Product Design

I'm in a Serious Relationship With Ikea's $6 Food Container Set—but It's Complicated

August  8, 2018

I have a lot of important relationships in my life. There are the obvious ones: my family, friends, and work colleagues. There are the less obvious ones, like the exceptionally nice man at my corner deli who never charges me extra for avocado in my breakfast burritos (thus proving that love is indeed real).

And then there are the hyper-niche emotional attachments I have made (to objects, mostly) that don’t necessarily make sense: the fancy bottle of Jose Cuervo (yes, they make fancy tequila too) I’ll never open; the beef marrow and oxtail marmalade appetizer (heaven on a plate) at one of my favorite restaurants in New York City; and the food container set I bought at Ikea for a mere $5.99. (Is it a coincidence that all of these are in some way connected to food? Absolutely not. Eating is my favorite hobby.)

Like any real relationship, each of my special bonds has had its highs and lows. You remember that time my boyfriend and I almost broke up over a tray of roasted vegetable enchiladas, right? Ugh, me too. But even my less “conventional” relationships have gone through similar complications.

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Let’s take the Ikea food container set, for example: Her name (yes, it’s a her) is PRUTA, which according to Google translate’s top result, means “bargain” in Swedish. I first discovered her my freshman year of college, and a bargain she is! At a price of just $6, you’ll get a whopping 17 storage containers (plus their lids) of all shapes and sizes, from teeny tiny to big and tall.

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Top Comment:
“I guess I have mixed opinions about plastic like other commentors, but still have plenty of it although not any Pruta. I like to use glass when I can but sometimes the risk of a break outweighs the benefits. I also enjoy how stackable plastic is. :X”
— greglum

I use these containers for everything: The small ones are great for storing things like spices, lime wedges, and lunch-portioned salad dressing; the larger ones often hold pastas, soups, leftovers, cut vegetables (like half an onion or tomato), pantry staples (think uncooked rice, coffee beans, and flour), and my actual lunch. Speaking of lunch, I’ve even been known to use the bigger green lids as a makeshift cutting board in a pinch.

But the thing about PRUTA that really makes me swoon is that she takes up very little space in my very little New York City apartment. Each of the containers and lids nest inside each other, and can easily be stacked to minimize square footage—or in my case, square inchage—in cabinets or the pantry.

PRUTA, I just can't quit you. Photo by Ikea

I’m not the only one who’s obsessed with PRUTA: She’s a favorite among the staff here at Food52 and can often be found lining the shelves of our team refrigerator. But, just like any one of us, PRUTA is not perfect—and she’s let me down on more than one occasion.

For one thing, PRUTA does not like the microwave (even though it’s technically microwave-safe), and even the briefest stint in one will leave a cloudy, oily film that’s tough to clean out. You’ll be much better off if you transfer your food to a different, microwave-friendly dish before warming. And not to champion wasteful behavior, but if you do ruin a container or two (accidents happen), the set is so inexpensive to begin with that it’s not a major investment to purchase a replacement set.

The lids have also failed me in the past—especially in transit. I’ve smudged and splotched more than a few tote bags thanks to PRUTA, so if you’re packing a container with soup, stew, salad dressing, or anything else with the potential to drip, proceed with caution and care.

Still, relationships are nothing if not a balance of give and take, and I don’t see myself committing to a different food storage container set anytime soon. Maybe someday we’ll outgrow each other, but I’m not ready just yet.

Perfect for Pruta

Do you have a favorite food storage container set? Share it with us in the comments below!

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Erin Alexander

Written by: Erin Alexander

Erin Alexander is the Managing Editor of Food52.


Rachelle K. August 12, 2018
I don't think I've ever thrown away a Pruta container. They have cracked on me after being in the freezer but a cracked Pruta isn't a ruined Pruta. A cracked Pruta becomes a craft supply container.
Erin A. August 23, 2018
That's a great tip, Rachelle!
greglum August 11, 2018
LOL when you described her as not perfect, totally caught me off-guard (in a good way). Thanks for the laugh! I guess I have mixed opinions about plastic like other commentors, but still have plenty of it although not any Pruta. I like to use glass when I can but sometimes the risk of a break outweighs the benefits. I also enjoy how stackable plastic is. :X
Erin A. August 23, 2018
I'm so glad you enjoyed the read! I definitely have mixed feelings about plastic too, and actually keep a combo of both plastic and glass containers in my kitchen. I just find that plastic is the easiest to transport to and from work because it's so light and compact!
Ttrockwood August 8, 2018
I have a set- or the remnants of a set anyhow- they don’t seal well at all which was a dealbreaker for me since i bring lunch to work everyday- which involved a bag and subway and stairs and getting knocked around so i got a good sized locking lid one instead.
At home I’m reusing glass jars, old jam jars and pasta jars- the best are old mustard jars! Perfect for salad dressings and individual servings of soups
Fog C. August 8, 2018
No! I'm gonna give a thumbs down on this. Plastic is killing our planet. It is only recyclable one or two times at most, and will eventually end up in a landfill or ocean. Glass containers are the best option. Ikea sells those as well!
Jen August 8, 2018
I totally agree! I hate seeing these super cheap plastic containers. They don’t work well and encourage re-purchasing. While I love glass, I see that sometimes light plastic is preferable - but it’s worth investing in some decent quality ones that will last.
Theresa August 22, 2018
I find we have more takeout storage containers left over than we can ever use, so I don't think I'll ever have to buy a plastic container again!
HalfPint August 8, 2018
I totally get it. I've had my Pruta for almost 15 years now. My Pruta have the blue lids :)

Ok, not the best seal with those lids, but I like them for non-liquid foods. And they stack so nicely. I can't bring myself to throw them out.
Erin A. August 10, 2018
Wow! 15 years and going strong. They're definitely not perfect, but I can't bring myself to get rid of them either.
Claudia T. August 18, 2018
I remember the blue lids!
Joy H. August 8, 2018
Haha, I love my set, too! I love transferring my just-churned ice cream into the long rectangular ones and using the smaller ones to store little bobs and bits leftover from cooking.
Erin A. August 10, 2018
Yes! I always use the smaller ones for random things I don't know where else to put.