What grocery products have great reusable foodsafe containers?
July 16, 2020 9:04 AM   Subscribe

I’ve taken to re-using some of the containers from our groceries for other pantry staples and I’m looking to expand my repertoire. What specific items and brands can you recommend that come in high quality, good sized jars or other airtight reusable containers?

For example, Adams Peanut Butter in the 32 oz size comes in a giant jar that easily fits a pound of dry beans. I’ve started buying crappy coffee because I don’t care about the quality of my coffee and it comes in a large reusable plastic canister.

This has been asked before but that was in 2012 and I figure a re-up was in order.
posted by bq to Shopping (49 answers total) 66 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I save the square-ish plastic jars from cocktail peanuts. They're great for things like sugar, rice, etc.
posted by belladonna at 9:18 AM on July 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

butter tubs. Country Crock butter for the win! That was my family's tupperware in the 1990s.

Pickle jars (or really any jarred food). Pickle jars are nicely sized and have large openings.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:22 AM on July 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

The Bonne Maman regular preserves jars (not the intense ones) are great for uses that require a wide-mouth canning jar.
posted by terretu at 9:24 AM on July 16, 2020 [32 favorites]

seconding adams peanut butter—i use their 16 oz jars as drinking glasses and dry goods storage containers.

bonne maman preserves come in wide-mouth 13 oz jars that work well for spices. i also use talenti pint gelato containers for spices, since they're similarly wide-mouthed and have a tight-sealing lid.

the 64-oz mountain high yogurt containers available at many costcos are great for bulk storage and seal well.
posted by guybrush_threepwood at 9:25 AM on July 16, 2020 [5 favorites]

Anna's honey (I'm in Seattle, idk how local they are, I think they're PNW-wide) comes in these nice faceted 18oz glass jars that nest well and hold a surprising amount of dried goods or small bits of sauce or pickles.
posted by Mizu at 9:27 AM on July 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Talenti Gelato comes in a great reusable pint-sized plastic container with a screw-top lid. And it's clear which I find quite important.

And their gelato is amazing!
posted by hydra77 at 9:27 AM on July 16, 2020 [22 favorites]

There are several brands of sliced deli meat (ham, turkey, etc.) that come in nice tupperware containers that are clear so you can see what's in them, and last forever.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:38 AM on July 16, 2020 [6 favorites]

Teddie Peanut Butter has a good solid squat glass jar that closes securely. Also seconding Bonne Maman jams - they are an excellent size for for leftovers, carrying lunch, etc.

Cabot Greek Yogurt comes in a good 2 lb. plastic container. These are a good size for when I make chicken broth, soup or sauce in bulk and have a lot to store. Important: let the liquid you're storing cool first. I am always a bit nervous about putting hot stuff in plastic and releasing compounds I don't want.

Large plastic holders for salad greens are good for putting under plant pots to catch excess water, or holding veggie scraps in the fridge before composting.
posted by Miko at 9:39 AM on July 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: +1 for the Talenti Gelato containers, although you'll need to use the air-dry cycle on your dishwasher because the heat makes them warp. We also like Hillshire Farms lunchmeat containers, which are similar to the Rubbermaid snap-lid. They're flat and stack nicely in the fridge.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 9:40 AM on July 16, 2020 [4 favorites]

Ooh this is a great question. Yes to everything everyone has said above. I buy the Classico pasta sauce primarily for the bonus glass jars that have handy ounce markings on the side.
posted by umwhat at 9:44 AM on July 16, 2020 [14 favorites]

A lot of different pasta sauces come in glass jars with metal lids that can easily be cleaned and re-used. That's perhaps too obvious.

You know those large plastic containers in the produce section with greens like spinach? And clam shell containers with bakery items? I sometimes use those to grow microgreens in a sunny window, for a burst of nutrition. They probably won't last forever, but I expect to get several rounds of growing greens out of them. I just hope the plastic isn't leaching into my greens.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:49 AM on July 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

Green Mountain Salsa, apart from being probably the best supermarket salsa, comes in legitimate Mason jars that makes up most of my glassware and small storage.
posted by General Malaise at 9:56 AM on July 16, 2020 [4 favorites]

Oh and I drink most of my whiskey from Bonne Maman jars and they also make a good shaking device for vinaigrettes.
posted by General Malaise at 9:59 AM on July 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Came to say Bonne Maman as well, but for bulk storage like flour and sugar, Costco nuts (plastic) and pickles (glass). My favorite drinking glass at the moment is a Dutch mayo jar so I love this question.
posted by athirstforsalt at 10:08 AM on July 16, 2020

Chock Full 'o Nuts coffee still comes in steel cans with plastic lids. I'm not sure about "airtight", but they are wonderfully handy containers for all sorts of things.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:09 AM on July 16, 2020 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Yogurt pots!!!

Oui by Yoplait has glass jars and have become so popular for reuse that they now sell plastic lids for the jars. I use mine for spice storage and specialty baking items, like dragees and dusting glitters. They also have a little crafts section for ideas for reusing the jars. I also like to use them as little planters, and have repurposed one as a wood match holder.

A little harder to find (my local Whole Foods carries them) are the gorgeous La Fermiere clay pots. I use one as a salt cellar.
posted by rachaelfaith at 10:14 AM on July 16, 2020 [10 favorites]

There are entire web pages devoted to things you can do with old Pringles cans.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:15 AM on July 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: nthing Bonne Maman and Talenti jars. The mini Bonne Maman jars are adorable and useful for very small batch stuff.

Bubbies Pickles are lovely large glass jars that are great for making more pickles as well as storing bulk dry goods like rice, grains, beans, lentils, etc.

Woodstock tahini and peanut butter come in good glass jars.

Gerber glass baby food jars are perfect for jam and spices.
posted by wicked_sassy at 10:31 AM on July 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

The platonic ideal of jars is queso. Most of the brands use the same - Tostitos, Pace, store brand, yellow queso, queso blanco. It's the Talenti jar of glass jars.

Also you get queso.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:38 AM on July 16, 2020 [7 favorites]

Best answer: We buy 5 pound jars of Bee Flower Raw Honey and those jars are giant and indestrucible.

Also I buy Classico jars of sauce just so I can reuse them.
posted by lyssabee at 10:51 AM on July 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Nthing Classico jars of sauce.

We buy Signature Cafe soup from the deli at Safeway, a 24 ounce plastic container with a lid (a la tupperware) that is perfect for leftovers or snacks. I'm eating carrot and celery sticks out of one right now!

(Added bonus: the Tomato Basil Bisque is wonderful over pasta, with a fresh vegetable. )
posted by China Grover at 11:21 AM on July 16, 2020

Best answer: You are my people.

I have lots of dried beans and rice, mostly in the square plastic containers with big wide kids, or large pasta sauce or pickle jars. Teas go stale, so same. I don't think I've discarded a spice jar in forever, the plastic ones are great for nails, screws and small parts, the glass ones are nice for spices that come in plastic bags. I like that my herbs and spices are not in identical jars, easier to find what I want.

Plastic mayo and peanut butter jars are great for freezing homemade stock, but they warp easily with heat.

Capers and horseradish still come in pretty jars, good sizes for some spices, like curry mixes, that are bulky.

Popcorn tins are great if you have any beans and rice or grains that need protection from moths. Someone gave me a bag of rosemary from their farm share, I scatter it in tins and in cupboards to repel grain moths, with fair success, and it smells pleasant.

Trader Joe's spices come in nice square bottles.
posted by theora55 at 11:24 AM on July 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Kroger brand peanut butter filled pretzels come in large, sturdy plastic containers with screw top lids, I've been using them to store rice and dried beans that I buy from the bulk section. The larger size Snyder's of Hannover pretzel rods come in a tall, round container with a snap on lid. I'll second belladonna's suggestion of looking for store brand nuts that come in the square plastic jars with screw on lids, in the PNW Metropolitan Market has good ones.
posted by Miss Matheson at 11:25 AM on July 16, 2020

Best answer: Tony's dressings come in sturdy 12 oz. glass jars with polypropylene (recycling #5), mason jar compatible lids. So do a bunch of mayonnaises and the like.

Polypropylene lids have the unique virtue of resisting heat up to 200+ °C and being almost completely impermeable (because PP has no known solvent at room temperature, I presume), which means you can use them over and over again and they won't get discolored, contaminated, or smell. I have some that are at least ten years old. They do have a couple of limitations, however: they usually crack when the jars they're on fall out of an overcrowded fridge and land lid first, and they can bottom out on the rings of glass below the threads of some mason-threaded jars instead of the rims of the jars, and you may not get an airtight seal in that case.

There was once a tasty brand of salsa that came in a brown glass jar. That would have been the most desirable jar of all for reuse if they'd used mason compatible lids, but they didn't.
posted by jamjam at 11:27 AM on July 16, 2020

Glad to see Classico and Country Crock represented. I'll add Cool Whip. I'm pretty sure every item of leftover food I got from my mom while I was in college was in one of those three containers.
posted by kevinbelt at 11:35 AM on July 16, 2020 [7 favorites]

I don't think any family in the world has as much fluff as us but the giant plastic containers of fluff are awesome. (I just straw holes on the lid and use them to drink out of and use them for leftovers in fridge or freezer.
The containers that look like this.


And here is my standard defense of Fluff:

FLUFF: 2 Tablespoons = 6 grams of sugar - zero High Fructose CS

Smuckers Jelly: 2 Tablespoons = 24 grams of sugar - Has High Fructose CS
posted by ReluctantViking at 12:33 PM on July 16, 2020 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Rice Select jars - 1.5lb heavy plastic tub-jars with screw top lids.

Kelapo ghee in the squat wide-mouth brown jar (much like my beloved queso jars), which I buy once a year and then refill with my own ghee. Eventually the label half-melts after several rounds through the dishwasher but I can't actually get it to come entirely off so I buy a new one.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:42 PM on July 16, 2020

Best answer: On the larger side, Target sells animal crackers in a giant plastic bear, which is excellent for storing small toys. The one I have has a screw-top lid. Similarly, there are big plastic barrels of cheese balls or pretzels at most grocery stores, sometimes around Super Bowl time, that make great toy containers.
posted by cabingirl at 12:43 PM on July 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

I don't know how widespread their product is, but Chicago Kimchee a) makes addictive kimchee b) puts said kimchee in 64 and 128 ounce glass jars with screw on lids. The plastic lids don't seem to absorb any of the delicious kimchee smells either.
posted by CookieNose at 12:57 PM on July 16, 2020

Best answer: This chocolate hazelnut spread comes in a jar I adore. It’s my go-to for plant propagation.
posted by stefnet at 1:09 PM on July 16, 2020

Best answer: The small-sized jars of Nutella in the UK come in glass pots which make very decent drinking glasses. Nthing Bonne Maman jars, and I also use Sacla glass pesto jars for spices because I like the size.
posted by altolinguistic at 1:12 PM on July 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Inglehoffer 3.75oz jars of horseradish sauce and mustard are adorable and make great spice containers.
posted by oxisos at 1:14 PM on July 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: One more chiming in for Bonne Maman, just because I really appreciate the easily removable water-soluble glue they use for their labels.
posted by yeahlikethat at 1:16 PM on July 16, 2020 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Doubling altolinguistic's suggestion - the pots also come with rubber lids that make excellent can covers!

Also, Dowe Egberts makes very nice coffee that comes in very attractive glass jars with glass, rubber-sealed stoppers, perfect for everything from raisins to herbal teas. They even make little ones that are good for spices!
posted by HypotheticalWoman at 1:23 PM on July 16, 2020

Best answer: Dean Foods sherbet comes in a sturdy plastic bowl with a lid that pops on tight. Great for storing leftovers.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:46 PM on July 16, 2020

Best answer: The 4lb plastic tub of Domino sugar makes a great canister.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 2:47 PM on July 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

We use Orijen/Acana dog food bags for our kitchen trash. I fold down the open edge and voila! Good trash bag. They stand flat (squared off base) and they're waterproof. I don't think they make the house smell like Dog Food, but I may be nose-blind because I'm used to the smell of kibble.
posted by Gray Duck at 3:38 PM on July 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Nescafe comes in some interesting glass jars with lids that sort of snap into place in a satisfying way. Different kinds have different jar shapes. The Taster's Choice comes in a square jar with a square screw-on lid that I find especially satisfying
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:04 PM on July 16, 2020

Know any diabetics? The little heavy plastic containers that test strips come in have attached sealing lids and are air/waterproof and opaque. The One Touch brand are shiny black, very elegant. The Accu-Chek are cumputer-grey and slightly larger. They are perfect for small amounts of herbs or as pill containers. Also great for a tiny sewing kit of a couple of small reels of thread and needles, and a few safety pins. Also good for tiny screws. I generate about 1-2 a month and have been giving them to friends for years!
posted by a humble nudibranch at 5:14 PM on July 16, 2020 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Trader Joe's olive tapenade and artichoke spreads come in square jars for which I always have a use, perfect for homemade pesto.
posted by theora55 at 6:38 PM on July 16, 2020

Best answer: korean bean pastes like ssamjang and gojuchang of many brands come in these tubs; they reseal wonderfully and I use them as tupperware, garage organization (they stack well), and even for packing small fragile items for shipping.

You've already got your peanut butter game handled, and others have similar sources but trader joes peanut butter jar lids fit on mason jars perfectly.

If you roast your own coffee, sweet marias ships out green coffee in 20# sacks that are cloth, and comfortable and nice. I've reused the cotton for sewing projects and for any number of organizational tasks requiring a sack.

Almost all beer bottles that need a bottle opener can be re-sealed with a capper (a popular cheap ass item on craigslist or if your city has free piles, I've seen a few). Caps are cheap; we use these instead of water bottles on beach trips and stuff.
posted by furnace.heart at 6:45 PM on July 16, 2020

Best answer: This metal steelcut oats can is pretty great. I also like Oui or Fermiere yogurt jars. So excited to learn about the lids-Rachelfaith. Also, talenti jars are great to hold paint.
posted by coevals at 6:54 PM on July 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Meijer's store brand large Greek yogurt containers are surprisingly durable, and can be run through a dishwasher.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:55 PM on July 16, 2020

Best answer: Grolsch beer comes in sweet flip-top bottles. I use one to hold my cold-press coffee concentrate in the fridge, and of course for home brew beer/cider/mead.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:12 PM on July 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

Grolsch bottles are great.

I have a 5 liter green Grolsch bottle that's about 22 inches tall. The 'wires' of the harness that holds the top in place against the pressure of carbonation are almost 1/4" thick. I have no real idea what to do with it.
posted by jamjam at 10:25 PM on July 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

My holy grail for infused oils and vinegars is any 375 mL wine bottle that comes with a glass stopper, such as this one.

I also love gallon jars, such as this, but they do take up a lot of space (and require you to eat a lot of jalapenos/pickles/etc.)

Divina olives come in a squat little jar that's a very useful size for things like nuts or bay leaves.
posted by slenderloris at 10:21 AM on July 17, 2020

Not exactly food grade reuse but I’ve been repurposing the containers those calorie free drink mixes (like Crystal Lite) come in as organizers. USB cables, audio cables, Thumb drives, Velcro and twist ties, business cards, etc. Just detach the label and it’s a nondescript container.
posted by pwnguin at 2:27 AM on July 18, 2020

As mentioned above, the Classico pasta sauce jars are excellent, but even better, they will accept standard Kerr canning lids and rings, and so far have held up great for home canning. A lot of "looks like a Mason jar"...aren't, and have non-standard threads.
posted by xedrik at 8:19 AM on July 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

I save Maya Kaimal Indian curry sauce jars. I like that they’re plain, not tapered, and have an unbranded black lid.
posted by Bunglegirl at 1:28 AM on July 27, 2020

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