Frugal Food Storage Ideas: Fresh Food, Fuller Wallet

A woman in glasses is holding food storage containers in a pantry.

Ever feel like your kitchen is a revolving door for food that goes from fridge to trash can way too quickly? Don't want to break the bank on fancy food storage containers? Here are some of the best budget-friendly food storage ideas.

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We’ve all been there—staring at the fridge or scanning the kitchen pantry, wondering why we must toss out so much food. According to the USDA, a staggering 30 to 40% of the food supply in the US ends up in the garbage. That’s not just a hit to your wallet—it’s a blow to the environment, too! But before splurging on fancy, Instagram-worthy food storage containers, let’s talk about some budget-friendly alternatives that are just as effective and way kinder to your bank account.

From reusable food storage bags to the humble mason jar, these affordable options don’t compromise on quality and can easily fit into your kitchen cabinets or pantry shelves. Whether you’re storing last night’s lasagna or prepping snacks for a hike, these storage solutions are as versatile as they are cost-effective. The following are some of the best budget-friendly food storage ideas and why they’ve made this list.


In This Article

The Best Containers for Food Storage

Ready to transform your kitchen cabinets, pantry shelves, and refrigerator with top-notch food storage solutions? These are the containers that give you the most bang for your buck.

A person holding a bag of carrots in a reusable food storage bag in front of an open refrigerator.
Photo Credit: Amazon

Reusable Food Storage Bags

  • Reusable food storage bags are a great alternative to disposable plastic bags. You can use them to store a variety of items, including sandwiches, snacks while hiking, and leftover foods.
  • Reusable food storage bags are typically made of durable materials like silicone or cloth and can be washed and reused meal after meal.
  • Depending on the size, they cost between $1 and $2 per bag.
Glass jars and a bag on a white wooden table.
Photo Credit: YayImages

Mason Jars

  • Mason jars are a versatile and budget-friendly option for food storage. You can use them to store a variety of dry goods, such as grains, nuts, and seeds.
  • They are also great for storing liquids like soups, stews, and smoothies.
  • These jars are made of glass, a non-porous and safe material for food storage. They are also easy to clean and can be reused repeatedly.
  • They’re often free! Buying jam, pasta sauces and more in jars means you can reuse the jars as storage containers.
A set of clear storage containers filled with pasta and rice.
Photo Credit: Amazon

Bamboo-Topped Glass Containers

  • Bamboo-topped glass containers are a sustainable and budget-friendly option for food storage. The lids are made of bamboo fiber, a renewable resource that is biodegradable.
  • Bamboo containers are durable and can store various items, including sandwiches, snacks, and leftovers.
  • Bamboo lid containers are also easy to clean and can be used in the microwave and dishwasher.
  • They are more expensive up front, but they will last a lifetime with proper care and use.
Three plastic food containers filled with berries on a wooden table.
Photo Credit: YayImages

Plastic Containers

  • Reuse sour cream, Cool Whip, margarine, and cream cheese containers to store your leftovers. When they’re empty, wash them and use them to pack up soups, stews, or whatever you’ve had for lunch or dinner. They’re also great for storing dry goods like ruby chocolate.
  • Write the name of the contents and the date on the top so you can quickly and easily identify what’s in them.
  • You don’t get much more budget-friendly than reusing these plastic containers!
Two plastic deli containers with salad and vegetables in them.
Photo Credit: YayImages

Deli Containers

  • Available at restaurant supply stores or online, sleeves of 25, 50, or more deli containers in various sizes are affordable food storage options.
  • They’re clear, so you can easily see the contents.
  • Deli containers can warp and melt in the microwave, so transfer the contents out of the container before reheating the contents.
A black plastic take-out container with a lid on it.
Photo Credit: YayImages

Take-Out Containers

  • Many restaurants have switched to packaging take-out in reusable plastic containers. They are often rectangular in size with black bottoms and clear tops. They are perfect for packing up leftovers!
  • These containers stack nicely inside the fridge and the cupboard, making the most of your vertical space.
  • Plus, they’re recyclable. This is crucial because food containers are one of the ocean’s four most prominent plastic pollutants.
A woman is preparing food in a kitchen with a blender and watermelon.
Photo Credit: Amazon

Silicone Stretch Lids

Forget the container and just use lids! Silicone stretch and seal lids fit bowls, pots, cups, casserole dishes, and more. This makes it easy for you to pack up your leftovers in reusable containers and store them in the fridge.

White cotton swabs in a jar on a wooden table.
Photo Credit: Canva

What Can You Store in Food Storage Containers?

Food storage containers aren’t just ideal for leftovers, but they can be used for any number of consumables. From pantry staples like rice, flour, sugars, oatmeal, and spices to freezer jams, frozen soups, and tasty stews, preserving the freshness of your food will help reduce the amount of waste in your home.

You can also use these containers for non-edibles. They are perfect for organizing craft supplies, pet food, jewelry, kitchen utensils, things you want to keep dry while camping, and much more.

Three labeled plastic containers with blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.
Photo Credit: YayImages

Don't Forget the Labels

There’s nothing worse than opening your fridge to see a sea of food storage containers filled with mystery ingredients or unknown expiration dates. You can keep things simple by using a piece of tape and a pen to label the top of your food storage containers to identify what’s inside. Or, you can use fancier options that range from reusable to pre-printed labels. Whichever option you choose, be sure to add a date so you know when you added the leftovers to the fridge.

A refrigerator full of food in plastic containers.
Photo Credit: YayImages

Food Storage Tips

Many foods are sensitive to temperature and light. It can spoil or become unsafe if it’s stored incorrectly. For example, perishable foods such as poultry, fish, dairy, and produce should be stored in the refrigerator to keep them fresh. And, you should store dry goods, like grains and legumes, in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Always follow the USDA guidelines for food storage. The USDA recommends storing refrigerated food under 40°F and consuming most leftovers within three to four days.

The Takeaway on Affordable Food Storage

These budget-friendly food storage options can save money, reduce waste, and help you reclaim unused space in your kitchen cabinets and pantry space. They are durable, affordable, and in many cases free, and easy to use, making them an excellent choice for anyone looking to save money on food storage.

What’s Your Favorite Food Storage Solution?

How do you like to store food? Do you have a secret hack that turns your unused pantry space into a storage haven? Spill the beans (or not, because you’ve packed them away perfectly in the pantry) in the comments section below. 

Portions of tthis article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.

Budget friendly food storage ideas.
The best containers for food storage.
Budget - friendly food storage ideas.

Thank you for sharing!

4 thoughts on “Frugal Food Storage Ideas: Fresh Food, Fuller Wallet”

  1. Labels! I NEVER have labels on and it’s such a mess as to what everything is and when it was made. Having just a roll beside the fridge makes such a difference. Thank you for reminding me!

  2. I just wanted to jump on here real quick to say thank you for sending out this newsletter with great articles. I read the tick article—can never have enough reminders. I like many of the recipes and I especially like this one on organization!

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