HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


When you bring your lunch, what do you pack your salad dressing in?

All of my tupperware seems to leak, and it DRIVES ME CRAZY!

I also like to bring uncooked oatmeal with milk poured over it so I can heat it up in my microwave at work. Last week the tupperware leaked all over the place and I haven't done it since! I find this very frustrating.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I keep small glass jars, like spice containers with good screw lids. The BF just informed me that his still sometimes leak and suggested wrapping the bottles in paper towels and putting them in a plastic bag...but not enough to pack his own lunch.

    1. I like the screw top suggestion - also helps to pack little tupperware of dressing in larger salad tupperware so there are a couple of caontainers to leak through.
      As far as the oatmeal, individual soymilk containers are the way to go (if you can handle soymilk, maybe there are individual milk containers as well?). Small Nalgene bottles also work great! Or could you keep a small carton in a work fridge?

      1 Reply
      1. re: amycakes

        They do have individual milks now, and they don't even need to be refrigerated, just like the soy milks.

      2. I have a bunch of itty-bitty plastic screw-top jars from Penzey's. They're useful for lots of things, including taking along your own salad dressing. You can order them on-line.

        1 Reply
        1. re: pikawicca

          Oh, that's a great idea. I have tons of Penzey's spices. I will just have to wait until I'm out of something and then use that jar, or, I guess, head to the store for some jars! Thanks!

        2. You can buy a rubbermade type bowl with a compartment in the lid designed just for this purpose - you open the compartment onto the salad when you're ready to eat.
          Hope you can find one.

          made by guateplast and purchased in the supermarket of discount store

          2 Replies
          1. re: jh nj

            There are some sold at Bed Bath & Beyond with a thin thing of blue ice you store in freezer until you take your lunch thing with you. They have a salad one with built in dispenser but I did not like that one; I got the oblong one, very nice. I, too, use the empty salsa containers for the salad dressing.

            1. re: jh nj

              Careful of the Fit n' Fresh brand container. What a piece of garbage. The salad dressing release thing didn't work once.

            2. I use bottles I bought on eBay for Bento Boxes.
              Just search under "bento".

              1 Reply
              1. re: SilverlakeGirl

                Yep, I use little strawberry shaped bottles meant for Bento. I also have some little flip top critter shaped ones that would work for thicker (ranch like) dressings. None of them would satisfy someone who wants a lot of dressing or packs a large salad, although you could always pack multiple.

              2. Real Tupperware should not leak. If there is a lid malfunction- it is warped- they will replace any size for a minimal fee (it was $1, may be more now) contact a local Tupperware Rep or online. The stuff is guaranteed forever.

                You should put the lid on and turn the piece upside down and around before you leave the house to see that it is sealed. It should not accidentlaly pop open on a drive, or even under pressure in an aircraft.

                If it is a malfunction, all lids have a letter imprinted on it that shoud match the letter/number on the bottom of the piece (i.e., each size container has a corresponding lid) and that is what you need to tell them.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Cathy

                  Just to be clear-this is not "real" Tupperware. It's Target tupperware. It's fine for non-leaky things.

                  1. re: IndyGirl

                    So why not just get real tupperware? It's easy enough to find, just need to remember to bring it home, wash it, and store until next use.

                    I personally like the pyrex glass containers with tops - I got a set of them at Costco a few years back. Those don't leak, and they look just as good as when I first bought them.

                    1. re: IndyGirl

                      OK, way different situation. I thought it was a legit complaint about Tupperware, which does cost more but indeed does last forever. I have some from my mom from the 1950's/60's that still seals. No need to buy any of those disposable/breakdownable/leaky things for the rest of my lifetime.

                      Just test whatever you think you are going to use filled with water and placed upside down on your counter for an hour when you first buy it. You'll know what leaks right away.

                  2. I bought a few baby food jars just for this purpose. Washed them out and I never have a leak problem.

                    2 Replies
                      1. re: kkak97

                        So simple... I feel stupid I never thought of it! (No babies, but I secretly like the baby applesauce anyway! ;-)

                      2. Zip-Lock bags have worked for us in the past. They transport well as long as pressure isn't applied to them and you can cut a bottom corner to dispense the dressing. To temporarily seal the cut corner, use one of those clamp-type paper clips to hold the twisted corner closed. I know it's kind of a waste to use a ziplock in this manner, but we don't do it often and rationalize that wasting one plastic bag is less of a crime than possibly creating a spill that will cost a dozen paper towels and who knows what else to clean the potential mess.

                        1. glass spice jars
                          baby food jars

                          or a safer/less breakable alternative...plastic, travel-size toiletry bottles - widely available at drugstores

                          [i still put the jar or bottle in a small ziploc as additional insurance against leakage.]

                          there are also a couple of specialty products on the market now that were created specifically for the purpose of transporting your salad & keeping the dressing separate:



                          1. I used to carry dressing in empty film containers (back when I still used a film camera). Now I just keep a bottle of dressing in the office fridge.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: piccola

                              I'd advise against using film containers for storing food; they're not meant for it and weird chemicals can leach out into what you're eating. This also applies to any other nonfood containers.

                            2. I use Starfrit Lock & Lock containers. They're definitely leak proof.

                              1. How about empty prescription vials with the childproof caps?

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: DonShirer

                                  Put some water in one, turn it upside down, leave on the counter at home and see if the water leaks out...

                                  1. re: DonShirer

                                    wouldn't suggest it. childproof definitely doesn't mean leak-proof.

                                    1. re: DonShirer

                                      I work at a pharmacy - those bottles are NOT leakproof. However, we do dispense plenty of liquids medications in bottles with leakproof tops. I'd just ask your pharmacy for one - they are called "oval bottles." The 2 oz size is perfect. They cost less than a quarter each, so unless they are being really grumpy, they shouldn't mind giving you one. We've had students ask for them for projects and such.

                                      Here's what they look like:

                                    2. We have a fridge at work and I just keep a bottle of dressing in there. Otherwise, I'd use the Tupperware containers that "Santa" put in my stocking a few years ago. I believe they were made for just that purpose.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: mercyteapot

                                        See, I hate bottled dressing. I have a real aversion to it. It used to be fine but then I started making my own and now any bottled dressing tastes checmically to me.

                                        So I make my own, which is why my little olive-oil-and-expensive-Zingerman's-vinegar dressings leak all over the place.

                                        1. re: IndyGirl

                                          if you have a fridge at your office, can't you just keep a batch of your own/homemade dressing in there?

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            They throw everything out of our fridges each Friday, including dressing, whatever. Even if you mark it "keep." Sux.

                                            1. re: rockandroller1

                                              it's a catch-22.

                                              think of it this way...at least you don't have to worry about some idiot leaving their half-eaten takeout in there to rot or fester & grow some insidious bacteria
                                              that could potentially contaminate everyone else's food and make you all sick. some office refrigerators can get so filthy & nasty that you couldn't pay me to store my food in them. i always wonder why it's so difficult for people to clean up after themselves in public common areas...and whether they would ever let the condition of their own homes deteriorate to that point.

                                              sorry, random off-topic tangent.

                                              i still think spice or baby food jars are best.

                                              as i said earlier, as far as glass, i always have a few extra spice jars on hand for various purposes...and even though i don't have kids, i occasionally use organic baby food fruit purees in my baking, so i just keep the jars once they're empty. so handy!

                                              if you prefer plastic, pick up some travel-size plastic bottles at the drugstore [check the grade/code to make sure they're food-safe], wash them well when you get home, and use those. not only are they basically unbreakable, some also have spouts/nozzles that are perfect for measured squirting/pouring of your condiments.

                                      2. I have a bowl that I bought at Target. It is made by Corning, white ceramic, with a seal tight plastic lid and a knob to let the steam out. I think it only cost around $5 or $6. Last year, I was taking a class that started at 8 am and one of my classmates brought oatmeal in that same container.

                                        1. My best friend utilizes her son's containers from "The First Years". Set of 8 for about $4, I believe. She'll pack garnishes for potlucks in them, or send her man off to work with one filled with grape tomatoes. I believe they are four ounces. I bought a set and use them for sauces and small portions of snacks.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: brekkie_fan

                                            For dressing, it finally occurred to me to look for those little plastic containers (w/ lids) they have at salsa bars. Found them at Smart & Final & what a convenience it is! I now use it for my daughter's school lunch whenever I need to pack soy sauce, hummus, cream cheese, etc. Came in a pkg of 200 or 250 for oh I don't remember, may be $7?

                                            1. re: ceekskat

                                              Yes! I bought a pack on amazon for $5 or so. I fill with dressing, then tuck the little container into the larger salad container.

                                          2. At pharmacies, they sell mini plastic travel bottles that you can fill w/ toiletries/shampoo/lotions/etc... I fill em with dressing.

                                            1. I use an old fashioned asprin container with the snap lid. Never leaks. Cleans up well w/ hot water, soap and a good shake. And doesn't cost a thing.

                                              1. I just use the small tupperware (or off-brand) containers and put that inside a ziploc in case it leaks.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: rockandroller1

                                                  I do something similar - no ziplock, but I put the liquid container into the larger salad container, or in the case of sandwiches I'll put the tomato container into a larger container with the remainder of the sandwich parts.

                                                2. ziplock bags.

                                                  The smaller ones from the major brands seal really well. To make sure they don't get squeezed open you can put them inside a rigid container.
                                                  The really large ziplock bags will make a large proof sheild over your old Tupperware, but then you still have a big mess inside it to deal with...

                                                  1. ziplocks and little penzey's bottles. The bottles are better because you can shake them.

                                                    1. My answer is boring...I just bring a small bottle of evoo and small bottle of balsamic vinegar, the bottles I purchased them in and keep them in the office kitchen cabinet. Occasionally, I'll bring in some lemons and just do evoo and fresh lemon juice on my salads.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Val

                                                        Exactly what I was about to write! I keep a small bottle of e.v. olive oil at work and just bring my salad with a wedge of lemon plopped right inside & pour oil & lemon juice at lunchtime. I also keep salt, a pepper mill & other seasonings at work.

                                                      2. I get these at the Korean grocery, but you can get `em on Amazon now. If it keeps kimchi sealed, it's gotta be gold...

                                                        1. Smart & Final or any restaurant supply has a wide variety of small take out containers with lids. Perfect!

                                                          1. I just saw a display featuring Rubbermaid (new?) Twist & Seal containers. Box said they're leak-proof...this was at Long's Drugs.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Sarah

                                                              Rubbermaid used to sell stain-proof containers... they were a Lexan-type plastic and hada great, tight-fitting lid with a wide band around the lip. I don't know if they're still in stores, but I bought one to store spaghetti sauce in and it's now coveted by my boyfriend for taking leaky food to work for his lunch. It's the only container we have that doesn't leak.


                                                            2. Best discovery ever, after observing what Food Network cooks do when they've prepared a salad, but are waiting (for guests or whatever) before tossing:

                                                              Put the dressing at the bottom!

                                                              Yep, easy-peasy, and it's been working wonderfully for me. I put my dressing (and topings: chicken, shredded cheese, etc.) right at the bottom of my tupperware bowl, and then i pile the lettuce on top. Lettuce remains crisp, there's no leaking, and....

                                                              it's super easy to mix! just shake!!

                                                              I've also heard of putting your salad in a big plastic bag, and then putting the dressing into a smaller plastic bag and place then seal that smaller bag within the bigger one. I used to do this before my new method, and it also worked well.

                                                              1. I had the leaking lunch problem (and destroyed an iPod as a result) until I bought Glasslock containers. I got mine at The Container Store. These work great, no more leaking. They are heavier than tupperware, though, so more of a pain in the a** to carry. They are also more expensive. I think the size I bought was about $12, but worth it to me.


                                                                1. Well, it's not ideal as the size is probably larger than you'd want but, I bring my dressing in the smallest size (Ball 4 oz) jars sold. They are perfect for both mixing up the dressing as well as porting (except for the whole "breakable glass" thing). They go through the dishwasher, get totally clean with no oil/pastic/acid interaction, and the absolutely positively will not leak. Their whole design is specifically so they don't leak, at all, ever. They last forever, unless you drop one, and they are great for storing and transporting other stuff too. Remove the lid and they are microwave safe. The whole shebang is utterly recyclable to boot.

                                                                  For the oatmeal, go with the mason jar but in the larger size. Brands vary, with Kerr and Ball producing currently. if you can't find them at a hearby store, buying online is worth the trouble and shipping. Places like Ace Hardware, Amazon, and the like. Opt for the wide mouth versions and cleaning will be even easier.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: aggiecat

                                                                    I use a snack size ziplock bag. Lies flat on top of the salad in the container so it doesn't take up much space. If it's a vinaigrette type dressing, just smush the bag around to mix the dressing.

                                                                    Or I buy small 2oz condiment containers- 200 or so in a pack for a few dollars. They're not leakproof on their own, but when nestled inside a tupperware they don't leak.

                                                                  2. I had a coworker who would just put the salad dressing at the bottom of the salad container and the salad on top. When she was ready to eat it, she'd mix it all up.

                                                                    1. I just found the best way to transport lunchtime salad dressing. It's called Dressing 2 Go by EVRIHOLDER. Here's a link:


                                                                      I got mine at Shop Rite.

                                                                        1. This might sound strange but I once used a tiny wine bottle. I put a little olive oil ,red wine vinegar and Dijon mustard s/p. Screwed the lid shut and shook it up at lunch time and poured. It worked great.
                                                                          I was later tested for drinking on the job:) j/k

                                                                          1. I have some small (1/2 cup) plastic containers with good, tight locks -- some are Rubbermaid, some ziplock. And, I put the container with the dressing inside the larger square container in which I place the salad, so if any leaks, it goes onto the salad.

                                                                            The only variation on this is if I am including apples or pears in the salad. In that case, I slice the fruit in advance and put it in a medium container, and then add the salad dressing to that container, being sure to completely coat the fruit so it does not oxidize.