Food storage containers are nearly as old as the concept of food storage itself. In the earlier civilizations before any functional containers were designed, people used large and airy buildings to store foodstuff such as maize, millet, wheat and barley. The idea was simple – as long as there was a sufficient supply of air through the stored foodstuff, there were minimal chances of pest infestation or bacteria building up and causing decay. However, this method proved less effective especially during summer weathers where there was a lot of warmth and humidity.
Essentially, this is a container that you use to keep food within room temperature. Of course, the container only serves the purpose of holding the content. The temperature parameters are determined by the refrigerator or the freezer in which you keep the food.
Though these containers are more popular in commercial kitchens, they are also used at home for nearly all your food handling needs. Food storage containers come in various materials, colors, shapes and sizes. Even better, some include additional features such as measurements, stackability and the availability of a lid.
There are several factors to consider when choosing your ideal food-storage container. The following are some of these factors.
This is the first thing to consider before buying food storage containers. These containers are designed in different material including plastic, metallic and glass containers. Go for plastic containers for cold food storage and glass containers for cold or hot food storage. This is because unlike glass, plastic is known to warp if exposed to heat.
Availability of Graduation –
Graduations or measurements are ideal when storing liquid food substances that need to be used in specific quantities/volumes. Therefore, if you are looking for a perfect storage container for liquids, go for the graduated storage containers. Also, these containers offer multiple utilities. Aside from holding food, you can also use them to measure liquids that are not necessarily destined for storage.
Shape and Size –
Size and shape are also crucial considerations when choosing an ideal food storage container. These containers generally come in the square or the rounded shapes. Square containers are ideal for limited storage space while round containers are known to promote proper air circulation within the container, as well as enhance cooling.
Price is no doubt a serious consideration when buying anything, and food storage-containers are no exception. As a generally rule, higher-quality containers are likely to cost more. However, price is not always a measure of quality. Therefore, to ensure you are getting value for your money, it is important to buy kitchen containers from reputable brands and retail outlets.
Small and Large Food Storage Containers –
Food containers can be distinguished by their size. In this respect, we have small and large containers. You can go for any size depending on your storage needs. For example, small containers may be used to store foodstuff like salt, milk, cake etc, while the larger containers can hold cereals, raw fruits and vegetables, etc.
Glass Meal-Prep Containers –
First, glass meal prep containers are preferable for the simple reason that glass does not react sharply to heat. Therefore, the meal is able to remain warm for an extended period of time, in contrast to plastic and metallic containers. Also, with glass, you will find it easier to clean the different compartments as glass is relatively easier to clean.
Glass Food-Storage Containers –
Just like their meal-prep containers, glass food-storage containers are preferable for their ability to regulate temperatures. Also, as most glass containers are transparent, it becomes easier to view and monitor the progress of the stored food. You can easily tell whether your milk has frozen or if your flour is getting molds just by visually inspecting the container.
Plastic Food-storage Containers –
Plastic storage containers are a popular preference for many, perhaps due to their relative affordability. However, plastic is not the best option for holding warm food substances. Apart from the warping that causes plastic to wear off, there are numerous studies suggesting that plastics are carcinogenic, and that exposure to hot substances only increases their carcinogenic properties.
Stainless Steel Food-storage Containers –
If durability and rust-resistance is what informs your food container purchasing decision, then you will certainly go for the stainless-steel containers. However, containers are not very good at regulating temperatures. When the food is cold, it feels really cold in a stainless-steel container. The same holds true for hot food. Also, these food containers are fairly heavy and as such, you may only consider choosing them for small food storage needs.
Rubbermaid Food-storage Containers –
This is arguably the best option if you are looking for a mix of durability and stain resistance. Even better, rubbermaid food containers are easier to clean and fairly less sensitive to temperature changes, making them great for holding both cold and warm food substances.
Apart from the types discussed above, food-storage containers come in different varieties. Some of these are listed below;
1. Square and round storage containers.
2. Lidded and unlidded containers.
3. Graduated and ungraduated containers.
4. Clear polycarbonate, translucent polypropylene and White polyethylene containers.
5. Small, medium-size and large kitchen containers.
The following are some tips to keep in mind before buying your ideal food-storage container.
For Durability –
If you are looking for a durable container, go for stainless steel and glass. Stainless steel food containers will serve you for long as they are unlikely to rust or be damage by abrasion during cleaning. On the other hand, glass is also durable as it is fairly easier to clean and dry. However, glass requires proper handling because if it slips through your fingers and falls onto the floor, that could pretty much be the end of it.
For Highly Perishable Substances –
For highly perishable food substances such as milk, fruit juices, tomatoes etc, it is important to go for clear kitchen containers. This is because they enable you to carefully view the progress with the stored food. That way, you can easily spot any signs of food decay.
For Liquid Substances –
For liquid substances, go for food containers that are both graduated and spouted. The measurements are key in monitoring the volume of the liquids while the lip/spout is useful when you need to deliver the liquid substance into a different container without spilling it.
For Storage Needs –
Here, there are two things to consider – the shape and stackability. On shape, always go with the square containers as they are considered more space-saving than their rounded counterparts. But even as you choose square containers, ensure you go for those that are stackable. Stackability often comes in handy when you have cleaned your food storage-containers and need to safely tuck them away in the kitchen rack closet.
For Medical/Health Considerations –
Depending on material, certain food containers can be very dangerous. Plastic is a notorious mention here. If you intend to store only cold substances, then there is no harm in using plastic storages. However, for warm to hot foods, avoid plastic as the heat could melt it, thereby inducing its carcinogenic properties.
Go For A Reputable Brand –
It is important to give due consideration to the food-storage container brand before investing your money on it. If there is a brand you have used before for other kitchen appliances and have fallen in love with their offers, you could also consider them for food containers. If you are unsure as to how to proceed, you can always check in online community forums and discover a particular brand that’s causing a rave out there. Online reviews will also come in handy when looking for the average price of the food container you wish to buy.
Q. Why do we use food containers?
These containers are essentially used to hold food before placing them in a freezer or refrigerator, or to keep it warm before consumption.
Q. Are plastic food containers recyclable?
Yes and no depending on the specific plastic the container is made of. Essentially, plastic containers are made of the high-density polyethylene, the low-density polyethylene or polypropylene.
Q. Are food-storage containers airtight?
Well, this will depend on the locking mechanism as well as how firmly the lid closes. The firmer the lid, the more airtight it is likely to be. If looking for airtight lids, always go for storage containers with a clip-and-lock mechanism or sealable lids.
Q. How do you clean food-storage containers
First, the cleaning material will depend on the material used to make the container. For plastics, you should only use non-abrasive sponges or clothes along with soapy water. The same goes for rubbermaid storage containers. For rubber containers, ensure you clean and wipe with a clean dry cloth as opposed to sun-drying. This is because exposure to the sun could cause glass to crack.
Q. What should you know before you purchase a kitchen container?
As we have already discussed, you should know the material it is made of, the size you need as well as any additional features like the availability of a lid and measurements. Also, ascertain whether you need a clear or translucent container. Ultimately, buy from reputable brands or retail outlets.
Q. How do you buy a suitable food storage container?
This will come down to your specific storage needs. Do you need to store the food cold or warm? What quantities are we talking about? Are there food substances that are corrosive or reactive? These are some of the questions you will need to settle before buying a suitable food container.
Q. How many food containers do you need?
This depends on the different varieties of foods you intend to store. Obviously, you will need one container for each substance.
The kind of food container that works for someone else might not necessarily work for you. We hope that having read this comprehensive food container buying guide, you will be able to make a purchase decision from a point of better information.
Food storage containers have evolved with time, from the age of ice coolers to the modern-day containers. With that evolution come even more challenges in terms of choosing the most suitable food container. This is why it is imperative that you determine exactly the kind of food you wish to keep in such a container before getting one.