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

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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.)

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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.

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.

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.
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!

Tags: Storage Tips