Introduction to Food Storage Containers

materials for food storage containersPart II: Tips for Choosing the Best Shape for Freshness and Convenience

Part III: Best Ways to Organize Your Food Storage Containers

My kids like to take leftover casseroles to school. So last night I made a large batch of lasagna with spinach, homemade noodles and marinara sauce. This took a couple of days of planning to make sure I had enough of every ingredient and help available for the final assembly.

But when it came time to divide up the leftovers for freezing, I remembered that I don’t have enough appropriate storage containers. I could have used plastic or foil. But aside from my distaste for disposables, the kids couldn’t eat defrosted lasagna out of plastic wrap. And aluminum should never be used for storing acidic foods as the aluminum will leach into the food.

Storage containers may not be a sexy topic, but home cooks deal with them nearly every day. So I’m starting a series covering the ins and outs of food containers for leftovers or “pre-leftovers.”

Usually our storage containers are made of glass or plastic, or occasionally of metal or ceramic. I’ll give a short summary of the materials and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Plastic:

  • Inexpensive.
  • May affect flavor of food.
  • Wide variety of shapes and sizes available.
  • Some types go from freezer to microwave. Sometimes a container is marked as microwave-safe, when the cover isn’t.
  • May be difficult to remove grease.
  • Large variation in quality.
  • Often translucent so you can see what you have.
  • Does not keep food as well as glass.
  • Reuse containers from purchased foods, like ice cream or cottage cheese.

Note on BPA: You may have heard concerns regarding the safety of plastic containers. A few years ago, it was discovered that baby bottles were discovered to leach a type of chemical known as bisphenol A, or BPA. BPA has been shown in animal studies to affect neurological development in the fetus and infant. The dangers of BPA are still controversial, but it’s best to avoid it if possible. The hard plastic, labeled “7,” is most likely to contain BPA especially if it also says “PC”. BPA has also been found in the linings of many canned foods. I have not seen concern about BPA in food storage containers.

Glass:

  • Easy to clean.
  • Breaks easily.
  • Lasts forever if not broken.
  • Transparent.
  • Air-tight seal with screw-top. With proper canning techniques, glass can be used for long-term storage.
  • Excellent for microwave use.
  • Heavy, so difficult for large quantities or for people with disabilities.

Ceramic is wonderful for cooking in, but the covers are not usually air-tight. Decorative ceramic containers are good for storing foods like sugar or pasta on the counter.

Stainless steel containers are excellent, but need an airtight plastic cover.

Please share your questions and ideas on food containers in the comments.

Part II: Tips for Choosing the Best Shape for Freshness and Convenience

Part III: Best Ways to Organize Your Food Storage Containers

 You may also enjoy:

Foods for Putting Quick Meals Together

10 Kid-Friendly Meals Using Leftovers

Putting Food in Perspective: Strategies to Prevent Food Issues

13 Smart Ways to Manage Your Leftovers

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Comments

  1. Have you found a use for cottage cheese and large yogurt containers? I always hate to throw them out, and I used to use them for bringing chopped vegetables when I did cooking demonstrations, but I find clear ones so much more useful for the obvious reason that you see what’s in them.

  2. Great topic Hannah! It never occured to me to use anything but plastic. Please please please give me some tips on storing these things. I have a large collection and a wide variety on lids and sizes. All plastic. I try and organize them every once in awhile, but currently they are all shoved in a cabinet and half of them fall out when I open it. It drives me crazy.

    I’d really like to hear how other people organize these things. Especially when you have 3 sets (pareve, milchig, fleishig).

  3. where (in the merkaz) do you recommend buying good quality containers? and please don’t say IKEA

    • Shlomit–I don’t go anywhere special. You could try Hyper-Rosenfeld, grocery stores, or any of the many kitchen supply stores in Tel Aviv or other cities.

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  1. [...] containers, check here (this is part of a three part series on cooking containers that starts here.) These can get out of control easily, so developing a system of storing them that works for you is [...]

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