Freeze! I have a gun! I mean jar.

Freeze!  I have a gun!  I mean mason jar.

Which works out well for all of us because a mason jar will work much better for what I’m about to show you.   A gun would just be … messy.  As guns often are.

Speaking of Tupperware (or the no-name reasonable facsimile I have in my drawers), I don’t like it.  I never have equal amounts of lids and receptacles.  Ever. And unless you only buy one type of container with one type of lid nothing ever stacks neatly together forcing me to assemble the equivalent of a Chinese puzzle every time I unload the dishwasher and try to put it away.

It’s a great brain exercise and all, but it often ends with me just putting a whole whack of clean Tupperware back into the dishwasher.

The most recent trouble with this plastic stuff is you’re not supposed to heat anything up in it.  I heat stuff up in plastic all the time by the way, I just tell people they’re not supposed to.  If I’m dealing with someone I know to be particularly judgemental or argumentative I usually lie and tell them I *never* heat things up in plastic.  Seriously.  Who wants to deal with that kind of nattering?  Not me.

But the truth is … I’m becoming a convert.  A little bit.  I *do* still heat things up in plastic but when I do it I stand at the microwave with a condemning look on my face, arms crossed, thinking This is bad.  This is probably very bad.  I really shouldn’t be doing this. *Ding*!  Yay!  Chili’s ready! And then I go back to my regular thoughts about whether skinny jeans really are on the way out and whether I could get through the food challenges on The Amazing Race.

The final thing I don’t like about Tupperware is it isn’t cute.  No one ever looks at a plastic bowl and lid and thinks Wow … that looks so nice.  Half the reason I love canning so much is because I love the look of mason jars lined up on my shelves.  They’re a certain nostalgic beauty about them.  They genuinely make my day better.  They make me happy.

If you are the same … this little tip should make you even happier.

Most people have no other option but to freeze leftovers in Tupperware.  I am here to tell you that’s not true.  You can freezer your leftovers in mason jars.

YES!  YES YOU CAN!

The only stipulation is you have to used genuine mason jars, not the jars you get with your jarred spaghetti sauce and stuff.  PLUS the mason jar can’t have “shoulders”.  The sides have to be straight up and down.  Like those on a wide mouth mason jar.

When food freezes it expands, and if your jar has “shoulders” there’s a good chance the glass will break from the pressure.  Straight sided jars won’t do this.

Wide Mouth Mason Jar

Just fill your jar.

In this case, I’m filling it with leftover Gramma’s Spaghetti & Meatballs.

This 500 ml. jar holds 6 meatballs and a good amount of sauce.

Leave 1/2″ to 1″ of headspace to allow for the expansion of the food that will occur when it freezes.

Pop it in the freezer.  Then when you wanna eat it, pop it out, remove the lid and pop it in the microwave.   There’s a lot of popping that goes on with this process.

They’re safe for heating in, the lids always fit and they look good.

Oh.  And when you take them out of the dishwasher … they’re always completely dry.  No shaking them dry, no hand drying, no leaving them on the counter until they’re dry enough to put away.  Suck on that Tupperware.  And you too, reasonable no-name facsimile.


42 Comments

  1. I love this idea. I can never find a matching lid and container for my tupperware when I need it. Does defrosting take longer when food is frozen in jars this way?

  2. Emily says:

    Karen, if my mom had read this post she’d be half way to Canada to share a lecture filled with research about the twenty types of cancer that you can get from heating up food in plastic. Do yourself a favor and invest in the glass-tupperware. Not only does it look pretty on the shelf, but you still can never find the right size for the bowl you’re using. It’s the best of both worlds.

  3. Whitney says:

    What the heck is a “shoulder”? And I have one leftover container that is my favourite! It is a glass container…with a plastic snap on lid! It’s perfect.

    • Alissa says:

      By shoulders, I believe she’s referring to a jar that is wider in the middle than the top. In a non-shouldered jar, the lid is the widest part – like in the pictures above. You want to use the latter, not the former.

  4. Marina says:

    Love it! No more Tupperware or reasonable no-name facsimile. I heat them as well!

  5. Matthew says:

    I started using mason jars about a year ago and I won’t go back to plastic containers. The best part for me is that the glass jars don’t retain smells. I could sniff most of my plastic containers and probably tell you what they stored last. The only downside to canning jars are the two piece lids. I saw some one piece plastic lids and bought them – much more convenient. Someday I’ll order some one piece metal lids off the internet. And the one pint jars are the perfect size for two medium-large servings of spaghetti sauce.

    • cred says:

      Matthew- you can get these lids at Canadian Tire in Canada. If you’re in the US, probably in the same stores that carry mason jars, they are made by the same manufacturer as the jars.

  6. cred says:

    I do this too- love it. Besides always losing the lid/base ‘mating game’, I also hate searching for the right size container- invariably you need the size you already have in use.
    These work great for dry goods. too. I dislike those stupid plastic envelopes or the little bulk baggies. Mason jars store nicely and even come in small sizes.
    I just discovered Bernardin Storage lids- white plastic lids, standard and wide-mouth, to use instead of snap lids for storage. Not for canning- they don’t seal. I prefer them because the snap rings can get rusted and gross when used for acidic foods.

  7. Patti says:

    Okay. You’ve totally converted me. That makes so much sense,and they ARE super cute!! Thanks, Karen!

  8. magali says:

    A solution to the Tupperware problem: throw them all out and start from scratch. That is what my boyfriend did his brother moved out and I moved in. We gave all our Tupperwares to his mom and bought a new set of them. Those that are sold *as a set* with a bunch of different sizes and all the same coloured lids. That way, it’s actually quite nice when you open your cupboard or fridge. Plus, my boyfriend bought a set with red covers which matches my kitchen. People think we are silly when they realize that our Tupperwares match our kitchen, but it makes me happy. Probably the same kind of happiness your jars make you. 🙂

  9. Edwina says:

    Thanks for this post Karen! I’ve broken a few jars in the freezer before and couldn’t figure out why.

    This has been mighty enlightening!

  10. Erin says:

    In order to avoid tupperware havoc I only buy 2 types, locking lid variety and a cheppy variety and when I buy I get the same brand every time. There is still some chaos with different seizes but…
    I took some of your last weeks advice and made extras and froze them. Tomato Meat sauce for spaghetti. Having a shortage of containers in the home on a continuous basis (my husband like to take them to work where they get lost in a never never land of forgotten tupperware) I used Large ziplock freezer bags. When it comes time to eat I run the bag under some hot water to soften it up, Snap the sauce in half, while still int he bag (so it will fit in my tiny pot) and slap it in said tiny pot with a lid. Greatest Idea ever for quick dinner. I am SO gonna make more for the freeze. I like the mason jar Idea but they take up too much space and we don’t have a deep freezer, just the one on top the fridge.

  11. One more Glass fan chiming in. As my mom says, no-one dies because food was stored in glass. In my middle age I’m increasingly pulling back from all synthetics. up with glass. up with wool. meh to plastics and synthetics.

  12. Devin says:

    I actually have a wide mouthed mason jar in my lunch bag today housing some leftover chicken noodle soup from Omma. The only downside to this is that mason jars get pretty heavy in your bag, especially when you have a 3 hour commute on the metro/bus every day!

  13. Liz S. says:

    I use to make all of my own baby food and freeze it in ice cube trays then put the cubes in freezer bags. Then when it was time to eat, I could pop a couple cubes in the microwave and have instant healthy dinner for my son. Anyways. I am totally in love with pasta, but my husband really doesn’t care for seeing it that often. So I make a big batch of meat sauce and freeze it into cubes. Then whenever I’m in the mood for pasta, I have home made meat sauce ready to go.

  14. Christina says:

    I hate Tupperware too! Seriously is there anyone that likes it? I really like this mason jar idea. But I have no idea where one obtains said mason jars. I’ve never seen them for sale anywhere.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Christina! You can buy these jars all over the place! You probably just haven’t been looking for them, so didn’t notice them. Larger grocery stores carry them year round and smaller ones carry them during canning season (summer). They’re either in the baking or the seasonal aisle. They’re also available all year long at hardware stores. ~ karen!

    • Mary MacDonald says:

      If you only want a few, buy them at vintage or reuse centers. Make sure the lip isn’t chipped, and just buy new lids and rings

  15. Pam says:

    I have been using Adam’s brand peanut butter jars for this for years. Their lids only have one piece. And there are two sizes. And the peanut butter is pretty good too.

    The only plasticware i continue to use is what is provided at the olive bar at my grocery store. Also two, sometimes three sizes, the lids work for all sizes, and when it gets lost or gross I don’t feel bad about throwing it out (recycling it).

  16. Yvonne says:

    Karen, speaking of jars, do you ever use a glass cutter type of tool to turn a jar or bottle into something else — a vase, for example? I keep chucking these beautiful olive oil bottles into the recycling bin and think that there must be something else I can do with them.

    • Pam'a says:

      I wrote to Karen asking if she has a dependable way of cutting glass bottles after I tried several ways that looked easy on YouTube…and aren’t.

      C’mon, Karen! Enquiring minds want to know!

      • Karen says:

        Pam’a – I *know* enquiring minds want to know. But enquiring minds also want a post every day! Only time for so much. I actually haven’t cut bottles before, but have always been curious about the methods there are. I’ll let you know if I “figure it out”. ~ karen

  17. Kim says:

    Too funny! We are trying to reduce the amount of plastic in our house and yet I hadn’t thought of using mason jars for leftovers! You are brilliant!

  18. kathryn says:

    drawback though – being round, jars do enable more even microwaving, but waste in-between-y bits of space in the freezer. for years i have been hunting for rectangular dishes in a material that can be heated in both the microwave and in/under a conventional oven/grill (Pyrex?) with close-fitting lids for fridge/freezer…

  19. Lisa says:

    The white and red food containers from IKEA are BPA-free and microwave safe. They don’t stack very nicely though so I freeze food in them, then pop out the frozen block and put them in a ziplock bag.

    Then if I have to microwave, I put the frozen block back into the container! Or sometimes depending on what it is, I defrost it on the stove or something.

  20. CJ says:

    They don’t stack inside each other though so *sob* terribly impractical for those of us with challenged kitchen storage…and I do mean challenged. The entry you wrote on garbage bins going under the sink – so not the case here, they go in the dishwasher space, in front of my toolboxes and beneath the microwave because the undersink cupboards are half my total under bench storage space and just under one third my total kitchen storage space. It’s kind of a Mary Poppins carpet bag kitchen where people are constantly amazed at how much is in there. Needless to say putting away everything is like playing tetris (fortunately that kind of appeals to the freaky kind of people who don’t keep their bins under the sink) but now I have storage container envy as well as basement envy. Ooo can you imagine what I could fit into a basement…

  21. Brinda says:

    Great idea! I recently purchased a bunch of the glass storage “tupperware” type stuff because of all the talk of bad chemicals created from heating the plastic in the microwave, but this is an even better idea.

  22. Ana says:

    And I bet mason jars don’t get that permanent red tint from pasta sauce like my facsimile tupperware gets!

  23. Ana says:

    OH! And I bet your soup doesn’t leak all over your purse if you take it to work in a mason jar!!

  24. Pam'a says:

    Now, all we need are shoulderless Mason jars that hold more than a single serving.

  25. Denise says:

    The obvious just never occurs to me. This is a great idea and I’m going to do it. I too have never seen them but I am going to look at the suggested places mentioned. I love the thought of that lid not snapping off then carrying it around. And the look is so much better. Thanks so much for this!

  26. Gina says:

    There’s one in every crowd. I luv Tupperware. I still have my first pieces from my “hope chest” circa 1975. Yup it’s orange, advocado green, brown & yellow. Plus I inherited my moms, the pale pastels.
    I have a wide deep drawer that keeps them all nested and organized. The lids have a letter on them that matches the letter imprinted on the bottom of the bowl. It’s on the tab portion.
    And they don’t break ! I luv my old blue mason jars that I keep art supplies in, again inherited.

  27. Kate says:

    This post had me laughing. I’m right with you staring at the microwave, shaming myself and then BEEP, dinner’s done and so is my guilt. But recently I did buy some glass Snapwear from Costco that I like. But man they are heavy! Heavy container, lighter guilt.

    Just discovered your site a week or so ago and have been enjoying poking around!

  28. Susie says:

    It’s all about the French canning jars, ladies. Or the Italian kind. Or whatever no name facsimile you can find. They are wide-mouthed, have a rubber gasket and a glass lid with a metal flip thing to seal it shut. They come in all kinds of sizes, and they look beautiful in your pantry, fridge, or freezer. I use them for dry goods, homemade yogurt, and chicken stock bound for the freezer. I send them full of snacky things to school with my son. Their only downside is that you can’t stack them when they aren’t in use. But they are always in use.

  29. Cherished Hearts Vintage says:

    Wonderful idea! Now if only I could find a use for the glass jars the spaghetti sauce comes in.

  30. Cassie says:

    I love this idea, and I kept thinking “and they won’t turn red” and saw someone comment that!
    Also, Gina, I really like your idea for labeling the containers/lids… I have some fairly old tupperware that was my mom’s and sometimes it drives me bonkers but I do like it for some things.
    I think I’ll be getting some mason jars soon 😀

  31. Rose says:

    Huh. Now that I never would have thought to do. Thanks for the tip!

  32. Wanda says:

    Love your honesty it always gives me a chuckle, I was hoping to PIN this to my Pinterest Board.

  33. Shannon V. says:

    I have just started doing this. I was also contemplating letting my kids use them to take soup and other leftovers to school for lunch (they have a couple of microwaves in their cafeteria and always take leftovers)

  34. Lex says:

    Glass rules! Plastic sucks! Thank you. 🙂

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