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The 4 Best Food Storage Containers of 2023

Dec 03, 2023

After another round of testing, our picks remain the same, though we now recommend different size variations for some sets. We’ve also added options to our Notable competition section.

We’ve tested dozens of food-storage containers over the years, subjecting them to repeated freezing, microwaving, and 3-foot drops onto hard floors. We’ve learned that most containers will break or wear down eventually, but we’re confident that our picks are the best options out there for stashing leftovers, packing lunches, or sharing at potlucks. If you prefer glass (which is odor-resistant and often oven-safe, though heavy), we recommend the durable Pyrex Simply Store 18-Piece Set. For plastic (which is lighter and less likely to shatter), we recommend the leakproof Snapware Total Solution 20-Piece Food Storage Set. Both are affordable options that will provide you with years of use.

The Pyrex Simply Store containers stack neatly and are made from durable tempered glass. The colorful lids make it easier to match their shape to the corresponding container, though you may need to replace them over time.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $35.

The streamlined containers in the Pyrex Simply Store 18-Piece Set are made from durable glass—they didn't break in our drop tests. They stack neatly, and their lids are some of the easiest (among those we’ve tested) to put on and take off. Because the lids don't clip closed like those on our runner-up pick, the Glasslock containers, we recommend exercising caution if you plan to transport liquids in the Pyrex containers. (We were surprised that the set's round containers didn't leak in our tests, but the rectangular ones are not leakproof, and a locking lid will still be best for preventing leaks and spills.) You can use this set in a microwave, freezer, preheated oven, and dishwasher.


These locking plastic containers have lids that are a snap to open and close, and they won't leak. We think this set offers the best range of sizes and shapes among the plastic containers we tested. Plus, they stack neatly for storage.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $30.

In our leak tests, the Snapware Total Solution 20-Piece Food Storage Set's containers stayed sealed. And after being repeatedly dropped from waist height, they sustained only minor cracks on the edges of the lids. Also, stains and smells didn't linger in these containers, and they looked great stacked in the fridge, filled with leftovers. The containers nest well, too, so in a cupboard they take up less space than much of the competition.

The Glasslock containers have locking lids that will prevent leaks. But these lids also put stress on the lips of the containers, so the glass may be prone to chipping over time.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $40.

We like that the Glasslock 18-Piece Container Set includes lids that seal to prevent spills, and these containers survived multiple drops from counter height. But after four years of long-term testing, some of our containers have chipped around their edges—a common complaint with most glass containers we researched. Their locking lids require more effort to close than the lids of our main pick, the Pyrex Simply Store 18-Piece Set. And we suspect that the repeated stress of snapping the Glasslock containers’ lids shut is what caused some of them to chip (stacking the containers for storage can also cause stress on glass containers and lead to chipping). That said, if you’re looking for leakproof glass containers for meal prep, these are the best we’ve tested. The Glasslock containers come in a variety of shapes that store nicely in the fridge, and they are safe to use in an oven, microwave, freezer, or dishwasher.

These inexpensive plastic containers come in multiple sizes, for packing and transporting food. They do become soft after microwaving, and they hold onto stains and smells, so they aren't the best for regular use.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $16.

The Rubbermaid TakeAlongs Food Storage Containers are perfect for transporting food to parties and other functions, and because they’re so cheap, you may not mind leaving pieces behind. This set comes in a variety of sizes, with containers that stack well for convenient storage. Scents and stains remained after washing, and a few containers leaked in our testing. But we think they’re the best option compared with other budget sets.

The Pyrex Simply Store containers stack neatly and are made from durable tempered glass. The colorful lids make it easier to match their shape to the corresponding container, though you may need to replace them over time.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $35.

These locking plastic containers have lids that are a snap to open and close, and they won't leak. We think this set offers the best range of sizes and shapes among the plastic containers we tested. Plus, they stack neatly for storage.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $30.

The Glasslock containers have locking lids that will prevent leaks. But these lids also put stress on the lips of the containers, so the glass may be prone to chipping over time.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $40.

These inexpensive plastic containers come in multiple sizes, for packing and transporting food. They do become soft after microwaving, and they hold onto stains and smells, so they aren't the best for regular use.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $16.

To find the best food-storage options, we’ve talked with several experts over the years about materials science and what makes a great container, including Nancy Hopkins, senior deputy food and entertaining editor for Better Homes & Gardens; Faith Durand, then executive editor and now editor-in-chief for Kitchn; and Michele Thomas, then executive editor at the International Culinary Center. Additionally, we reached out to glass experts including Jane Cook, PhD, then chief scientist at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York, and William C. LaCourse, PhD, a professor in the Glass Engineering Science department at Alfred University in Alfred, New York.

We’ve updated this guide after years of using these container sets in our test kitchen and in our own homes, storing leftovers in the fridge or packing lunches for our commutes. Anna Perling, who performed testing for and wrote our latest update, is a kitchen staff writer who has spent more than four years reviewing food-storage vessels, from travel mugs to food thermoses to lunch boxes. Her reporting built on senior staff writer Michael Sullivan's deep dive into the science of glass and thorough durability testing over the course of several months. Ganda Suthivarakom, who wrote our original guide, spent dozens of hours researching and testing (and filling, shaking, storing, freezing, microwaving, washing, and dropping) food containers.

There are a few reasons to upgrade your containers, especially if you use plastic yogurt or takeout tubs. First, you can't see through yogurt containers, so once the lid is on, you can easily forget what you have in there (and let it rot). Second, they aren't leakproof, which means that transporting them to work for lunch can be a messy affair. Third, such plastic containers are not FDA-approved for repeat food storage or microwaving. By upgrading to more-durable glass or plastic food-storage containers, you can be confident that they’ll last longer and keep your food fresher (however, because the lids are usually plastic, you may still need to replace the ones that come with glass containers before the containers themselves give out). And if your current containers are chipped or warped, that's another sign it may be time to replace them. They won't seal properly, and a chip or crack will act like a snag in a pair of stockings—the crack can run and cause more damage down the line.

Our favorite alternatives to plastic or disposable food storage include silicone food-storage bags, beeswax wraps, and cloth produce bags.

You may also want additional containers if you’re getting into meal prep (that is, portioning individual meals into separate containers to eat throughout the week). Our plastic recommendations are especially great for meal prep because they’re less expensive and light enough to carry to work. If you already own a glass or plastic container set but want something you can bring to potlucks and picnics, you may also want to purchase a set of cheap plastic containers you won't mind leaving behind.

Wondering which material to get? Here's our breakdown.

Choose one of our glass picks if any of the following apply:

Choose one of our plastic picks if any of the following apply:

Ultimately, the choice between plastic and glass is a personal one that's based on lifestyle. Of the experts we interviewed, some preferred glass, some preferred plastic, and one even preferred zip-top plastic bags for leftovers. They chose what worked best for themselves and their families, and you can too.

Containers are made from different types of glass, which will affect their durability, price, and how they’ll break if you drop them. Most glass food-storage containers, including the Pyrex and Glasslock sets we recommend, are made of tempered glass, a type of heat-treated soda-lime glass. Tempered glass is ideal for cooking and storing food because it's very durable. It can survive being dropped on the floor, and it's able to withstand dramatic temperature changes without cracking. Tempered glass does have one downside, however: On rare occasions, it can shatter unexpectedly (this may seem spontaneous, but it's usually a result of thermal shock or repeated stress on the glass). That being said, tempered glass is often referred to as "safety glass" because when it does break, it crumbles into cube-shaped pieces that are easy to sweep up, as opposed to long, thin shards that can more easily cut you. (This is why tempered glass is used for side and rear windows in cars and glass shower doors.) To understand more on how and why this seemingly random breakage occurs, you can check out our blog post on the subject.

Some food-storage containers are made from borosilicate glass because it's even more resistant to thermal shock, or sudden changes in temperature, than tempered glass. However, it's more expensive, and it's also more brittle than tempered glass—which means it may break more easily if you hit it against the counter or drop it on the floor. You may also find containers made from heat-strengthened glass, which is twice as strong as untreated glass yet not as strong as tempered glass. So compared with tempered glass, heat-strengthened glass is not as resistant to sudden changes of temperature or as durable if you drop it. You’re unlikely to find non-heat-treated soda-lime glass containers because they are neither oven- nor freezer-safe.

We don't think you need to be fearful of using tempered-glass items, but you should still treat them with care.

In reporting this guide, we talked with five experts, ranging from cookbook editors to glass scientists: Nancy Hopkins, senior deputy food and entertaining editor for Better Homes & Gardens; Faith Durand, then executive editor and now editor-in-chief for Kitchn; Michele Thomas, then executive editor at the International Culinary Center (and now a sommelier, wine educator, and writer); Jane Cook, PhD, then chief scientist at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York; and William C. LaCourse, PhD, a professor in the Glass Engineering Science department at Alfred University in Alfred, New York.

We also consulted reviews from Good Housekeeping, The Strategist, Reviewed, and The Spruce Eats. Finally, we looked for best-selling sets from Amazon, Bed Bath and Beyond, Wayfair, Target, IKEA, Williams-Sonoma, Food52, and The Container Store. For each of these, we combed through owner reviews. We also polled our staff for long-term-testing feedback and read the comments on this guide.

After years of research and testing, we know that whether you’re choosing glass or plastic, a good container should meet the following criteria:

Our 2021 tests built on our testing from previous years. We tested for leaks by filling containers with water and shaking them, before and after they had run through the dishwasher. To test how the containers would hold onto smells and stains, we filled them with tomato sauce, placed them in the refrigerator for five days and the freezer for two weeks, and reheated the sauce in the microwave for two minutes. Before reheating, we also checked the frozen tomato sauce for freezer-burn patterns, which indicate how tightly a container seals. And we submerged all of the lids in a large bowl of tomato sauce for 48 hours and then ran them through the dishwasher, as an additional stain and smell test. Usability is important in a container. We considered how easy each set's containers were to open and close, how well they stacked, and how well their shapes and sizes would work with different types of foods.

Keep in mind that most manufacturers include both the containers and the lids in the total set count. So if a set is sold as 14 pieces or 16 pieces, you’re really getting only seven or eight containers.

Previously, we froze quarter-pound portions of ground beef for two weeks to look at freezer-burn patterns. And, most fun of all, we conducted a drop test from waist height for all of the containers (including glass ones) to see whether they would break or if the lids would pop off. In an attempt to simulate a non-bouncy kitchen floor, we did these drop tests on a piece of wood placed over cement.

In 2018, we also subjected the glass sets to extreme thermal stresses (which is something we strongly do not recommend trying at home): We pulled the containers from the freezer and filled them with boiling water; we took containers that had been in a 350 ºF oven for 10 minutes and filled them with ice water; we used the containers to reheat cold beef stew and tomato sauce in the microwave for three minutes; and, finally, we froze beef stew in the containers and put them directly into a 350 °F oven for 10 minutes. Since most of our picks have remained consistent over the years, we didn't repeat any drop or thermal shock tests in 2021.

The Pyrex Simply Store containers stack neatly and are made from durable tempered glass. The colorful lids make it easier to match their shape to the corresponding container, though you may need to replace them over time.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $35.

The classic, streamlined Pyrex Simply Store 18-Piece Set is the best glass container set we’ve tested. Made from tempered glass, these sturdy containers survived multiple counter-height drops onto wood without breaking. Unlike other glass containers we tested, the Pyrex containers have a smooth rim that's less likely to chip over time, and they look nice enough to use for serving. Though not all of the lids are watertight, they’re faster and easier to seal than the lids of our runner-up pick, the Glasslock containers (which require more force to clip closed). And because each shape of Pyrex lid is a different color, they’re easy to match to their corresponding containers. The lids will likely wear down faster than the containers themselves (especially if you run them through the dishwasher), but you can easily get replacements from Pyrex. This set stacks neatly and is safe to use in a microwave, freezer, preheated oven, and dishwasher.

We continue to be impressed by the durability of the Pyrex set: After years of use in our home kitchens, our containers haven't chipped or cracked. We’ve heard this from a number of Wirecutter staffers. One person told us, "They’ve held up remarkably well over the last two to three years of regular use." Another said: "I use them all the time, they’ve held up extremely well for years now. [I] dishwash them, top or bottom rack, wherever they’ll fit." And yet another colleague told us, "I’d say I’ve had most of them for more than five years. Never had the glass part break."

These containers were also impressive in our initial drop tests. They survived drop after drop onto a wood board placed over a cement floor. At one point, a container missed the board entirely and bounced off the cement without breaking. The containers also passed our thermal stress tests: They were still intact after we transferred them directly from a 350 °F oven to the freezer and vice versa (we strongly urge you not to try this experiment at home). The Pyrex containers are fairly heavy, but that's true of all the glass models we tested (for lighter containers, we recommend plastic options).

Instead of locking on with clips, the flexible Pyrex lids press on, and they don't require as much force to put on or take off. They’re easier to seal than the similar Anchor Hocking lids we tested and than Glasslock's locking ones. The lids come in different colors that correlate to differently sized containers, providing a visual cue to help match them together more easily. The lids are airtight, and we didn't see any signs of freezer burn on our tomato sauce. Even though the round containers we tested didn't leak in our tests, we would hesitate to throw them into a backpack with a computer. We also found that the rectangular containers leaked from the corners. However, since you can simply choose to store soups and stews in the round containers, we’re willing to forgive this minor drawback.

In our tomato-sauce tests, we could detect a slight aroma on the Pyrex lids after running them through the dishwasher, but the smell wasn't as strong as the one left behind on some of the other containers we tested, like the silicone-rimmed Pyrex Ultimate containers. Pyrex's plastic lids are obviously not oven-safe, and if you’re using a dishwasher to clean the lids, they should be placed only on the top rack.

The Pyrex set includes nine glass containers (with matching lids), and they range in size from 1 to 7 cups. The containers nest well, or you can stack the sealed containers on top of each other. The smooth, clean lines of the Pyrex pieces also look nice on a table, if you’re serving straight from the containers after reheating.

If you’re looking for fewer containers, the Pyrex Simply Store line is also available as a 14-piece set (with seven containers and accompanying lids). You can purchase replacement tops on Pyrex's website.

Pyrex offers a two-year warranty on the Simply Store containers, meaning the company will replace defective pieces from the set as long as they haven't been subjected to misuse or abuse. Also, according to the company, Pyrex will replace any glass product that breaks due to oven heat. If this happens, just be sure to keep the damaged item, since you may be asked to return it. Contact the Pyrex Customer Care Center for returns or replacements.

Like the other glass containers we tested, the Pyrex set we looked at had a number of visible flaws in the glass. These flaws aren't noticeable unless you’re looking for them, but they can potentially weaken the glass and make it more prone to shattering, so it's something to know before you buy.

Again, not all of the containers in this set are leakproof, so we don't recommend using them to transport meals to work or school. Though the round containers didn't leak any water in our tests, we’d still exercise caution if you intend to use them to transport liquids. Our runner-up pick, the Glasslock set, is best if you’re looking for an entirely leakproof glass option.

All tempered glassware runs the risk of spontaneously shattering. It's rare, but the Pyrex containers are no exception. Glass is a brittle material and needs to be treated with care.

We’ve noticed some mixed feedback over how long the Pyrex lids can last. We’ve found that the lids can crack even when washed on the top rack after many years (about five). Several Amazon reviewers have complained that the lids can crack or warp even after just a few uses, but Wirecutter staffers reported that their Pyrex lids stayed intact even after two to three years. Pyrex does sell replacement lids if you need them. You may be able to prolong the life of your lids by hand-washing them, although it may be inconvenient to do so.

These locking plastic containers have lids that are a snap to open and close, and they won't leak. We think this set offers the best range of sizes and shapes among the plastic containers we tested. Plus, they stack neatly for storage.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $30.

Out of all the plastic sets we tested, we recommend the Snapware Total Solution 20-Piece Food Storage Set. This plastic set doesn't offer the same durability as the glass Pyrex set we recommend—we’ve noticed that plastic containers may scratch, stain, or warp over time, while glass ones do not. But the plastic, locking Snapware set is cheaper, lighter, and more convenient for transporting food than our glass picks. Snapware is owned by the same company as Pyrex, and similarly, it offers replaceable lids and a long warranty. These sets have held up well over time in our home kitchens, too. For those reasons, we think the Snapware set is the best option from our picks if you want to prep your meal ahead and grab your container from the fridge on your way out the door.

The lids in the Snapware Total Solution set are easy to snap closed (unlike those in the Snapware Airtight set, which were difficult to latch and repeatedly popped open, or the Rubbermaid Brilliance lids, which sprang shut violently, like a mousetrap). With the Snapware containers, there's also a small tab at the edge to leverage when you’re pulling the lid off, though you may not need it (these lids didn't suction as much as ones like the Rubbermaid Brilliance). Still, the Snapware Total Solution containers and lids provided a tight seal, which prevented any signs of freezer burn and didn't leak (even after a run through the dishwasher). With the locking tabs, these containers are more likely to stay shut than sets with press-on lids from IKEA or our budget pick, the Rubbermaid TakeAlongs.

Like most plastic lids, the Snapware ones retained a faint tomato-sauce scent after we marinated them separately in a large bowl of sauce for 48 hours, but they didn't retain any stains. The containers themselves were also stain-free. In contrast, the Lock & Lock containers retained an oily orange residue (and when we previously tested the Snapware Airtight set and the Popit containers, we also found that these sets retained smells and stains). And the Snapware Total Solution set performed admirably in our drop tests: Only a small piece on the corner of the lid broke off, after the third drop.

We appreciate that the Snapware containers nest, for easy storage, or stack neatly in the fridge and freezer. The set comes with 10 containers and matching lids in a variety of shapes and sizes that we think will work for most foods—from small circular containers for storing sauces or dressings to deeper, rounded rectangles for lasagna or curry. You can also write on the lids to label what's inside (which is a nice touch, even though we prefer to label with removable tape).

The lids also work with glass Snapware containers, which is convenient if you’re buying both styles and don't want to have to rummage through various lids in your drawer. We found the Snapware lids slightly easier to lock and pop off than the Glasslock lids (thanks to a small protruding tab at the rim). The key difference between the two containers is that you can remove the gaskets on the Glasslock lids for cleaning, but the gaskets on the Snapware lids we tested are attached. (The instructions on the Snapware Total Solution product page recommend removing the gasket for cleaning. But a company representative confirmed that these are the brand's general-care recommendations and apply to the Airtight containers, which do have removable gaskets.) That's a downside, but since the Snapware lids don't have fine ridges, like the spongier gaskets on the OXO or Glasslock lids, we think the Snapware lids won't trap grime as easily.

These containers are microwave-, freezer-, and dishwasher-safe. Snapware offers a lifetime warranty on both the plastic containers and the lids if "damaged during normal household use." Wirecutter staffers who have owned a set for several years reported no issues with the containers or lids. Snapware also sells replaceable lids for every shape in the set if you need them: round, square, and rectangular. (Like Pyrex, Snapware is a Corelle brand.) If you need to make a claim, contact the company's customer-care center; be sure to keep the container or lid because you may be asked to return it.

As we mentioned, the gaskets on the lids aren't removable, which makes cleaning more difficult compared with the Glasslock set. Over the years, we’ve noticed some stock fluctuation with these containers. If they’re sold out, we also like the OXO Good Grips 16-piece Smart Seal Plastic Container Set, which we discuss in our Competition section.

The Glasslock containers have locking lids that will prevent leaks. But these lids also put stress on the lips of the containers, so the glass may be prone to chipping over time.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $40.

We recommend the Glasslock 18-Piece Container Set only if you want a glass set that's leakproof. Like a lot of glass containers we considered, these have a history of chipping over time (although many Wirecutter staffers report no issues after years of use). The Glasslock containers’ tight-fitting lids keep food fresher longer. But they also put pressure on the edge of the glass, which, according to the glass experts we spoke with, may be causing stress that results in breakage. (Several reviewers also mentioned that their containers chipped after they nested them for storage. We were told by Jane Cook, then chief scientist at the Corning Museum of Glass, that stacking glass can cause stress over time because the two hard surfaces rub together, and this may eventually lead to chipping. You can stack the containers on top of each other with the lids on instead, or layer a paper towel between containers.) That said, compared with other brands we tested, the Glasslock containers locked more securely without leaking and didn't break or pop open when dropped. Per piece, the set also costs less than other glass options we considered.

The plastic lids have a firm silicone gasket that fills the lid groove from edge to edge and provides a tight seal that doesn't leak. Though the gaskets are removable, they’re harder to pry off than the thicker rings on the OXO containers—we accidentally punctured the gasket on one of our Glasslock containers with a butter knife. Our testers found that the plastic flaps on the lids were more difficult to close than the press-on lids of the Pyrex glass containers, but that's true of most locking containers. However, the Glasslock containers kept food fresher longer than much of the competition in our initial tests, indicating that they’re airtight. In our tests, greens remained sprightly, and cut strawberries tasted just a touch off after being refrigerated for two weeks. Tomato sauce didn't show signs of freezer burn, and it didn't impart stains or smells to the glass or to the plastic lid.

Impressively, the Glasslock set bounced in our drop tests, with no damage to the glass containers. The lids remained perfectly intact and didn't pop off. (For kicks, we even tried dropping a Glasslock container onto cement. It broke on a corner only after three other attempts to crack the thing.) The glass Snapware set we tested didn't fare as well in our drop tests: Some of the flaps opened, and the corner of the lid cracked.

The Glasslock set comes with nine square, rectangular, and round containers ranging from 0.7 cup (165 milliliters) to 6.3 cups (1.5 liters) in size. Though the containers are clear, you can choose to get them with clear lids with a sea-green gasket or with translucent cornflower-blue lids. This set has a wider range of shapes than the glass Rubbermaid Brilliance set. The Glasslock walls are thick but perfectly see-through, and same-shape containers of different sizes nest even with the lids on. These containers stack beautifully in the fridge, making it easy to see what leftovers you have.

Like Pyrex and Anchor Hocking, Glasslock makes its containers out of tempered soda-lime glass that's oven-, microwave-, freezer-, and dishwasher-safe. Though we like the OXO 16 Piece Smart Seal Glass Container Set (which has a spongier gasket and lids that are easier to take off and clean), it's far more expensive since the containers are made from borosilicate glass. And we still saw complaints of chipping in the reviews.

Glasslock will replace any worn-out or faulty lids free of charge (though you’ll have to pay a few bucks for shipping). You can order the right-size lid on its website by looking for the product code etched into the bottom of your container. If you buy your set directly through Glasslock's website, the company will offer a full refund within 30 days of purchase as long as the containers are unused and in their original packaging.

Like all tempered glassware, the Glasslock containers can spontaneously shatter (albeit very rarely) due to surface damage, manufacturing flaws, or extreme thermal stresses. Beyond that, several pieces we’ve long-term tested have chipped around the edge, and we’ve heard other people complain of the same thing. We’ve also read reviews that the containers’ body chips over time. The chipping is probably due to the pressure that the locking lids put on the glass when you snap them shut, or from stacking the containers. William LaCourse, a professor in the Glass Engineering Science department at Alfred University, told us, "There will be stresses as a result of the cap and putting the cap on with fairly high pressure … it essentially squeezes the cap onto the glass." He explained that if there are any minor flaws already present in the glass, the added pressure from the lids could cause the containers to chip or break. Cook said that you can also put stress on glass by rubbing it against a material as hard or harder than itself (which happens when you stack glass containers on top of each other). That stress is also exacerbated when you stack warm containers that have expanded.

If you’re committed to getting the Glasslock containers because you want glass containers that don't leak, we don't think the concern of chipping or breakage should stop you. Only a small number of the containers we’ve tested have chipped. We also subjected the Glasslock containers to extreme thermal stresses, and they survived unscathed. And we’ve previously ordered sets from different retailers to check for any breakage during shipping. Just keep an eye out every time you open a container: The only thing you don't want is a piece of glass in your food. And if you’re going to choose glass over plastic, keep in mind that all glassware is inherently brittle and needs to be handled with care.

If you don't have a dishwasher, you may need to remove the gaskets from the Glasslock lids to clean them and prevent any mold buildup. (This seems to happen only to sets that people hand-wash.) Carefully dig the gasket out with a butter knife so you don't knick it, wash it with hot water, and let it dry completely before you reassemble the lid.

Some Amazon reviewers have complained that the flaps on the lids of the Glasslock containers make a racket when snapped shut. But we don't think this is a dealbreaker because it's just a split second of noise; other containers, like the Rubbermaid Brilliance, were louder.

Marilyn Ong, supervising editor on our kitchen team, has owned Glasslock containers for roughly five years, and she uses them frequently to store leftovers for her family of five. She hasn't experienced any glass chipping, though the flaps on the lids for her round containers did start to break off after about four years. She ordered new lids for free from the Glasslock website, paid a few dollars for shipping, and received them less than a week later.

These inexpensive plastic containers come in multiple sizes, for packing and transporting food. They do become soft after microwaving, and they hold onto stains and smells, so they aren't the best for regular use.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $16.

If you need budget-friendly containers that you’ll be less likely to worry about leaving behind at picnics or potlucks, the best of those we tested were the Rubbermaid TakeAlongs Food Storage Containers. We’ve tested a 40-piece set as well as a 52-piece set, and we found they came with a wider range of shapes and sizes than any of the other flimsier sets we tested. (Both the 40- and 52-piece sets are not consistently available, but the 32-piece set we link to has a similar combination of many of the pieces we’ve tested.) Although there can be a lot of pieces to keep track of, these containers and lids stack well and don't take up as much space as you’d expect.

Unlike the similar Ziploc and Glad containers, the Rubbermaid TakeAlongs didn't leak before or after we ran them through the dishwasher. And while other budget plastic containers we tested, like those from Reditainer and Glad, shattered immediately when filled with water and dropped from waist height, the Rubbermaid container we dropped remained fully sealed for two drops. Only after the fourth drop did the base of the Rubbermaid crack.

Like all disposable sets, the Rubbermaid TakeAlongs aren't perfect, because they’re not intended for long-term use. The plastic becomes soft when microwaved, though not as soft as the Ziploc and Glad containers. The Rubbermaid TakeAlongs also stained slightly and retained a faint tomato scent after dishwashing, which was a problem we encountered with all of the cheap plastic sets we tested. However, because these containers are so affordable, come in a variety of sizes, and don't leak easily, we’re willing to forgive these drawbacks. We’ve noticed stock issues with various TakeAlong sets. But we’ve tested a large range of the pieces available in the different sets (including a few smaller containers with screw-top lids to store sauces or condiments), and we have found that all the containers and lids are of similar quality, and are made from the same materials.

If you can't find the TakeAlongs, or you want to consider other options that you may be able to pick up easily from a grocery or home-goods store, there are a couple of other budget-friendly sets that will work, if they’re easier for you to get. The nesting IKEA Pruta set didn't stain or retain smells, and it is easy to pick up if you’re already shopping at an IKEA. But we wouldn't recommend going out of your way to buy this set, since it's difficult to order online (our containers took three weeks to arrive, and the $5 shipping fee is almost as much as the $6 set), and it doesn't include as many shapes as the TakeAlongs set. We also like deli containers, which stack and are designed to be disposable if you want to give food away or leave your container behind. But these don't hold up well in the microwave or freezer and don't come in as many different sizes.

Your containers will likely outlast your lids, but you can try and take a little extra care of them to prolong their lifespan. It's tempting to just leave the lids on when you microwave stuff in your containers. Don't. No sealed lid benefits from the vacuum effect that happens when you heat your food in the microwave. Abusing the lid in this way can cause it to warp and lose its seal. When you microwave, if you must keep the lid on to prevent splatter, always make sure to loosen the lid completely and set it slightly ajar across the top of the container. An even better option is to put a vented microwave cover or a paper towel over your container when you zap it. Keep in mind that if you’re using a microwave with sensor reheat, it won't work properly unless it can detect the amount of moisture coming off of your food.

If you don't own a dishwasher, or you want to prolong the life of your lids, handwashing works just fine for our picks. But if the lid has a removable gasket, remove the gasket from time to time and clean it separately from the lid to make sure no mold can grow. If you’re loading these into the dishwasher, plastic pieces should always go on the top rack, while glass pieces can go anywhere in the dishwasher.

After using these containers for years in our kitchens, we’ve found that when we put the Glasslock lids through the dishwasher, they stay mold-free even without removing the gaskets, which is convenient. Cook told us, however, that "automatic dishwashers are hell" for plastic (and glass!) due to high, uneven heat, humidity, and chemicals from detergent. We noticed a few of our Glasslock lids began to break after four years of putting them through the dishwasher, and our Pyrex lids have cracked over time, too. Hand-washing them with water no hotter than what comes from your tap, or at least avoiding the heated dry cycle (if your dishwasher has one) when you do use the dishwasher, may help extend their lifespan. You’ll need to weigh the trade-off between convenience and longevity when caring for your containers and lids.

We tested 17 dishwashers and found that the Bosch 300 Series offers the best combination of cleaning performance, features, and reliability for the price.

After removing glass food-storage containers from a hot dishwasher, the experts we spoke to recommend letting them cool before stacking them in a cupboard. LaCourse said, "When they’re hot and clean, they will scratch easily." Hot glass will also be more prone to sticking. Cook explained that, "When they’re warm, they’ve expanded slightly. As they cool down, if you put a colder glass inside of a warmer glass, they’re just going to grab onto each other. So you’re more likely to get a glass stuck inside another glass, and it needs to be pounded out or put under running water in order to get them apart, which all leads to more surface damage and shorter lifetime." Stacking glass even when it isn't hot can also add stress to containers, and lead to chipping over time.

To store, dry the lids completely before putting away. We recommend leaving the lids resting on top of the containers, but not snapped shut, which helps to protect the longevity of the seal.

We’ve read customer reviews on Amazon and feedback from our readers who have occasionally reported that their tempered glassware "spontaneously shattered." Even though tempered glass is more durable than non-heat-treated soda-lime glass, it's still glass, and can break. Never subject your glass food storage containers to extreme thermal stresses (such as taking containers from the freezer and placing them directly into a hot oven and vice versa). Always stay within the recommended temperature threshold indicated in the manufacturer's instructions.

If you prefer borosilicate glass containers—which are even better than tempered glass ones at withstanding temperature changes—we liked the shape and size variation of the OXO 16 Piece Smart Seal Glass Container Set. Because they’re made from borosilicate, this makes them far more expensive than our picks—and we still found reviews complaining that they chipped. But if you plan on using your containers frequently in the oven or freezer, or the Glasslock containers are sold out, we think this is a good option. We also appreciated the lids on these containers: They have a thicker gasket that's far easier to remove and wedge back in than the gasket on the Glasslock containers. In theory, that extra cushion could help prevent the OXO's rims—which (like the Glasslocks) are slightly raised—from chipping.

If you want containers with as little plastic as possible, the Pyrex Ultimate 10-Piece Glass Storage Set is likely your best bet. These containers have glass lids trimmed with white silicone that evoke a chic, minimalist lifestyle that's aspirational but perhaps not realistic for actually storing food. The white lids stained in our tomato sauce tests (of course), and because the lids are glass, the containers are heavy and not ideal for transport. The lids do suction well, however, and they’re still easy to peel off thanks to a protruding tab.

We appreciate that the lids on the Snapware Total Solution Pyrex Glass Set are interchangeable with those of the plastic Snapware set. If you’re interested in owning both plastic and glass containers for different purposes, using Snapware for both means you won't have to rummage between multiple mismatched lids to find what you need. This set was our former runner-up pick for glass containers (though it used to have 18 pieces and slightly different shape options). Like those of our current runner-up pick, this set's lids clip closed and may subject the lip of the containers to stress, which can increase the chances of breakage. Because the silicone-bordered lids are a little harder to clean by hand than those of the Glasslocks containers, we recommend these only if having interchangeable lids between plastic and glass sets is important to you.

We like the lids on the plastic OXO Good Grips Smart Seal Plastic Container Set just as much as the ones on the glass version. These containers are more expensive than our pick, and they don't have any round shapes. That said, we think they’re a fine option if our locking plastic pick sells out.

If you want a lid that's easy to remove, you might like suction lids. The lids on all of our picks (the locking-style lids on the Glasslocks or Snapware containers and the press-on style lids from Pyrex and Rubbermaid) take some effort to get on and off. Suction lids, by contrast, simply sit atop a bowl or container you already own to cover it. However, they aren't airtight and won't prevent leaks or spills (they suction to the container only when you lift up on them from a knob in the center; otherwise nothing secures them in place). We’ve tested suction lids before, and out of all the ones we tried, we preferred the thicker, sturdier, clear Lékué Suction Lid. We also tried the GIR lids, which come in more sizes and colors. These are a little floppier and don't create as strong a seal as the Lékué lids, but they’re easy to peel off and rinse clean. (I, Anna Perling, am breaking into the first person here to tell you that I used the GIR Suction Lids—as well as the Food52 Airtight Lids—for several months while I was recovering from a nerve damage injury and couldn't move my dominant arm or hand. I found them easier to put on, take off, and clean than firmer lids with ridges or tabs; maybe you will too.)

There are just two shape and size options in the Rubbermaid Brilliance glass set, and the lids are more difficult to shut and pry off than those of our picks.

The Anchor Hocking Glass Food Storage Set survived our drop tests, but the containers leaked more than the similarly designed glass Pyrex containers we tested. The flimsy lids in this set also held onto odors more than our picks. Anchor Hocking does sell replacement lids, however.

The Zyliss Fresh Glass Food Storage Containers are made of borosilicate glass. But they don't come in as many shapes and sizes as the OXO borosilicate set, and the lids don't have a removable gasket for easy cleaning.

Anchor Hocking TrueSeal Glass Storage got a B+ from Good Housekeeping. But we dismissed them after reading that Cook's Illustrated (subscription required) does not recommend them because the seal became noticeably looser after going through the dishwasher 50 times and leaked profusely.

Although we recommend the Rubbermaid Brilliance Leak-Proof Food Storage Containers line in our guide to the best dry food storage containers, we don't recommend them for daily use for storing leftovers. We’ve read reports that they crack in the dishwasher or microwave. So we prefer them for longer-term dry storage, since you don't need to wash the containers as often. They also have fewer shape options, and the locking lids require more force to shut than our plastic containers pick.

The Lock & Lock Easy Essentials 21 Container Food Storage Container Set is affordable, and it offers many shapes and sizes. The lids are a little harder to align and lock, compared with our picks. These were the only plastic containers we tested for our 2021 update to stain after our tomato sauce test and to have freezer burn.

For a cheap set of containers with press-on lids, we like the IKEA Pruta set, but they’re difficult to get online due to prolonged shipping times or extra costs (ours took three weeks to arrive; IKEA also charges for shipping, which in this case costs almost as much as the containers themselves). They also don't come in as many shapes as our budget pick. And, as is true of most flimsy plastic sets, we’ve found that they warp over time.

The Reditainer Deli Food Storage Containers are typically used in professional restaurant kitchens because they’re cheap to buy in bulk, they’re uniform, and they store very neatly. They’re also cheap enough to leave at someone's house. Although these containers didn't leak and did keep freezer-burn at bay, they stained easily and hung onto food odors. These containers also shattered in our drop test.

Though it's convenient that the lids in the Rubbermaid Easy Find Lid 42-Piece Set stack, these containers leaked both before and after going through the dishwasher, so we dismissed them.

The Popit Little Big Box Food Plastic Container Set didn't leak when filled with water, and the removable gasket made cleaning easy. However, this set didn't pass our drop test: The flaps popped open, and one completely broke off.

The Rubbermaid Premier set did very well in nearly all of our tests, but it was difficult to tell when the lid was sealed properly. We also thought the container sizes were a little too small for holding leftovers.

The Snapware Airtight Plastic Food Container Set we recommended in 2015 had faulty lid flaps that were difficult to close when they were tested again in 2016. This set also held onto food odors and stains more than the competition. (This set is no longer available in these shapes, but there is a set of round containers.)

Sterilite Ultra-Seal containers, which you can find at many retailers, received poor marks from both Cook's Illustrated and Good Housekeeping for a seal that wasn't airtight. (These containers also no longer come in a set with varying shapes and sizes, so every piece must be purchased individually.)

The Glad MatchWare color-coded lids and containers made matching pairs easy. But they leaked, stained, and left ground meat covered with freezer burn. These containers also exploded in our drop tests. (The colors and patterns on this set have changed since our original review, though the containers are the same.)

Ziploc's containers nest well, but they leaked, and they became extremely soft when microwaved.

Nicole Papantoniou, The Best Food Storage Containers, Good Housekeeping, January 22, 2021

Sharon Franke, The Best Food Storage Containers of 2021, Reviewed, February 16, 2021

The Best Food-Storage Containers on Amazon, According to Hyperenthusiastic Reviewers, The Strategist, September 8, 2020

Nancy Hopkins, senior deputy food and entertaining editor for Better Homes & Gardens, phone interview

Faith Durand, executive editor for The Kitchn, email interview

Michele Thomas, then executive editor at the International Culinary Center, email interview, January 28, 2016

Jane Cook, PhD, then chief scientist at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York, phone interview, September 15, 2017 and March 16, 2021

William C. LaCourse, PhD, a professor in the Glass Engineering Science department at Alfred University in Alfred, New York, phone interview, September 12, 2017

Heated Glass Comparison,

Anna Perling

Anna Perling is a former staff writer covering kitchen gear at Wirecutter. During her time at Wirecutter, she reported on various topics including sports bras, board games, and light bulbs. Previously she wrote food and lifestyle pieces for Saveur and Kinfolk magazines. Anna is a mentor at Girls Write Now and a member of the Online News Association.

Michael Sullivan

Michael Sullivan has been a staff writer on the kitchen team at Wirecutter since 2016. Previously, he was an editor at the International Culinary Center in New York. He has worked in various facets of the food and restaurant industry for over a decade.

Ganda Suthivarakom

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