Saturday, January 24, 2015

Budget Pantry Storage Containers

To build up your own pantry storage containers, as long as you use non-reactive containers, made of glass or PETE plastic (PETE shows up by the recycle number) your bulk-purchased goods should stay good for their life span.  Start collecting your jars and bottles right now, and have an oil or bottle of Goo-gone and a razor blade/scraper ready to clean off sticker/label residue.  Use pretty much any food-grade or essential oil; I use mineral oil because it washes off easy, though it is a petroleum product. Much adhesive gunk will wipe off in contact with the oil, and scraping is usually just needed where some paper is still stuck on.  Fingernail polish remover and a q tip will wipe off any inked dates.  Painting lid jars is optional.  Spray painting is the speediest most effective method, though some people avoid sprays.  If that's you, try prime the lids with an oil-based primer, then use acrylic paints, then a sealant to make the paint stay.  They do look more 'together' when the lids match.

Here are some container ideas:

  • Clean up old spaghetti jars, salsa jars, jelly jars - pretty much, if it has a good sized mouth and is made of glass with a metal lid, it will work really well.  Some tight-fit plastic lids work fine, just make sure there is a water-tight seal when you wash it out.
  • Canning jars of every size and shape - check out thrift stores and rummage sales, as canning jars with the smallest chip on the lip can't be used for canning, but will seal up air-tight enough to keep your dry goods safe for their lifetime. You also will need rings and lids, which you may have to purchase separate (approx. $2.50 for 12 rings and 12 lids.)
  • Clear 2 liter and liter bottles work well for 'powder' and 'small-sized' items that you pour out, but they can't really be dressed up much (A 2-liter bottle always looks like a 2 liter plastic bottle in my experience.) 
  • Wider mouthed 64oz juice or jugs are nice for beans or heavy bulk stuff you may have to lift up.  Arizona tea and other bottles have handles built in for you!
  • For liquid bulk, clean up maple syrup glass bottles, liquor bottles, or Gatorade bottles work nice, as these are easier to clean out than some other skinny mouthed long bottles
  • Pretzel and 'cheese-puff' giant plastic containers are usually a nice rigid plastic with wide openings, great for things you want to scoop out.
  • Ask local bars/restaurants if you could have their gallon pickle or olive jars.  These I hoard like gold when I score them, because they really are the best size for bulk buys and the mouths are wide, so you can scoop in your entire 1 cup measuring cup without 'tilting'.
  • 1 and 5 gallon food-grade buckets with tight lids (lids usually are for purchase separate, if you find the buckets from a restaurant) store your bulk purchases of bulk stuff.  For the 'makes-their-own-bread-everyday' type.
  • I collect little .5 oz jelly jars for the spices I literally use a tablespoon of a year - because I can buy a tablespoon worth at a time!  

Here are some methods I've used or seen used to make your own if you are up for a little lettering. If you see 'your post' here as an idea, let me know and I will gladly get a link to your site!  I honestly can't recall where I saw some of these ideas 'first', but google "DIY pantry labels", and you'll see multiple people's takes on these ideas.

  • Paint chips (any stiff paper would work), a sharpie, and electrical tape with the corners cut - try write in a cute serifs font, if you can.  
  • Get a paper punch in a shape that reflects your 'style', vinyl sticker or contact paper, and a sharpie.  When punching vinyl, if your punch tries to chew on it, put some stiff magazine pages on either side of the vinyl and punch through. 
  • Paint on the container with chalk paint if it has a flat-ish area for a painted-on label.  These labels have the added bonus of being changed as needed.  Use masking tape to make the shape, or use a paper punch on a piece of contact paper, then cut out around negative space to make a sticky backed stencil.
  • Have a label maker?  USE IT. (Since you bought it, put it to work.)  Sometimes, you can borrow a friend's for a day and just have fun.  (I recall an episode of The Simpson's where Bart gets a label maker for his birthday and marks everything his.) 
  • Of course, you can also print off labels.  Check out this gal's Pinterest board on just pantry/kitchen labels.   Once printed and cut out, adhere them with modge-podge or white glue to your glass or plastic.

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