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Aug 7, 2008 07:10 AM

Best place to shop for pantry staples and storage containers?

I am in the process of cleaning out our pantry, which is quite disorganized and home to some frighteningly old food packages. Once I have sorted through what we have, I am planning to buy some fresh staples, and some better storage containers, so that we will keep better track of what we have and waste less.

First of all, what stores in Newton/Waltham/Watertown area have the best prices on flour, sugar, and the like? Is there anywhere besides Whole Foods with bulk bins for things like rice, dry beans, oats, etc?

Second, where should I look for good quality storage canisters at a good price? I'm not looking for anything fancy, just good quality and durability.


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  1. I bought a bunch of them at the Container Store (though in NYC):

    They're not a bargain, but are great because they are stackable and come in different sizes.

    1. China Fair on Mass Ave outside Porter Square in Cambridge has good values for storage containers.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rlh

        Also China Fair on Needham Ave in Newton....Sometimes target has great stuff, too...I bought gallon Anchor Hocking storage jars there for considerably less than I bought them for at even China Fair...Worth a peek...
        Most of my storage is antique Ball jars with zinc lids, but these take longer to gather in any quantity...

      2. For storage containers, we have discovered the joys of shopping at Marshalls and HomeGoods. I always thought Marshalls was just clothes, but we went to the one in Bedford after we moved last month and got stainless steel containers and plastic airtight storage containers (Oggi brand) which were easily half the price of those at the Container Store. So far they are working fine.

        I know there is (or was) a Marshalls on Needham Street in Newton but not sure what kind of home goods they carry, if any.

        We love the Container Store, which has a lot more options, but it is pricy. We didn't care if our stainless steel containers were a tiny bit dented on the bottom because of how cheap it was at Marshalls and also because we weren't planning on displaying them on the kitchen counter or anything.

        1. If you're not looking for overly fancy containers, I loved the stuff I found at the store in Kam Man in Quincy that sells all sorts of goods from dishware, storage items, toys, make-up. It's off to the left handside once you enter the complex (next to the bank). They sell a variety of tupperware like containers of every size, and often customized for just about anything you can think of in the kitchen. Very useful and inexpensive (with smaller containers often going for under $2) without being too cheap. Many of them are Japanese manufactured, and I love the ones particularly geared for the Asian kitchen (i.e., the rice holder on wheels for easy loading of large bags of rice to the lunch sized container that comes with a small steaming rack so you can microwave frozen dumplings or buns ). Also great for those who have a smaller kitchen and require more compact options to maximize storage efficiency.

          4 Replies
          1. re: kobuta

            I really like the Quincy Kam Man marketplace for rice, miso, and lots of other interesting food.

            There is a new Ocean State Job lot in Randolph with a good selection of Bob's Red Mill flours, grains and other basics.

            King Arthur Flour mail-order can be another good resource for yeast and flours.

            Good luck with your clean-out. We have always had the dreaded meal moths, and have gone from Tupperware to freezer and refrigerator - still looking for some better solutions.

            1. re: chowfamily

              I did some Google-mapping and it looks like the Quincy, Norwood, Randolph, Marborough, Westborough and Foxboro Ocean State Job Lots are all within reasonable driving distance from me. Any input as to which of these might have the best selection of Bob's Red Mill products? Thanks!

              1. re: fbf242

                The way I understand it, each one can get different shipments - but the one up in Salem that I've been to has a decent supply of Bob's Red Mill grains and flours - more than I've seen elsewhere (non OS Job Lot stores).

                1. re: fbf242

                  In my experience all of the Ocean State JLs have lots of Bob's Red Mill, not certain there is one to recommend over others. Keep in mind that sometimes something might not be displayed in an open box, but they will often have a closed box/case of that item (I think they come 6 bags to the box), so look around for a closed one. DeMoula's (more of a north shore thing) also has good prices on Bob's Red Mill, but less of a selection.

            2. I'm a fan of the rectangular Click-Clack storage containers (not the round ones). They stack, are dishwasher-safe, and clear so you can see what's in them. You can find them at times at BB&B or LNT but they don't have the rectangular ones as often anymore. But they're really sturdy - better than Rubbermaid containers. But they're most certainly not inexpensive.