The Disposable Containers Ina Garten Uses Over And Over Again

When looking to store her dinner leftovers, there's one unlikely kitchen tool that Ina Garten always has on hand. Her website, Barefoot Contessa, includes a curated collection of food storage options, all surprisingly normal products like Chinese takeout boxes and her favorite plastic cling wrap. But, as Garten tells Domino Magazine's podcast "Design Time," her go-to reusable container is none other than the humble deli tub.

"I have a lot of what I would call deli containers. You know, pint, half-pint, and quart containers," Garten shared. "I just use them over and over again, and they go in the dishwasher, and they're great." If your grandparents ever sent you home with leftovers in a washed-out tub of Country Crock butter, then you get the idea. But the appeal of the deli container is its function and aesthetics. Their uniformity and stacking ability make for a well-organized, tidy refrigerator where things don't get lost (and eventually thrown out). Plus, those deli containers are translucent, meaning you can tell what's inside without having to take the lid off.

For dishes she plans to freeze, Garten labels the containers with the name of the food inside and the preparation date for easy, convenient make-ahead meal prep to use later on. This strategy can be especially useful for foodies with big families or roommates, who understand that every inch of a tiny freezer is disputed territory.

Deli containers get the job done, says Garten

Ina Garten is the queen of fun, low-stakes kitchen creations, making cooking more accessible. In her cookbook "Go-To Dinners," released in October 2022, Garten includes what she calls "Two-Fers," which are dishes you can make one night and then transform into an entirely new dish the following night, using the leftovers. And incidentally, deli containers would make the perfect tool for keeping those leftovers organized. To start building your collection easily, simply reuse containers from your local deli. You can also buy them new online in various sizes and quantities. 

If you're a chest-freezer kind of home cook, there's probably a good chance that you're no stranger to whipping up make-ahead meals by the batch. Using deli containers to store frozen meals can be a thrifty way to enjoy a warming, home-cooked dinner with ease against the backdrop of food inflation, which can make it harder to order delivery on a night when you don't feel like cooking. "Instead of going out to dinner, buy good food," Ina Garten told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Cooking at home shows such affection. In a bad economy, it's more important to make yourself feel good."