Easily taken for granted, plastic food storage containers are a staple supply in any food service operation. It’s beneficial to take the time to become familiar with the main types, materials, and sizes. By paying attention to these attributes, you could save money in both the cost of the container and in the reduction of food waste through a more efficient operation.

When shopping for plastic food containers, it is important to know which type of container you need and what the container is made of before deciding. Here are the different types of containers and material options, to help you decide what you need.

Types of Food Storage Containers

Food storage boxes

Food Storage Boxes

Food storage boxes are designed to be a bulk food storage solution, allowing for the largest capacity. They have a stackable design for efficient storage. These are perfect for replacing the original packaging after receiving new items. Sliding lids are also available for one-handed operation.

Dough boxes

Dough Boxes

Dough boxes are great for storing pizza dough and increasing the storage life of the dough. These can often be stacked for more efficient storing, and the addition of dollies makes transportation easier. These typically are sized at 18” x 26”.  

Ingredient bins

Ingredient Bins

Ingredient bins are designed to keep your dry ingredients fresh and organized. These come in a range of sizes and shapes, including square, round, and rectangle. Both undercounter and shelf styles are available, depending on your business needs.

Storage tip!

Multiple ingredient bins are perfect if you want to keep all your dry ingredients in one area. These can be color coded to easily identify which ingredient you need. These fit under worktables and have casters for portability. To find the correct ingredient bin, you will need to consider what type of ingredients will be stored in them. Ingredient bin capacities are based in gallons.

Multiple ingredient bins

Food Storage Container Sizing and Shapes

Food storage containers come in either round or square sizes. The round storage shape is helpful in promoting air circulation, allowing for faster cooling and an optimal temperature for food safety. Square food storage containers hold more product in a smaller space. To find the correct food storage and pans, you will need to consider what type of product will be going in yours. Will it be wet or dry ingredients? Fresh produce, sauces, or soups? Food storage containers come in a variety of sizes, such as:

  • 2 C.
  • 3 C.
  • 1 Qt.
  • 5 Qt.
  • 4 Qt.
  • 6 Qt.
  • 8 Qt.
  • 12 Qt.
  • 18 Qt.
  • 22 Qt.
Food storage containers

Container Material Types

Polycarbonate offers a high impact resistance and rigid construction, and it’s highly stain resistant. The clear construction is great for visibility. The average temperature range is -40°F to +375°F, making their use versatile. These are available in round and square shapes.

*May contain Bisphenol-A (BPA)

Price: $$$

Polypropylene offers impact resistant and sturdy construction. It is more flexible than polycarbonate and withstands high heat, but it’s not quite as flexible as polyethylene. Polypropylene is translucent in appearance, but can be colored for different applications. It is recyclable, microwavable, and dishwasher safe. The average temperature range is 0°F to +230°F (not ideal for freezing). It’s available in round or square shapes, plus it’s BPA free.

Price: $$

Polyethylene offers impact resistant and sturdy construction; in fact, it’s the most flexible of the materials. Usually it’s white in color, but can be colored for different applications. Polyethylene is recyclable and dishwasher safe. The average temperature range is -40°F to +180°F (not ideal for cooking). Plus, it’s BPA free.

Price: $

Storage Container Accessories

Food Container Lids: Lids are a great accessory to purchase with your containers. They ensure that the contents of your containers will remain fresh until they can be used. When it comes to lids, there are different options to chose from. Some offer spill-proof resistance, while others only snap on. Additionally, some slide or flip.

Drain Trays: Drain trays are plastic trays that can be put into food storage boxes to allow for liquids to drain, while continuing to maintain optimal freshness.

Color Coding: When you find the best food storage containers for your restaurant, color coding is a great option. This allows you to put certain foods in a particular container every time, so there is no mistaking what’s inside. This helps improve efficiency and make your kitchen allergy-friendly.
Food container accessories
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