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Storage for smallish quantities of bulk food items?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I buy a lot of raw nuts and dried fruit in bulk at the grocery store. That means I bring them home in plastic bags, with a twist tie on them. We tend to throw them into the pantry (all on the same shelf, at least) in a jumbled heap. We always have almonds, walnuts, raisins, dates and dried cranberries. We frequently have pecans, cashews, dried apricots, prunes and apple rings. I'm finding that we have some waste, especially of the ones we keep in stock, because we buy new bags when we're running low, and then people start eating out of the new bags, and the old ones get buried in the back.

 

We need containers. We don't have a large budget. I'm thinking of something hopefully stackable (just two high), with a capacity of...probably around two cups. Our pantry shelves are about a foot high.

 

I find most sets of containers are all different sizes. I could probably use a few that are a bit bigger (for some of my baking supplies and my quinoa), but mostly I want all one size.

 

Does anyone have any good advice on where to find some good, inexpensive, containers? I'd like to avoid plastic, but don't see it as terribly realistic...

post #2 of 11

Why don't you use mason jars?  I store most of the food I buy in bulk in them and it works really well, plus they look really nice :)

post #3 of 11

If you want them all to be the same then go with mason jars, or the spring top canning jars that you aren't supposed to use for canning anymore. Or buy the "disposable" plastic storage containers in whatever sizes are stackable in your pantry. They last forever if you don't put them through the dishwasher.

 

If you don't care about them matching start checking out the thrift stores in your area. I feel less bad buying plastic when it's second hand and still in good shape.
 

post #4 of 11

I just rinse out and re-use big glass jars for this sort of thing -- you know, jars from spaghetti sauce, pickles, etc.   A big pickle jar will hold a pound of dried beans or dry rice easily.  You can label the jars so that you know what is supposed to be in there -- it's an easy way to tell what you're low on or out of.  

 

Now, these aren't easily stackable, but I do find that I can stack most of the jars eight or ten in a two-high pile on my counter.  Not great, but it works OK for us.  The remainder go onto the pantry shelves.  

 

You can sometimes find bigger glass jars or food storage canisters at thrift stores.  I like big apothecary jars with lids for beans, lentils, etc.  I used to store some food in plastic canisters, but I found that beans and pasta and grains (don't know about other things, but definitely those) tended to pick up a 'plasticky' flavor over time.  Yuck.  

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

I hadn't thought about thrift stores. That might work - I do find that some of the items (esp. dried fruit) take on a plastic taste after a while. That's my biggest reason for not wanting plastic, honestly.

 

I hadn't thought of mason jars. I have no idea why I hadn't thought of mason jars. They won't stack on the shelves (too tall), which is a downside, but they may be small enough to work, anyway. I can probably fit enough of them on the shelf to hold the items I'm most concerned about. I don't have any, but they're also a decent price!

 

hmm...thinking I'm going to go with mason jars for the little stuff (eg. the fruit and nuts and such) and then see if I can get my hands on some bigger jars for the larger quantity stuff (rice, dried beans, etc.).  I have one big jar - a gallon - that I use for oatmeal. It would be nice to find another that size for rice, but I can work with something smaller. We need to put some more shelves in our pantry, too. The bottom section is about three feet high, and it's not an efficient use of the space.

 

Not having enough room to hold our food is a First World Problem of the first order, but it really is frustrating.

post #6 of 11

A great solution I recently found for large quantities is gallon apple juice jugs.  We don't drink a TON of juice here, but I almost want to give my kids more so I can empty out those jugs for my large quantities of rice, beans, oats, etc.  The narrow neck make them easy to pour, too :)

post #7 of 11

I just reuse all our glass jars from PB, spaghetti sauce, etc., plus my "stash" of mason jars picked up from here and there.  I'd like to get some bigger ones too to start buying more in bulk.

 

Also, you can take your jar with you to the store if you want to and tare it out on the scale when you buy in bulk instead of getting a bag every time.  Granted, I forget at least half the time, but I sure feel good about myself when I do remember! :)

post #8 of 11

Another vote for glass jars here. I use mason jars and jars saved from pasta sauce, olives, etc. 

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks you all! I bought a bunch of mason jars in two sizes, and the pantry is already much, much tidier and easier to access. Awesome.

post #10 of 11

Try restaurants, especially Ice cream parlors and steak/burger/hoagie joints. Things like fruit, hot peppers and other stuff come in large glass jars. If you ask they would probably give them to you. I've had some for decades that I use to store dried beans, peas, lentils, grains and flours. I also use mason jars and the wire bail type of jars that I've found over the years for things I buy in smaller quantities.  They look pretty on the shelves. Just a thought.

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaJoie View Post

Try restaurants, especially Ice cream parlors and steak/burger/hoagie joints. Things like fruit, hot peppers and other stuff come in large glass jars. If you ask they would probably give them to you. I've had some for decades that I use to store dried beans, peas, lentils, grains and flours. I also use mason jars and the wire bail type of jars that I've found over the years for things I buy in smaller quantities.  They look pretty on the shelves. Just a thought.

 

I have one big jar that I use for storing oatmeal. I'd like to get a couple more for rice and probably flour. I don't really keep enough beans, lentils, etc. on hand for a jar that size, though.

 

The mason jars are working out pretty well, so far...and they definitely look better on the shelves!

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