Best Meal Prep Bags

Updated June 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

38 Models Considered
20 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
152 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best meal prep bags

Meal prepping is a great way to save money, curb cravings, and stay on top of your fitness goals. But with meal prep comes containers — lots of them! While managing them at home is easy enough, juggling multiple lunchboxes when you're out and about can be a nightmare. That's where meal prep bags come in handy. With a meal prep bag, you can easily tote all your daily meals, snacks, and supplements.

Meal prep bags generally come with multiple compartments, making it easy to stay organized. Most are insulated to help keep your food fresh for longer, and many also come with ice packs, so you can pack salads, yogurt, and other cold foods with confidence. Some meal prep bags even include airtight containers, shaker bottles, and pill boxes, eliminating the need to purchase these items separately.

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Test-drive your meal prep bag before you head out to make sure all your containers fit and so you can get a feel for the weight once it's filled.

Key considerations

Types of meal prep bags

Meal prep bags are available in three styles: lunch boxes, shoulder strap bags, and backpacks. We've outlined each type to help you identify the best option for your needs.

Lunch boxes: These are the most compact of the lot and typically offer just enough space for two meals, a snack, and a water bottle. Most meal prep lunch boxes come with carry handles but can easily be stuffed into a gym bag or backpack as well. If you're looking for a compact option that won't weigh you down on your daily commute, a meal prep lunch box is a great choice.

Shoulder strap: This category of meal prep bags features a single shoulder strap, allowing you to carry the bag at your side. Most are quite spacious and typically hold anywhere from three to six meals, with plenty of room to spare for snacks, supplements, water bottles, and shakers. If you need something that's easy to carry with enough space for a day's worth of food, a shoulder strap meal prep bag should be a good fit.

Backpack: Such meal prep bags typically have a large capacity (most hold up to six meals) and padded shoulder straps for comfort. Most also have separate compartments for laptops and tablets, making them excellent multitaskers. If you need a hands-free way to carry an entire day's worth of meals and snacks — as well as supplements, water bottles, shakers, and a few personal items — a meal prep backpack is your best bet.

Size

Meal prep bags are available in a wide variety of sizes. When choosing a size, ask yourself how many meals and snacks you need the bag to hold. If it's only one or two, then a compact, lunch box-style bag should be more than adequate. However, if you need to pack multiple meals and snacks, it's a good idea to opt for a larger backpack or shoulder strap bag. Keep in mind that size can also impact carrying ease. In addition to being bulky, large meal prep bags can also become quite heavy when filled and may not be the best option if you rely on public transportation for your daily commute.

Color and style

Choose a color and style based on where and how you plan to use your meal prep bag most of the time. While fun colors and prints are fine for school, road trips or a casual day out, neutral shades like black or navy blue are generally a more suitable option for work.

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Did You Know?
A larger meal prep bag can easily double as an insulated picnic basket or a cooler bag for drinks.
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Features

Insulation

Most meal prep bags are insulated to help food stay cool and preserve freshness. However, not all meal prep bags are created equally, and insulation performance often varies from model to model. Most meal prep bags rely on a layer of dense foam between the walls of the bag, for insulation. The thicker and denser the foam, the better the insulation (provided the bag seals well, of course). Determining insulation quality at a glance is just about impossible, but you can generally still get a decent idea of what works and what doesn't by scrolling through buyer reviews.

Compartments and pockets

Meal prep bags with several compartments or pockets make it much easier to stay organized. Side mesh pockets can be ideal for shakers and water bottles, while internal pockets and compartments can be used to store utensils, napkins, supplements, and other small items. Some backpack meal prep bags even come with laptop and tablet compartments, allowing you to store work or school devices in the same bag.

Extras

Some meal prep bags are prepacked with handy extras like meal prep containers, shaker bottles, ice packs, and pill boxes for daily vitamins, fat burners, or pre-workout supplements. If you're starting from scratch, an all-inclusive meal prep bag set can save you the hassle of purchasing these items separately. However, you may still want to purchase extra meal prep containers to ensure you have enough for the week and a few for home use as well.

If you use public transportation or commute on a bike, consider a backpack meal prep bag. Dual-padded shoulder straps on many of these meal prep bags improve carrying comfort and promote even weight distribution while leaving your hands free.

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Accessories

Meal prep containers: Prep Naturals Glass Meal Containers
If you don't already have meal prep containers, you may want to stock up. This quality set of glass meal prep containers will go from the fridge to the microwave and into the dishwasher without any problems.

Ice packs: Rubbermaid LunchBlox Ice Packs
Ice packs can help cold foods, like yogurt and salads, stay cool and will also keep your food as fresh as possible throughout the day. Rubbermaid is a reputable brand, and this three-pack is highly versatile.

Shaker bottle: BlenderBottle Super Hero Shaker Bottle
A good shaker bottle can help eliminate lumps for smoother, creamier protein and meal replacement shakes. Choose your favorite superhero when ordering this shaker from BlenderBottle.

Thermos: THERMOS King Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Food Jar
Whether you're packing soup or a smoothie, a Thermos will help to keep liquids at your preferred temperature. Choose from a number of great color choices.

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Did You Know?
To remove odors, sprinkle baking powder into your meal prep bag, paying extra attention to corners and seams, and allow it to sit overnight. In the morning, empty the baking soda and shake out the bag. Wipe the inside with a damp cloth and allow it to dry (or wipe it dry) before using.
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Meal prep bag prices

Inexpensive: Smaller lunch box meal prep bags generally start out at $15 or less. These usually fit two meals, a snack, an ice pack, and utensils. Most meal prep bags in this price bracket are rather straightforward and don't include extras like containers and shakers.

Mid-range: For $15 to $25, you can find meal prep bags in a variety of sizes, from two-meal lunch boxes to shoulder-strap bags capable of holding up to six meals as well as snacks, supplements, drinks, utensils and ice packs. Many bags in this price range also come with complementary items like ice packs, containers, shakers and pill boxes.

Expensive: If you need superior insulation, an extra-large meal prep bag or perhaps even a backpack, expect to pay anywhere $25 up to $100. Just about all meal prep bags in this category come with a comprehensive set of accessories to help you get off to the best start possible.

Tips

  • Purchase enough containers. Weekly meal prep requires a decent number of containers. It's a good idea to stock up, even if your meal prep bag includes containers. The best way to determine how many containers you need is to multiply your daily meals by five. If you don't plan to prepare every meal for the week ahead, you could probably get away with less, but it certainly doesn't hurt to have a few extra containers on hand, either.
  • Quality counts. A sturdy set of quality containers will be better able to withstand frequent use, microwaving, and washing.
  • Cook ahead and portion meals for the week. Preparing your meals in advance and filling your containers with individual servings can help streamline your entire week and is by far the best way to stay on the meal prep wagon.
  • Use at least two ice packs. While you might be able to get away with a single ice pack for a two-meal lunch box, larger meal prep bags often require two or more ice packs for optimal cooling.
  • Beware leaks. No one likes dealing with food-related messes, especially when you're away from home and your stomach is growling. Choosing air-tight, leakproof containers can go a long way toward keeping your food safe and your meal prep bag clean.
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Glass containers can be heavy. If you need to tote an entire day's worth of meals, you may want to swap out glass containers for plastic. Another option is to use a combination of the two, reserving glass containers for meals you plan to reheat while packing cold foods in plastic.

FAQ

Q. Can I wash my meal prep bag?

A. While some meal prep bags can be hand washed in soapy water and then rinsed and air-dried, others can only be wiped clean, inside and out. Always check manufacturer care instructions before you set about cleaning your meal prep bag.

Q. How do I know if my existing meal prep containers will fit in my meal prep bag?

A. The best way to figure out if your containers will fit in any given bag is to measure their height, length, and width. Compare these to the dimensions of your chosen meal prep bag to find out if it's a good fit. Don't forget to factor in the number of containers you need your meal prep bag to hold and keep in mind that they'll most likely be stacked, either in twos or threes, inside the bag.

Q. Will a meal prep bag keep food warm?

A. Since meal prep bags are insulated, they technically can help keep food warm. However, keeping food cold is much easier than keeping it warm, and it's highly unlikely that your food will be piping hot by the time you dig into your meal. When it comes to packing hot meals (and keeping them hot), using an insulated container is your best bet. If this isn't an option, you may want to consider switching to stainless-steel meal prep containers, as these offer superior heat retention compared to glass or plastic.

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