You can store flour, sugar, cornmeal and other dry goods in everything from a ceramic crock to a stainless-steel canister. Experts recommend that you choose a container that's impervious to air and has an opening wide enough to allow you to dip in a measuring cup and level it off without too much spillage. Polycarbonate containers are a good choice for long-term food storage, reviews say, because they are clear, and they generally have tight-fitting lids that are easy to remove. Polycarbonate is an especially clear, tough modern plastic. It is extremely lightweight and shatter-resistant. BPA is a chemical used in polycarbonate production, and tests have shown that it can leach into liquids stored in it. Some polycarbonate containers, such as Oxo Pop, do not contain BPA. Many manufacturers, including Rubbermaid, list their BPA-free products on their websites. Read more on BPA on our What to Look For page.
Dry-goods container sizes are usually measured in quarts. A 4-quart container will accommodate a 5-pound bag of sugar or flour, but a 6-quart container is better, because you're unlikely to empty the container completely before needing to top it up.
We read the best reviews of Oxo Pop Storage Containers (*Est. $17 for a 4-quart container) in Real Simple magazine. These plastic, stackable containers feature push-button lids that do double-duty as large handles. The Pop handle design won the container third place in the 2009 Housewares Design Awards, a national award competition that evaluates home products on their design, aesthetics and innovation. Reviews say that these containers are good-looking and impervious to air and odors. Oxo Pop containers have rounded corners that allow for easy pouring, and they are BPA-free. The lids of these containers come apart for cleaning. However, the containers are not dishwasher-safe. Reviews say that their main flaws are their high price tags and lack of measurement marks.
Rubbermaid Carb-X (*Est. $6 for a 4-quart container) plastic containers have easy-to-read measurement marks, well-designed handles and plenty of room inside for large quantities of dry goods. They earn high marks from editors at a top cookware review source, where editors praise Rubbermaid Carb-X containers for being truly airtight but say they're not display-worthy because of their utilitarian design. A bigger drawback is the difficulty in finding them in stores: Because the containers are intended for commercial use, they are not available at retail stores but at restaurant supply retailers.