Ideal storage for food, leftovers and packed lunches, a multi-purpose container is an extremely useful and practical piece of kit. When buying a food storage container, look for a multi-purpose product that’s strong, light, leak-resistant, ideally air-tight, compact, easy to clean and easy to store.
A variety of shapes and sizes will come in handy, especially if they can be stacked in a nest for storage. We find that angular four-sided options are the most practical choice, as they use space more efficiently in cupboards than round pots.
We’ve also included glass storage containers as they are less likely to discolour over time or absorb smells and flavours from the contents. You’ll often find they can be transferred straight from the freezer to the oven. Obviously they’re a heavier alternative to plastic containers, so have a think about what you’ll be using your food storage for; they might surprise you with added features.
Discover our picks of the best reusable plastic, glass and eco food storage containers, picked by BBC Good Food experts.
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Best food storage containers
Home Planet glass food container set
Best compartment food container
- Leakproof no-mix lid
- Multiple compartments
Alongside being generally robust and extremely practical, one of the major perks of the Home Planet set is the ability to keep two or three foods separate thanks to a two- or three-compartment glass design and no-mix lid. Which means if you’re eating on-the-go you can, for example, keep your curry and rice separate before reheating.
The lid is water-tight once clipped and the dishes are microwave (lid excluded), dishwasher, freezer- and oven-safe. Home Planet is also committed to cutting plastics from its packaging – a move we’re greatly in support of. These would be a great buy.
Lock & Lock eco 3-piece set
Best eco credentials
- Air- and water-tight lids
- 100% recycled
A firm favourite of BBC Good Food’s Lulu Grimes, the Lock & Lock are not only high-quality but also have good eco credentials. Each box is made from 100 per cent food-grade waste plastic salvaged from the production offcuts, rejects, redundant stock and surplus, meaning less waste. The boxes come in a variety of colours and sizes, which offer good versatility for snacks.
The Lock & Go system claims to be 100 per cent air- and water-tight, plus they’re freezer-safe and can handle being thrown in the dishwasher. With a lifetime guarantee, the brand is confident for good reason.
Rosti Mepal clear kitchen storage canisters
Best containers for efficient storage
- Air-tight lid
- Squared-off sides
- Glass-like material
The modular design of these Rosti Mepal food storage containers are really practical. When it comes to storing full containers in a cupboard, it helps when they can stack efficiently to make the most of limited space. These are a bit like building blocks, squared off to slide into corners and make use of whatever space you have available. The boxes themselves are clear acrylic designed to look like glass and have a clear window for peering into from above. For a slightly safer alternative to glass storage containers, this dishwasher-safe set is a great option.
IKEA 365+ glass storage container with lid
Best affordable glass containers
These are great alternatives to plastic containers if you’re looking for affordable tubs that can be transferred straight from the freezer to the oven.
The clear glass and lid negates any need for labelling, particularly when stacked with leftovers in the fridge. For freezer use, the air-tight seal prevents frost buildup inside. Yes they’re heavy, which could be a drawback for someone looking for a food container for on-the-go use.
IKEA Pruta plastic containers (set of 17)
Best basic stackable storage
- Slimline lids
- Lightweight boxes
- Stack well
These see-through boxes are resident bits of kit at the BBC Good Food test kitchen. They stack well, are super-lightweight and non-bulky to store.
So far, we’ve never kept a set of lids intact; partly because they’re so slimline. However, being green helps you spot them, particularly when they’re buried in the dishwasher. The sets are pretty basic; they’re not leak- or spill-proof, however, if you’re after easy-to-store standard food storage containers, the different size options sit happily inside each other when stacked and will do the job well.
Sistema KLIP IT food storage container
Best sealed plastic containers
- Water-tight lid
These aren’t the easiest stackers for storage, but Sistema have a great reputation for the quality of their containers; particularly the effectiveness of the seal. Four clips secure the lids to the box to form a tight closure that’s 100 per cent water-tight and leak-proof. Dishwasher-safe (top rack only) and freezer-safe, you can also pop these in the microwave without the lids to reheat leftovers.
Lakeland 10-piece stack-a-box set
Best affordable food storage set
- Freezer-, microwave- and dishwasher-safe
As the name suggests, these containers stack up for easy storage, but as the base doesn’t sit snugly inside the lid of the box below, they can topple over if nudged. The boxes are microwave-, freezer- and dishwasher-safe with lids that are easy to remove and replace. These containers are not leak-resistant – we’d recommend using to store solid food only.
Joseph Joseph 5-piece nest storage
Best multi-purpose food storage set
- Air-tight containers
These are attractive, bright and compact containers that fit inside each other in a neat nest. The containers are air-tight, leak-resistant, freezer-, microwave- and dishwasher- safe and made from a strong plastic that feels very sturdy and durable.
They also have large, pull tabs on two corners of the lid to make lid removal easy, and a good range of sizes, from a tiny snack pot to one that would accommodate a loaf cake or stack of baked goodies. Multiple containers can be used to separate food as the smaller tubs will fit inside the larger ones – ideal for children’s lunches.
OXO Good Grips pop containers
- Air-tight seal
- Pop-up button for easy access
These stackable containers with a unique pop-up button feature in the lid make opening and closing it very quick and simple. The containers are leak-resistant so could be used for safely storing a liquid, and the edges are moulded to allow for easy pouring.
The style of this collection is suited more to staying in the kitchen than being moved around. They’re freezer-safe, although OXO warns that extreme temperature changes may cause the container lid to lift due to changes in air pressure. The containers are not recommended for microwave use and only the silicone gasket is dishwasher-safe – all other parts should be washed by hand. Full cleaning instructions are supplied to help you disassemble the lid for thorough cleaning, which is quite fiddly.
What we look for in storage containers…
Ease of use/fit for purpose: containers that are easy to open and close with a tight-fitting lid, preventing leakage.
Versatility: is it microwavable and freezer-safe?
Cleaning and storage: we were looking for containers that are easy to clean and dishwasher-safe, plus stackable and easy to store.
Durability: sturdy food containers made from a long-lasting material, suitable for multiple uses.
This review was last updated in September 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Which food storage containers do you use? Leave a comment below…