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Pantry storage: flour, sugar, etc.

How do you store staple ingredients? Right now, I'm ant-proofing, but also thinking long term quality, too.
I've not liked canisters on the counter, but would consider if you can recommend some strong-lidded kind (rubber stoppers? Screw-tops?)
Have been keeping 5 lb. bags of sugar, flour, etc, in the original bag, then in a Ziplock, so the whole thing gets smaller as I use 'em up, which helps with space, but what works better for you? Is anything really ant-proof (just did a major purge 'cause of them)?

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  1. I use a combination of things.

    I use the OXO plastic containers like these in my pantry: http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store.... I use the larger ones for flour and sugar, and smaller ones for things like brown sugar, bulk oatmeal, etc. I use the smallest two sizes for my bulk spices (I have about 12-14 of them in my spice cabinet). They stack well and are easy to open and close. I get them individually from Home Goods -- they are chepaer, plus I can buy only the sizes I need.

    For my lentils and beans, I use these, but mine are square: http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store.... they are lightweight and have a built in "handle" that makes the jar easy to grab and pour from.

    For rice and indian flour ("atta"). I use a rolling container with a slide top, like the one in the picture attached. Mine have blue lids, and 4 wheels instead of 2, with a sliding door to access the contents, but it also has snap closure so you can remove the entire lid. they each can hold a 20lb bag of rice/atta. I keep these on the bottom shelf so I just pull them out a little, slide the lid open, scoop and then slide the lid shut and wheel it back in. Got them at my asian market for about $15 each a few years ago. One of my best kitchen purchases!

    1. My pantry USED to be in my attached garage... 2 metal shelving units and a workbench. Only canned/jarred stuff. No boxes or bags. Back before the holidays, went out to see what I already had on hand to prepare for holiday cookies. I keep things like brown sugar and chocolate chips in one of those Tupperware things made for a cake. "Five pound" (now FOUR lb) bags of white sugar fit nicely into larger T-ware containers... nice tight lid keeps sugar from clumping up. Five lbs of flour usually fits in biggest T-ware canisters I can find. NOTE: all the T-ware have been yard sale finds... if clean and tight lid (usually less than $1 each), that works for me since not on display. Had 1 bag of flour and no T-ware, so put it in one of those clear "shoe-box" things. As I was going out in garage, could SEE the flour... the box had a HOLE gnawed in the lid and HALF of the 5 lb was GONE!!

      Right after THAT discovery, moved pantry into pretty much unused "family room". If ya know anyone in food services, some products come in really heavy duty plastic containers. I think home improvement stores even carry something similar.

      All little pastas, rice and other grains, and dried beans are in quart mason jars.

      1. These are what I use

        1. Ziplocs and/or the fridge.

          1. I keep small amounts of flour and sugar in ceramic canisters on the counter, the rest is in the freezer. I keep 25+ lb bags of whole grains ( rice, wheat, rye) in food grade 5 gallon buckets with gamma lids and keep half gallon canning jars of wheat and rye berries in the freezer for grinding fresh flour. Other stuff gets tupperware if I really need to be sure to keep moisture out. Nuts and chocolate chips are in their original bags with opened nut bags in ziplocks, all of them in the freezer. I also use cambro containers for some things.

            1. Like rasputina, I store in glass mason jars, then store the remainder in the freezer. Keeps it all fresh but I have enough out, to use day to day. Dried pastas, beans, lentils, crackers in zip bags or mason jars, depending on the quantity. Teas in tin canisters. Coffee beans in the freezer, fresh ground in Mason jars. I will cut the label and nutrition information off the bag and use clear packing tape to affix it to the mason jar....that way I also know what brand it is. Glass jars with original labeling looks nice, easy to stack and store, and easier to find in the pantry too.

              Nuts all in the freezer. Chocolate in zip bags in a wine fridge.

              1. I use the Oxo containers that seal with a push button lid. They come in lots of sizes, very durable.

                1. Thanks, all. Great ideas. I was looking at Amazon, but with so many contradictory experiences (kinda like CH!), decided I'd go today to BB&B to see choices in person.
                  No extra space in my freezer, so staples need to fit in the cabinets.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: pine time

                    I'd probably use cambro containers, you can find them at the local restaurant supply for cheap.

                  2. I use Lock and Lock brand containers. I buy them at my grocery store and also available on Amazon -


                    So far, so good on the pest front, I haven't seen an ant or mouse dropping yet around the containers.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: cleobeach

                      I do love lock and lock too...my sugar, flour, cornmeal, bis quick, etc go in what I said above but everything else that gets opened goes in lock n lock

                      1. re: LaLa

                        Will they hold a 5 lb bag of flour? Will look for them at BB&B.

                        1. re: pine time

                          Yes ...they have all different sizes. Nothing goes into my pantry unsealed...ya know the south!!!

                          1. re: LaLa

                            I have a large one (probably holds a 5lb bag) on my counter that has a curved front with a hatch that flips open. The opening provides plenty of room for my 1 cup measuring cup. Very handy.

                            1. re: cleobeach

                              That's the exact one that I have that stores a 5 lb bag of flour in my freezer. I have several that size - one for sugar, and I forget what's in the other two!

                    2. If you have a "The Container Store" near you they have a decent selection of air-tight containers in a variety of shapes and sizes. I bought some Tellfresh containers there a few years ago after we had a major ant infestation and haven't found any ants in our flours since.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Coogles

                        Oh, had forgotten about the Container Store. Not one nearby, but I might make a mall run soon to take a look. Thanks (altho' if I recall, C.S. isn't cheap, right?)

                        1. re: pine time

                          Prices seem to be about the same as BB&B on items they both carry. I checked several different places and ended up buying the 5 qt Tellfresh containers at CS mainly because they were an almost perfect height and length to fit in my pantry.

                        2. re: Coogles

                          Don't know if the Container Store still carries them but I have the Clic-clack containers for my sugar and flour. I like them because they have an airtight seal, are see-through, and have a wide enough mouth that it is easy to measure one cup (or more) directly from the container. The container I have, however, is not quite large enough to hold an entire 5 lb bag of flour, which is inconvenient.

                          1. re: masha

                            The Snapware container that I bought (see below) does hold 5+ lbs. of sugar/flour, and it has a flip lid for easy measuring, too.

                        3. Again, appreciate all the suggestions...keep 'em coming. Just got home from BB&B. Really liked the Oxo Steel jars with the press button, but I'm cheap, cause $23. each is more than my bag of sugar is worth!

                          Bought a Snapware rectangular box, airtight with a flip top which seems like it'll be convenient, especially for sugar. Says it's also leakproof, BPA free, made in U.S. Will give this a try (was only $8 with the ubiquitous BB&B coupon), then keep checking other stuff for more storage needs.

                          1. We were gifted a set of the OXO canisters. For rice and sugar - which I buy in 25 & 50 pound bags - I use 2 quart plastic bottles that juice comes in. I attempted to use those for flour using a 2-liter bottle with the bottom cut out as a funnel. Major PITA - don't think I'd use them again for flour.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: CaliforniaJoseph

                              Thanks, CAJoseph, but what do you do with the remainder of the 25/50 lb bags? That's part of what I'm trying to get away from--various duplicate packaging. Your cabinets look tidy, though!

                              1. re: pine time

                                I have duplicates. In the case of rice, flor and sugar I have LOTS of duplicates... I don't have space for big barrels, but I have lots of inconvienat shelving higher up.

                            2. I have used the Tupperware round canisters for years. I don't keep them on the counter - they stay in a cabinet. Yes - totally ant-proof.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: FitMom4Life

                                I have the lime green round Tupperware set. Remembered my Mom having them and love the color. They also work great. I was a little surprised to find there's such a strong market for the real, retro type (not new fakes) on eBay. Cool colors that are back in style are priciest.

                                1. re: FitMom4Life

                                  Mine are ancient square rounds. They're still airtight and pest-proof after 30+ yrs.

                                  1. re: JoeBabbitt

                                    Looks good, and I like some of the other options on the website. Two questions--is this glass or plastic, and what's the sealing type--screw top, plastic or rubber gasket? TIA.

                                    1. re: pine time

                                      The Montana jars have a plastic gasket. We had an influx of ants this year but none in those jars.

                                      Fillmore is a cool company with very nice people so I do my bit to spread the word.

                                  2. I bought some round plastic bottles at Walmart when we first got married in two sizes, small and giganto-jar... alas they don't seem to sell them any more, so most of my stuff is in recycled Planters nut jars (the square ones) and my flour and sugar are in really big plastic bottles that peanut-butter pretzels came in which are pretty much the same size as my white ones. I prefer plastic containers because they won't break if I drop them on the tile floor.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Kajikit

                                      I have a collection of small-ish jars, so I may use some of those for almond meal, etc., that are in small quantities. I also like the idea of square or rectangular containers for space-saving, over rounded ones. Hubs says to use some old, cleaned coffee cans, but I know those aren't ant-proof. Thanks.

                                    2. I use a combination of large glass cannisters with glass lids and vintage canning jars. I don't think the glass cannisters are ant proof though. For that problem, I'd use a tight plastic container.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                        Thanks. It was a threaded (albeit, plastic) lid that got me thinking about the ants; I reached for a jar of honey (the little bear shaped plastic bottle), only to find ants UNDER the threaded lid (which was tightly screwed on). That started this whole ant-proofing and container-hunting. (Just today, bought another container, this time Better Homes & Gardens, with a rubber gasket and a top handle that activates the seal.)

                                      2. I use a lot of Snapware in various sizes as well as glass mason jars.

                                        I did a big organization job on my walk in pantry this past January and I love how clearly I can see and find everything now! I also got some "lazy susan" turn table thingys to put vinegars and oils on - spin and see easily! I also got some tiered OXO shelves at BBB which are great for canned and jarred items. What a transformation!