How To Buy Food Storage Containers

Food storage trays

Food storage containers come in quite a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and types. From zippered plastic bags to glass mason jars, your choice will depend on a combination of factors, including the food to be stored, the amount and location of your storage space, the method of storage, and the cost of the containers. Let's break it all down and find out what kind of containers will work best to suit your food storage needs.

Zippered Plastic Bags
  Zippered plastic bags are perfect storage containers for food items that have been dried, or for long-term freezer storage. They are available at any grocery store. For frozen food, look for zippered bags that are specifically made to be used in the freezer. For added protection against freezer burn and exposure to air, double-bag your food before storing.

The following foods are examples of those that can be stored effectively in zippered plastic bags:

  • Dried herbs, either whole or crushed
  • Beef jerky, or other dried meats
  • Cured or smoked meat (in the refrigerator)
  • Cheese (in the refrigerator or freezer)
  • Shredded coconut (in the refrigerator)
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Nuts
  • Baked goods (in the freezer)
  • Fresh, pureed, or sugar-packed fruit (in the freezer)
  • Baking mixes, flour, baking soda, baking powder
  • Ground coffee or coffee beans (can be refrigerated)

Mason Jars  Anything that is canned in a hot water bath or pressure canner should be stored in canning jars, also called mason jars. These jars have both a flat sealing disk and a screw-on cap to keep them airtight and keep the food safe. Canning jars are also handy for storing powdered foods and liquid-based foods and condiments in the refrigerator. Make sure your jars are not cracked or chipped, and that the lids screw on tightly. The sealing disks will have to be replaced after each use, and you can buy both the jars and new disks wherever canning supplies are sold.

Some foods that are perfect for storing in mason jars are:

  • Jams, jellies, spreads, and fruit preserves
  • Salsas, chutneys, and sauces
  • Home-canned vegetables
  • Homemade pickles and preserves
  • Flour and baking mixes
  • Drink mixes
  • Gravy mix or prepared gravy (in the refrigerator)
  • Pureed or cooked baby food (in the refrigerator)

Plastic Containers With Lids  You'll find a wide variety of plastic food storage containers for sale at grocery stores, department stores, and even home and garden shops, and it can be tough to choose which ones will best suit your needs. First and foremost, make sure that the lids that accompany the containers fit tightly and provide an airtight seal; otherwise you risk your food going stale or spoiling. Next, consider the size and shape of the containers. They'll need to fit both the food items you want to use them for, and the shelf space you have at home. Sets of plastic containers can contain a variety of shapes and sizes, and these can be both cost-effective and handy for varying amounts of food.

Some things that will keep well in plastic containers with lids are:

  • Cookies, crackers, and biscuits
  • Dry pet food or pet treats
  • Dry mixes for baking, drinks, or sauces
  • Dairy products such as sour cream or yogurt (in the refrigerator)
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Dry bread crumbs
  • Candy
  • Ground coffee or coffee beans (can be refrigerated)

General Food Storage Tips

  1. There are other methods for storing food, like vacuum sealers or wraps such as plastic wrap or aluminum foil. These can be used in conjunction with one of the above types of containers for added protection against air, freezer burn, spoilage, and pests.
  2. Label and date your containers when you store your food. This will help you find things more easily, and you'll know when your food has passed its storage limit.
  3. All foods will keep for varying lengths of time. Check recipe books, food packaging, and storage container packaging to find out how long you can safely store your food. Another good place to find this information is the Food Safety Information Society.
  4. Store dry items in a cool, dry place, preferably on shelves rather than on the floor. Frozen items should be checked occasionally for freezer burn and discarded if damaged. Refrigerated items should be used as soon as possible, and checked for spoilage.


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