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The Best Plastic Food Storage Containers for Every Need

Published July 2019
The Best Plastic Food Storage Containers
This review looks at all the different sizes of our favorite plastic food storage container, the Rubbermaid Brilliance Food Storage Container, Large, 9.6 Cup. You can read our original review with detailed brand comparisons here.

How we tested

Do you know that one person who is superorganized and consistently preps lunches, dinners, snacks, and salad dressings on the weekend to set themselves up for an easier week? That person is not me. Instead, I tend to throw dinner leftovers into a container and call it the next day’s lunch. However, I wish I was that person—and I’ve always thought that if I had the right containers (instead of the beat-up ones I’ve had since college), meal prep would seem like less of a chore and more of a great way to start the week on the right foot.

When we tested plastic food storage containers, a clear winner emerged: the Rubbermaid Brilliance Food Storage Container, Large, 9.6 Cup, priced at about $13. It holds a generous amount of food, keeps liquids in, is airtight, and has a flat top that makes for secure, compact stacking in the refrigerator and freezer. 

We wondered if the other sizes of this container would perform just as well and whether they would be useful for meal preppers, in-the-moment lunch packers, or those trying to make the transition from the latter to the former, like me. While the 9.6-cup container is fantastic for storage, it’s a bit too large for packing into a lunch box or storing smaller amounts of grains, dressings, or cooked chicken. So we put the 4.7-cup, 3.2-cup, and 1.3-cup Rubbermaid Brilliance food storage containers to the test, opening and closing their latches 25 times each, submerging them in water to see if they were airtight, and vigorously shaking the full containers to see if anything spilled out. We also put the 6-piece set (which has one 3.2-cup container, two 1.3-cup containers, and lids for all) and the 10-piece set (which has two 3.2-cup containers, two 1.3-cup containers, 1 9.6-cup container, and lids for all) through the same tests. 

Good News for Meal Preppers

All the containers we tested performed identically to our favorite container: They kept liquids contained and had strong, sturdy latches that withstood repeated use. We can recommend all the Rubbermaid Brilliance containers we tested. 

So which size is right for you? That depends on your food storage needs.If you want multiple containers in different sizes we suggest buying a set, it's cheaper than buying individual containers. Keep in mind that some of these containers are too small for lunch portions of food or a baking sheet’s worth of roasted veggies, while the largest size doesn’t fit in a lunchbox. If you’re looking for a set of identical containers for meal prep, we suggest buying multiples in one of two sizes: either the 3.2 cup or the 4.7 cup—both are roomy enough to hold a sandwich and a side, a grain bowl, a hearty amount of soup, or generous green salad. We’ve outlined some suggested uses for all the containers below.

The Results


Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.


Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.


Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.


Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.


Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.


Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.