Choosing food storage containers

Re-organizing your kitchen and putting all of your baking supplies such as flour, sugar, cocoa, etc., into canisters will make it much easier to find what you need when you need it.

Here are a few recommendations on selecting the right type of canister:

  • Square shaped canisters take up less room in your cupboards because they use all of the available space.
  • Transparent canisters let you easily see when you’re running low on supplies.
  • Over time, canisters made from certain plastics can absorb food odours so those made from stainless steel or glass may be preferred.
  • Containers should have an airtight seal.
  • The opening of the canister should be large enough allow you to easily scoop or pour the contents.

Choosing the right size

Canisters are sized in volume units such as ounces or millilitres, and baking supplies are measured in weight units like pounds or kilograms. Here are some tips to help you choose the right size of containers.

  1. Determine how much of each item you will be storing. Do you buy flour in 10-pound bags because you bake lots of bread, or do you only buy a one pound bag, just enough to make the occasional Béchamel sauce?
  2. Convert the weight amount of the item into a volume amount. The OnlineConversion website can convert weight to volume for many types of foods in US, UK, and metric units.
  3. Ask yourself how much of an item you have left before you buy more. Do you wait until you have absolutely none left, or is there some remaining? Whatever amount remains, add it to the quantity that you regularly buy. For example, if you usually have a cup (0.25L) of flour left over and you normally buy a 2.5kg (4.74L) bag, you will need to purchase a canister that will hold about 5L in order to accommodate all of the flour you have on hand.

This process may be a bit tedious for some. For those who would like a short-cut, Tupperware has created weight-to-volume charts for its Modular Mate container sets in both US measurements and metric units. The USA Emergency Supply website has a weight-to-volume chart for larger quantities of food items.

6 Comments for “Choosing food storage containers”

  1. posted by Ansy on

    I try to only use glass containers, since plastic (probably) leaches into food. Unfortunately, glass containers aren’t stackable or fit into each other, making storage hard. Also, they are heavy and break easily, so hard to store and ship. It’s a difficult situation any way you cut it.

    That being said, you save your investment in a few weeks or months by making food from staples rather than premade, so it’s a smart choice.

    I’ve found large round jars with glass lids can be found in Chinatown. Go to a dry Chinese food store, ask them where they got their jars. They are 100% glass and airtight. Chinese use them to keep dry seafood and medicine (barks and dried medicinal fruits).

  2. posted by Pat on

    I would not recommend combining a new bag of flour (or whatever) into the remains of the last, especially if you are pouring the new food on top of the old. Better to finish the first batch and wash your container in between.

  3. posted by AinOakPark on

    I came to comment only to find that Pat already stated my position. I, too, always store the “new” food in a freshly cleaned container. If I have any, I will move the remains of the old to a smaller, recycled glass container. I use blue painter’s tape and a Sharpie to mark the contents on the smaller container. (Lots of things are marked with blue painter’s tape and a Sharpie in my world!)

    New on top of old is also why I find some markets’ bin staples unacceptable. (Rotate the stock!)

  4. posted by lisa on

    I have some large glass jars for flour, sugar, oats, and opened, part-full packages of pasta. For everything else, I made my own containers. I got free or inexpensive mason jars from garage and church sales, and bought new lids. I glued together the two-part metal lids using Loc-Tite glue. I have been using them for around 4 years now. Mason jars come in several different sizes. I use the small ones for pumpkin and sesame seeds, peppercorns, etc. The 1 cup size stacks quite nicely. The larger size I use for rice, quinoa, barley, beans, raisins, almonds, cranberries, coconut, tapioca starch, salt, etc. I print labels on my label maker.

  5. posted by SkiptheBS on

    I try to use only rectangular containers for my small refrigerator space. Outside of that, I own enough quart and pint Mason jars to store most necessities. WalMart carries one-piece plastic lids to fit them. I did pay the hideous (for me) price of $11.99 each on eBay for two Mason lids with capped pour spouts. Price aside, both the lids and the vendor are excellent.

  6. posted by EmmaNoey on

    I pulled everything out of the kitchen cabinets a few years ago and finally organized and decluttered. I gave some thought to how to store dry goods since I was tired of bags falling over. It came down to the weight of a glass container full of flour versus a plastic container that might leach. In the end, I chose plastic because if I can’t use them safely why have them at all? This is specific to my situation of course, and other I can see where others might choose glass.

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