Pantry Containers 101

By , SparkPeople Blogger
by Woman's Day

Containers are a little like that pair of expensive shoes you want—you love them, but do you need them? It’s true that dry goods last longest in airtight containers, but those containers can also take up a lot of space since they’re frequently half-empty, and if they’re not see-through, you don’t instantly know what’s in them. And then there’s the time factor. “It may look neat, but transferring every little cracker and marshmallow into containers is not how I want to spend my time,” says Marrero. So what are containers good for? The stuff you buy from bulk bins, like nuts or rice. (You’ll also want to use containers if you’re worried about bugs or rodents, which can eat into cereal boxes and candy bags, as can the moths and larvae that live in grains.) Containers are especially good for foods stored on kitchen counters or open shelves, where looks matter. If you need containers, here’s how to do it:

Be square. Square bottoms take up less space, as do containers that nest next to each other, like the 10-oz Aladdin eCycle Snack Container, which lets you slide in four or five in a row without wasting a millimeter of space. They’re perfect for smaller quantities, like coffee or chocolate chips, and enviable for being both recycled and recylable. $6 each;

Go clear and/or labeled. Clear is great because you can see at a glance what you have. “Clear acrylic containers with a center ring that pops down for an airtight seal are one of the most popular things on the market,” says McKenry. OXO Good Grips Food Storage Pop Containers are see-through and have easy-opening lids you can hit with one hand. $49 for the 5-piece set at Bed Bath & Beyond

Do the hand test. Can you open it with one hand? If not, find something else. Above my kitchen counter I have a row of stainless steel pop-open SimpleHuman Slim Canisters, which I tap open with one hand every morning to scoop coffee, oatmeal and flaxseeds into the mug or bowl in my other hand. Slim Canisters, $25 to $45 for five sizes;

Try freebies. That glass jar that the tomato sauce came in? It would hold rice or pasta just fine. Use the lid it came with, or try Jar Tops jar covers, which transform free jars into pourers or shakers or cruets for beverages, sugar, flour or dressings. $20 for 5;

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How do you keep your pantry organized?

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I've been working on a system of containers that would replace ordinary plastic food storage containers with a uniquely designed system of containers and racks, and I thought it would make sense to share it here. It's called "Stackerware" still in Development (OCt 2012) but I hope to make it available to the public soon.
Check it out and let me know what you think?

Stephen Report
I am trying again to get it organized with see through containers with labels. I lost a label and ginger doesn't taste very good on toast when you thought you had the cinnamon. I am also trying to put the cooking directions in with the item being stored. Report
I have a lot of tupperware, organized, it's not. I must clean my pantry, where canned goods, bottled stuff, dry goods, dog treats, you name it, are in there willy nilly. I've been threatening to clean it for a month, but just keep shifting things around. Tomorrow, I promise, is the day. Report
I have open shelving for my collection of grains which I store in Blue Canning jars with white lids. Neat and attractive. The don't open with one hand though. Report
That this was published is a giggle. That it was repeated boggles the mind. Whew. Report
The reasons it would be important to some people to have containers that open easily include things like: carpal tunnel, arthritis, and other mobility issues.

As for container storage: A cardboard apple box (with handle hole) in the bottom cupboard does the trick. Lightweight and Easy to pull out, and since it's in the closed bottom cupboard appearances don't matter. A second smaller container for all those extral lids that seem to accumulate over the years. Report
Been using them for years, the investment is so worth it and much better for the enviorment. In the long run you save MONEY - and who does not like that? Use them to store your flour, rice, sugar what ever for long storage - no bugs and it stay fresher longer. But don't stop there, use them to take leftovers for lunch, need just a tablespoon of tomato paste, what to do with the rest of the can? put it in a container for the next time, good for at least a week in the ice box. OK, you get the idea, I LOVE these things! Report
Could someone please explain to me why it's critical (or even important) to be able to open a container with one hand? Thanks! Report
I used to have a drawer full of mis-matched plastic containers. Drove my hubby crazy when he couldn't find a lid to match the bottom! But then I bought those "As Seen on TV" storage containers! Best Thing Ever!! Each piece fits every other piece! Each top can also be a bottom!! Never a mis-matched piece ever again! Report
I'm a huge matching geek, lol. I got a big box of matching rubbermaid containers with red lids from BJs and love them! I use all of them all of the time from the tiniest to the largest because of cooking ahead. I live alone so instead of cooking meat at every main meal, I'll cook a bunch and divide it all up into 2 1/2 - 3 ounce containers for later quick meals.

I think the more unorganized all my friends appear to be, the more organized I become, lol. It just makes me feel a lot better when everything is in its place more or less. Report
mmmm lol, I love my Tupperware..... one time buy - green in the extreme, and the modular mate system is perfect for freshness and saving space. Report
loved this blog thanks Report
What a great idea. Report
Be careful when reusing old spaghetti sauce jars, etc. We learned the hard way that there is enough space in the thread of some commercial jar lids to allow pantry moths/larvae to enter. It wasn't that the contents of the jar were already contaminated, because we had an infestation that pretty much affected every box and bag in our cupboard, plus some of those recycled jars and cheapie spice jars. Now, I only use mason jars with lids or "lockable" canisters. Oh, and a pantry moth trap, just in case.

Like stampingaddict, I'll tape cooking directions to the lid or side of the jar. Report
I have a few containers I bought, but mostly I go with freebies. However, many of our pantry items are stored in the fridge, since we live in the tropics - we seem to get tons of bugs if we keep flour, rice, etc. in the pantry. Report
I used to save pasta jars and such only for homemade cookie mix gifts, but I have started using them for dry goods in my pantry as well, as described in this article, and I think the money and materials saved by recycling them is totally worth the few minutes it takes to scrub them out and even remove their original labels! Report
I don't have a pantry, so my food can be quite unorganized. Having basically no kitchen space has led me to condense what I can store. There are some foods that are stored on my kitchen table! Once I can get some space I could even buy a cabinet to keep food in, but for now I'll just take what I can do! Report
I am obssessed with containers. tupperware, etc. Luckily I have a large kitchen with a lazy susan that holds all my tupperware needs...

My Sugar, Flour, etc stuff is stored in large clear plastic containers (recycled from pickles)- they hold things perfectly! They fit in the cabinets nicely and neatly and i know what is in each of them!

All my dried herbs I store in small glass jars.

Rice, pasta etc gets stored in the same kind of container!

I do the same tip for rice, or anything that needs cooking, i clip the directions and either attach to jar or add into my recipes!

How do I keep my pantry organized ? I don't ! LOL !!! I have plastic containers stacked wherever they will fit !! I could definitely use a bigger pantry.

My cupboards are full of coffee jars & pasta sauce jars. (as was my Mom's growing up)
I have everything from raisins, brownsugar, rice and pasta in them.
I also store my bags of spices in them. If the bags are closed properly, they can be mixed without flavors transfering.
For barley and legumes, I cut the cooking directions and tape to the jar.
They are even great for craft items. Report