Kitchn Love Letters

The Single Best (Most Obvious) Reason We Should All Be Using Deli Containers

updated Jan 18, 2021
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Various sizes deli containers stacked.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

You know how socks always seem to disappear from the laundry? Suddenly one day you open your drawer, only to find a plethora of mismatched singles? Same goes for leftover containers. In my mind, there is almost no greater kitchen unpleasantry than rummaging through the container cabinet, desperately trying to find a proper set. Seriously! Name one! I’d rather clean out the fridge or re-organize my spices than have to match the correct lid to the container I just filled with the remains of dinner. Because, let’s be honest, it is probably inexplicably missing — maybe hanging out somewhere in the house with a sock.

Enter: deli containers. They come in clear plastic half-pint, pint, and quart sizes where — drumroll! — they all have the same lid. Really, the virtues of deli containers are many (and Kitchn editors have written about them before). They hold up in the dishwasher so long as you buy the heavy-duty restaurant-grade ones. They are exceedingly cheap. They are microwavable. They are see-through, so you actually know what’s going on inside at a glance. They are nest-able when empty and stackable when full. They are lightweight. You can store them in the freezer. You can use them for leftovers just as well as dry goods in the pantry.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

But their biggest attribute, in my opinion, is that you will never have trouble matching a bottom to a top. Because any lid can be used with any size container.

I am sure that, after years of use, my own container-to-lid ratio is off, and yet it never matters. I use them on such heavy rotation there is always, always a set to be made. And if I ever am in need of spare parts, I can always buy more (yes, lids are also sold separately if you want them that way). They never change sizes and they never go out of stock. Even ones from different companies (and various ones you’re bound to collect from restaurants) generally work together.

This method of food storage is, hands-down, the best I’ve ever used — the lids and containers a true match made in heaven.