R. Ann Parris on Canning Jars ““ Space-Saving Storage


Canning Jars — Space-Saving Storage by R. Ann Parris

Canning jars are pretty bulky. The glass itself is thick. Quarts and some half- and quarter-pint jelly jars that are somewhat square aren’t as bad, but the fluted and cylindrical shapes waste corner space. Jars with necks that crimp in lose additional space around the lid and rim.

That being so, I totally understand everybody who just went, “Canning jars SAVE space? This one … no, babe. This one bopped her head.”

After all, one of the advantages to kitty litter buckets over round buckets, and trunks/toolboxes over many storage totes, is that they don’t lose the exact same round+corner space or the space up at the lids or near the base where they slope.

Even so, there are times those jars can, in fact, save us space in our storage.

The savings rely on certain food items.

Usually, it’s going to be foods that are packaged with a lot of air space. In our daily lives, cold cereals and crisps/chips are some of the biggest culprits.

Far East instant couscous is fantastic, but it might actually be the #1 space waster on supermarket shelves. Wasted space is also prevalent in boxed sides like mac-n-cheese, Lipton, Knorr, Rice-a-Roni, Hamburger Helper, and their generics.

Boxed baking mixes aren’t quite as bad, but there’s commonly some air space there, too.

There’s also a couple inches of lost space at the tops of oatmeal and grits cartons, and if we’re buying pre-seasoned single-serve packets of hot cereals, they’re as bad or even worse about wasted space than boxed noodle-rice dishes.

Cocoa and coffee is another that is prone to both settling and under-fill, and with crazy space lost when we buy packets.

There’s an added bonus to using jars for those items: Tougher storage containers.

While something like Hamburger Helper is more resilient to moisture due to Betty Crocker’s apparent love of multiple interior plastic bags, the others are typically completely vulnerable.

The ones in cardboard boxes and cartons are also vulnerable to several types of storage-wrecking insects and mice/rats.

Canning jars eliminate those vulnerabilities.


There’s enough air space inside Lipton/Knorr type sides and meals that we can usually fit 2-3 boxes with their seasoning blend satchets per pint.

Hamburger Helper comes in several sizes, so how many fit in each jar size varies, too, but we’re usually saving significant shelf space by repacking even the smaller, tighter boxes. Regardless of size, open the package of noodles so more will fit in the jars.

The noodles will actually keep longer than the spicing mixes for almost all supermarket easy-side or entrée box kits. Therefore, we might prefer to store the parboiled types separately, using the packets to season something else and retain the 5-7 minute cook time of the noodles or rice for camping/packing and times cooking fuels are harder to come by.

Wide-mouth jars are easier to deal with for large noodles that have a lot of air space, such as penne, rotini, and egg noodles. Check the cost of replacement lids versus regular mouth anyway.

Quarts make a lot of sense for pasta, especially the larger, air-space prone pastas, even for 1-2 people. The jars reseal well enough to keep them safe for months even without re-sealing.

I personally do not repack tins or sturdy plastic tubs of crackers, cookies, or coffee unless I’m after portion control — only the cardboard tubs and boxes that are vulnerable or losing significant air space.

Canning jars give us a lot of versatility.

There’s a whole host of reasons to use them for dry-goods storage of both foods and household consumables, especially since we need a bunch anyway and there’s ways to seal them without rending the lids “used”. Saving space with a tougher container is only one, but it’s a big one.