This is a spin off of another thread, talking about plastic use, trash problems, and reuse of plastic containers.
My reality right now is we moved, expecting to be in a rental for a year while our house was being built. Chaos happens, we are still in the rental. The systems I designed for food storage that moved easily and stored in places that are not my good pantry that is designed into the new house are still in use, and have been extended as I need more room. This rental is a tract house, it was not designed with me in mind. I am strapped for money right now, and doing all of this out of trash. I don't prefer plastic, but due to health realities of me and my mom (who I live with) glass is too heavy for some things, and I also don't have room to spread out as much as I want to in the kitchen.
So this is what we are currently doing for food storage, all free containers, scavenged out of trash or recycle bins.
I picked certain sizes that work like the different layers of a forest (high trees, low trees, vines, herbs, roots, etc) to fill all the niches that we use. All of a size match, or are very close. All of my containers are chosen for ease of keeping clean, no weird little ridges in the glass jars, etc. So I bring home certain shapes and sizes, and if we buy something in glass or plastic, we try to make it things that will go into our system and get reused.
My sizes of containers. From the left: #10 cans that I reuse and seal weirdly (will write up how to do that sometime) those are my deep storage. Most things that come into the house in a 50 pound bag get put into those. When I need the contents, the contents of the can gets transferred into a gallon glass or plastic jar. Some things just don't do well in plastic, some things are way too heavy in glass. The gallon jars all store together in another room where there's space, and we refill the kitchen containers out of them. Kitchen containers are square plastic jars, or Prego jars (or very similar sized glass jars.) Spices and smaller things are in either the big plastic spice jars, or smaller glass ones. Everything is labeled nicely.
The Prego jars are in cardboard boxes that have handles cut into the reinforced ends, making them slide like a drawer on the shelves I keep them on. Each box has a category of food in it, this is the beans box.
The gallon jars are in their own boxes in the other room, also reinforced and sliding on shelves.
The spices have their own boxes they slide in too (not pictured) and the square plastics live on an open shelf, several layers deep.
This is an incredibly dense storage system, you would not believe how much stuff is stored in how small of a footprint of space, and I didn't go up over our heads with it, could have easily. And it's all reused!! I have mason jars, but they get used for things that are canned or heat sealed, not anything easy to store.
I have a similar setup. I store a lot of food in Mason jars (other than just honey) & reuse food grade plastic that would be otherwise be recycled for storage. I have several 5 gallon water jugs that are filled with beans &/or rice. Obtaining 5 gallon food grade buckets with sealing lids is often possible from grocery store & bakeries. They are usually happy to give them away. They stack well.
Argue for your limitations and they are yours forever
I have a lot of rubbermaid and Glad containers that I've had for years. I switched to glass containers for my heatable food for lunches and some freezing. MY SIL uses jars to store most of her food - fridge and freezer but I feel nervous about the risk of breaking them that way and can't stack them. I do have lots of gallon and half gallon jars for dry food storage. They are great!
I have a large number of small plastic cottage cheese containers that my mom gave me several years ago that are the perfect size to freeze 1-2 days worth of black beans in. I make a big batch in the IP, cool in the fridge and then scoop into those containers. I think it's funny that I'm completely plant-based and my cupboard and freezer have so many of those containers. They are thick and I am sure will be good for many more years.
I'm increasingly conscious of my plastic usage and am doing my best to never buy another plastic bag. I have a stash that I bought awhile ago and I like the thought of that challenge. I'm now washing freezer bags and reusing them and am reusing the same gallon bags for freezing scraps for compost - taking to the homestead on each trip. Now that I can compost, it's cut down on my trash significantly and I can wait until it's truly full to take it out rather than having the odor dictate. It's been three weeks since I started this challenge and my garbage can is only 1/3 full. I know I can do better.
I appreciate the benefits of plastic reduction, cost reduction, waste/trash reduction AND the challenge of continuing to look at my stuff and my waste in different ways to see if I can get creative or reduce in a new way.
conscious of my plastic usage and am doing my best to never buy another plastic bag. I have a stash that I bought awhile ago and I like the thought of that challenge.
Took that same challenge several years ago. Don't remember the last time I bought any unless you count some bear bags. Really thick double zippered bags made out of some sort of special plastic that helps avoid hungry bears while hiking & camping.
1. Reuse the baggies that sliced cheese & deli meat comes in. Several times usually.
2. Reuse the thin plastic bags that stores everywhere insist on trying to dump on you. They are even good for freezing short term. Not pretty but it works.
Argue for your limitations and they are yours forever
Here in California, plastic bags are hard to come by, typically, you have to pay for them. Old school plastic grocery bags are banned. You can now buy, for 10 cents, a thicker 'multi use' bag or a paper bag, or bring your own. Smaller produce bags are available when you buy produce otherwise they charge you. Now, I'm not saying that I disagree with any of it, but it does make reusing, not buying a challenge. I don't buy much produce like that, so most of our reuse bags are bread bags. I use reusable containers most of the time, but sometimes bags take up less space, so I'm balancing refrigerator space vs. container usage.
Ditto the use of old jars to save seeds and store foodstuffs in the pantry. The benefits of glass (for storage) outweigh all others IMHO.
Similarly, have also swapped out plastic food containers for glass alternatives – no taint to food when storing or heating. The old plastic ones have been given to relatives for reuse in their holiday homes, or, put in the Council recycle bin.
The new glass ones (see link) do come with plastic lids, but have proven to be very robust and usually don’t contact the food – better than cling wrap by far!