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Rubbermaid Storage Container
Air-tight containers make it easy to preserve and refrigerate your favorite foods for extended periods of time. Rubbermaid

Earl Tupper knew he had a good idea when he developed the first plastic food storage container back in 1946. The ability to store food in airtight containers to prevent spoilage has saved consumers billions of dollars of food over the last seven decades, not to mention time and energy. Who hasn’t put leftovers into food storage containers for eating another day?

While you can use any food storage container to keep carrots fresh or store leftover mashed potatoes in the fridge, designs have evolved to the point where you can buy containers particularly suited to your lifestyle as well as your cooking and eating habits. Here’s how to choose the best type for you.

You’re a Bringer

Ez Prepa boxes allow you to make a custom meal at home and eat it right out of the container. Ez Prepa

You like to make meals at home and take them wherever you’re going. Bento-box style food storage containers are perfect for you. Some are wide and shallow, making them ideal for transporting foods such as salads. Others have compartments, which means you can store and transport several different types of foods—a sandwich, coleslaw, chips, and fruit slices, for instance—in one container. There’s no need to pack separate foods into individual plastic bags or toss them all together into one tub. Another plus is that you can eat your meal right out of the container with a fork and knife, like a civilized person. These containers can be microwaved, so you can warm up your meal if you’re near a kitchen.

You’re a Nuker

Rubbermaid Brilliance storage containers have vents built into the lid, allowing you to heat up the contents right in the container without splattering the microwave walls. Rubbermaid

You like to make extras of whatever you’re cooking so you can have the same meal another day. Or, you usually have leftovers from takeout or after a big meal. Storage containers with vented lids are your best choice because you simply put the food into the container, snap down the lid latches, and store it in the refrigerator or freezer. When you want to heat up the food, you simply unsnap the latches, which exposes air vents, but leave the lid on. Then you put the whole container in the microwave. The vents allow the food to heat up quickly without splattering the inside walls of the microwave.

You’re a Baker

Use Pyrex Simply Store containers if you like the even heating of a bake oven, or don’t like to store food in plastic containers. Pyrex

You like to freeze meals such as casseroles and stews. Or you prefer the even, consistent heating of a bake oven compared to a microwave. Or, you don’t like to use plastic food containers for health reasons (or simply because plastic can retain food odors). Strong glass food storage containers are your best choice, because you can put them right into a gas or electric oven, as well as into a microwave. Glass food storage containers are heavier than plastic, of course, but they offer much more flexibility—and if you use them to serve food, they look much more appealing on the table than a plastic tub.