The Best Food-Storage Containers

For leftovers, lunches and everyday food storage, I would choose the Kinetic Go Green Glasslock, a set of 8 straight-sided containers for $61. They are heavier than plastic, but they’re durable, surprisingly break-resistant and safe from chemical leaching. They’re also the best of all the various kinds of Glasslock-made containers, which are the best in general.

Last Updated: April 8, 2014
Our pick is out of stock on Amazon so we switched the buy buttons to Sears and Wayfair.

I came to this conclusion after 24 hours of research, perusing reviews, talking to experts on food safety and editors who do a lot of food storage in their work, and then doing my own confirmation tests of filling, shaking, storing, freezing, microwaving, washing and dropping these containers. I also used my experience as a food writer for Saveur, Garden Design, NYMag.com, and more.

Who should buy this?

Unless you eat every single meal out, you’ll need a food storage container to store cooked foods, take-to-work lunches, frozen leftovers, small potluck contributions and cut fruit. You could just keep your food in a bowl in the refrigerator, but a good food storage container will keep air out, reducing spoilage and keeping stale refrigerator smells from permeating your goods.

If you are one of those cheapskates (like me) who has always recycled old plastic yogurt containers for basic food storage, there are a few reasons to upgrade.
If you are one of those cheapskates (like me) who has always recycled old plastic yogurt containers for basic food storage, there are a few reasons to upgrade. First, you can’t see through those containers, so once the lid’s on, it’s easy to forget about what you’ve got (and let it rot). Second, those containers aren’t leakproof, which means that transporting them to work for lunch can be a messy affair. Third, those plastic containers are not FDA-approved for food storage or microwaving, and the plastic may leach potentially harmful chemicals into your food as it degrades.

These containers cost more than plastic ones, and if you tend to lose things, you’ll want to stick to disposables. But I wouldn’t.

A brief history of Tupperware

The grandfather of modern food storage containers is the Tupperware container, which was first known as the “Wonder Bowl.” It was created by Earl Tupper, an inventor who molded DuPont polyethylene pellets into the shape of a bowl with a “burping” lid. In this great American Experience documentary on Tupperware, a colleague claims Tupper took the idea for the perfect-fit seal from paint-can lids. Tupper patented his molded seal, brought on a genius marketer who used hostess parties to harness the selling and buying power of post-WWII homemakers, cornering the food storage container market for decades.

When Tupper’s patent expired in 1984, copycat competitors went on sale in stores. Today, there are many innovative designs made from different materials. The original Tupperware’s popularity might not have been possible without plastic’s appeal—it is smooth to the touch, can be tinted appealing colors, and is lightweight, unbreakable, hydrophobic and pliant enough to create the airtight seal needed to preserve food.

Who should get plastic or glass food containers?

Glass:

  • Best for most people, in general.

  • If you’re concerned about plastic’s safety.

  • If you’re using the containers mostly for storage at home.

  • If you store foods that tend to stain or smell.

But, plastic, if:

  • You want something cheaper that you can leave at potlucks.

  • Your family tends to lose containers.

  • You want something lighter to carry around.

Let me explain how I came to those conclusions.

Many of us grew up using plastic containers like Tupperware. In recent years, scientists have raised concern over the dangers of chemicals leaching out of plastic. One of the most well-known is Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used to harden plastics. Though it could be found in many plastic food-storage containers and baby bottles for years, BPA is now thought to be an endocrine disruptor, which means that it mimics hormones in the human body and can change or block normal functions in the body and brain. Pregnant women, babies, and children are especially vulnerable.

Because organizations like the Consumers Union have raised public awareness about the dangers of BPA, most brand-name plastic food containers are now BPA-free, including all of the plastic containers we tested for this story.

That doesn’t mean we’re in the clear as far as chemicals in plastics, necessarily. While much attention has been paid to BPA, there are other chemicals in some plastics that may be similarly disruptive to the body. Phthalates, for example, are a class of plastic softeners. The ones deemed “safe” by the FDA can be present in some shampoos and cosmetics as well as soft plastic products like teething rings and medical tubing; other phthalates are known endocrine disruptors, with six being banned in certain amounts by the CPSC for use in children’s toys. (Some of the phthalates allowed in the U.S. are actually banned in Europe.)

Dr. Urvashi Rangan, Director of Consumer Safety and Sustainability at Consumer Reports, cautions people not just to avoid BPA and phthalates, but also to be wary of the plastic chemicals that haven’t been studied well enough. “We don’t have a lot more safety information around daily ingesting of plastics,” she says. “If you heat in plastic, plastic will break down. If you wash your plastics a lot in the dishwasher, they will also start to break down over time. So you may get a little bit of those plastics, and whatever else is in them, and there’s a lot that’s in a plastic—colorings, additives, plasticizers, all sorts of things. Those things can degrade over time, and they can essentially go into what you eat.”

These concerns have prompted a resurgence in the popularity of glass containers. Dr. Rangan advocates reheating food in glass or ceramic containers, as there are no known chemicals to leach into food. Though the glass containers we looked at come with plastic lids, Dr. Rangan says, “If your food is not in contact with the plastic lid, I’m not sure how much plastic is moving through the air onto your food.”

Unlike plastic, tempered glass is heavy, susceptible to breakage and more expensive. Though there have also been reports of soda-lime glass exploding after extreme temperature changes when taken out of conventional ovens, which a Consumer Reports (subscription required and recommended) investigation confirmed through independent testing in January 2011, risk is reduced with correct handling. Precautions you should take with glass include putting your container on a towel in the microwave, never putting the hot container on a wet or cold surface, preheating your oven before putting a container in (if your container is oven-safe) and adding liquid to the container before heating if the contents may release liquid during the heating process. All of the glass containers mentioned in this piece are freezer safe, but not all are oven safe. The glass containers are freezer-to-microwave safe, but Glasslock suggests that you defrost frozen contents first.

Ultimately, the choice between plastic and glass is a personal one based on lifestyle, family and concerns.
Ultimately, the choice between plastic and glass is a personal one based on lifestyle, family and concerns. Nancy Hopkins is unfazed by the plastic debate. “We tell people to do your homework, read the directions, wash it and store it properly. Do what’s easy and convenient for your life.” Her preferred food-storage container is the self-sealing plastic bag for its versatility and the fact that you can lose them, which can be important in a household with kids. “My two girls did not like plastic or glass containers. They wanted things they could throw away.”

In her book, An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace, Tamar Adler details how to make great meals from leftovers and ends, which she understands can be a challenge for some cooks. She prefers to save her food in glass (Mason jars, precisely). “I feel funny about plastic,” she told us. “I feel like glass dignifies everything.”

Faith Durand, Executive Editor for The Kitchn, had a similar sentiment. She told us, “I prefer glass! A few years ago I got rid of my old, mismatched plastic storageware and switched almost entirely to glass containers. I find that the lids fit better, and I am more comfortable storing food in glass instead of plastic. I also like how easy it is to see what’s inside. So I use glass for nearly everything.”

So, there are experts who prefer glass and plastic.

Here’s how we settled on glass over plastic (for most people), though

What swung the argument in favor of glass for us was a discussion we had with the FDA spokesperson about storing food safely. She said, “What makes a big difference is making sure you refrigerate your leftovers right away. Don’t leave them on the counter, and when you reheat them, make sure you reheat them to a specific temperature. Those are things that for us make a difference in preventing illness.” If we’re going to be ladling hot soup into containers for optimal bacteria-thwarting in the fridge and reheating to a hot temperature in the same vessel, we’d rather feel confident that no additives are dissolving into our lunch.

What to look for

With so much to choose from, we wanted to break down the basic requirements. A good container should be airtight, leakproof, break-resistant, stain-resistant, and easy to clean.

Food should last longer. Nancy Hopkins, Senior Deputy Food & Entertaining Editor for Better Homes & Gardens, told us, “If you’re going to use a container, you want something that’s really airtight with a good seal if it’s something you plan to keep for a bit.”

Leakproof construction is important for transporting liquids.

Durability is important, as is shatter-resistance, which eliminates the ceramic containers.

Anyone who has old food storage containers knows that there’s nothing more off-putting than a stained container that still smells of yesterday’s lunch, so stain and smell-resistance matter. We also wanted something that could go in the dishwasher and the microwave, which eliminates stainless steel.

We followed Woman’s Day’s advice and chose square or rectangular containers over round ones in order to maximize fridge space. Nesting and stackability are nice to have, as are interchangeable lids for different sizes.

Most of the models we tested had a gasket seal around the lip and plastic hinges that snap shut so you know the container is sealed properly.

And the containers should be clear or easy to see through, so that you can always know what you’ve got inside without having to open it up.

The presence of Bisphenol A (BPA), a known endocrine disruptor, is a major dealbreaker for us, since there are already so many alternatives without BPA. All of the containers we tested claim to be free of BPA.

A gasket with room for mold to grow can also be problematic after time if the gasket cannot be removed and cleaned on its own.

Beware of sellers who market their sets as 16-piece or 14-piece; they’re including the lids in that count, so you’re really getting 8 or 7 containers.
And microwave vents on the lid are a silly feature we avoided; it’s just another piece to de-crud, and you’re better off removing the latches and resting the lid on top of the container in the microwave (or not using the lid at all, as suggested by some manufacturers).

Beware of sellers who market their sets as 16-piece or 14-piece; they’re including the lids in that count, so you’re really getting 8 or 7 containers.

How we picked

We decided to limit this discussion to reusable containers that aren’t meant to be disposable. Plastic or glass storage containers range from about $2.50 to $10 a piece, depending on which material they’re made of. They’re sold on Amazon both individually and in sets, which generally lowers the price per piece. Price was a concern in making our pick, but since glass containers will last a long time, price was not as big of a concern as one would think.

There’s a lot of overlap in manufacturing and brand names. One major player on the glass side is a Korean company called Samkwang Glasslock. Pyrex, of course, has its own glass containers in the category, as does its tempered-glass American competitor, Anchor Hocking. Rubbermaid and the Italian brand Bormioli Rocco are also available at major retailers. Interestingly, Ziploc has gotten into the glass business with a line called Versaglass, which seems to be a rebranded version of the Bormioli Rocco Frigoverre Fun line. (We tried to confirm with Ziploc’s parent company. S.C. Johnson, but were told by a rep, “Unfortunately, I’m unable to comment on the exact manufacturer of the product as that is proprietary information to SC Johnson.” However, we did find a designer’s portfolio which claims that Frigoverre Fun is marketed as Ziploc Versaglass in the U.S.)

Even though we decided we preferred glass, we decided to test plastic containers for those of you who prefer the material. On the plastic side, there are a lot of repeat names—Snapware, Rubbermaid, Kinetic Go Green—as well as plastic specialists like OXO, Frieling Emsa, Sterilite, Martha Stewart, and Sistema. There are also plenty of smaller brands in both glass and plastic that are too numerous to list, in addition to ceramic and stainless steel.

In terms of winnowing down these major brands and models by using editorial sources, there aren’t a ton of comparative review sources for us to look at. The two main sources were the Cook’s Illustrated guides on plastic storage containers and glass storage containers, and the Good Housekeeping Institute reviews on food storage. Since these articles were written a few years ago, a few of the models promoted on both sites are either no longer being made or may have changed.

With that in mind, we decided to run our own tests on the best models we could find.

A note on the world of Glasslock

Even though they are sold under several names but made in the same factory, you want to get the first-generation Glasslock with straight walls, because of their availability, value, and functional design.

Glasslock USA’s customer service told us that whether sold under the brand name Glasslock, Snapware Glasslock, Kinetic Go Green Glasslock, or Martha Stewart Glasslock, the snap-lid glass containers are all made the same way in the same factory in South Korea; some have different colored lids or gaskets, but the construction and materials are the same.

But there are (so far) three generations of Glasslock design. The 1st generation is straight-sided and not oven safe. The 2nd generation is nesting and not oven safe. The 3rd generation is nesting and oven safe. The lid sizes between generations are not always interchangeable. We’re recommending the original, straight-sided container; the 2nd generation nesting containers get complaints of chipping, while the 3rd generation oven-safe nesting were not reviewed by the editorial sources we looked at.

And different brand names offer different warranties; you must call the particular brand you have purchased to redeem your warranty.

The Martha Stewart Collection Food Storage Container Set offers the 1st generation straight-sided Glasslock containers. This brand is sold at Macy’s, which has a very liberal policy that allows returns and exchanges for an unlimited period after purchase, which they honor for breakage.

Glasslock‘s brand offers the 1st generation straight-sided, the 2nd generation nesting, and the 3rd generation oven-safe. This brand is sold at The Container Store and Whole Foods Market. Glasslock offers a 3-year warranty.

Kinetic Go Green Glasslock offers the 1st generation straight-sided and the 3rd generation oven-safe. Kinetic Go Green offers a 1-year warranty.

Snapware Glasslock can be found in the 1st generation straight-sided, 2nd generation nesting and the 3rd generation oven-safe. Snapware has dissolved its partnership with Glasslock, so the Snapware Glasslock you see for sale is actually inventory being phased out. Snapware Glasslock comes with a 3-year warranty from date of purchase. However, I called customer service, and I was told that any damaged goods would be replaced with Snapware’s new glass line, Total Solution.

These containers go on sale with the various vendors all the time, but the Martha Stewart Collection, sold at Macy’s, comes with the best return policy. However, they’re more expensive than other sets at almost double the price when not on sale, so they’re not our main pick.

How we tested

We tried to pick those with a good range from large to small, with emphasis on rectangular or square space-saving shapes.
The sets we looked at provided the best value per piece. We tried to pick those with a good range from large to small, with emphasis on rectangular or square space-saving shapes; round shapes were not eliminated as they can be good for liquid foods.

We stored cut and whole, unwashed strawberries in the refrigerator for as long as they could last, which turned out to be 13 days.

glasslock_beefWe also froze overnight and reheated a double batch of Marcella Hazan’s awesome tomato-butter sauce, which we hoped would show how the containers would react to stains and smells.

We divided up ground beef into ¼ lb. portions and froze a hunk in each container for two weeks to look at freezer burn patterns.

We filled the containers with water and shook them, both before and after they had run through the dishwasher.

And, most fun of all, we decided conducted a drop test from waist height for all the picks, including our glass containers.

kinetic_glasslock_shattered_testingCook’s Illustrated didn’t do a drop test on glass at all, expecting them to break. We thought we’d try anyway, because we wanted to see if any of them would survive (spoiler: they did!). This test was done on a piece of wood over cement to try and simulate a non-bouncy kitchen floor (without breaking the tiles in my kitchen). We dropped each filled container right side up, upside down, on its side, and on a corner.

What we couldn’t simulate was wear and tear over time—for that, we relied on Amazon customer reviews and complaints.

Our pick

The Kinetic Go Green Glasslock straight-sided containers are our pick. They stack beautifully in the fridge, making it easy to see what leftovers you’ve got to work with. Compared to the other brands, they locked more securely without leaking and didn’t break or pop open when dropped. (For kicks, we even tried dropping it onto cement. It broke on a corner only after three other attempts to crack the thing.) Though the seal leaked when we filled containers with water straight out of the box, a run through the dishwasher improved the seal.

The 16-piece, 8-container set we purchased comes with square and rectangular containers, as well as one round container, ranging from 14 oz. (1 ¾ cup) to 88 oz. (11 cups) in size. The walls are thick but perfectly see-through. The plastic top, labeled #5 for polypropylene, has a firm silicone gasket that fills the lid groove from edge to edge. We found the plastic hinges on the lid pretty easy to snap on and off, though we’ve seen reviews from people have trouble getting the lids on. Cleanup is easy; the lids must be washed on the top dishwasher rack, but the glass containers can go on the bottom. Like Pyrex and Anchor Hocking glass, the Glasslock containers are made of soda-lime-tempered glass.

Cut and whole, unwashed strawberries kept for 13 days, as long as the best containers, with the greens still sprightly and the cut fruit tasting a touch off.
Cut and whole, unwashed strawberries kept for 13 days, as long as the best containers, with the greens still sprightly and the cut fruit tasting a touch off. Tomato-butter sauce didn’t impart stains or smells to the glass or plastic lid. Frozen ground beef smelled and looked fine after two weeks in the container.

Unfortunately, the straight-sided containers of the same size don’t nest together, but the smaller containers will nest comfortably within the larger ones.

These containers aren’t cheap—this set averages about $8 per container, whereas plastic sets can sell for as little as $2.50 per container. (An average set of 8 glass containers goes for about $40, while Kinetic Go Green’s Glasslock set is $62.) But because they are very sturdy, they last a long time, and customer reviews on Amazon back that up. Amazon customer Cosmos says, “After years of almost daily use the glass remains in perfect condition,” while Jennifer Hnatko says, “I’ve owned these containers for over a year, and I use them every day. They’re one of the best purchases I’ve made!”

Another complaint some have raised is that you can’t keep the lids latched on while nuking. However, we found that microwaving lids sealed on other containers sometimes caused warping, anyway. It’s not a bad idea to loosen the lids on any container you’re microwaving in order to preserve the longevity of the seal.

Kinetic Go Green has a 1-year limited warranty from the date of purchase to repair or replace parts, but offers the best price per container ($7.75) with the set we’ve highlighted. Martha Stewart Collection sells these exact containers with different colored gaskets at Macy’s in a $50 6-container set ($8.33 per container), coming with the liberal Macy’s lifetime return policy. Glasslock’s brand, which can be purchased at places like The Container Store and Whole Foods Market, comes with a 3-year limited warranty from date of purchase, but the containers must be purchased individually for an average per-container price of about $10, depending on the size you need. Keep your eyes peeled for deals, as we saw the Martha Stewart set offered on sale for $30 on Macys.com this summer; at that price, combined with their fantastic unlimited-time return policy, the Martha Stewart set becomes our top pick.

All Glasslock containers are made in Korea.

Who else likes it?

The Kinetic Go Green Glasslock with straight sides was the top choice in glass for Cook’s Illustrated (subscription required and recommended). They say: “A neat, tight, reliable seal, good capacity, and solid performance in every test made this container a standout.”

Real Simple gave a nod to straight-sided Snapware Glasslock for leftovers, saying, “The locking latches create such a good seal that ‘food tasted as if it had been prepared the night before.’ Even when exposed to a tomato-based soup, the glass didn’t stain.”

Boing Boing also recommended the Snapware Glasslock, praising the containers’ leakproof seal. “I have biked with one filled with soup and arrived at my destination without a drop missing (something I definitely couldn’t do with my old plastic ones), and I didn’t have to waste another bowl in order to microwave it.”

Amanda Hesser often makes the small square and rectangular straight-sided Glasslock containers the stars of her kids’ lunch series on Food52.

In this extensive Chow.com discussion, there are several nods for Glasslock. Referring to the straight-sided containers, Davidahn says, “We use Glasslocks nearly exclusively, using the Pyrex, Lock & Locks, and various others (Gladware, etc.) ONLY if there are no free Glasslocks available.”

The Kinetic Go Green Glasslock set we looked at has an average rating of 4.5 stars, with 36 reviews; a smaller Kinetic Go Green Glasslock set has 4.5 stars over 62 reviews. The Snapware version has an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 122 customer reviews. Laney B says of the Kinetic Go Green Glasslock, “This is the third set of Kinetic Go Green Storage containers I own. I love the way they work. My food stays fresh in them for weeks, not days. Even fresh berries and vegetables last for up to two weeks.” Greg Smalter says, “I’m always willing to pay for quality, and I’d buy these again. The drawbacks versus Pyrex are that Kinetic doesn’t sell sizes as large as Pyrex, and that Pyrex can be used in the oven and these can’t. But the lids on these are way better than Pyrex lids.”

Shortcomings that are not dealbreakers

Unlike Pyrex and the oven-safe Glasslock, the straight-sided set we’ve chosen cannot go into the oven. We believe that usage in the freezer, refrigerator, and microwave are the most common use cases. Since none of the editorial we looked at tested and advocated for Glasslock’s oven-safe containers, we did not choose to include them in our testing. Given the increase of complaints of soda-lime glass breakage, we did not want to recommend an oven-safe container without plenty of editorial and customer backup.

And while Kinetic Go Green’s 1-year warranty can’t touch the Martha Stewart Collection at Macy’s lifetime return policy, the Kinetic set is enough of a value that you can just buy replacements for breakage. Let’s put it this way — if the Kinetic Go Green set costs $62, and the equivalent from the Martha Stewart Collection (the set plus extras) costs about $80, is the warranty (with the hassle of returns) worth that extra $18? Not to me.

A promising and less expensive candidate that needs more testimony

Also Great
*This price has changed. Shop wisely.
There is less data to back up the Total Solution compared to the Glasslock, but it did well in our testing. We'll revisit this when there's more long-term data.
If you’re looking for something more affordable with excellent performance, the Snapware Total Solution is the way to go. And it’s the best price of the glass options, even cheaper than a few of the plastic containers: when purchased from Costco (in-store only), the containers come out to $3.33 each, compared to $7.60 per Kinetic Go Green Glasslock container. On Amazon, they’re around 3-4 dollars per container for a 9 container set (18 pieces if you include lids, 4 round, 5 rectangular, some of them small.)

The flaps open easily but feel secure when shut. The containers tested well across the board, and because they’re Pyrex, the bottoms are oven-safe. Containers of the same size nest beautifully, and the lids even lock together nicely. We were amazed that the container didn’t break after being dropped at different angles four times. The busy, decorated lids also have a write-on area where you can mark the contents or date using permanent or dry-erase marker. Snapware Total Solution is made in the USA.

In tests, the Total Solution performed admirably. When we filled several containers with water and shook them around, the seal held; however, we did notice that one of the containers sprung a small leak after a trip through the dishwasher. Cut and whole strawberries stayed fresh looking and tasting for over a week. Frozen ground beef smelled and looked fine after over two weeks in the freezer. The plastic lid didn’t retain smells or stains from our tomato-butter sauce.

snapware_lid

The lid of a Snapware container.

However, there’s not enough testimony for us to know how this container performs in the long run. Unlike Glasslock, the container’s gasket is affixed to the plastic lid on one side, and the corners have a few grooves that would be hard to clean by hand. Because this product is relatively new, we couldn’t find any editorial testing and very few Amazon customer reviews of it, so we don’t have information on whether the glass has a tendency to chip, that rigid plastic gasket degrades over time, or if the lids stain. But the Pyrex bottoms come with a 2-year limited warranty, and the plastic lids have a lifetime warranty, making these an affordable risk. We’ll revisit this guide when there’s more data on lifetime usage.

If you prefer plastic

Also Great
Plastic doesn't perform as well as glass, but sometimes it's more convenient for things like school lunches. Plastic containers also can be lost with less consequence.
Plastic may be a more convenient choice for your household, especially if you or other members of your family are prone to losing containers. If it is, we recommend the Snapware Airtight set. It’s not perfect—I had one plastic hinge break right out of the box. The plastic is lightweight, but thin, so it looks a little chintzy. However, the Snapware Airtight performed really well in all of the tests. Cut strawberries didn’t taste off at all, which was shocking after nearly two weeks in storage.

Cook’s Illustrated (subscription required) picked it as their top plastic container, saying, “Though it allowed a few drops of water during its first submersion test, after dishwashing, seal was perfect.” Good Housekeeping gave it a B+, saying, “The Mods [the old name for the Airtight line] stained and warped after being used to reheat tomato sauce, so you might want to use them exclusively for storage.” The set is cheap — only $23 for a 9-container set, and some of the sets are even cheaper. And though those plastic hinges seem to break for people often, Snapware offers a lifetime warranty on their containers for “products damaged during normal household use.” Call World Kitchen and keep the container or lid as you may be asked to return it. Snapware Airtight containers are made in the USA.

The competition

six_containers

Clockwise from top left: Snapware Glasslock, Snapware Plastic, OXO, Frieling Emsa, Kinetic Glasslock, and Kinetic Plastic.

The Snapware Glasslock containers we tested were the 2nd-generation design with sloped sides that allow nesting. (The 2nd-generation nesting-but-not-oven-safe containers no longer seem to be available through Amazon.) Faith Durand of The Kitchn recommends these containers. She told us, “Mine have stood up well for years. They have tight-fitting snap-on lids that truly don’t leak, and they’re easy to clean up.” On Lifehacker, Kevin Purdy (who also writes for the Sweethome but was not consulted for this piece) wrote that nesting Snapware Glasslock may be the last containers you need to buy. He says, “They’ve pushed plastic containers out of my house, and hopefully for good…Food lasts longer in these containers, and the containers themselves last.“ They’re oven-safe unlike our main pick, but unfortunately 2nd-generation containers sold under Snapware seem to have more complaints of chipping. And we found these performed just slightly worse than the Kinetic Go Green Glasslock straight-sided containers. During our drop test, one of the plastic hinges broke off, but the glass never broke. The Snapware version is a bargain by comparison, with sets going on Amazon for about half the price of the Kinetic Go Green. Unfortunately, Glasslock and Snapware ended their partnership and the containers are no longer being made under the Snapware name. Whatever you find on Amazon is the inventory that remains.

Because there were no editorial reviews of oven safety, and customer reviews of the oven-safe line are lower, we are not recommending the 3rd-generation oven-safe Glasslock containers.

Pyrex is a cheaper option; their shallow, nesting containers are made of soda-lime glass in the USA, with food-safe #2 plastic lids. Though the the Bake, Serve, and Store set was praised by Cook’s Illustrated and Woman’s Day, we found that the lids are Pyrex’s big weakness. Of the two tops we tested, we preferred the No-Leak lid set ($42 for 5 rectangular containers), as the Pyrex with standard blue storage lids ($19 for 3 rectangular containers) tend to leak quite a bit (this was also reported in some customer reviews). During our drop test, both lids loosened multiple times, spilling the contents of the container out. The No-Leak lids, which come with a vent for lid-on microwaving, seemed to warp a bit after the microwave and dishwasher run. Amazon user Rob Montana complains, “The ridge inside the lid gets displaced so it has been a chore getting the clean lid to snug up and to seal against the rim of the glass.”

Anchor Hocking glass containers ($25 for 5 round containers) got a B+ from Good Housekeeping, who said, “Of the 28 containers in our test, it did the absolute best job of keeping air out.” However, Cook’s Illustrated could not recommend them, because “after going through the dishwasher 50 times, its seal was noticeably looser and leaked profusely in every test.” Anchor Hocking containers, made of soda-lime glass, are made in the USA.

The Bormioli Rocco Frigoverre Fun ($12 for 1 rectangular container) line (which appears to be the same as the Ziploc Versaglass line) are made in Italy, but they did not stay as airtight as other glass containers in Good Housekeeping’s tests.

We were intrigued by the Store N’ Lock containers ($11 for a large square container) at Bed Bath & Beyond, which are similar in design to the Glasslock brand but are made of borosilicate glass, the durable material old school Pyrex and European Pyrex is made of. But there weren’t enough editorial tests or customer reviews available on them to warrant a call-in for testing.

Among the plastic containers, our second-favorite plastic container was the more expensive, German-made Frieling Emsa Clip and Close ($24 for a 5 container set). Good Housekeeping praised its gapless silicone gasket seal, but says, “after being used to microwave pasta sauce, the translucent plastic bottoms turned bright red. The BPA-free containers are made of polypropylene and they come with a 30-year warranty. It also became hard to put on the lids after they were run through the dishwasher.” It performed fairly well in every test except the drop test, in which the flaps opened up easily.

The OXO Good Grips LockTop containers ($30 for 6 square containers) were praised by Cook’s Illustrated for their easy, flap-free pressed seal, though they also said the tester “Stained slightly more than other containers.” Good Housekeeping said, “While easy to use, they don’t provide the best air resistance.” Though we liked the transparency of the bottoms and the easy on-off tops, these cracked in our drop test. (Amazon reviewer Avid Reader had a similar experience.) And they seemed less airtight, leaving our strawberries tasting fermented after 13 days. This is the only container we tested that is made of Tritan, also known as Eastman Copolyester. Tritan is a hard, crystal-clear plastic that is also used in the reformulated, BPA-free Nalgene bottles. PlastiPure and CertiChem, labs that compete against Eastman, claimed that Tritan causes “estrogenic activity.”  According to an article in the Austin Chronicle, Eastman fought back, claiming that PlastiPure and CertiChem’s in vitro tests overstressed the plastic, though the trial also raised questions about Eastman’s tests understressing the material. The trial also revealed that the supposedly independent study used as proof of Tritan’s safety was in fact funded by Eastman. In July 2013, Eastman won their lawsuit against PlastiPure and CertiChem for “false advertising, unfair competition, and conspiracy.” (For more on the Tritan controversy, here’s a long read from Lou Dubose at the Washington Spectator, Silencing Science: What You May Never Know about Plastic Baby Bottles.) There’s no specific warranty, but OXO offers a “100% satisfaction guarantee” on every product, so you can call customer service for a replacement or refund.

Though Kinetic Go Green’s plastic line ($29 for 7 rectangular containers) wasn’t mentioned in any of the editorial we read, we included it in our tests because it was the bestselling container on Amazon. They performed well on most of our tests, with the important exception of the strawberry freshness test; the mold and mushy texture on the fruit contradicts the container’s claims of “nano silver technology” preserving foods longer. One of the plastic hinges on a lid also broke right out of the box—not great when the warranty is only 90 days from date of purchase. Kinetic Go Green plastic containers are made in Korea.

Lock & Lock Containers ($23 for 8 containers on QVC) was recommended by Cook’s Illustrated and got raves from some Serious Eats and The Kitchn commenters, but we couldn’t find them in any of the stores we visited, and only a few online retailers actually keep them in stock. As for the lifetime warranty, there are a lot of recent complaints on QVC’s community board about L&L’s formerly liberal replacement policy changing.

Rubbermaid Lock-Its ($31 for 10 containers) have tops that snap neatly to their nesting bottoms, so it’s easy to keep mates together. While Good Housekeeping called it their top choice “for packing up leftovers after dinner,” Cook’s Illustrated labeled them “Not Recommended” because the seals distorted in the microwave.

The Sterilite containers ($42 for 6 containers), which you can find at many retailers, were given poor marks from both Cook’s and Good Housekeeping for a seal that wasn’t airtight.

Wrapping it up

Glasslock containers are expensive, but they are high quality and won’t leach chemicals into your food. With use over time, they might even save you money if they help you store more leftovers and bring your lunch to work.

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Sources

  1. Ryan Jaslow, Phthalates Linked to Teen Health Woes in Study, CBS News, August 19, 2013
    “The researchers looked for levels of phthalates including di-2-ethylhexylphthalate (DEHP), a type of phthalate commonly found in food packaging and other consumer plastic goods. The researchers found an association between higher levels of DEHP found in urine with increased insulin resistance among the teens.”
  2. Please Explain: Endocrine Disruptors and Human Health, The Leonard Lopate Show, February 22, 2013
  3. The Efforts to Ban Phthalates, NOW, PBS, March 21, 2008
    “Phthalates have been banned in the European Union since 2005. Nine other countries, including Japan, Mexico and Argentina, have also outlawed the chemicals. China, which makes 85 percent of the world's toys, has developed two manufacturing lines, one for the European market and the other like-minded nations that ban phthalates, and another one for the United States and dozens mostly developing and third world countries that don't restrict them.”
  4. Glass bakeware that shatters , Consumer Reports, January 2011
  5. Are You Storing Food Safely?, FDA.gov, July 21, 2008
  6. Arianne Cohen , WD’s Guide to Storing Leftovers., Woman’s Day
    “Square and rectangular containers are a much more efficient use of space than round containers, which really only make sense for liquids.”
  7. Plastic Food Storage Containers, Cook’s Illustrated , May 1, 2010
  8. Glass Food Storage Containers , Cook’s Illustrated, May 1, 2010
  • Jason Williams

    seems like the Ziploc line of plastic containers dominate this market space and yet they’re not addressed at all here?

    • Ganda Suthivarakom

      We decided not to discuss the disposable containers in this guide, only the non-disposables.

      • Jason Williams

        I read this blog and Wirecutter because you are usually well grounded in works for most American families. Not so sure on this one.

  • http://blog.jasonpbecker.com/ Jason Becker

    I am very surprised to see the choice has the plastic hinge model. My experience has almost universally been that these stretch over time and lose their seal.

    • Ganda Suthivarakom

      In reading through the many customer reviews for the plastic hinge containers, I didn’t see complaints about the hinge stretching and losing the seal. The more common complaint that I found for some brands was that the hinge can break off. There seemed to be fewer complaints of breakage on our winner, though, and many testimonials that the lids last.

      In any case, if the longevity of plastic hinges are your primary concern, the runner-up Snapware options (Total Solution and plastic Airtight) have a lifetime warranty on the lids, so you can get them replaced by calling customer service.

  • embryoconcepts

    I’d love to invest in glass storage containers, but I do bulk cooking, so the initial investment would be prohibitive. Right now, I portion and freeze dishes in plastic, then vacuum-seal once frozen. It increases how long the items can be stored, and reduces space usage.

  • Henrybaker

    Glad that throwaways weren’t recommended. It worries me that one parent you mentioned preferred plastic bags because her kids preferred to throw things away. That’s where parents should be most active- teaching offspring that the easy way comes with a burden in the future. I think more attention should be paid to sustainability in all Sweethome/WC articles though, but that’s separate. Thanks for your work though!

    • Jason Williams

      I love throwaway containers. We reuse them until they break down and then throw them away. I don’t give any weight to health or environmental concerns.

  • Kate in Brooklyn

    Wow. This is super comprehensive. I’ve been pretty happy with my Pyrex / Anchor Hocking glass sets (I do like that they’re made in the USA), and use mason jars if I’m transporting something soupy, but will definitely look for the Glasslocks when I need to replace!

  • randomthoughts

    Honestly, I think you need to do more research on borosilicate vs soda lime (even tempered). Maybe when you get to your oven-safe review.

    No shattering/explosion, breaks into big chunks instead of tiny shards. Tends to be thinner and lighter. Still used for laboratory glass by pyrex (it’s more expensive to manufacture).

  • Green Phoenixx

    Great review. What about stainless steel storage options (with lids)?

  • SoRefined

    I have a lot of Lock N Locks (glass and plastic) and no complaints.

    I received this message from them via email in late November 2012:

    “From January 1st 2013, Lock & Lock Texas, Inc. will no longer manage the website (LocknLockPlace.com) and thus the website will not accept any new orders after December 31st 2012. Lock & Lock USA Distributor will own and manage the website but without any e-commerce service.”

    This may explain the lack of availability and changes to their warranty/replacement policy.

    • Ganda Suthivarakom

      Thanks. I tried to track down info on the Korean company that makes them but wasn’t able to.

  • anonymous

    Have not tried Glasslock yet, but one con of the Budget Pick (Snapware, Pyrex) is the “busy design” on the lids. It’s not that attractive (would have preferred plain lids), and could be a problem for people with trypophobia. Trypophobia is a “phobia” becoming increasingly well known due to recent publicity eg http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/04/trypophobia-fear-of-holes-evolutionary-poisonous-animals_n_3862291.html

    where patterns such as the dots atop the Snapware lids appear distasteful at best, and “gross” at worst, to these folks. No joke.

    • anonymous

      Having tried Pyrex’s Snapware a few days now, I can tell the lids won’t last long, from all the hinging and unhinging. Overall OK performance, though heavy and awkward to stack. But one (small, round) lid did not fit on one container; had to use the other one included in the 18 piece set. This might mean problems for true interchangeability between & among containers of the same size.

  • Melissa Sweet

    Surprised you didn’t include Weck jars: no plastic whatsoever. They do have rubber rings and metal clips that can be a bit cumbersome the first few times you use it, but they’re great for storage and canning. We’re they eliminated because they aren’t square?

    • Ganda Suthivarakom

      We looked for containers you can use to bring your lunch to work in. Weck jars aren’t that convenient for travel, and those metal clips and rubber rings are easy to misplace. They are beautiful objects, though.

  • Andy

    As of today, the Martha Stewart set is cheaper than the amazon set. Also, there is a sale today, which if you buy 2 sets will give you $15.00 off the pair, plus use coupon code TXTCLB you’ll get another 15% off. I ended up with 2 sets for $84.30 (including tax and shipping). If you spend $100 you’ll get free shipping.

  • Aajaxx

    I wish the authors had tested the glass containers for their tendency to get so hot in a microwave oven. I don’t know if this is because they absorb microwaves or because of conductance of heat from the food, but it is a hassle to handle, especially since glass containers have no handles. Not to mention the lids don’t fit tightly and tend to warp when heated.

  • Aajaxx

    I’m seeing a whole lot of negative reviews on Amazon re the Snapware Air-Tight plastic lids breaking and the non-performing warranty service.

  • Aajaxx

    Lids are a pain to store and keep track of. Just use regular glass or BPA-free plastic bowls and Press’N'Seal film to seal them.

  • cnccnc

    Costco has Snapware glass for a much lower price than Amazon or elsewhere. I believe they’re the cheaper, Pyrex option mentioned above. An 18 piece set is normally $30, and I got them on sale for $24 last month. Seems like a good deal.

  • http://facebook.com/jeddpearce Jedd

    I ended up grabbing the Snapware Airtight 38-piece set, as it’s on sale for 60% off bringing it to $19 ($9 cheaper than the 18-piece set).
    http://www.amazon.com/Snapware-38-Piece-Airtight-Storage-Container/dp/B00EO0RWQ2/ref=lh_ni_t?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER

  • Ryan Stenson

    Any ideas on best stackable glass storage containers? It drives me crazy that things like Glasslock don’t stack (e.g. if I have 5 identical containers, they take 5x as much space to store as just one while empty).

  • Kaci

    Wow. AWESOME article. Great information that makes this choice super easy. I thought for sure the process of finding high quality glass storage container reviews was going to be a slog.

  • Lynne Lasser

    I have bad news for you: The stuff used to replace BPA, called Tritan, has recently been discovered to leach more estrogen than BPA. I believe that is what Glasslock uses for its lids (and most other companies who claim their plastics to be BPA-free). Mother Jones broke the story: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/tritan-certichem-eastman-bpa-free-plastic-safe?page=1

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      Thanks for the heads up!

  • Cayenne

    I noticed Tupperware was mentioned as the plastic food containers that started it all, so to speak; but not REVIEWED under your plastics section/options.. any particular reason? :)

    • Ganda Suthivarakom

      At the time, it didn’t have the editorial backing that the other testers did. But I would like to take a look at them when we update this piece since they get rave reviews from customers. They have models in both soft plastic and hard Tritan.