Decanting food: What storage containers do I need and what fits where?

Anyone who spends time on Pinterest or Instagram will know them: the perfectly organized pantries filled with shelves of matching containers. With beautifully organized food and uniform labels – without a cardboard box or plastic bag for miles. We all love these pictures. But the visual is only one aspect

Why would anyone want to repackage food?

Why not just put the boxes of cereal, pasta and baking powder right on the pantry shelf? The first thing that decanting food does is eliminate the obvious clutter. Look in your cupboard and you’ll find that there’s hardly a box or can that’s the same size. So neat stacking is hardly possible. And there are packages (e.g. cornflakes) that have another bag in the cardboard packaging. This is a waste of space!

  • The overview

Let’s stay with the example of cornflakes packaging: Who hasn’t had the experience of coming back from shopping and finding only a mini-rest of cornflakes in the packaging the next morning? If you repack them in a clear package, you always know how much is left.

  • Longer shelf life and fewer bugs

Putting food in airtight containers extends its shelf life. And you ward off unwelcome visitors, like mealworms or moths, which can easily bite through paper bags. Even when decanting, you can see if the package comes out of the store with vermin infestation (which doesn’t happen that rarely) and you can exchange it right away.

  • Easier use

However, decanting into containers not only helps you keep track of the quantity, but also makes it easier to use the food. Spooning flour from a container is much easier than from a torn bag that you additionally can’t reseal properly.

The best container

There are three criteria that storage containers should meet: They must be transparent, close tightly, and make the best use of cabinet space

Number 1: Why transparent? 

In a transparent box, you can immediately see the contents and also the level of the food. Simply cut out the best-before date from the package and stick it on the container with adhesive tape. If it should go fast and you do not want to label extra stickers, then this also helps: Cut out the packaging lid or bag label of the food and simply put it on top. Through the transparent lid, you can read everything so easily. If you label your cans on the side because the boxes are on a shelf, for example, simply slide the label down the side of the container wall on the inside. The food will then automatically hold it there in place.

Number 2: Close tightly 

Keyword food moths: Clearly, the tighter the lid, the higher the protection against pests. This also prevents moisture from penetrating and everything stays optimally dry and fresh.

Number 3: Make the best use of the cupboard.

Large jars often look very pretty, but due to the round shape do not use the space optimally. Swapping jars for square containers will save about 20% in space. Additionally, square containers are easier to stack and combine with each other.

The big question: which storage cans do I need and what fits where?

In fact, this topic is really exciting. After all, when we buy food, it’s usually measured in grams, and the sizes of storage cans are measured in liters. How does that fit together? Do I have to convert my kilo of flour into liters now? Is it the same as with water – 1 kilo equals one liter? Unfortunately, it is not quite that simple. Unfortunately, one kilo of flour does not equal one liter of volume. And 1 kg of coffee beans takes up a completely different amount of space. Put the packages of one liter of milk, one package of flour (1 kg) and one kilo of coffee beans next to each other. This is the best way to see the differences. What is needed to calculate the space required by a food product is the bulk density.

So you don’t have to use a calculator every time or pick the wrong container, here’s a chart.

The storage container size chart

Better to buy a little bigger

The following consideration is important: What do I want to transfer and how much of it? If you bake only once a year and store a packet of flour, you need a smaller container than someone who bakes cakes 2x a week. Then the tin should be twice as big to be able to store more.

And one more tip: We will stick with the coffee example here. 500g of ground coffee has a volume of 0.9 liters. So a packet would fit perfectly into a liter container. But how does it look in real life? Ideally, the coffee is bought when the can is not yet completely empty. So there is still some left in it and the new pack is refilled. In most cases, the new coffee then fits exactly into the can. Don’t. No, let’s be honest: It never does and so there is always a remainder in the coffee bag, which then flies around in the cupboard for days..

So for food that barely fits in a storage can, it’s better to choose the next size up. In this case, it would be the 1.5 liter can.

I am unsure about the size

Flour is a good example of a product that almost all manufacturers sell in a 1 kg size in a paper bag. But it stops at semolina: Everything from kilo packs to 300g cans can be found. If the food is sold in kilo, pound and half pound (1000g, 500g, 250g), then the food can be quickly calculated down in the table and the appropriate container can be found. But there are products that do not fit into any scheme. Neither of a comparable size, nor the package unit.

Then only trying helps: Simply place the package in the selected container. If the lid can be closed comfortably, then it is easily enough.

Comparing similar foods also helps: cocoa powder has a similar density to flour, ginger and nutmeg are just as similar, and lentils and rice each fit a kilo into a 1.5-liter container.

Plan smart

If you want to transfer your food, you need to look carefully not only at what things you like to keep in a can and how much of it you have, but also what your space requirements are. The first question to ask is where do the jars go? In a drawer? In a cupboard? On a shelf? How high can the cans be stacked?

Whether it’s a drawer or a cabinet, the first thing to do is to look at the size and measure it accurately. Once you have calculated this (length x width), you can work out how many cans can be placed there next to each other. This is relatively easy, because all LOFT cans have a base area of 10 cm (10×10 cm, 10×20 cm, 10×15 cm). You can draw the cans on a piece of square paper and calculate your needs. But be careful not to plan too tightly! Because the tins have a very slightly protruding edge at the top and you must still be able to grab him to lift out.

And then you can plan the height. Depending on the depth of the drawer or the height of the shelf/cupboard and the need for different sizes, you can now see which tins you need. Since the LOFT tins can be stacked wonderfully in terms of size, you can also work with different sizes. For drawers, the tins should be labelled from above, for cupboards and shelves from the side

And another tip:

Always leave a small space in the drawer or shelf to accommodate small food scraps (that which no longer fit in the can, for example) or to store seasonal nutrients (e.g. in Christmas baking) that do not have their own container.