Home Hacks

The 5 Best Ways to Store All of the Leftovers in the World (& Then Some)

Lookin' at you, day after Thanksgiving.

November 12, 2018
Photo by Rocky Luten

I get a deep sense of satisfaction from winning at a game of fridge Tetris. When my pantry looks like a styled Container Store photo, I'm at my most peaceful. Catch me in the 30-minute window after I've returned home with groceries and you'll wonder if my evil twin has stepped in, as I refuse to answer any of your questions while determinedly constructing a fridge-door-shelf tower of jam, kimchi jars, and several bottles of the same type of mustard.

Which essentially makes the day after Thanksgiving my food-storage Super Bowl. I train all year for it. I scour shops for deals on the sorts of fancy-looking glass containers that make me feel like I've got my life together. I save all viable lidded jars from my great brigade of weekly groceries. I practice new stacking techniques my mother feverishly texts me about (where did you think my obsession really came from?).

Well, it's almost go-time. Takes three deep breaths. Here's my plan of attack for this year:

1. Size is no small matter.

The enemy of a well-organized fridge or pantry is dead space. Two tablespoons of chopped herbs in a quart-sized container is a missed opportunity, manifest.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Now if I could only get Ragu or Prego to make spaghetti sauce in large jars as pretty and stackable as Bonne Maman... !!”
— Claudia T.

I like to maintain a cabal of small, medium, and (various iterations of) large containers, so I'm never without a proper fit.

Hello, salad dressing. Photo by Amazon

2. Stackable and nested sets will take you higher.

Think of every shelf in your fridge and pantry as intrinsically facilitating two to three layers of containers, and get organizing accordingly. Stackable jars or other containers allow you to make the most of vertical space without risking an epic sauce spill every time you fling open your fridge drawer. And if they can nest within themselves, even better for when they're not in use cradling your leftover stuffing.

3. Save those glass jars.

I have to admit, I'm a bit of a sucker for anything that comes in a pretty glass jar—like this kimchi I'm never without—because to me, it's a two-in-one. Save the jars (and lids!) and, after a hot and soapy rinse, add them to your storage collection. You'll fill some natural holes in your container size line-up, and it will be deeply gratifying.

4. Clear is Key.

How else will you see what you've got left? (Sure, you could pop open a lid, but does that really sound like you?)

5. Bags are your BFFs.

Discovering reusable silicone storage bags changed my life. They're perfect for leftovers like sliced-up fillets of meat, herbs wrapped in damp paper towels, and half-eaten blocks of Parmesan. Not only do they self-seal, but their slim stature also saves lots of valuable space. They can easily be tossed into a vegetable crisper, or that shallow mid-height drawer that's ostensibly for cheese.

What are your top tips for storing leftovers? Let us know in the comments!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Libby
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Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a contributing writer and the Absolute Best Tests columnist at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.


Libby January 13, 2019
As beautiful as the canisters in the photos are, the glass is not tempered and they break if you look at them sideways. They are not safe.

Claudia T. December 9, 2018
Bonne Maman jam is my jam. Because it's good jam, but also, because it's just the prettiest handiest reusable jar. Now if I could only get Ragu or Prego to make spaghetti sauce in large jars as pretty and stackable as Bonne Maman... !!
Alexa M. November 15, 2018
on of my fridge storage tip I've discovered was actually in the food52 shop - the cheese vault!! there are few higher priorities in my life than having a couple good cheeses on hand, and not having to dedicate plastic wrap/ziplock baggies to them all is a huge upgrade. Just stick 'em in the vault!
Ella Q. November 15, 2018
Oh my gosh, YES!
bellw67 November 14, 2018
You must be my twin. Sometimes I even buy a jar of something just because of the pretty jar.
Ella Q. November 15, 2018
It's a blessing in disguise!
Leigh November 16, 2018
Oh my gosh, yes! I have a jar stash shelf in my hall closet!
Ella Q. November 16, 2018
And yet, I'm always collecting more...! :)