Food storage containers can save you money by allowing you to buy food in bulk, which reduces waste from product packaging. They also help you preserve leftovers and reduce the amount of food that's lost to spoilage. They keep food odors from permeating the refrigerator and keep pests out of dry goods. Finally, food storage containers can be used to transport food safely to school, work or a picnic.

Here's what experts say about shopping for food storage containers:

  • Go for BPA-free plastic. Bisphenol A (BPA) has been in the news since animal testing linked the chemical to various health problems, including brain damage and cancer. The Food and Drug Administration backs the elimination of BPA plastics in manufacturing, and it's much easier to find BPA-free plastics in the marketplace than it was a few years ago. BPA-free containers are usually clearly marked as such. If they aren't, check the recycling code and steer clear of plastic labeled No. 7.
  • Glass does not stain. If you're concerned about staining, choose glass or Pyrex. Generally speaking, the harder the material, the more resistant to staining. Pyrex and glass are impervious to stains, but they are heavier than plastic.
  • Rectangular food storage containers work best in cabinets and in the fridge. These are easier to store than are round containers, resulting in less wasted space.
  • Gentle hand-washing is best. Dishwashers and stiff brushes can mar plastic containers, creating crevices where bacteria can hide. Additionally, some containers and lids can warp from the high heat used in the dishwasher. If you do decide to run containers through the dishwasher, users advise placing them in the top rack.  
  • Purchase food storage container sets. In general, purchasing a set is less costly than buying containers individually. Additionally, many of these sets nest within one another, allowing for easy storage and reducing cabinet clutter.

In addition, here are some usage tips:

  • Remove odors with bleach. Mix up a solution of one part bleach to 10 parts water, fill containers and let sit overnight. Then wash with hot, soapy water, rinse and allow to dry.
  • Label your food. Experts say that you should fill out tags with the name of the food and the date you prepared or stored it.
  • Store food in usable quantities. Freezing chicken stock in 1- or 2-cup containers is convenient. You can also freeze 1 or 2 tablespoons of ingredients such as tomato paste in ice-cube trays before transferring them to a storage container.

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