Ready or Not #176: Buying Food and Storage Containers

I’m sure that you have heard the expression, “Kill two birds with one stone.”  Well, that is how I like to look at my food budget – using my money to do twice the job.  My family members are not picky eaters, but one thing that we do enjoy is good tasting food and as long as we are thinking ahead and buying what we like, we have found our particular likes and dislikes: We don’t like Miracle Whip, we prefer Carnation tuna, there is something peculiar about Western Family soups, but Western Family Mac-n-Cheese is better than the name brand.  And of course homemade, from scratch (not a box), macaroni and cheese is by far the best – and the cheapest.

My point to this is that if we are going to be purchasing the foods we like for our food storage, then let’s get more for our money and when possible, buy them in sturdy containers that we can use again.

To me a good food/container purchase is when, after finishing the contents, you can use the container without knowing what was in it originally; there are no printed pictures or words advertising the original contents so that when you use it you don’t feel like a walking advertisement.

Whipped topping containers are famous for advertising AND disguising their contents and they are not sturdy.  To me they are very frustrating to use because it doesn’t represent the leftovers that are stored in the fridge.  I hate it when you go to use it again, as a whipped topping because you forgot that you were storing something else in it, but instead you find a really good potential science project.  I finally gave up and only use those containers to send food home with people – and if no food is leaving the house, it goes into the garbage.  I will not be tempted.

I do have my favorite food/container buys.  The top of the list is the Best Foods one gallon mayonnaise bottle.  We like that particular mayonnaise and I love the bottle that is left over.  I can soak the label off and that is how I store my sugar, salt, corn starch and other dry goods.  I have weighed the sugar and salt and the bottle holds about 10 lbs. of either salt or sugar, which makes it really easy to figure out how much I have without using a calculator.  The sturdy plastic container also keeps the food dry, bugs out and it is easy to manage and store on regular storage shelves and the plastic doesn’t break down like milk bottles (of which are not good storage containers).   Win-win.

If you are concerned about the mayonnaise going bad, I’ve never had that problem.  I have a quart size bottle in my regular fridge of which I use often and replenish from the gallon jar in my extra fridge.  I have been doing this for years and it works beautifully.  When the gallon container is empty, just soak the label off, take out the seal on the lid, and wash.

My second favorite container is a little smaller, clear – and square.  I buy the pre-grated Parmesan in the clear plastic containers that are a perfect size to use when storing dry goods in normal sized kitchen cupboards.  After I use the Parmesan, I just peel the label off the front and the top; it comes off quite easy.  If you mess up and leave a sticky residue behind, just use a little hairspray and a paper towel to remove it.  After you have eaten the contents and have removed the stickers, you will recognize the sturdy little container as the ones that you buy at the store for two or three dollars each – only empty!

When I compared the other Parmesan that I like, that I have to grate, to the one that was pre-grated and in the useful container, I found that pound for pound it was about the same price.  I now buy the container – and the Parmesan.

The thing that I like about the square container is that they fit so well in the cupboards and hold more product with less wasted cupboard space.  So far I have three containers: one is full of the fish crackers, one has barley in it and the third one holds the dog treats.  I already have a list of what the next dozen or so containers will be holding.  Our Parmesan consumption is going to go up.

My next favorite is a small container.  It only holds about a cup’s worth of anything, but it holds about a cup’s worth of everything!  For a short time, we were using the Fleischman’s olive oil butter substitute (until we went back to real butter), but I am half tempted to start buying their product again because I like the container so much.  It is a light green cup with a dark green lid – and NO advertisement on it.  I can make individual servings of a favorite gelatin dessert to send in a lunch or put just the right amount of trail mix for an afternoon snack, or my personal favorite – peanut M&M’s.

The next time you buy pre-sliced luncheon meat, consider the container.  Does it come in a disposable bag that you need to transfer to another container when you get home, or does it come in something you can re-use and re-use and re-use?!  Every once-in-awhile I buy luncheon meat that comes in a flat plastic container – that when emptied, has enough room for two sandwiches – perfect for lunch.

I love, deliciously, “killing two birds with one stone”!

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