Next to being used for storing food, food-storage boxes allow organizing and maximizing the space in your cupboard. These boxes can also be displayed with no hesitation on shelves and kitchen counters in view. Spice jars for instance can add an exotic and colorful touch to the kitchen space. Useful to prevent food from wasting and be thrown away, food-storage boxes can be also used, if the instructions allow so, to store, heat or freeze food.
Food-storage boxes: not only in the cupboard
An ever increasing number of people spend their lunch break at the office. Hermetic food containers are in this case of utmost utility, as they survive transportation without unpleasant spills. Lunchboxes usually have cutlery incorporated and small compartments where to organize and carry different courses in a compact way, or even to store dressings such as oil and vinegar in case of salads. Alessi’s FOOD A PORTER is an excellent example. A sophisticate design item that gives a nod to more glamorous accessories without losing sight of its primary function, namely being a spacious, compact and versatile lunchbox. Depending on their material food-storage boxes can also be used in microwaves. In this case, very useful are covers endowed with a valve that can be opened so to avoid squirts inside the oven chamber. Once the box is closed, the valve allows to obtain a slight vacuum-sealed effect. When it is not possible to warm food up in a microwave, thermal lunchboxes can do it. Some of them can keep the food warm up to 6-8 hours losing only 10°C. An evergreen for food storage and carrying are definitely mess tins, also known in the Northern part of Italy as “schiscetta” (/skiʃetta/). This is a metal food-storage box, generally made of stainless steel or aluminum, mainly used when having lunch away. This type of lunchboxes are composed of a full-fledged container and a cover with a hermetic closure that can be used as a plate. It cannot be put in the microwave, but is ideal when camping, as meals can be easily heated up in a bain-marie by putting the mess tin in a bigger container filled with hot water. If you are in a rush and do not have the time to cook yourself a meal to carry along, disposable and single-use lunchboxes come in help. Once the lunch is finished they can be easily and appropriately thrown away, not releasing them to the environment. In this case, pay attention to the materials. Always prefer materials that can be recycled or biodegraded after use.
How to chose the food-storage box that matches your needs
Functionality is a very important aspect next to appearance. If you need to stack the container for space reasons, It will be more useful to use items with regular shapes, rectangular or squared rather than domed and rounded. Transparent boxes are especially helpful when used in a cupboard or in the fridge, since they allow to instantly see what is inside and the quantities available for each meal stored. Reusable bags can be helpful to save space. They are easy to be stocked and folded after use, can contain liquids and are excellent to be put in the freezer.
When food storage boxes are placed in view, they can be a lively addition to the kitchen. Using jars with colored covers allows an easy memorization and identification of what is inside.
A guide to the selection of materials
Being in contact with food, food boxes need to be made of materials that are nontoxic, BPA free and that can touch food without causing any danger for consumption. The safer and most diffused are certainly glass food boxes, which can be put in the freezer, in the fridge and which are robust enough to be used in the microwave. Thanks to their timeless design, they can be used to bring the meal straight to the table; they are often provided with a rubber or plastic cover, which can also have small wings to be carried more safely. When used in the pantry there is no limitation to the covers materials. Cork tops maintain a good hygrometric relation inside the jar, making it perfect to contain cookies or pasta.
Plastic food boxes have the same characteristics as glass boxes, but are easier to be carried thanks to their lower weight and greater shock resistance.
Some kinds of food boxes are also easily washable in the dishwasher, which will be explicitly reported on the box together with the range of temperatures which it can be exposed to.
Japan addicted? Try Bentō
“Bentō” or, as it is more commonly known, “bento”, was born in Japan in the XII century to carry rice balls and algae. In the following centuries the use and popularity of bento grew till becoming a typical food box for meals to be eaten while traveling. Today bento has been revived by the growing necessity of having lunch away from home. The authentic bento is made of wood and keeps food fresh and at the right moisture level, but like for all food boxes, plastic and metal bento are available too. Thanks to their greater robustness and safety, next to being produced in several funny and colorful shapes, plastic bentoes are ideal to contain kids snacks for the school or kindergarten, in which case smaller ones will do. Another peculiarity is the presence of one or more layers, consisting of one or more boxes piled up. This allows to always enjoy a complete meal. Layers can be different from one another according to some special qualities such as a greater thermal capacity, the presence of smaller compartments, the possibility to serve as a mug or a plate or their being specific for pre-cooked food.