Monday, October 15, 2012

Ode To Joy

Another form of food storage
With this post, I'm returning to a familiar topic: food storage containers, their selection, purchase and management.

We have come a long way from the way in which my late dear mother-in-law stored leftovers: in teacups with broken handles, waxed paper, or I daresay, a fragment of napkin on top?

It is my opinion, based on my experiences: the attractive sets of storage containers, often at attractive prices, just lead to frustration and heartbreak. See example below.
Avoid! Avoid!

What's wrong with that set? You may well ask.

What's wrong is that there are no two pieces alike, so that for practical usage, it has extremely limited utility. What do you do when the 1 pint container is needed but is already in use?
The Pyrex glass bottom is a cool feature it would seem, but in reality it's a flawed concept.

Why? Because when you need to bake something, there's a strong chance that the container is already holding something in storage, and thus is unavailable.

My advice: Don't use your baking and cooking dishes for storage. Get separate containers for the latter. They are two independent functions.

There are also different shapes as well as sizes. That bodes ill for when you want to stack some in your fridge or freezer.

The DON CUEVAS FOOD STORAGE CONTAINER SYSTEM, developed after years of hard earned experience, addresses these questions in a practical way.

For a starter kit, buy 8 to 12 containers of exactly the same type, brand, shape and capacity. I'd start with the 850 ml Joy cuadrado.
Larger containers, buy half as many containers that are as close to twice the capacity of the first ones. "Four to six". Better to err on the conservative side, until you get a better idea of your storage needs.

Buy as many containers, again, same shape and style, of half the capacity of the first.

Use these for a while until you get a feel of the ebb and flow of storage containers in and out of use. Then buy supplementary containers, always of the same brand, always of the same conformation, and differing only in their capacity.

Here in Mexico, we have discovered "JOY" food storage containers, made by Joy Técnica Plástica. They are available at Wal Mart and other popular outlets. They are sturdy, the lids come in various colors (and try not to mix up the colors of lids amongst containers of the same size. It adds to confusion.) They are not too expensive.
Here's their web site, specifically the page of square food storage containers:

JOY in use

I see by the web site that the containers come 12 to a case. That's probably how we should have bought them, especially the most useful for us, the 850 ml. size. But we didn't know that back then.

I'll end with more bits of advice: NEVER, EVER get a competing brand or style from the one from which you have started. It's really frustrating to search for a correct lid amidst a variegated collection.

DON'T use opaque containers, such as yogurt comes in. You won't be able to readily identify the contents.

Avoid fancy closures, such as the 4-piece snap-lock Rubbermaid item which my wife insisted on buying to hold some cured olives for our flight from Newark to Mexico City. A couple of plastic bags, one inside the other, could have done as well, at far less cost. It's possible that the container cost more than the olives. Now we have this ungainly box with fancy closure. It just is in the way, not to mention that it takes too long to open. Overengineering in action.

I looked it up on the Rubbermaid web site. It's called a Lockit.

Here's a picture:
Nifty, but RESIST!

If you follow my counsel, your food storage frustrations will be minimal. Your kitchen will be suffused with Joy.

Musical Accompaniment, Conservative Version here.

Musical Accompaniment, Goofy Version below.


Steve Cotton said...

A timely reminder. I am in the market for some leftover containers.

Because I use mine almost exclusively in the microwave, I prefer glass. But I agree with you about size. Almost everything I bring home from a restaurant or meals I cook t home can be stored in a uniform sized container.

A new house needs some nifty new storage pieces. Maybe in the new year.

DonCuevas said...

By odd coincidence, your comment appeared as I was reading your blog about the advantages of selling your Salem house vs equity mortgages.

We have rarely if ever dabbled in the world of high finance as have you.

My blog post started as an idle joke. But there were some serious points made, I think.

Saludos, Don Cuevas

jennifer rose said...

It's like peering into Don Cuevas' sock drawer.

DonCuevas said...

You ain't seen nuttin'...

Saludos, Don Cuevas

Andean said...

Enjoyed video.
Container association, did I miss something? Maybe...

DonCuevas said...

Dear Andean. Don Cuevas enjoys dabbling in surrealistic humor. Sometimes, there is no apparent relation between the subject and the video. Once I posted about choices of flours available to me in Mexico. The accompanying video was of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, and the Foggy Mountain Boys playing the "You Bake Right With Martha White" commercial. And if I recall correctly, the post title was "You Are My Flour", a reference to a song made famous by the Carter Family.

But this time, there actually *is* a connection.
Post Title: "Ode To Joy"Container brand name: "Joy".
Music: "Ode To Joy, by Ludwig Van Beethoven
Thus: The Circle is Unbroken.

Don Cuevas

Andean said...

Ok, and wow, but you explained it well never heard of "Joy" containers but now can see the connection.

Debbie Macey said...

You and your fabulous food have been on my mind often. Last week I visited a bakery/restaurant that had been featured on "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives". Their danish did not hold a candle to yours, the dough was not flakey at all, it was more like sweet dough. My danish quest caused me to cyber stalk you. What a joy for me to find "Ode to Joy"! I'm glad to see you still enjoy a good pun. Your vast knowledge on storage containers amazed me, I remember cottage cheese containers and grease pencils. Speaking of your mother-in-law, do you remember the daffodil bulbs? I'm so happy for you to see the wonderful life you have in Mexico. Say 'hello' to your lovely wife.

Don Cuevas said...

Wow Debbie, what a treat to get your comment. I was thinking of the early HSB when I got the idea for a contaIner post that was chaotic back then.

If you would send an
Email address to, I might get it.

Don Cuevas

Don Cuevas said...

Hola Debbie, I found your email address so
I sent you a private email. So, you can ignore the previous instructions which will now self destruct.


Don Cuevas

Don Cuevas said...

I guess the Omnipotet Don Cuevas couldn't delete his own comment. Sigh. The sjaman's life is not an easy one

Don C.