Equipment Review: The Best Plastic and The Best Glass Food Storage Containers & Our Testing Winners


whether you're storing leftovers

prepping a make-ahead meal or taking a

lunch to work you need a food storage

container to keep food fresh intact and

ready to eat

but if you like most people you've got

piles of containers that are mismatched

cracked warped and stained you could

keep repurposing that old yogurt

container but maybe it's time to trade


we found tons of new containers claiming

to be leak proof airtight microwave safe

and more well which actually function as

promised and more importantly hold up to

serious use over time we like having

both plastic and glass containers since

each has its advantages plastic is light

and less fragile glass won't warp and

resist stains and many glass containers

are also oven safe so we tested six

brands of plastic and five glass

containers all about eight cups we

didn't include the disposable

supermarket brands because those are

great for giving away but they're not

really built for durability and we did

most of the same tests on both plastic

and glass containers at first no matter

what it's made of

we want to container that's leak proof

and airtight who lusts to discover their

lunch dripped on everything in their bag

and we all want to keep our food fresher

longer so we poured in two cups of water

tinted with food coloring and make the

drips easy to spot and then we shipped

them hard in all directions for 15

seconds now some didn't last even five

seconds before a water gushed out others

drizzled out a little stream or a few

drops but if you behaved perfectly next

we tested to see if they were actually

airtight so we put in moisture detecting

crystals and then plunge them under

water for two minutes now these crystals

change from blue to pink at the

slightest moisture touches them now some

of the containers instantly filled up

with water total fail others gave us a

few pink crystals so we knew that a bit

of moisture had gotten in the best

stayed blue meaning they were dry as a


now if moisture can penetrate so can air

so food gets stale more quickly and in

the other direction

odors from the food in your container

could spread through your fridge which

brings us to the next challenge

smells and stains now most food storage

containers are similar they have a plain

box like bottom and

fitted with a silicone gasket for a

tight seal and flaps her rims that snap

down but those gaskets and lid hardware

can trap food moisture and odors so we

went for it we threw an oil top tuna and

anchovies we refrigerated them all

overnight and then took out the fish and

ran the containers through the

dishwasher and then we asked testers to

sniff the clean containers looking for

fishy odors the bad news we found fishy

smells and oil around those gaskets and

some of the gaskets were much easier to

clean than others some you have to pick

out of kinky narrow channels and later

shove them back in there but we loved

this one that gaskets built into the lid

so you can clean under it and this one

has a big soft gasket that pops right

out with a wide channel you can really

get into to clean it and dry it the next

problem with stains we stored chilly

over a weekend and then we pop the

containers right into the microwave

until the chili hit a piping hot 160

degrees which is serving temperature now

after they went through the dishwasher

most of the plastic containers are still

deeply stained the glass container

didn't stand but their plastic lids did

and the type of plastic mattered most of

these are polypropylene which turned

that familiar orange color this one made

of a clear glass like plastic called

Triton stayed stain free next we looked

at durability any container that only

works for a few months is a waste of

money if the gasket breaks there goes

the seal if the lid and flaps warp

you're stuck playing whack-a-mole so to

simulate months of use we did abuse

testing we opened and closed the

containers 100 times and then we ran

them through the 50 dishwasher cycles

then we repeated every test shaking and

submerging storing fish and checking

odors storing and heating chili and

opening and closing the lids 100 times

and finally we filled them with water

and knock them off the kitchen counter

we froze water in them and we dropped

the frozen plastic containers onto the

floor some containers burst open one

piece snapped off a lid but most of them

survived now you might never drop or

fumble your container but know yours is

unlikely to make a mess gives you peace

of mind

one more note about opening and closing

lids 200 times some of these are

total pain especially a glass one with a

plastic lid and extremely tight flaps

that one was leak-proof but it killed

our hands on the other extreme the very

easy ones are bad too because they

leaked our top choices were comfortable

to seal and leak proof at the end of all

this testing we had winners for plastic

we loved the Rubbermaid brilliants food

storage container at $12.99 for the 9.6

cup size it's spacious with a stackable

flat shape and a shallow profile that

helped food to heat faster and more

evenly than deeper containers it's

attached gasket is easy to clean and

these lit clips reinforce the seal but

also pop up to be microwave vents so you

can leave the lid on and avoid splatter

these extensions stay cool for handling

even when the food is hot and best of

all the Rubbermaid didn't leak and it

made it through all of our testing still

looking clear clean and good as new with

the glass containers we did one last

test heating in the oven now this was a

little scary since they all came with

long warnings about thermal shock we're

fast extreme temperature changes can

cause glass to shatter we'd heard

borosilicate glass is tougher than soda

lime glass

we had some containers of each material

and they both had equally long warnings

so our advice is follow the instructions

only put them in a fully preheated oven

because ovens can create hotter and

colder zones as they preheat and never

use them under the broiler in our

containers we heated macaroni and cheese

and we had no problems now our glass

favorite is the ox oh good grips 8-cup

smart seal rectangle container for 1499

it's sealed easily and tightly the big

soft gasket was easy to clean and this

container withstood all of our testing

in great condition

both are plastic and glass winners come

in a wide variety of sizes so you can

pick the one that works for you