Getting into the habit of regularly meal prepping can increase your success after bariatric surgery and help you feel prepared. You’ll be more likely to meet your protein goals and feel less stressed. If you want to learn how to meal prep, check out this post about how to get started.
Beyond knowing what foods to prepare, what type of meal prep containers do you need will ensure your success? With your smaller pouch size, you’ll likely need smaller containers than ones you may see at the store. Here is the ultimate guide to choosing the best bariatric meal prep containers to help you reach your goals.
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What are Meal Prep Containers?
Meal prep containers are food storage devices designed specifically for packing food to carry with you. They usually have improved features from the traditional plastic food storage containers that make food transport and portion control easy.
Food storage meal prep containers are made from various materials, from plastic to glass to stainless steel. They can be purchased on Amazon or at your favorite store, like Target or Walmart.
After weight loss surgery you want to choose containers that are between 1-2 cup portion sizes. Although you likely won’t be eating 2 cups of food at a time it makes it easier to eat when the food is not crammed inside.
There are pros and cons to each type of meal prep container, which I will break down for you below. The important thing is to figure out what works best for you and your specific goals. Each person has different preferences, so you want to find what works for you and inspires you to incorporate meal prepping into your routine.
Here are the pros and cons of the most common types of meal prep containers:
Glass containers are made of glass and usually have a plastic snap on lid.
Pros of glass meal prep containers:
- Leak proof lids.
- Won’t stain with tomato products.
- Perfect for reheating food in the oven or microwave.
- No concerns over BPA or other chemicals leeching into food.
- Food stored in glass tends to taste better.
Cons of glass meal prep containers:
- Glass containers are heavier, may be difficult to carry multiple containers in a lunch bag.
- Although glass is strong, it can break and is more dangerous than other materials.
A few of my favorite glass bariatric meal prep containers:
I love these Snapware glass containers without dividers. I use them for everything but they work especially well for soups or crockpot meals.
If you don’t like your food to touch you may prefer a container with dividers to keep your food separated, here are two options:
These Prep Naturals Glass Containers have two compartments. These are great for those needing to carry just veggies and protein.
If you want more compartments, Prep Naturals also makes a three compartment option. This would be best for those that need to pack a protein, veggie, and smart carbohydrate for lunch, which is great for post ops more than 6 months out.
Bento lunch boxes have become a popular option lately, particularly for packing school lunches or for those that need smaller portions (aka weight loss surgery post ops). They originated in Japan to allow workers to carry various types of food along with them. Now they’re made from a variety of materials, such as metal or plastic. They come in a variety of sizes so you can easily find one to match your personal preferences for where you are in your post-surgery journey.
Pros of bento boxes:
- Keeps meal components separated, so food doesn’t get soggy and flavors don’t mix.
- Lighter than glass containers, easy to carry for lunch.
- Perfect for cold lunches.
- Small portion size, great for post-surgery. Consider bento boxes made for kids for even smaller portion sizes.
- They’re just cute 😉
Cons of bento boxes:
- Can’t reheat food in metal bento boxes.
- Not leak proof
A few of my favorite meal prep bento boxes:
Lunch Bots “Toddler size” bento box with four sections that fit 1 to 2 ounces each. Perfect for someone only a few months post-surgery who can only tolerate small portions of protein and vegetables.
Lunch Bots “Medium” bento box with three sections that fit 3 to 4 ounces each. This would be more geared towards someone who is at least 6 months post-op.
BPA Free Plastic Containers
If you prefer a plastic container, look for those that are BPA free. BPA is a common chemical in plastics that has been found to disrupt hormones. Due to consumer demand, many companies that make plastic food containers have removed BPA from their products. If you’re not sure if a container is BPA free you can look for the plastic identification code at the bottom of the product. Any product with a 1, 2, 4, 5, or 6 is BPA free.
Pros of BPA free plastic meal prep containers:
- Lighter than glass and easier to transport.
- Won’t break if dropped.
- Works great for hot or cold lunches.
- Can heat up the containers in the microwave, if desired
- Look for leak-proof lids to prevent messy spills.
Cons of BPA free plastic meal prep containers:
- Tomato products can stain the plastic.
- Can’t heat up in the oven.
My favorite plastic meal prep containers:
Lock and Lock BPA free eco-friendly meal prep containers. These are leak proof and versatile. They can be used in the microwave, freezer, and are dishwasher safe on the top rack.
Mason jars are a social media favorite for food storage and one of my personal favorites. Salads, chia pudding, or other layered recipes look amazing in mason jars making for a great Instagram-worthy photo. They are not just pretty, they’re practical too! I think these are a great fit for the pureed or soft diet phase, when portions are still small.
Pros of mason jars for food storage:
- Great for portion control. They come in a variety of different sizes to fit your current portion needs.
- They seal well and are great for carrying soup or other liquids.
- Perfect salad container, you can “layer” the salad ingredients so it doesn’t mush together.
- Made from glass, so they won’t stain with tomato products.
- Mason jars are usually microwavable and dishwasher safe.
- Very affordable!
Cons of mason jars for food storage:
- Can be too heavy to carry in a lunch bag.
- Can’t include a variety of food in one jar, so you would have to carry multiple jars for a complete meal.
My favorite mason jars for meal prep:
For 8 ounce/1 cup or smaller portion sizes try these Kerr Half Pint Mason Jars.
For a larger 16 ounce/2 cup serving you can try these Ball Mason Jars.
As you can see there are lots of options for meal prep containers based on your personal preferences and where you are in your post-surgery journey. You can pick your favorite or use a combination of containers tailored to your individual needs. The important thing is to have useful containers on hand to make meal prep work for you.