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storage ideas for things like flour, sugar...

Can anyone give me some ideas for containers to store all of my staple items like different types of flour, sugar, rice, dried beans and grains, etc...

I'm very fond of those square, lexan? commercial stacking containers, with the volume noted on the sides, but they seem a bit pricey.

I'm moving, and starting from scratch, and just trying to drum up some ideas to put things in. I like to buy things in bulk at Rainbow Grocery, so they need to go in something besides just plastic bags. Mason jars are out of the question due to sour memories.

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  1. For sugar/cereal, I use these metal cans that clip like mason jars.
    they hold about 500g of sugar I think, maybe 1kg.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Soop

      Big old canning jars. They are fairly cheap at vintage stores (don't get the antique collectable ones) and they are durable. For flour I use an old glass jar I bought decades ago at Target. The idea of a large pickle jar is good, I think. Whatever you choose, be sure it handles easily, is not slippery and the lid is well designed. You'll be handling this stuff every day.

    2. I've got a bunch of different type things for storage, usually purchased when on sale. I have click-clack (round) storage containers for rices and oxo rectangle storage containers for things like flour and sugar (the large rectangle holds exactly the sack of flour). Then I have a collection of mason jars that I've accumulated over the years that I use for all the beans/etc. dried stuff. You can also use pasta sauce jars for that too -- though that depends on if you buy pasta sauce in jars and if you've accumulated them.

      Good luck.

      1. 33limes, two pound coffee cans.
        When we married in 1972, we were buying ground coffee at the supermarket in two-pound cans.

        Now, it is 2009, and the coffee that we buy is whole bean Yirgacheffe, from a specialty local roaster, who sells it to us in small bags.

        But we decant our flour from the paper bags in which King Arthur is sold into a perfectly sized cannister that dates from 1972 that says S&W Premium Coffee on the side. When we purchased our kitchen cannisters, one at a time, each one had two pounds of S&W coffee inside as a free throw-in. You can still get a set of six kitchen cannisters for a good price here: http://yhst-22025122326262.stores.yah... provided that you can find a downstream recipient for the free bonus coffee.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Politeness

          I'm assuming you need storage - as in back of cupboard practical storage, not front of counter presentation storage?
          My wife prepares meals at the Royal Canadian Legion for the vets as part of the 'Ladies Aux', and comes home with 4L Bicks Pickle jars (commercial size). After a really good wash to get rid of the vinegar smell, they get pressed into service for flour, rice, beans, etc. They work great, clear re-sealable storage.

          I realise that this may not work, because you might need a bunch at once; but I'm sure a local restaurant would hand you some empties out the back door.


        2. "I'm very fond of those square, lexan? commercial stacking containers, with the volume noted on the sides, but they seem a bit pricey."

          They are pricey, but they really are the best (and they're my choice, too). Try to buy them at your local restaurant supply, or Smart & Final (which is probably more expensive than the rest. supply stores).


          2 Replies
          1. re: Joe Blowe

            I agree that if you are going to buy something, you'd be better off at a restaurant supply house, than a big box or mall housewares store.


            1. re: Joe Blowe

              I agree. I use the round ones for rice, etc., and the square ones for my sugars and flour. They stack beautifully. I found them at my local restaurant suppy store.

            2. Round containers may hold more, But I find Square ones are easier to store and stack and use cabinet space more efficiently.

              If you have a restaraunt supply place near, the big commercial storeage containers don't cost so much. It's worth it, even if they do, cause you can wash them and use them over and over.

              I even have one I use to let my bread rise in.

              I find buying too many things in bulk isn't always the best idea. Even for staples, things get old before I can get to them if I buy too much.

              For some things, I find used big yogurt containers work really well. I;ve stored spice mixes in them, as well as oatmeal/granola/dried fruit and such. But they are round, so they get in the way of my square stacking philosophy

              1. I have my sugar, flour, rice, etc. in these:

                I especially like them for flour b/c I can "dip and scoop" and then level it off at the inside edge of the container (instead of getting another utensil dirty).

                These are great containers.

                1 Reply
                1. re: mdepsmom

                  I use the lock and lock as well.. but the regular stacking canisters work best for my space.
                  No complaints on them keeping things fresh so far. :)

                2. How many ways can I say "Cambro"? My staples (rices, flours, sugars, beans, etc) have lived in these babies since the mid seventies, they're still in use and they have long since paid for themselves (unlike the el cheapo brand which you will buy time and time again). In addition to being workhorses, it is nice to be able to see what you're seeking. Yes, I write on the lids so can easily eliminate the AP flour, bread flour, rye flour, etc. when I'm reaching for cake flour.

                  1. 2 years late, but maybe someone else would find the info useful. I use cambro square containers because they stack well and are airtight or close enough to it. I go for the translucent ones - cheaper than the clear and better looking that the white.

                    I bought these in various sizes for sugar and all types of flour. I was able to get a 25lb bag of King Arthur flour and that fits perfectly in the 22qt container. I use a 6qt container to store flour/sugar I use more often.

                    LOL - I have a thing for flour.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: nikkib99

                      Yup, that's what I said two years ago upthread ;-)

                      1. re: Joe Blowe

                        I just saw I forgot to include the link to the restaurant supply stores. Depending on your area, you may not be able to buy from restaurant supply stores.

                        I got mine from webstaurant.com. Katom.com also sells some cool things.

                      2. re: nikkib99

                        Well, I'm even later to this thread.

                        I've started to cook more of late. Previously, I always kept my flour, sugar, etc. in the original sack, and then placed that in a large ziploc bag. I thought this would keep the contents as fresh and sanitary as possible, as they would experience minimal handling. But a friend told me recently that storing in plastic can be bad. I guess the plastic can attract bugs or something? Anyway, I was surprised when she stored flour, sugar, rice, etc in individual containers. After a little online research I guess this seems to be what people do.

                        So, I guess I need to go out and buy some canisters. In addition to the pointers noted in this thread, should I look for glass, plastic or metal canisters? Does it make a difference, in terms of protecting the contents? If I keep a scoop inside the container (e.g., flour, sugar ones), does it matter what it is made of?

                        I live in NYC. Should I visit a restaurant-supply store for the best selection and prices? I'm not buying a ton of stuff but I'll pick up a few containers and I would just as soon not spend top-dollar, unnecessarily. That said, some containers may end up on top of the counter, in which case I would be willing to pay up a bit for something more attractive.

                        1. re: uwsgrazer

                          I use big jars, including old canning jars. I also save straight sided jars for storage of seeds or spices. I don't think keeping your flour in the bag inside a ziploc is bad. Plastic doesn't attract bugs. Some people worry about BPA. I am not sure if that would get into your flour if you have it inside its paper bag. But large jars do work. What you end up using should be chosen for the storage space in your kitchen. And if you are using whole grain flour, you should consider refrigerating it unless you use it really fast.

                          1. re: sueatmo

                            I've got some old canning jars sitting around. For whatever reason I can't seem to part with them. They have straight sides but I think are only about 16-24 oz in capacity. That's certainly inadequate for flour or sugar, and even grains like rice.

                            I guess I could use the jars to store various packets of dried fruits and stuff that I buy in the bulk foods section, but only in small amounts in line with what a given recipe calls for. In that case, I would need to keep the fruits in their plastic bags, to separate them from the others.

                            Right now, this stuff is stored in a rectangular, flattish cookie tin. I'm not sure I see the point of moving it to a jar, where I would have to remove the contents to see everything. I don't mean to be difficult but I feel as if I'm missing something about how others seem to organize their kitchens. I'm sure I could do a better job, too, which is why I raise the questions here.

                      3. I like sqare glass jars with a wire bail latching mechanism, like these:


                        1. Tupperware containers have worked well for me. Some of the ants we have here will eat right through the factory packaging, including the plastic bags pasta comes in.

                          1. For smaller quantities, I re-use jars of all sorts. Nut butter jars here generally have straight, rather than tapered, sides, which are perfect :) I re-use mason jars, as well.
                            For items purchased in bulk (i.e., 20 lbs of flour, 5 lbs sugar, bags of salt, etc.) I transfer some to a larger jar for day-to-day use, and put the original bags into a 2-5 gallon pail with a tight lid. I was able to pick up some of the Cambro commercial containers at a liquidation outlet, when a nearby restaurant closed. There are a lot of scratches, but for pantry storage use, the containers are perfectly fine.

                            1 Reply