Which Pantry Items Should I Keep in Airtight Containers?

updated Jul 16, 2020
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(Image credit: Faith Durand)

After I opened up new packages of pantry ingredients, I used to be lazy and just fold down the bag in a sad attempt to close it. If I was feeling ambitious, I would try to track down a rubber band or a paper clip in a feeble attempt to keep it shut before throwing it back in the pantry. My indifference usually backfired on me: things would spill out or go bad quickly because it was exposed to air or bugs.

I’ve since learned that airtight containers are my friends, and here are the pantry ingredients you should be sure to keep in them!

In general, once a package is open, it’s best to move what you don’t use into an airtight container, whether it’s a resealable plastic bag or a sturdier container. This will keep things fresh and prevent accidental spills from creating a mess in your pantry.

What’s Important to Keep Airtight?

If you only have a limited number of containers, though, here are the important things to keep in them:

  • Flours: Have dedicated containers for your flours, making sure they’re large enough to hold most of a package. Another option is to slip the original bag of flour inside a plastic zip-top bag.
  • Sugars: Sugar is hydroscopic, meaning it attracts moisture, so make sure to keep sugars in airtight containers to prevent clumping.
  • Rices, Beans, and Whole Grains: Airtight containers keep moisture and outside flavors and odors out.
  • Spices: Make your spices last longer by keeping them in airtight containers. This will also keep stronger-smelling spices from inadvertently scenting neighboring spices.
  • Dried Fruits: Airtight containers will keep dried fruits from drying out further and hardening.
(Image credit: Faith Durand)

4 Inexpensive Container Options

While you can invest in actual food storage containers, here are some alternative options you might already have lying around:

  1. Mason jars: Mason jars are clear, easy to stack, and inexpensive airtight containers.
  2. Resealable plastic bags: Plastic bags come in various sizes and are cheap. Depending on what you store in there, though, you might not be able to reuse the bag, and the bags aren’t the sturdiest. If you find yourself overrun with plastic bags of food, group similar foods together and place in a bowl or container.
  3. Plastic takeout containers: Using plastic takeout containers in the pantry is a great way to prevent waste. Clear ones are preferable so that you can see what’s inside.
  4. Used glass jars: Save condiment and jam jars, wash and dry them, and reuse in the pantry.

What other pantry items do you like to keep airtight, and how do you do it?

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