Mar 15, 2018

It's Time to Toss Your Tupperware and Get These Instead

If you are anything like me, there have been numerous times in your life when you have been in a Target/Costco/Sur La Table/Container Store when box full of intricate, multi-shaped and variously sized plastic containers has come into view, and you have thought, "it's time I get organized!" The lure of organization is powerful because it feels like if you have a place for not only everything, but every KIND of thing, you'll never fall into disorder again.

I have learned something from a lifetime of tangling with stackable, burp-able, intricately sized storage containers: freedom does not come in a system that has options for every possibility, it comes in a simple system based on interchangeable parts. And in the world of food storage, we should look not to the glossy, marketed boxes in the housewares aisle, but to the humble set up of your neighborhood takeout place . Because if you've ever gotten take out from somewhere that has a large sauce or soup component (or ordered from a deli, or saved leftovers at a Chinese place, etc.), you have had your hands on one of these:

These containers are, simply put, miraculous. They are durable, but disposable (and recyclable). They come in a number of sizes that are tagged to volumetric amounts, but have uniform lid sizes. (!!!) They are dishwasher safe. They do not stain. They stack neatly in the fridge or freezer, and have smooth shapes for writing on them with permanent markers.

They can accept hot or cold liquids, and they can easily fit items like grains, salads, pickles, sauces and soups. And they are cheap enough that you don't have to worry about them lasting forever. They are, in short, a simple system for storing basically whatever you want. 

The problem for a long time was that this was a restaurant product, but now they are widely available online. You'll find that they store pantry ingredients just as easily as cold items and that they travel really really well. And perhaps most liberating is the immense feeling of relief when it occurs to you that there is now only one kind of lid you have to look for to put on top of ANY of your food containers.

The 8 oz. size is perfect for leftover sauces or other liquids that don't need that much space, and the 32 oz. variety can even stand in for a drinking cup if you suddenly have a lot of guests and don't have enough party supplies around. And now, every time you go for takeout or being home something from the deli, you are enriching your food storage system. True freedom is only a few plastic containers away. 


All hail the deli container!





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Allan on Mar 16, 2018:

@James Tollison Can't speak to what you normally use to carry food into work, and I certainly wouldn't claim that these containers are spill proof or anything like that. But if you compare them to, say, whatever is on sale at a big box store next to the sandwich and snack bags in the way of food storage containers, I'd be willing to bet these are as durable and secure as those are. Of course, you can get really specialized, heavily sealed containers exactly for lunch storage––and those would certainly be more secure than these.

Allan on Mar 16, 2018:

@Aline I'm gonna have to disagree––plastics are completely safe for food storage. In fact, the entire food world depends upon plastic storage in various forms, from these deli containers to large, freezable cambros, to the plastic storage units and funnels that hold nuts, grains and spices at Whole Foods. There's nothing wrong with a Ball jar, but these containers have virtues that glass lacks. They are safe and serve an important role.

Aline on Mar 16, 2018:

Ok, but no. They're still plastic and plastic isn't good for food neither for us. The best food storage is still the good old glass container, like jam ones! Or metal ones, if you carry then everywhere and are afraid that glass containers will break.

James Tollison on Mar 15, 2018:

My one hesitation is that these are rather thin and would not endure being packed into a bag and carried as I would have to do (I work in a prison). I'd end up with a mess in my bag.

Brett on Mar 15, 2018:

Solid choice!
But if you looking for something that will last a lifetime/ not stain
Look into dalcini stainless steel, It'll cost you an arm and a leg but you'll never have to buy storage containers again.... unless Carroll steals your meatloaf from the fridge at work.... dammit Carroll

I love mine, only issue is they are not water tight, but i know there are stainless steel options that are water tight out there.