Budget-Friendly Food Storage Ideas

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Tired of throwing out food but don’t want to break the bank on fancy food containers? Here are some of the best budget-friendly food storage ideas!

Food storage containers filled with a variety of dried goods.
Image source: Depositphotos

Proper food storage is essential to reduce the amount of food you throw out. The USDA estimates that between 30 and 40% of the food supply in the USA is wasted. That’s a colossal amount of food waste, much of which can be avoided with proper food storage.

There are all kinds of food storage ideas. From fancy plastics to glass and even beeswax pouches, there are plenty of ways to store your leftovers safely. But what are the best picks if you’re looking for affordable solutions?

The following are some of the best budget-friendly food storage ideas and why they’ve made this list.

Reusable Food Storage Bags

  • Reusable food storage bags are a great alternative to disposable plastic bags. They can be used to store a variety of items, including sandwiches, snacks while hiking, and leftover foods.
  • Reusable food storage bags are typically made of durable materials like silicone or cloth and can be washed and reused over and over again.
  • They cost between $1 and $2 per bag, depending on the size of the bag.

Mason Jars 

  • Mason jars are a versatile and budget-friendly option for food storage. They can be used to store a variety of dry goods, such as grains, nuts, and seeds.
  • They also keep liquids like soups, stews, and smoothies.
  • These jars are made of glass, a non-porous and safe material for food storage. They are also easy to clean and can be reused repeatedly.
  • They’re often free! Buying jam, pasta sauces and more in jars mean you can reuse the jars as storage containers.
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Bamboo-Topped Glass Containers

  • Bamboo-topped glass containers are a sustainable and budget-friendly option for food storage. The lids are made of bamboo fiber, a renewable resource and biodegradable.
  • Bamboo containers are durable and can be used to store a variety of items, including sandwiches, snacks, and leftovers.
  • Bamboo containers are also easy to clean and can be used in the microwave and dishwasher.
  • They are more expensive up front, but they will last a lifetime with proper care and use.

Plastic Containers

  • Reuse sour cream, Cool Whip, margarine, and cream cheese containers to store your leftovers. When they’re empty, wash them and use them to pack up soups, stews, meatloaf, air fryer potato rosti, or whatever you’ve had for lunch or dinner. They’re also great for storing dry goods like ruby chocolate.
  • Write the name of the contents and the date on the top so you can quickly and easily identify what’s in them.
  • You don’t get much more budget-friendly than reusing these plastic containers.

Deli Containers

  • Available at restaurant supply stores or online, sleeves of 25, 50, or more deli containers in various sizes are affordable food storage options.
  • They’re clear, so you can easily see the contents.
  • Deli containers can warp and melt in the microwave, so transfer the contents out of the container before reheating the contents.

Take-Out Containers

  • Many restaurants have switched to packaging take-out in reusable plastic containers. They are often rectangular in size with black bottoms and clear tops. They are perfect for packing up leftovers!
  • These containers stack nicely inside the fridge and the cupboard. 
  • They are recyclable; pop them into the recycling bin when you’re done with them.
  • Food containers are one of the four largest plastic pollutants in the oceans. Reusing and recycling them when you’re done keeps them out of landfills and the oceans.

Silicone Stretch Lids

Forget the container and just use lids! Silicone stretch lids will fit bowls, pots, cups, casserole dishes and more so that you can pack up your leftovers in reusable dishes and store them in the fridge. 

What You Can Store in Food Storage Containers

Food storage containers aren’t just ideal for leftovers, but they can be used for any number of consumables. From pantry staples like rice, flour, sugars, oatmeal, and spices to freezer jams, frozen soups, and tasty stews, preserving the freshness of your food will help reduce the amount of waste in your home.

You can also use these containers for non-edibles. They are perfect for organizing craft supplies, pet food, jewelry, things you want to keep dry while camping, and much more.

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Don’t Forget the Labels

There’s nothing worse than opening your fridge to see a sea of food storage containers filled with mystery ingredients. You can use tape and a pen to label the top of your food storage containers to identify what’s inside, and by adding a date, you’ll know when the leftovers were added to the fridge.

Labels are especially helpful when freezing leftovers because once frozen, it becomes hard to tell what’s inside the container.

Food Storage Tips

Many foods are sensitive to temperature and can spoil or become unsafe to eat if stored at the wrong temperature. For example, perishable foods such as meat, dairy, and produce should be stored in the refrigerator to keep them fresh. Dry goods such as grains and legumes should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Always follow the USDA guidelines for food storage. Among other things, the USDA recommends storing refrigerated food under 40°F and to consume most leftovers within three to four days. 

The Final Word

Using these budget-friendly food storage options can save money and reduce waste. They are durable, affordable and in many cases free, and easy to use, making them a great choice for anyone looking to save money on food storage.

Jenn Allen is a retired chef turned cookbook author, blogger, and traveler. She lives at home with her family and the cats that rule them all. Sign up for all her best recipes at CookWhatYouLove.com

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