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Leftover Containers

Wednesday, 2 February 2011 | Tags: ,

Whether you're planning ahead, taking lunch to work, or making baked treats to give away, food storage containers are a necessary tool that often causes frustration in the kitchen. Who hasn't pulled out their hair trying to find the right lid? We take a closer look at containers and find out if any stand out better than the rest.

The Basics

  • Food storage containers are made from many different materials, which is also what determines their price, quality, and durability.

  • For those with limited storage, or who just like to keep an orderly cupboard, look for containers that nest together.
  • If durability and quality are your most important features, look for glass containers. Most will still have a plastic lid, however.

    • Always look for the word “tempered” on glass containers. This means it’s 3-5 times stronger than ordinary glass and will help it withstand any drops or clashes.

    • Glass containers don’t stain or warp like most plastics do.

    • Glass containers also are considered more environmentally-friendly than plastic.

    • To ensure no leaks, look for a lid that locks snugly onto the container edges.

    • Glass is also better for microwaving (remove the plastic lid) as plastic containers can warp or melt with repeated use.

    • Glass containers can be washed on the top or bottom rack of the dishwasher, but be sure they don’t knock together. Their plastic lids should be washed only on the top rack.

    • Unfortunately, glass containers are also typically more expensive than plastic. Watch for sales, but ultimately, you’ll get your money’s worth.

  • If you prefer light and inexpensive containers, go with plastic.

    • Look for brands that have “BPA-free” on the label. (BPA or Bisphenol A is a chemical used to make hard plastic and has been linked to health problems like cancer and immune system issues.)

    • Some plastic containers are designed so that the lids snap together for easy storage, or fasten to the container bottom. Some are also designed so that one lid fits on all sizes of container.

  • When freezing food in a container, only fill it about 75% full to allow room for expansion as the liquid inside freezes.

  • For added durability, look for a freezer-friendly and shatter-proof claim on the box.

TEST CRITERIA

We purchased a variety of storage containers, both glass and plastic, and took them to the A & K Test Lab for some vigorous testing. Our resident physicist Robin Coope also rigged a splatter-test machine to see which of our containers could hold up to a “spaghetti leftovers in-your-backpack” test.

  • Snapware Glasslock 4-piece: $14.99
    (about $7.50 per base+lid combo)
. . Canadian Tire Amazon.com
  • Rubbermaid Premier 16-piece set: $24.99
    (about $3.12 per base+lid combo)
. . Rubbermaid.com Amazon.com
  • Tupperware Wonderlier 3-piece Bowl Set: $40.50
    (about $13.50 per base+lid combo)
. . Tupperware.ca Tupperware.com
  • Ziploc Snap & Seal containers (10 lids + containers): $14.99
    (about $1.50 per base+lid combo)
. . Well.ca Amazon.com

(Note: prices listed above are approximate and in Canadian dollars)

The Microwave Test

  • The Tupperware, Ziploc, and Rubbermaid all stained after being microwaved with leftover spaghetti in them 20 times.

  • The Snapware Glasslock remained crystal clear.

The Frozen Drop Test

  • When dropping containers with frozen leftovers from 5 feet (about freezer height), the Tupperware and Ziploc plastic containers both cracked.

  • Both the Rubbermaid and the Glasslock passed our drop test.

The Shake Test

Physicist Robin Coope rigged up a machine to shake each spaghetti sauce-filled container 1000 times.

  • Our three plastic containers leaked at varying degrees.

  • The Glasslock did not leak at all.

OUR TOP PICK

We liked the sets that can snap and stack together for easy storage, but for peace of mind and durability, the superior Snapware Glasslock is worth investing in for home use. But also be sure to keep some of the less expensive plastic containers available for giving away. They work well for dry food like crackers or nuts too.

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