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You’ve seen all those images of perfectly organized pantries full of clear containers with neat labels spaced just so on shelves. Shows like “The Home Edit” and Instagram organizer influencers have popularized this trend of “decanting” food before storing it in your kitchen or pantry.
Decanting may look beautiful, and there are other pros (and some cons) about using storage containers versus keeping food in its original packaging.
For one, if you get the right sealed containers, they could potentially keep your food fresh longer versus leaving it in an open bag within a cardboard box.
Furthermore, decanted food is appealing to the eye. Decanting can also keep your pantry more organized since you can immediately see how much food you have in the containers. You can pinpoint items more easily this way as well, as opposed to having a mish-mash of boxes, jars, cans and bottles tightly packed in your cupboards.
It also turns out that cockroaches in particular like to eat cardboard and the glue used to hold cardboard packaging together. So that cereal you’re keeping in its original box could serve as an extra temptation to the roaches. Lidded containers will keep bugs away from your food.
Unless you’re only using glass for all your decanting needs, you’ll be buying a large number of plastic containers to store all your food. Plastic isn’t good for the environment, and buying a bunch of new storage containers can be expensive.
Every time you decant, you also have to take the extra step to open all your packages and pour and organize items, hoping it all fits just right for what storage containers you have. (Some organizers also note that decanting your spices and sauces wastes the most time.)
And if you’re not using something right away, taking an item out of its sealed packaging just to sit in a container could make it go stale more quickly.
How well decanting works depends on how well a container seals. For example, I’ve used those pop-top clear plastic containers before with flour, and the flour eventually worked its way into the seal on the lid, preventing it from completely closing.
I also live in a very humid area and have found decanting doesn’t always work for me unless a container is absolutely airtight. Even then, some of the moist air gets into the container if there’s extra space, making it go stale quicker. Instead, I tend to seal up open packages in zip-close bags with as little air left inside as possible. I do decant cereal, but I try to keep a rotation of moisture-absorbing boxes at the back of my shelves to wick away excess moisture.
If you’re in the market for more decanting food storage containers, here are three sets that have thousands of positive reviews on Amazon.
LEAVES AND TREES Y Stackable Glass Kitchen Canisters Set of 5 ($25.48 on Amazon)
The Leaves and Trees Y glass canisters with bamboo lids have more than 6,000 reviews on Amazon with an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars. The set of five costs $25.48 and comes with two small canisters that could hold items like coffee, salt or sugar. It has two medium containers for nuts, candy and seeds, and one large jar that is a good size for pasta or rice.
Chef’s Path Store 14-Piece Airtight Plastic Food Storage Containers with Lids ($45.99 on Amazon)
The Chef’s Path Store has a 14-piece plastic canister set with airtight lids that snap shut on four sides. The set sells for $45.99 and comes with two extra-large containers, two large containers, four medium containers, four small containers, chalkboard labels with a marker and a measuring spoon set. These storage containers have more than 70,000 ratings with an average 4.7 out of 5 stars.
Rubbermaid 60-Piece Food Storage Containers with Lids, Salad Dressing and Condiment Containers, and Steam Vents ($31.99 on Amazon)
The Rubbermaid 60-Piece Food Storage Containers are great for both your refrigerator and pantry, and some of the lids are vented for microwaving. This 30-container set (with 30 lids) costs $31.99. It includes a 1/2-cup, 1 1/4-cup, 2-cup, 3-cup, 5-cup, 7-cup and 9-cup container, and has 4.7 out of 5 stars among more than 100,000 reviews.
Do you like to decant your food in your kitchen or pantry?