Mumsnet Logo
My feed

Mumsnet is supported by readers. All our writers obsessively research every product we recommend. When you buy through a link on our site we might earn commission but this never influences our product choices.

Best food storage containers for keeping leftovers fresh

The best food storage containers are durable, airtight, and multipurpose. Whether you want to store leftovers or portion out your batch cooking, these are the best containers you can buy.

By Madeline Littlejohns | Last updated May 15, 2023

Selection of the best food storage containers

We updated this article on 15th May 2023 to make sure everything is in stock and accurate. We also added two new containers to make sure our round-up features the very best products for different culinary needs.

With the cost of living crisis hitting a lot of families hard, more and more of us are looking to save money in the kitchen, whether that's reducing hob time with a pressure cooker, hunting out the best cookbooks for recipes that require minimal ingredients, or meal planning and batch cooking.

Cooking a big dish and storing portions in the fridge or freezer is a great way to reduce your energy costs and save time on busy weeknights. And, while there is an initial cost involved, it's worth investing in the best set of food storage containers that you can reuse again and again for batch cooking and storing leftovers.

The best food storage containers should make your life easier, so they should also be dishwasher safe, microwave friendly and resilient to time in the freezer. To help you to choose, we’ve thoroughly researched the top kitchen storage so you can get started on your meal prep with ease. Our first port of call for any of our Swears By guides – covering everything from the best bread maker to the most efficient food processor – is always our forums. We sought out recommendations on many a Mumsnet thread, because if anyone knows how to organise a kitchen for smart cooking, it’s our trusted and reliable army of Mumsnet users. We also cross-checked our shortlist with the opinions of food industry experts, and analysed authentic consumer reviews to ensure they're all up to the job.

Best food storage containers: our top picks

  • Best overall: Sistema Brilliance Food Storage Containers, from £6
  • Best value: IKEA PRUTA Food Storage Containers, £5
  • Best plastic set: Lock & Lock Food Storage Containers, £23
  • Best for snacks: Sistema Snack Capsule To Go, £7
  • Best stackable: Lakeland Stack-A-Boxes, £12
  • Best eco-friendly: Lock & Lock Eco Friendly Food Storage Container Set, £8
  • Best for saving space: Joseph Joseph Nest Lock Containers, £26
  • Best for cupboards: OXO Good Grips Pop Containers, from £8
  • Best for cereal: Chef’s Path Cereal Storage Containers, £19
  • Best glass container: IKEA 365+ Food Container, £5 
  • Best insulated: Black + Blum Food Flask, £30
  • Best for vacuum sealing: ZWILLING Fresh Save Vacuum Starter Set, £100

1. Best overall food storage containers: Sistema Brilliance Food Storage Containers

Sistema Brilliance container

Price on writing: From £6 (depending on size) | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Material: Plastic | Dishwasher safe: Yes | Freezer safe: Yes | Microwave safe: Yes | No. of containers in set: One, a set of six is available, but it's more cost-effective to buy individual containers

What we like

  • Leakproof and stain resistant
  • Shatterproof
  • Good range of sizes available - including 920ml and 2l

What we don't like

  • Seal can be hard to release to open the containers

What Mumsnet users say

“Sistema boxes have been the most reliable for me.” (Tried and tested by Dotball)

Our verdict

The Sistema Brilliance range is our pick for the best way store your food. Whether you're batch cooking a delicious stew in your slow cooker or want to save the leftovers from your air fryer for lunch, this reliable brand offers a few different sizes in the range, so you can choose the capacity that suits you best. 

The containers are all made with Tritan plastic which is super durable and safe to use in the microwave, fridge, and freezer. They have a really tight seal and leakproof design so they keep food perfectly fresh in the fridge too. We think they look super stylish, and many reviewers praise how resistant they are to stains so they should keep their sleek look for a while.

2. Best value food storage containers: IKEA PRUTA Food Storage Containers

Pruta food storage

Price on writing: £5 | Buy now from IKEA

Key specs

Material: Plastic | Dishwasher safe: Yes | Freezer safe: Yes | Microwave safe: Yes | No. of containers in set: 17

What we like

  • Stackable to save space
  • Great value for money
  • Good mix of sizes

What we don't like

  • Not as high quality as some other options
  • A few reviewers reported the lids popping off

Our verdict

IKEA’s PRUTA food container set is fantastic value and will cover most of your storage needs. Stackable when full and easily stored inside each other when not in use, this set includes a range of sizes so there will be a tub to suit all your leftover needs. 

They can be used in both the fridge and freezer and are also microwave safe. They are easy to clean, with rounded corners and won’t warp when washed in the dishwasher. We love the transparent plastic that makes it easy to see the contents of each tub, even when stacked. This set would work best as a solution for storing food in the house, however, as some reviewers found the lids popped off easily when transported, so we’d recommend another set if you’re wanting something that doubles up as a lunch box.  

Read next: The best George Foreman grill for family meals, as recommended by Mumsnet users

3. Best plastic container set: Lock & Lock Food Storage Containers

Lock and Lock containers

Price on writing: £23 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Material: BPA-free plastic | Dishwasher safe: Yes | Freezer safe: Yes | Microwave safe: Yes | No. of containers in set: Six

What we like

  • Freezer safe 
  • Microwave safe
  • Range of sizes included

What we don't like

  • Only safe in the top rack of a dishwasher

What Mumsnet users say

“Lock & Lock are the most reliable ones I’ve had - they don’t leak ever. I’ve had some of mine for a good five years and it’s still going strong.” (Brand reviewed by PigeonofDoom)

Our verdict

Lock & Lock make the best food storage containers for leftovers as they are 100% airtight, so your food will stay fresh until you want to eat it. They are also fantastic for portable lunches as the robust four-lock closing system makes them genuinely leakproof. 

This food storage brand is loved and recommended by Mumsnet users thanks to their stackability too; they will tuck into each other neatly when not in use, so they are great for space-saving. They are also sturdy enough to be placed on top of each other when full.

Reviewers were particularly impressed by how easy they are to clean. The corners are slightly rounded, so food doesn’t get stuck, and the BPA-free plastic is resistant to most marking, although as with the majority plastic containers, some reviewers did find orange stains after using them for tomato-based sauces. 

4. Best for snacks: Sistema Snack Capsule To Go

Sistema snack pot

Price on writing: £7 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Material: Plastic | Dishwasher safe: Yes | Freezer safe: Yes | Microwave safe: Yes (without lid) | No. of containers in set: One

What we like

  • Small compartments for snacks on the go
  • Removable spork included
  • Two sections so you can keep food separated

What we don't like

  • Size only suitable for small snacks
  • Can't select your chosen colour on Amazon

What Mumsnet users say

“Sistema are really good and don't leak. You can buy them singularly on Amazon I think.” (Vetted by Puppypads)

“Sistema all the way. We have had loads of types and I'm going back to Sistema tubs this year. They are so much better.” (Tried and tested by pastypirate)

Our verdict

Another way to save money with the cost of living crisis is taking snacks from home with you, instead of buying things when you’re out and about. And this tub is perfect for popping a little something into to enjoy on the go.

The small 515 ml capsule comes with a lift-out compartment so you can store two different snacks in it at the same time – we think it'd be great for keeping yoghurt in the bottom and fruit on the top. It’s fridge and freezer safe, can go in the microwave as long as you take the lid off, and can go through the dishwasher on the top rack.

Do bear in mind, however, that there's only one small container included – it may be quite pricey if you're kitting the whole family out. It will save you buying expensive snack-sized portions day-to-day though, so you may find it's worth the initial outlay.

Alternatively, if you're wanting to pack up snacks alongside your lunch, the best bento box might just be the solution. These handy containers have different compartments so you can store food separately.

5. Best stackable containers: Lakeland Stack-A-Boxes

Lakeland Stack-A-Boxes

Price on writing: £12 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Material: Plastic | Dishwasher safe: Yes | Freezer safe: Yes | Microwave safe: Yes | No. of containers in set: 10

What we like

  • Stack perfectly for organised storage
  • Great size for individual meals
  • Bright coloured lids
  • Excellent value

What we don't like

  • Can’t see what’s inside the containers

What Mumsnet users say

“We have the Lakeland stack and stacks kept on our worktop - they’re in constant use and in and out the dishwasher/microwave.” (Recommended by mrsbyers)

Our verdict

Stackable storage that will keep your kitchen cupboards, fridge, freezer and pantry neat is the dream that Lakeland’s colourful Stack-A-Boxes make a reality. Even better, these containers are so durable they will last for many years. Made from food safe and BPA-free plastic, these compact tubs are in a size that is ideal for batch cooking toddler meals, storing soups and sauces, or dishing up the leftovers from your recipe box for the next day.

Dishwasher safe, they are also suitable for use in the microwave and the perfect size for stacking in a freezer. We also love how easy the different coloured lids make keeping track of what is inside of them. The only downside is that the containers aren’t clear, so you can’t see what’s inside them without opening them up.

6. Best eco-friendly storage containers: Lock & Lock Eco Friendly Food Storage Container Set

Lock & Lock Eco Friendly Food Storage Container Set

Price on writing: £8 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Material: Plastic | Dishwasher safe: Yes | Freezer safe: Yes | Microwave safe: Yes | No. of containers in set: Two

What we like

  • Eco-friendly
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Airtight and watertight
  • Good value

What we don't like

  • Colours vary so might not match

What Mumsnet users say

“Lock & Lock are fab.” (Brand rated by mrsbyers)

Our verdict

Lock & Lock have got some pretty solid eco credentials which is why we think they’re the best eco-friendly food storage containers out there at the moment. They’re made from 100% food grade waste plastic, which basically means they’re using leftovers to create products for your leftovers. They also come in paper packaging that can easily be recycled.

Their patented lock and lock system means that these containers are completely leakproof and waterproof so they’re perfect for any kind of leftovers. The company is so confident in the quality of their products that they offer a lifetime guarantee on them, so you’ve got nothing to lose by giving them a try.

7. Best space-saving storage containers: Joseph Joseph Nest Lock Containers

Joseph Joseph Nest Lock Containers

Price on writing: £26 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Material: Silicone, plastic | Dishwasher safe: Yes | Freezer safe: Yes | Microwave safe: Yes | No. of containers in set: Five

What we like

  • Space-saving design
  • Airtight and leakproof
  • Bright coloured lids

What we don't like

  • More expensive than other options (but they're on offer currently!)

Our verdict

The Joseph Joseph brand always injects colour and fun into their kitchenware range. This clever set of nesting food storage containers is a fantastic example of practicality and style and would make us smile every time we opened the cupboard. 

The brightly coloured lids make organising your storage and remembering what is in each tub much more manageable and we love the way each box sits snugly inside each other, with the lids stacked securely on top. 

Each lid snaps onto the base quickly, and the durable seals around the lids make the tubs airtight so that your food stays fresh, and there will be no leaks to make a mess of your fridge or bag. The only downside is the cost, but they're currently on offer at £26 (RRP £40) from Amazon, so now is a great time to snap them up.

Read next: Make meal prep easier with the best Instant Pot multi-cookers

8. Best food storage containers for cupboards: OXO Good Grips Pop Containers

OXO good grips food container

Price on writing: From £8 (depending on size) | Buy now from Lakeland

Key specs

Material: Plastic | Dishwasher safe: Depends on which version you get - some products are | Freezer safe: No | Microwave safe: No | No. of containers in set: One

What we like

  • Easy-close lid with airtight seal
  • Stackable
  • Great quality

What we don't like

  • Pricey for the larger ones
  • Not suitable for the freezer or microwave

What Mumsnet users say

“You need OXO Pops containers! Go to Lakeland and try them all out, then buy them on Amazon for cheaper.” (Tried and tested by Be1atrix)

Our verdict

If you’re looking for the best food storage containers to decant things into at home to keep them fresh for ages, then these OXO Pops ones are a great choice. They come in all sorts of sizes so whether you want to store rice, flour, cereal, or leftovers you can find a container that’s just perfect.

The lid has a button on it that you press to create an airtight seal, then just press again to release and open the container. They’re not the cheapest option, but reviewers say they last for ages and keep whatever you put inside lovely and fresh. The only grumble we have is that they're not freezer or microwave safe, but we think they're much better suited to long-term cupboard storage anyway so this shouldn't be too much of an issue. 

9. Best for cereal: Chef’s Path Cereal Storage Containers

Chefs Path Cereal Storage Containers

Price on writing: £19 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Material: Plastic | Dishwasher safe: Yes | Freezer safe: Yes | Microwave safe: Yes | No. of containers in set: Three

What we like

  • Airtight
  • Ergonomic grip
  • BPA-free

What we don't like

  • Some reviewers say the spout can be tricky to pour from

Our verdict

Family of cereal lovers? Keep your cupboards looking neat and organised with a set of these cereal containers. They come in a set of three so you can quickly get your cereal stash looking shipshape. There’s a set of reusable labels and a whiteboard marker that comes with these containers too, so you can clearly mark which cereal is which.

The lids have clips on all four sides so they stay on really securely and create an airtight seal to keep the cereal fresh. And the ergonomic grip on the container makes it comfortable and easy to pour your cereal out each morning.

10. Best glass food storage: IKEA 365+ Food Container

Ikea 365+ Food Container

Price on writing: £5 | Buy now from IKEA

Key specs

Material: Glass with plastic lid | Dishwasher safe: Yes | Freezer safe: Yes | Microwave safe: Yes | No. of containers in set: One

What we like

  • Snap-and-lock lid prevents leaks and freezer burn
  • Easy to clean
  • Good value

What we don't like

  • Glass makes it heavy to carry

What Mumsnet users say

“I’ve got IKEA ones and despite being a total klutz have managed to break only one (dropped from a height, so I doubt any brand would have survived). They haven’t chipped either and the lids are robust.” (Reviewed by Flockameanie)

Our verdict

The IKEA 365+ tubs are the best glass food storage containers we’ve found. The 1-litre size is good value at £5, and there’s also a 1.8-litre option available for just a pound more. This glass container comes with a plastic snap-and-lock lid which stops leaks and protects your food from freezer burn, so you can use it for both short and long-term food storage.

The beauty of the glass container is that you can cook your food in it, then pop the lid on once it’s cooled and put it straight in the freezer ready for another day. IKEA also have other options in this range, including a glass container with a bamboo lid and a stainless steel container with a silicone lid.

Read next: Indulge with the best deep fat fryer, as recommended by Mumsnet users

11. Best insulated food storage container: Black + Blum Food Flask

Black Blum insulated flask

Price on writing: £30 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Material: Stainless steel | Dishwasher safe: No | Freezer safe: No | Microwave safe: No | No. of containers in set: One

What we like

  • Keeps food warm for up to six hours
  • Stylish design
  • Eco-friendly company
  • Includes a spoon

What we don't like

  • Expensive
  • Not microwave or dishwasher safe

What Mumsnet users say

"It's expensive, but I have a Black + Blum thermopot which keeps food really warm." (Tried and tested by HouseInChaos

Our verdict

If you need some short-term food storage to keep meals like soup warm, a food flask is a great addition to your kitchen kit. While it's an expensive option, Black + Blum comes highly recommended by Mumsnet users, and their vacuum insulated flask can keep food warm for up to six hours. It's also 100% leakproof, so you can pop it in your work bag with confidence, and we love the handy eco spoon that's attached to the pot. 

Aside from the cost, the other main downside is that it's not microwave safe, so you can't actually use it to heat food up, it's for storage only. It's also not dishwasher safe, but it's pretty easy to clean, and the nylon strap that holds the spoon in place can be popped in the washing machine incase of any spills. 

Overall, we think it's a sleek and stylish, eco-friendly storage solution.

12. Best vacuum seal food storage containers: ZWILLING Fresh Save Vacuum Starter Set

Zwilling vacuum selaer kit

Price on writing: £100 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Material: Glass boxes | Dishwasher safe: Yes | Freezer safe: Yes | Microwave safe: Yes | No. of containers in set: Two boxes, plus one pump and four bags

What we like

  • Keeps food fresh
  • Contains everything you need to get started with vacuum sealing
  • Using bags can save space

What we don't like

  • Expensive
  • Not suitable for those who want basic storage

Our verdict

If you can fork out the eye-watering price tag, ZWILLING offers an impressive, high-tech storage solution that claims to keep food fresh for up to five times longer than without vacuum sealing. You simply pop your food in the boxes and bags, and use the pump to remove air, which helps to preserve the food. The bags can also help you save space if you have a small fridge or freezer. 

Other than the obvious drawback of the initial cost, this set probably won't fit the bill if you're looking for more basic food storage. However, if freshness is key, this really is the best option for maximum longevity. 

Plus, if you're a beginner, our best vacuum sealer page has loads of info to get you started. 

How many food storage containers do I need?

There are a few factors to think about when it comes to deciding how many food storage containers you need:

  • How many people are there in your household?
  • Are you planning on batch cooking and meal prepping?
  • How often do you have leftovers that need storing?
  • Do you take lunches and snacks to work or out and about with you?
  • Do you want to store things like rice and pasta in matching airtight food storage containers?

Asking yourself these questions can help you work out if you just need a few containers or if you need to invest in a big set of them.

What works best for a lot of families is to buy a set of food storage containers in an assortment of different sizes, so you can use some for leftovers, some for snacks, and some for storing batch cooked meals in the freezer.

Read next: Lacking on lunch inspiration? The best sandwich toaster can help you make speedy lunches when you're working from home

How to shop for the best food storage container

If the cost of living crisis has made you rethink the way you cook and eat at home and you want to invest in some new food storage containers for meal prepping, batch cooking, and leftovers, here are a few tips on what to look out for.

  • Material: Most food storage containers are made of food safe BPA-free plastic as it is durable and practical, but glass, bamboo and silicone are all excellent alternative options. 
  • Ease of use: Food containers that are easy to open and seal, are airtight, so keep food fresh and don’t leak, will make your domestic life much simpler.
  • Practicality: Are they suitable for use in the freezer? Can they be heated in the microwave or even the oven? Can you transport food to work or play without making a mess? These are essential questions to ask of what should be a time-saving device.
  • Ease of cleaning: Can they be popped in the dishwasher, or do they need hand washing separately? Look for tubs with rounded corners that won’t trap leftover food, and try to avoid those easily stained by highly pigmented sauces such as bolognese and chilli. 
  • Storage: We all know the nightmare of kitchen cupboards overflowing with mismatched Tupperware and hunting for missing lids. Choose containers that can nest within each other or are sturdy when stacked on top of each other. 
  • Round vs square: When you’re thinking of how you’ll store your containers, think about the space you have available and what would work best for you. Square food storage containers are generally the most space-saving option as they store and stack closely together.
  • Durability: Long-lasting materials that withstand lots of use, changes of temperature and carrying to and from places of work are worth spending extra money on. 

How do you organise food storage containers?

A lot of the sets of food storage containers you can buy now are designed to be stackable. So they nest together nicely while you’re not using them.

If you have some that don’t quite stack together then you can organise the containers and lids together by size or colour. 

Another option is to store the containers nested together and the lids separately, using a creative option like a file holder or toast rack to keep them corralled nicely.

Which container is best for storing food?

After researching all the different options, we think that the best food storage containers are the Sistema Brilliance ones.

The different size options are great for leftovers, taking lunches to work, and storing batch-cooked meals.

They’re sturdy, completely leakproof, and airtight so they’ll keep all your food lovely and fresh. They also stack together well to save space in your fridge or freezer.

How we chose our recommendations

We searched through Mumsnet's forums for recommendations from our users on the food storage containers they rated most highly.

We also consulted recommendations from experts, consumer websites and print media and made sure we included brands that regularly appeared in top 10 lists.

We then looked at reviews for each of our selected containers to check that previous customers were satisfied with their purchases.

By doing this, we whittled our longlist down and chose a top list that we think offers something for everybody.

About the author

Madeline Littlejohns is a freelance writer and blogger who writes about family life, psychology, and photography on her blog This Glorious Life. She is a mum of two who lives in Swansea and has written for Mumsnet on kitchen essentials and gadgets including sous vide machines, Instant Pots, and saucepans.

This article also features contributions from Mumsnet editor Natasha Gregson. With over seven years of editorial experience, she's written for publications including The i, Stylist Magazine, Gransnet, and Exposed Magazine, and for the past two years has specialised in home and lifestyle product reviews and round-ups for Mumsnet. An avid foodie, she's always on the lookout for the best kitchen buys to help with her culinary creations.

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.

Mumsnet has been helping parents make their lives easier since 2000 and, in that time, we've seen, tried and reviewed thousands of products.

We strive to provide honest and independent advice you can trust, and we spend hours scouring the Mumsnet forums and online bestseller lists to find amazing products that real parents love.