Food Storage Even You Can Do for the Organized Home Kitchen
One of the best ways for you to maintain a functional and convenient kitchen is by using the best food storage to make your life easier! When you take time out to prep in advance, having grab and go containers can be life changing when it comes to making life easier on yourself. Here are some great solutions to get you livin’ in a Marie Kondo dream of a kitchen!
1.Clean your space!
You have got to clean your space of any clutter and grime! To get started for the first time, you’re going to deconstruct and rebuild. Clean the fridge out shelf by shelf, throwing away ALL expired and iffy items. Wipe any spills or gunk or crumbs, sanitize! Clear out the door shelves and drawers, too.
Do the same for all of your cabinets, pantry, and counter space. Make sure to move away and get rid of or store any clutter. Not every appliance and serving bowl needs to be on display, and certainly not the mail and junk drawer garb. Clear EVERYTHING and then add back only what you vitally need and use everyday, which is also pleasing to look at. (Maybe you use foil every day- but it doesn’t need to live on the counter top!)
2. Take Inventory
Go through your storage containers. Let’s make a box of things that don’t have lids, homeless tops, stained and cracked and re-useable restaurant takeout containers. Toss, recycle or donate. You might want to think about any containers you have that aren’t clear- unless you adore and truly use them- donate and get ready to bring in some new more useful containers.
3. Make Space
Clear out an area to store your containers that makes them easy access from the dishwasher to fridge and stove. Having them at the ready and easily accessible will make daily use much easier- so above the fridge cabinetry is not ideal. I actually have two storage areas – one (for everyday leftovers and weekly meal prep containers) in two large pullout drawers on the kitchen island facing the dishwasher, and one (for bulk jars and larger specialty containers) in the pantry. Find what areas work for you and your kitchen- I had to evict some lesser used items to commandeer the space.
4. Get the Good Stuff
Storage containers aren’t that terribly expensive, and this will be a fantastic investment that will save you money in the long run, when you can see and easily access all of your food before it spoils! So get the Good Stuff!
Here are some useful traits for good storage:
- Easy to See Clear is best! I recommend Mason jars in three sizes, and glass storage container sets with snap on lids. Glass is clear, easy to clean and won’t stain, and it looks beautiful. For bulk storage, I love those glass fishbowls that sit sideways with easy lift off lids. All of these things are really nice to look at- and there is no guessing what’s stored inside. It makes life so much easier when you can see into all of your containers and not have to juggle opening lids to see what you have in there. It makes shopping inventory a snap as well.
- Easy to Use Nothing makes kitchen time a chore like wrestling with lids. Make sure you like the style of closure and that it is easy for you. You also want to get a good seal for items you want to keep fresh.
- Easy to Stack Refrigerator gathering should not be a risky game of Jenga. Get sets that are easily stackable on the shelves. This will make better use of your space.
Having a nice easy pantry area to store your bulk items will streamline your everyday kitchen life! I luckily have a little laundry room adjacent to the kitchen with a nice few shelves. I have 5 large fishbowl containers, the kind you might think of holding candy at an old-timey drugstore. Pretty sure that I got them at Target, but surely you can find them at Walmart, a discount store, or on Amazon.
I use these for Steel Cut Oats, Brown Rice, Nutritional Yeast, Flour, whatever you buy in bulk so you can get it out of those plastic bags and into clear jars that make it easy to use, and easy to check stock levels. That’s one shelf.
My next shelf has mason jars, and two plastic shelf storage boxes. This is where I keep my dried fruits, nuts, and toppings. I try to get everything out of pouches and containers into the jars, for easy access and an easy visual. I have jars of walnuts, flax seed, chia seeds, dates, chopped dates, popcorn, and other nuts. I use the storage trays to hold bags, containers and pouches of items like salad toppings, coconut flakes, baking soda, and all those things that get easily lost and scattered in cabinets, but you use often.
I haven’t always had these storage shelves in a separate pantry area, I have used counter top space (because the jars look pretty, they are nicely displayed,) or found a special cabinet. I even built a little wooden shelf/countertop addon to hold stuff in a really small galley kitchen in our first home. So make it work, but definitely make it handy! Access is everything, don’t hide it away.
One thing I truly advise against: those cute container sets for counter tops. Ceramic, plastic, whatever. I used to buy these sets that matched the kitchen to store these items, but even with nerd labels from my label maker, out of sight is out of mind. I would never realize I was out of something until I popped open the container, I would forget I had something and buy it again. I often did a smell test wondering just how long I’d had something, and sometimes, not even be sure what it was. Go clear. It will change your life.
You want your fridge stocked to the gills with clear, easy to see food prepped goodies. You should be able to open the door and see everything you have on hand with little to no effort. When I get home from my big weekly grocery trip, the first thing I do is take all produce out and prep into clear containers. Leafy greens just get rinsed and patted dry and put in the drawers, carrots, onions, celery, mushrooms, and any other veggies get rinsed, chopped, peeled into sticks or diced, and then put into snap lid glass containers. I can see everything at glance. I rinse berries and put them in mason jars with no lid. Strawberries, I’ll slice up half, and top off the other half for easy leafless snacking.
Beans and grains and soups- anything I’ve made in bulk batches, I’ll put half in a large container and half into small serving sized containers for to-go lunches. I usually put steel cut oats into portion sizes to cut down on dishes. But you do eventually have to budget what sizes of containers you have when you do a ton of prep.
I prefer storage sets with glass containers and plastic snap on lids, so I bought two sets. I still have some plastic clear ones that I’ll use as well, since they are pretty durable and see through, but they are my backups.
I try to pack leftovers from dinner into nice to go sizes to send my husband off to work with, and for the kids, I use small thermos containers for pastas, soups, etc. I mostly wrap their stuff in foil or wax paper unless it needs containment. Everyone has a thermal fabric lunch pail to take with them for eating away from home.
It’s nice to have some sort of containers to make lemonade or tea in, or if you are a home nut milk maker. We will usually dilute our fruit juice half and half with water when we buy it for the kids, so an extra drink container is handy.
My most important storage vessel of them all is a trusty water bottle. I am a huge fan of Nalgene bottles, with an attached screw on cap. No bells and whistles, I am not a fan of complicated lids and straws that are difficult to clean. I’ve had some bottles and mugs that have uncleanable lid contraptions; gross, no thank you. Who invents those?
Whatever your water bottle style is (again, clear is the winner for me, easy to see the level and easy to keep clean.) Keep it with you at all times, make it your best friend, and refill often. The whole family has their own beloved water canteen they use all day. I also have a smoothie to go container, which looks like a large glass mason jug with a handle, but it’s made like a tervis tumbler with double walled clear plastic, and I have a few to go mugs for hot drinks. Go through all of yours and donate or toss the ones you don’t use and get a few of the ones you love to encourage you to use them often.
One last thing! I LOVE straws! So I got a nice set of bamboo straws and they have been a life changer! They feel good to drink out of, they’re antibacterial, they clean well with the little pipe cleaner thingy, and they are super durable! It’s ok if you left them sitting in the wet sink or run them through the dishwasher. I highly recommend bamboo as your straw material.
Go out there and find your storage solutions. This may be the best thing you ever do to change your kitchen game. It encourages you to prep, helps you see what you have on hand, eliminates lots of waste, and makes you feel real real good. Accept this challenge, and get back here and report in the comments how it helped you. I LOVE hearing from people how things worked! Maybe you have an awesome solution that hasn’t crossed my radar yet, DO TELL!
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Britt, your Kickin’ Vegan