This post was originally published in June, 2011. I still love jars.
It is no secret that I love jars.
Big jars, little jars, tall jars, short jars…they’re all useful. One of my favorite ways to use jars is to store leftovers.
Many have asked how in the world it works to store leftovers in jars – isn’t it hard to get the food in and out of the jar?? I have two words for you: Wide Mouth. (No-no, I’m not calling you a Wide Mouth. Oh dear. I’m just saying that wide mouth jars are my favorite and the most wonderful for storing leftovers.)
The regular jars are fine and I like to use them for canning produce and such, but give me a wide mouth jar and I can do all kinds of things with it. You can fit your whole hand into a wide mouth jar, making it easy to wash or to put food in and take food out.
The best thing about having leftovers (and other food) in jars is that you can clearly see what is in the jar, unless of course the jar somehow got shoved to the back of the fridge and forgotten, causing it’s contents to change somewhat in appearance. Not that any of us would ever let that happen. But really, I can open my fridge and easily see if I need to make more Ranch Dressing, if we have any homemade sour cream, if we have enough cooked chicken to make dinner and what kinds of leftovers are available for lunch. As you saw in this post, my fridge is full of jars of all shapes and sizes. Let’s talk just a little bit about those jars, because many of you have asked what kind I have and where I get them.
Pint and Half Pint wide mouth jars are wonderful for storing leftover vegetables, small bits of casserole, little portions of leftover meat, etc. I have a nice variety of wide mouth pint and half pint jars that I can grab depending on what I need to store. These wide mouth pint jars are great for my homemade dressings and homemade peanut butter.
Someone gave me this set of Ball Wide Mouth 1/2 Pint Elite Jars for Christmas last year and I LOVE them. They are short and perfect for small amounts of leftovers. They’re also quite cute, not that it matters, but shucks cute jars are fun.
My favorite, favorite, absolute all time favorite kinds of jars for leftovers are the Elite Pint Sized jars. When we were going through my mom’s canning supplies after she died, I found loads of them and brought them home. I love canning with them and using them for leftovers. They are the perfect size for me to use at least 80 different ways in my kitchen. And they are from my mama. Of course I love them best.
I also use Quart Sized Wide Mouth Jars constantly, both for canning and for storing leftovers. I find the quart sized wide mouth jars work great for storing leftover soup, sloppy joe meat, cooked chicken, creamy mac and cheese, etc.
In addition, I have several sets of Wide Mouth 1/2 Gallon Sized Jars, which I use mostly for our milk, but also for chicken broth and large amounts of soup. I buy these Wide Mouth 1/2 Gallon Sized Jars from Azure Standard, but you can also get them from Amazon or sometimes at hardware stores.
Which leads me to: Where is the best place to buy jars? That’s hard to say. You can get several different kinds from Azure Standard if this is accessible to you. The best place to find jars for very little money is yard sales or auctions. I’ve also acquired many jars from people who are simply not canning anymore. It pays to ask around to see who might have jars they’re not using anymore – they are usually happy to get rid of them!
If you’re going to purchase jars, like some of the specialty sizes I mentioned such as the Elite which are harder to find, I’d say you are making a pretty good investment. They’re less expensive than tupperware, and because they are glass, they are safe and will not leach plasticy chemicals into your food. Being able to see your food in the fridge is an invaluable time saver.
By the way, I love having a drawer full of Wide Mouth Plastic Lids, which makes it super simple to fill the jar and throw leftovers in the fridge. I have Regular Mouth Plastic Lids as well, I love having both. They’re so clean and nice!
One last thing: for storing leftovers like lasagna or hamburger patties – foods that would be hard to put into a wide mouth jar, I love having these Pyrex dishes with lids. They are fantastic for storing leftovers and warming them up in the oven or toaster oven right in the dish.
Phew. Well, you just found out way more about my leftovers than you ever wanted to know. Again, let’s just be clear that I was not calling you a Wide Mouth. Although, after reading my post, you would realize that even if I was calling you a Wide Mouth (which I wasn’t), it would have been a compliment.
How do you store your leftovers?