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; ReuseIt.com
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; SimpleHuman.com
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; BetterProductsOnline.com
How do you keep your pantry organized?
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