How Many Food Storage Containers Do I Need?

Food Storage Containers

If you are enveloped by an avalanche of plastic Chinese takeout containers, Tupperware containers, and a variety of other containers and lids every time you open your cabinet, you might think to yourself – how many food storage containers do I need?

The truth is, most people just have a hard time throwing away a good container with a lid because it can serve so many different purposes, from packing your lunch to keeping leftovers to storing nails and screws in the garage. But there does come a point when enough is enough. This is usually the time when you finally decide to get serious about your food storage and start using appropriate containers for their intended purpose and only keep a few extra containers to serve those other purposes.

So, how much food storage do you need? This guide will hopefully help you sort out your storage container addiction.

Step 1: Consider Your Food Consumption and Food Storage Habits

Having a lot of food storage containers might seem like a good problem to have, especially if you like to save leftovers, but in reality, too many containers can often complicate your life and result in more food being wasted. The reason is because as your refrigerator fills up with these containers, it becomes more likely that some will get pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten. This results in more food becoming spoiled and unused. 

To get a better idea of how many food storage containers you really need, take a moment to consider your food consumption and food storage habits. 

  • What types of food do you need to store? (i.e., pasta, cereal, beans, nuts, spices, leftovers, etc.)
  • How do you store your food? (i.e., refrigerator, cabinet, pantry, cupboards, etc.)
  • Which leftovers are you most likely to eat and which do you usually end up throwing out?
  • How much food do you eat on a regular basis?
  • How frequently do you cook?
  • How many people do you usually cook for?
  • Do you use containers to bring your lunch to work?

Step 2: Determine Your Food Container Needs

Now that you have an idea of your eating and food storage habits, it is time to translate that information, so you can determine how many food containers you need. While every person will have different needs, on average, an individual can usually get along well by having between 6 and 10 food storage containers featuring a mix of a few big ones and a lot of smaller ones. Having this number of food containers will allow you to rotate the containers and keep the excess to a minimum. Of course, depending on your habits or if you are cooking for more than one, you may need more than this average.

What Types of Food Storage Containers Do You Need?

Food storage containers are typically made from either plastic, glass, or metal, and each has their pros and cons.

Plastic Food Containers

  • Pros
    • Inexpensive
    • Durable
    • Can be used for hot or cold foods
    • Dishwasher and refrigerator safe
    • Lightweight
    • Child-friendly
  • Cons 
    • Some plastic containers may contain BPA, BPS, BPF, or phthalates
    • Not all plastic containers are microwave safe
    • Easy to scratch
    • Can absorb flavors 
    • Can stain easily
    • Shape can change with repeated use

Glass Food Containers

  • Pros
    • Only food storage material considered “GRAS” (Generally Recognized as Safe) by the FDA
    • Can be used indefinitely if undamaged
    • Can be used for hot or cold foods
    • Does not contain potentially harmful chemicals
    • Does not absorb flavors or stains
    • Dishwasher, refrigerator, and microwave safe
    • 100% recyclable
    • Keeps its shape
  • Cons
    • Fragile, highly susceptible to chipping or breaking if dropped
    • Heavy
    • Expensive
    • Not child-friendly

For the best results, use Borosilicate glass containers because this type of glass is designed to provide the best thermal shock and impact resistance.

Metal Food Storage

  • Pros
    • Usually made from stainless steel or tin
    • Refrigerator safe
    • Can be heated on the stovetop
    • Lighter than glass
    • Child-friendly
    • Very durable
  • Cons
    • Can be more expensive than both glass and plastic
    • Heavier than plastic
    • Not microwave safe
    • Non-transparent, so you can’t see what is stored inside

Choosing the Right Storage Containers for Your Food

Not all food storage containers are created equal. So, here are some things that you will want to look for in your containers to help ensure you get the best bang for your buck.

  • Stackability: Plastic, glass, and metal containers in theory can be stackable, but it is always recommended to use containers that are designed to be stackable. This will help conserve space and prevent your containers from toppling over. 
  • Lids: The lid is usually where a food container fails in its purpose. Choose containers that come with lockable and/or air-tight lid.
  • Transparency: You want to be able to quickly see what is stored inside the container without having to open it every time.

Ready to revolutionize your food storage container game? Michael Graves Design has an incredible selection of ultra-durable plastic and Borosilicate Glass food storage containers to choose from in a wide range of sizes and shapes. We even have retro-inspired tin storage containers for your tea, coffee, sugar, and flour. Shop our selection of food storage containers today and get your life and your cabinets back in order.


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