Half the battle of actually bringing lunch to work is finding a container to put it in. And we're not just talking about physically locating a matching lid to the tired Tupperware that's been in rotation since 2012 — we're talking about figuring out which kind to even purchase.
Investing in the right bring-to-work vessel is a necessity; ending up with a plastic or glass container that's too bulky or doesn't close well makes us want to switch back to takeout.
Sure I could keep packing my beat-up mismatched options, but haphazardly making my usual lunchtime salad is no way to keep myself motivated to pack instead of buy. Instead, I decided to pack six different salads in six different vessels in order to identify which ones get the job done. Join me on my journey to find out which containers aren't worth the space in our crammed cupboards and, and which you'll actually feel proud to present on your desk when the clock strikes twelve tomorrow.
If you're feeling
extra all about that lunch-packing life, then take a peek at our guide to adult lunch boxes for some chic pails that don't feature the Power Rangers.
The Standard Plastic
Rubbermaid's "Easy Find Lid" has been my standard salad packer over the years. It's not making much of a statement — other than, "I've been holding salads since the early 2000s," — but the size, tightly snappable lid, and durable plastic has made it a tried-and-true go-to for toting my work lunches. So, I decided to use old-faithful red lid as my control in this Tupperware pack-off.
Easy Find Lid 3-Cup Storage Container, $17.38 (6-pack), available at
Convenience (Size/Packability): Gets The Job Done Although I couldn't go wild with my salad to topping ratio, this option was big enough to get what I wanted in there without having to truly skimp on anything major (if anything the lettuce was sacrificed for more add-ons, which I'm okay with). This Tupperware's main draw is it compact size; it's slim enough to stuff in a bag, but still big enough to fit a full lunch Leakage: None For the countless times this container's taken an absolute beating inside my gym bag, and thrown itself from my work fridge, it's never actually broken open (or released any obscene oniony salad odors). Would Pack Again: Yes Although it's not much on the eyes and all salad ingredients get lumped together — oh, and you can forget about any extra space for dressing — this affordable Rubbermaid standard holds an overall decent amount while still being slim and durable enough to throw in a bag and tote to work. No muss, no fuss. Just salad.
The Sleek Multi-Compartment Plastic
For my second day of packing, I upgraded from my go-to with Rubbermaid's newest "Brilliance" line of containers. This sleek salad packer came complete with not only separate compartments for lettuce and toppings, but also a dressing holder too. I actually felt pretty posh pulling this one out of my gym bag to present on my desk. I mean, just look at those layers — if salads could vogue, this one would be
moving to the music
Salad Lunch Storage Container, $14.99, available at
Convenience (Size/Packability): Good The size of this tupperware is initially what won me over — the bottom layer was finally large enough that I didn't have to have to skimp on my lettuce ratio and the removable toppings tray has deep double sides for filling with nuts, etc. The kicker? A sealable dressing compartment that fits right smack in the middle. And although the container itself isn't huge, it was still a bit cumbersome to pack inside an already stuffed bag. That being said, I wouldn't trade it's beautiful layer-ability for something that's easier to tote to work. Leakage: None The leak proof snaps did their duty and they did it well. Out of all the Tupperware I've ever packed in, this Brilliance model held things together the best — even post gym bag-subway tumbles. Would Pack Again: Yes This tupperware option actually made packing my salad feel like a food moment. I wouldn't go so far as to say I'd Instagram it...but after eliciting more than a few oohs and aahs from my coworkers, never say never.
The Glass Bento
Okay, so I may have messed up a bit here by ordering the "snack" sized bento — but, I was on the hunt for packable size plus multiple compartments. Since the container surface area here was a bit stunted, I decided to go a half greens-half pasta salad recipe route with my packing on day three.
2-Compartment Glass Snack Container, $14.99, available at
Convenience (Size/Packability): Not Great So, snack-size (as anticipated) does not translate well to lunch-friendly. The container itself was deep enough that the goods I was actually able to stuff in made for a fulfilling meal after all. The glass bento's small size was ideal for toting to work and keeping on my desk. And although it was a stretch for packing my go-to lunch, it would have be perfect for a breakfast or snack situation instead. Leakage: None It was a nice change to be able to throw in two separate types of salads without things getting mixed and mushy — the leak proof lid and glass divider were like shields. Would Pack Again: Not For Salad Although too small for salad, I'm thinking of bringing this bento for breakfast with steel cut oats paired with a yogurt and fresh fruit parfait.
The Patterned Glass Bowl
On day four, I went with my boss's go-to Pyrex container. She often brings soups and stews for lunch — so as far as reheating goes, glass bowls are ideal. But for salad? Not entirely necessary. I packed my greens in it anyway and toted on to see what I might have been missing.
4-Cup Butterprint White Storage Dish, $4.99, available at
Convenience (Size/Packability): Great The deep bowl was an ideal vessel for my salad — the lettuce to topping ratio left room enough for a separate dressing vessel to be tucked in and toted along. It was big enough to fit all my lettuce, topping, and dressing needs, but not in a compact way — there was too much looseness with the bowl, and things got shaken up on my commute. Plus, the glass container with a slightly flimsier feeling lid felt risky. And I'm really not trying to live on the lunch-packing edge these days. Leakage: None Although no leakage actually occurred, this was the first container thats lid didn't feel as durable or locked into place. And so I felt compelled to double-wrap, for safety purposes, with a plastic bag... just in case. (Not trying to get my workout later in rotisserie chicken-soaked sweats.) Would Pack Again: Not For Salad I'll be taking a page out of my boss's lunch-packing book and using this pretty Pyrex for a soup and stew situation instead. Or serving some hot sides in it for a home-cooked dinner — because it's oven-safe AND comes complete with a cozy-cute design.
The Plastic Plate Double-Decker
Aside from Rubbermaid's Brilliance container, I was most excited for this double-decker from OXO. Instead of multiple compartments, it includes a bowl, plate, and dressing holder. How the plate would add to my salad packing success I wasn't entirely sure, but I appreciated the option nonetheless.
On-The-Go-Salad Container, $17.99, available at
Convenience (Size/Packability): HUGE I felt like I was packing enough salad for a desk-side picnic with my co-workers — and when it came to portioning out ingredients for the plate, I panicked and went ham, filling the space with a weird mixture of nuts, avocado, and the flying saucer-like dressing compartment. A smaller version of this mammoth contraption would have been way better. Pulling the massive container out of my bag felt like pulling a bowling ball out of a clutch — so, not great. Plus, fitting it into the fridge at work alongside colleagues' tinier Tupperware was a struggle: I ended up having to prop it on its side in an odd salad balancing act. Leakage: None The leak-safe snaps and separated compartments worked perfectly — there was no spillage whatsoever and the ingredients remained un-mushed and intact upon arrival in office. Would Pack Again: Not For Lunch I'll be toting this whale of a container with me on any future camping trips and/or picnics — or, if for some reason, I need to bring a multi-course dinner with me on-the-go.
The Jar Dressing-Maker
I had no idea this magic little dressing cup contraption even existed! Happening upon it was a pleasant surprise since I already own enough mason jars to start my own jam business. What could be better than two-step, rustic chic salad packing situation?
BNTO Canning Jar Lunchbox Adaptor, $8.99, available at
Convenience (Size/Packability): Great The dressing cup adaptor was much deeper than I anticipated without overcrowding my mason jar's salad-packing space. And even though I'd previously favored plastic options over glass, having this vertical vessel proved to be a snug and safe fit inside my bag. Also, it looked cute AF on my desk (Pinterest superstar status, here I come). Leakage: None Although my dressing adaptor didn't actually leak any precious EVOO into my mason jar salad, it did feel a bit loose after screwing it on...so the threat of spillage was still there. And who knows, maybe with a little more subway jostling it might have popped loose and sabotaged my lunch. But that's a hypothetical, and for now the dressing adaptor lives to see another day jar salad. Would Pack Again: Yes If you're not going too topping wild with your recipe, then this dressing adaptor option is the move for secure salad packing. It's cheap, fast, easy, and gets the job done — while still allowing you to BYOMJ (bring your own mason jar).