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The plastic food storage container option was launched internationally in the 1960s with the creation of Tupperware containers and Tupperware parties. Homemakers of the era gathered for social events to buy and sell newly patented containers with spill-proof lids that were perfect for storing food, leftovers and other items. Over the years, food storage containers have been created by many manufacturers and are prevalent in homes throughout the world.
What are the Benefits of Using Food Storage Containers?
Benefits of food storage range from cost saving to convenience. Some specific benefits enjoyed by people of all ages are included below.
- Containers allow leftover food to be stored short-term and easily accessed for later meals.
- Some containers allow food to be stored long-term in freezers, increasing food cost-savings by allowing individuals to purchase in bulk.
- Inexpensive containers allow food or treats to be given away, especially during holidays and special occasions.
- Containers also allow dry ingredients to be organized in cabinets or pantries.
- Food containers can be used for storing non-food items like craft supplies, hardware, crayons and toys.
What are Common Types of Food Storage Containers?
Food storage containers can be categorized by construction material, size, longevity and brand.
Construction materials include:
Popular sizes include:
- Tiny containers that hold a few tablespoons. These are often used to hold condiments or small snack items when carrying lunches to school or offices.
- Small square, round and rectangle containers that hold from 1/4 cup to 1 cup. These containers are often used to store a single serving size and are popular for carrying in lunches.
- Medium sized square, round and rectangle containers generally hold a few cups of food. Less common in lunches, these sizes are often used to store left over sides from dinners.
- Large food storage containers also come in various shapes and can hold a gallon or more of food. Usually individuals only have one or two containers in this size. They can be used to store leftover entree portions, hold uncooked food or used to store non-food items.
Food containers are available in two basic longevity types as well. There are containers meant to last for a long time, such as Pyrex glass food storage items or Rubbermaid items. Cheaper containers meant for throwaway use are available from manufacturers like Ziploc or Glad. The cheaper containers are made out of thin plastic and can be used many times before they are thrown away. Many people use these containers when sending food home with guests, because the containers cost less than $1 each.
Popular brands include:
• Gladware and
Can all containers be used in the freezer?
Although all containers can be placed in the freezer, they will not provide the same quality when it comes to long-term food storage. In order to avoid freezer burn, a container must be waterproof and airtight. Additionally, the material of the container must be able to withstand extreme cold. One of the best container options for freezing food and liquids is Pyrex. Although cheap or thin glassware should not be used in the freezer due to cracking concerns, Pyrex designs its containers to withstand extreme cold and heat. Because of this, Pyrex containers are some of the only dishes that can go straight from the freezer into a hot oven without damage.
Quality plastic containers are also great for use in the freezer, although individuals should avoid using inexpensive or throwaway type vessels. The thinner plastic on these models will allow too much cold and moisture to reach the food, leading to freezer burn.
Regardless of container type, when freezing food and liquids, room should always be left in the container for expansion. Liquid expands when it is frozen, and filling a glass container to the brim before popping it in the freezer may cause it to crack. Doing the same with a plastic container could cause expanding food items to push the lid up and break the seal. This can lead to freezer burn and a mess when you remove food for defrosting.
Which containers can be used in microwave ovens?
Pyrex glass containers can, as can most but not all plastic containers. Look for the phrasel microwave safe on the packaging before purchasing.
Can any food storage containers be used in the oven?
Pyrex glass contains can. Plastic containers can not. No containers including pyrex should be used on a range, gas or electric.
What Features are Important When Choosing Food Storage Containers?
Individuals should purchase containers that fit their personal needs; however, a few basic features are important to most people.
Containers should be easy to stack and store. – Squares and rectangles offer the most efficient way to stack items in a freezer or fridge, but cylindrical containers can also be stacked.
Food Storage Container sets where lids are interchangeable among container sizes. – For example, popular sets from Rubbermaid and other manufacturers offer square lids that fit on containers of different depths. When one lid fits more than one container, it makes life in the kitchen much easier.
Vacuum Seal Buttons. – These buttons can be pumped to remove air from the container before freezing or storing food. Many people enjoy this added benefit, but cheap containers with these options rarely work. The buttons can also break or crack, leading to poor container performance. People unwilling to splurge on pricier vacuum-seal options should just purchase a quality, airtight container instead.
Containers you can write on. – Recording the nature of the contents and date they were stored makes it easy to organize meals and keep track of food on hand. Although almost any plastic surface will accept a permanent marker, it is no mark out and rewrite all over the container. Some containers have a section that can be written on and erased later, so the container can be marked repeatedly in a clear manner.
When it comes to food storage containers, individuals should pick the type, size and style that work with their life. Quality containers provide the ability to store food safely. By matching food storage containers colors with kitchen decor, cabinets and refrigerator shelves can also be organized in style.