Food storage: What storage containers do I need and what goes where?

Anyone who spends time on Pinterest or Instagram is sure to know them: perfectly organized pantries filled with shelves of matching containers. With beautifully organized food and uniform labels - no cardboard box or plastic bag for miles around. We all love these pictures. But visual appeal is only one aspect.

Why should food be segregated?

Why not put boxes of cereal, pasta and baking powder directly on the pantry shelf? Moving food is the first way to get rid of the obvious clutter. Take a look in your cupboard and you'll see that not a single packet or tin of the same size is in there. So careful stacking is almost impossible. There are also packets (e.g. cornflakes) that have one more bag in a cardboard box. This is a waste of space!

Let's stay with the example of the cornflakes packaging: who hasn't experienced that when returning from shopping the next morning finds only a small remnant of cornflakes in the packaging? If you put them in a transparent container, you will always know how much is left over.

Plastic food storage boxes
Plastic food storage boxes

Longer shelf life and fewer errors
Placing food in airtight containers extends its shelf life. You also ward off uninvited guests such as whiteflies and moths, which easily bite through paper bags. When a package comes out of the store with vermin (which is not all that uncommon), you can replace it right away.

Easier to use
Scooping into containers not only helps you control the amount, but also makes the food easier to use. It's much easier to scoop flour out of a container than out of a bag that has been torn and can't be resealed.

Best container

There are three criteria that storage containers should meet: They must be transparent, tightly sealed and make optimal use of cabinet space.

Number 1: Why transparency?
In a transparent box, you can immediately see its contents, as well as the level of filling with food. All you have to do is cut out the best-before date (MHD) from the package and stick it on the container with adhesive tape. If you're in a hurry and don't want to write on extra stickers, this can also be helpful: Cut out the lid of the container or food bag label and place it on top. The transparent lid makes it easy to read all the information. If you want to label cans on the side as the containers stand on a shelf, for example, simply slide the label down the container wall on the inside. Karma will automatically hold it in place.

Best plastic food storage container
Best plastic food storage container

Number 2: Close tight ly
Keyword food moths: It goes without saying that the tighter the lid, the better the protection against pests. This also prevents moisture penetration, so everything stays optimally dry and fresh.

Number 3: Make the most of your cupboard.
Large jars often look very nice, but because of their round shape, they do not make optimal use of the space. By replacing jars with square boxes, you can save around 20% of space. In addition, square jars are easier to stack and combine.

Plastic food boxes for the drawer
Plastic food boxes for the drawer

Basic question: what storage containers do I need and what fits where?

In fact, this topic is really exciting. Because when we buy food, it is usually quoted in grams, and the sizes of food storage tins are quoted in litres. How does it all fit together? Do I now have to convert a kilo of flour into litres? Is it the same as with water - 1 kilo equals 1 litre? Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Unfortunately, one kilogram of flour does not equal one litre in volume. And 1 kg of coffee beans takes up a completely different amount of space. Why not put a packet of a litre of milk, a packet of flour (1 kg) and a kilo of coffee beans next to each other? This is the best way to see the differences. To calculate the space required by a food product, you need the bulk density.

So that you don't have to use a calculator every time or choose the wrong vessel, here is a table.

Size chart for storage lofts

Size chart for storage lofts
Size chart for storage lofts

It is better to buy a slightly larger size

It is important to consider the following: what do I want to carry and in what quantity? If you only bake once a year and store a packet of flour, you need a smaller container than someone who bakes cakes twice a week. In this case, the tin should be twice as big so that you can store more in it.

And one more tip: I will stay with the coffee example. 500 g of ground coffee has a volume of 0.9 litres. So one packet will ideally fit into a litre container. But what does this look like in reality? It is best to buy coffee when the tin is not yet completely empty. Therefore, there is still some leftover in the pack and the new pack is replenished. In most cases, the new coffee fits exactly in the tin. Don't. No, let's be honest: it never works, so there are always some leftovers in the coffee bag, which then fly around in the cupboard for days.

So when it comes to food that barely fits in a storage tin, it's better to choose a larger size. In this case, it would be a 1.5 litre container.

Plastic boxes for loose items
Plastic boxes for loose items

I'm not sure about the size?

Flour is a good example of a product that is sold by almost all manufacturers in a 1 kg size in a paper bag. But with semolina it stops now: You can find everything from kilogram packages to 300g cans. If foods are sold in kilograms, pounds and half-pounds (1000g, 500g, 250g), you can quickly count them off the chart and find the right container. However, there are products that do not fit into any scheme. Neither of comparable size, nor of packaging unit.

Then the only thing that helps is to try: Just place the package in the selected container. If the lid can be closed comfortably, it means that it is easy enough.

It's also helpful to compare similar foods: cocoa powder has a similar density to flour, ginger and nutmeg are equally similar, and lentils and rice each fit a kilogram in a 1.5-liter container.

Planning wisely

If you want to move your food, you not only need to look carefully at what items you want to store in a can and how many you have, but also what your space requirements are. The first question is: Where are the containers? In a drawer? In a cupboard? On a shelf? How high can the jars be stacked?

Whether it is in a drawer or a cupboard, the first thing to do is to check the floor space and measure it carefully. Once this has been calculated (length x width), you can work out how many cans can be placed next to each other. This is relatively easy, as almost all LOFT cans have the same base area and the others are, for example, double that. You can draw the areas on a piece of square paper and calculate your needs. Be careful not to plan too rigidly, though! The tins have a slightly protruding edge at the top and you need to be able to grip it to take it out.

Next, you can plan the height. Depending on the depth of the drawer or the height of the shelf/cabinet and the need for different sizes, you can now see which tins you need. As LOFT cans are wonderfully stackable in terms of size, you can also work with different sizes. For drawers, the cans should be labelled from the top, for cupboards and shelves from the side.

Plastic boxes ideal for drawer dimensions
Plastic boxes ideal for drawer dimensions

And one more tip:

Always leave a small space in a drawer or on a shelf to store small food leftovers (e.g. what no longer fits in a tin) or seasonal nutrients (e.g. in festive baked goods) that do not have their own container.