Kitchen storage dilemma
October 26, 2009 11:09 AM   Subscribe

[KitchenStorageFilter]: OK, this is pretty mundane, but we'd like to toss our old kitchen storage/Tupperware-wannabee containers and would appreciate some recommendations so we can replace them with something good.

These sorts of purchases seem to persist for a very long time, so I want to make a good decision this time around. The last time we did this was 10+ years ago with an extended set from Costco, and those containers sucked.

I've recently seen the Snapware containers at Costco and Target, and they seem to have some attractive qualities: removable rubber seals, compact storage, fairly cheap, etc. So for purposes of getting a conversation started, I'll put those out there as something we're looking at, but I worry that the hinges on the sides of the lid will fail pretty quickly.

Last data point: We use these mostly for leftovers stored in the refrigerator, so they don't travel much, however, they will be subject to a horrific number of hot/cold and wet/dry cycles.
posted by mosk to Home & Garden (35 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Get real, brand-name Tupperware. You won't regret it. I am not affiliated with them.
posted by jgirl at 11:18 AM on October 26, 2009

I'm a fan of Pyrex storage containers as the glass is very durable. And I can put them in the oven, allowing me to make a small lasagna in a storage container, for e.g., then put the lid on and store leftovers in the same container in the fridge. Fewer dishes to wash! I believe they're also very dishwasher safe (though I don't have a dishwasher to test this). The set I have nests so they don't take up a lot of room in the cupboard.
posted by Kurichina at 11:24 AM on October 26, 2009 [6 favorites]

Get glass refrigerator dishes, they don't stain or stink and they look nice. Don't have to worry about nasty chemicals leaching if you use them to reheat in the microwave. I think Pyrex carries them.
posted by Allee Katze at 11:28 AM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I would recommend the Pyrex. Even their bakeware comes with a lid!
posted by kindall at 11:29 AM on October 26, 2009

The absolute best you can get is Lock & Lock brand, all the other hinged kitchen storage containers that have hit the market in the past few months are knockoffs of L&Ls. Hot/cold and wet/dry is no problem, your only possible issue may be discoloration if you're putting tomato-based products in them (spaghetti sauce etc) but that's an issue common to many plastic storage containers.

I say this as someone who regularly finds such containers subject to the elements in the middle of the woods and occasionally encased in ice.
posted by reptile at 11:30 AM on October 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

I have a couple sets of Rubbermaid Premier containers, and love them. They're totally clear (not frosted), including a window in the lid. The lids are rubbery and have a really good seal. The site says they're "stain resistant" - I've put tomato sauce in mine without staining. We take them all the time straight from the fridge to the microwave with no problem. And there's just two sizes of lids and two container footprint sizes, so everything stacks together neatly. (You can find the sets on sale at places like Target and Bed Bath & Beyond.)
posted by LolaGeek at 11:44 AM on October 26, 2009

Personally, I just use the semi-disposable plastic containers--I think mine are Glad brand. They're mad cheap to begin with, and they last a nice long time. I have several that I've been using for at least a year and a half now--and they're still going strong.

The best part is that when they get terribly stained, or pick up some sort of unpleasant smell, I don't feel bad tossing them. Likewise, if I take something somewhere and they don't come back, I don't really mind.

While I have a bunch of little Pyrex mise-en-place bowls with lids, and I like them very well, I don't like glass storage containers in general. For me at least, they take up way too much space when not being used. And they're incredibly heavy.
posted by Netzapper at 11:50 AM on October 26, 2009

My sister-in-law has the plastic Snapware from Costco and loves it. So does my mom. And my brother even raves about it. I bought the Glass Lock Snapware from Costco and think it's even better. No staining or stinking, but still with the awesome seal an lids that never make you question if it's really sealed.
posted by thejanna at 12:06 PM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

We have a set of Pyrex glass containers, and they're pretty good. Very versatile--oven, fridge, microwave, dishwasher--but the lids aren't the tightest. Not leakproof. They're a bit heavy, so I prefer to take pieces from another set for lunch, but it looks like that won't factor in for you.

Our other set is the Rubbermaid Premier series mentioned above. Also not entirely leakproof, but they're clear and have a window in the lid LolaGreek mentioned. The sizes are pretty convenient. Dishwasher and microwave safe. They're compact in storage because the lids also snap together. We got a pretty sizable set, including a few larger pieces, from Costco for ~$30.
posted by jroybal at 12:16 PM on October 26, 2009

nthing Lock and Lock. the snapware items linked look like knockoff Lock and Locks. I'm going on my 19th straight (and last) year as a student taking lunch to school, Lock and Lock containers are the best things ever. If I wasn't worried about my food being mobile, I might stick with purely Pyrex containers but Lock and Lock containers are lightweight and won't break, which is why they don't make glass lunchboxes.
posted by anthropomorphic at 12:18 PM on October 26, 2009

ugh sorry, re-read the question to see that your containers won't need to travel much. nevermind :)
posted by anthropomorphic at 12:19 PM on October 26, 2009

Lock and Lock if you want plastic, Pyrex if you don't.
posted by HotToddy at 12:24 PM on October 26, 2009

Tupperware. My mother is still using the set she's had for 30 years. She bought me a set when I left home, and they're still doing pretty well almost 10 years in. I just moved overseas and had to leave them behind, but you betcha I stored them for when I go back.

I use pyrex for stuff that I bake.
posted by wingless_angel at 12:24 PM on October 26, 2009

Data point: I use my Lock and Lock containers to store stinky kimchi. They don't get stained red from it, nor does the nasty kimchi smell infect my refrigerator. The L&L containers are literally the only ones I've found that really work for storing stinky Korean food. And just about anything else.
posted by brina at 12:25 PM on October 26, 2009

I'd go with the Pyrex--or, really, any glass container. I am generally not one to succumb to hysteria regarding the horrors that lurk in our everyday household items, but I really see no need to use plastic in the microwave. The glass is great--goes in the microwave and the conventional oven, cleans easily, does not pick up odors or stains, and may in the end not give me Alzheimer's or other nasty things.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:32 PM on October 26, 2009

I recently did this by tossing out the jumble of plastic storage containers and replacing them with two sets of the Pyrex ones everyone is recommending. Oh, it was the happiest day for my kitchen. You won't regret it.
posted by booknerd at 12:40 PM on October 26, 2009

Nthing Tupperware -- the original and best. A bit of an expensive investment, but well worth the money: the stuff lasts forever AND has a lifetime guarantee, so you can’t go wrong. Tupperware seals do.not.leak. and they keep the smells in. And none of the Tupperware I own has ever stained (and I'm Indian, so you better believe my Tupperwares have seen their share of turmeric). Their other stuff is high quality too. I’ve been using their vegetable peeler for 10 years now, and it’s still as sharp as the day I bought it.

One thing to remember though: make sure to buy the lines that fit for your purpose. Some of their items are strictly for storage and cannot be microwaved.
posted by yawper at 12:42 PM on October 26, 2009

I quintuple pyrex. I have a set of those blue covered ones linked above, and also the large 1-2qt round storage ones. THEY ARE GREAT.

Additionally I'd reccomend finding someplace to donate your used plastic stuff. No use letting it go to waste!
posted by shownomercy at 12:51 PM on October 26, 2009

Data point: I use my Lock and Lock containers to store stinky kimchi. They don't get stained red from it, nor does the nasty kimchi smell infect my refrigerator. The L&L containers are literally the only ones I've found that really work for storing stinky Korean food. And just about anything else.

My Asian mega-grocery prominently features Lock and Lock containers during its annual Korean Days promotion. Despite being a huge fan of Lock and Locks, I never could understand why they were so popular among Koreans in particular, until one day I happened to need a container for my kimchi. Aha! They truly are brilliant for stinky foods.
posted by HotToddy at 12:54 PM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have these from Rubbermaid and they are great, if you are looking to go plastic. I agree with everyone else that the Pyrex ones are great if you want glass.
posted by min at 12:56 PM on October 26, 2009

I saw this set at the store the other day, and boy does it look great for dried food storage. Everything else I've ever bought from that company has been fantastic, too. Someday, when I can afford the set...

For fridge storage, I'd definitely nth the Pyrex set, I feel like avoiding heating stuff in plastic is probably a good idea and they make that easy.
posted by you're a kitty! at 1:02 PM on October 26, 2009

Also, I would suggest getting one, maybe two, sizes, if you can. Having every tupperware lid fit every container is a lifesaver.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:11 PM on October 26, 2009

I suggest a mixture of Lock and Lock and Glass and Lock. The Glass is great for the microwave and the lack of staining, but it can be heavy, so it's nice to bring a salad in the plastic.
posted by Gor-ella at 1:14 PM on October 26, 2009

Nthing glass, ideally Pyrex. The only argument that might sway me to plastic would be the daily lunch commute, but since that's not your application.... glass all the way.
posted by rokusan at 1:24 PM on October 26, 2009

I use wide mouth mason jars for anything liquid and square cambro tubs for everything else. You can dump boiling liquid into the plastic cambro tubs (the clear ones contain BPA the translucent ones don't) and you can freeze them. You can find the cambro stuff at any restaurant supply shop. The only drawback is they come in 2 quart and larger sizes. I use mason jars for anything smaller.
posted by foodgeek at 1:46 PM on October 26, 2009

nthing the pyrex containers. They're great - can be microwaved, baked, and frozen, I have never broken one, and you don't have to worry about various toxic chemicals leeching out of them. Plus, they are easy to clean and never smell or discolor.
posted by Cygnet at 2:01 PM on October 26, 2009

Tupperware. My mother is still using the set she's had for 30 years.

I forgot to mention that mine is 25 years old, but I have some from my mother and grandmother that are at least 40 years old and going strong. You can replace parts, too.
posted by jgirl at 3:19 PM on October 26, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks -- these are great suggestions. I'll take these back to Mrs. Mosk, and together we can figure out what's going to work best for us. Seems like several strong candidates have emerged: Lock & Lock, genuine Tupperware, Pyrex, and Rubbermaid, each with their advantages (sorry, foodgeek, but I think the cambro tubs are too big for our needs, and multiple mason jars too hard to store in our cabinets).
posted by mosk at 4:26 PM on October 26, 2009

Now, if your containers don't need to travel, you can also get a product that is comprised of a plastic membrane stretched within a hard plastic frame, which is placed over the storage container (bowl, pot, whatever) and when pressed down forms a vacuum seal. They're meant to replace cling wrap and are great as a Tupperware alternative. It's a very tight seal and you can use them again and again. It's a good way to accomplish what you've described while creating less waste than Tupperware or comparable products.
posted by Pomo at 4:49 PM on October 26, 2009

I got the set of Snapware stuff from Costco and it is all right, but I would not recommend it. The latches around the edges that hold the lids on are not very durable. One of them is starting to break and we've had them for less than a year.
posted by ericales at 6:04 PM on October 26, 2009

A relative gave me a round Rubbermaid plastic storage container that still seals tightly and goes on the top shelf of the dishwasher although it is more than 50 years old.
posted by Cranberry at 11:51 PM on October 26, 2009

If you buy Pyrex, be very careful cooking with them.

Why Pyrex bowls explode

"Are Pyrex Bowls Dangerous?

Maybe. Pyrex bowls were originally made of something called borosilicate glass, which is very resistant to thermal shock. Currently, Pyrex is made of soda-lime glass, presumably as a cost-cutting measure, as soda-lime glass is very inexpensive. Also, Pyrex is no longer made by the original manufacturer, and is essentially a brand name, rather than a material.

What Now?

The Pyrex website makes no mention of a change in materials, and does not specify what type of glass is used in their products. They claim: "PYREX glassware products can go directly from refrigerator or freezer to a microwave, convection, or preheated conventional oven."

Since Pyrex is no longer made of the same special thermal shock resistant glass, one should take extra care when using it. Do not place Pyrex on your stove top. Do not change its temperature rapidly, regardless of what the website says. Pyrex, in its current incarnation, should be treated more like any other piece of glass."
posted by IndigoRain at 12:20 AM on October 27, 2009

Snopes on Pyrex.
posted by kindall at 12:06 PM on October 28, 2009

Cambro containers are not airtight, as I discovered to my sadness (and disgust) when I opened one of them to find the dry goods inside full of grain moth larvae. Eccccchhhhhh.
posted by Lexica at 9:39 PM on October 29, 2009

If you really want some ecccccchhhhh, you should probably know that the containers are in fact airtight and that the moth eggs were in the dry goods when you bought 'em.
posted by kindall at 7:53 AM on November 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

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