This next tip I’m going to share with you is kind of a no-brainer, but it took us years to start doing. I didn’t think much of it until I was chatting with a friend a couple days ago and the simplicity/practicality of it kind of blew her mind. So maybe it will help you out. If you’ve already thought of this, well, consider yourself supremely intelligent and highly practical.
These last few years, we’ve seen a huge influx of BPA-free storage containers, water bottles, and more. BPA sounds like a pretty nasty thing that I want no where near my food, so we have been transitioning to glass products for our food storage and drinkware. In fact, we’ve nearly eliminated plastic from our kitchen storage items! We have a hefty supply of glass storage containers from Pyrex but they tend to get expensive and the lids crack over time. Often, they simply aren’t the best shape for the needs we have. For example, soup or soup stock doesn’t work the greatest in a shallow, wide container with a top that isn’t exactly secure.
Enter mason jars. We’ve found a plethora of uses for them but I will share two of my favorites today.
1. Food storage
I often make large pots of soup and needed a way to efficiently store the leftovers. One day I decided to use a few mason jars in our cupboard for soup storage and wondered why I didn’t think of it earlier? It was perfect! Perfect for the fridge, perfect for our wallets, and perfect for me to take to work for lunch because I could reheat it in a bowl or mug. I also use mason jars for storage of homemade marinara, fruit syrups, chicken stock, and more. One thing I particularly love about glass storage is that they don’t stain or retain smells (hello, deep red cherry sauce that makes plastic permanently red and marinara smell that lingers in plastic containers!).
In the pantry, we have glass jars of all sizes. Some are fancy, some are more utilitarian. But we use them to hold our rice, dried beans, dried herbs, pasta, and more. Many of these jars have been purchased but a handful were repurposed from groceries that came in a glass jar (marinara sauce, oils, etc). For marinara jars, we have good luck with the more square-ish round jars that have a wider mouth. The completely round jars with a narrower mouth would work fine, but for us they tend to not come as clean in our dishwasher. So your results may vary; this is just what works for us.
Photo above found HERE. This is slightly more organized than our pantry. 🙂
Ben tends to drink a lot of fluids every day and a normal glass typically doesn’t cut it because he has to refill constantly. We fill mason jars with iced tea, water, and on occasion, soda or Koolaid. They get used as travel mugs (cold beverages only) as well as drinking glasses around the house. Note – we have plenty of drinking glasses. Ben simply prefers these jars to regular glasses.
One day I was in a little boutique store and found a fabulous little invention called a “Cuppow”. This gadget is screwed on to mason jar and converts it to a travel drinking jar! It comes in wide mouth or regular size and will screw on any standard sized jar, even pint jars if a mason jar is too big for you! Plus, pint jars fit in car cupholders. 🙂 It’s awfully handy.
Cuppow photo from HERE.
For canning, you should use the metal lids/rings that are specifically made for canning. But for re-using these jars around your kitchen, I recommend getting some screw-on plastic lids. I’m linking below to the plastic lids. They are easier to wash and use if you will be putting these jars into frequent use. We have a bunch of them but I hadn’t discovered them yet when I took the above photo.
To sum up: mason jars are reusable, surprisingly durable (we’ve dropped several and they haven’t broken, though I don’t recommend testing this theory), and affordable. Whether you repurpose marinara jars, buy mason jars, or dig out the dusty ones from your basement, they will stand the test of time!