of masking tape on the lid and upon entering the store have the clerk weigh the container(s). Write the weight on the masking tape and at checkout the clerk will tare the weight of the container from the food that it contains. This action eliminates 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 is issues with the lid — be it an ineffective seal or a closure failure. Discolorations and linger smells was another. Finally, cupboard stackability as well as the inevitable lost lid that can't be replaced were both common concerns. Accordingly, we tested or researched all these issues. The following are the details of this evaluation, which product performed the best, and why.
For a container to work effectively, it must be able to make a seal. This is particularly true if the container is to be used for transporting food outside of the house. With the exception of the Pyrex Simply Store, all of the products here reviewed displayed excellent sealing. However, just because only one of these containers leaked water when inverted, shook and squeezed doesn't mean that the methods for meeting this standard are equivalent.
We favored containers like the Rubbermaid Brilliance that have proper hinges connecting their snap wings to the lid as opposed to those with a thin piece of plastic like the Chef's Path. This latter design is common and will clearly wear and fail in time. As for the bags, we preferred the zip or pinch lock models such as the Newfit as the seal is easy to make and the audible snap at the end confirms the case. 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.
As a final consideration, we found that we preferred the containers that had 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'll have a good idea of the orangish hue that a well-used food container will assume over time. Given this disagreeable though common outcome, we devised what we call the red sauce test. 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 remained colored and odoriferous. What was surprising and impressive was that plastic models like the Rubbermaid and the OXO rendered results akin to glass models. Now that's some high-end plastic.
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. As 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.
This broad category of investigation 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 look 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.
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 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.
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.
The above review of food storage sets covers everything that one will want to know before purchase. Our investigation ranges 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 our fast-paced world it's nice to have good food ready to go without creating any unnecessary waste in the process. We hope that this article will aid you in the effort.
— Nick Miley