Do I Really Need to Decant My Food?

Decanting food is so much more than just a picture-perfect pantry.

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Food storage containers in a pantry
Photo: Meredith

You've probably seen it all over your social media feed: immaculate pantries stocked floor to ceiling with decanting containers filled with pantry staples. Leave it to influencers and celebrities to make a box of cereal look Instagram-worthy, right?

But those containers actually serve more purposes than just making your pantry look neat. So, should you stock up on decanting food storage containers or are they not worth the hype? Here's everything you need to know about decanting food.

What Is Decanting?

You may have heard the term "decanting" used for liquids, typically wine or whiskey, but you can decant food as well. When it comes to food, decanting simply means taking the grocery item out of its original packaging and storing it in a different container.

The most common forms of decanting you've probably seen include storing spices in clear glass containers or dumping your flour, sugar, and other baking supplies into new airtight containers. But, decanting can be as simple as removing the bags of popcorn from their original box and storing them in a basket.

What Are the Benefits of Decanting Food?

Beyond making your pantry easier to navigate and giving it a tidy look, decanting food actually has some serious benefits. Decanting food makes it easy to know what you have at all times, keeps food fresh and pest-free, and saves you space.

Easy Inventory

There are few things more frustrating than opening a box of cereal that you think is full only to find an essentially empty bag inside. When storing pantry items in clear decanters, you won't have that problem.

You can easily take stock of every item you have and know when you're running low and need to add items to your grocery list. Of course, this only works when you use clear food storage containers.

Optimal Freshness

Even though many items are sold in resealable packaging, they are still prone to going bad or getting stale. Let's face it, groceries are expensive, so you don't want to waste an entire package of something because someone forgot to reseal it properly.

That's where airtight food storage containers come into play. If you store your foods in these containers, they will stay fresh for longer and won't attract bugs or other pests.

Space Saver

Yes, decanters make your pantry look uniform and uncluttered, but they can also save you space. Some items are bulky or just plain awkward to store in their original packaging. By eliminating the package, you can store items in matching containers that oftentimes stack or just fit your space better.

Placing all of your food items into designated containers or baskets will keep you from having loose bags of chips floating throughout the pantry or boxes of pasta that are all different sizes taking up a whole shelf, which will free up space in the long run.

What Are the Drawbacks of Decanting Food?

The main drawback to storing food in decanters is that maintaining your decanting system can be quite time-consuming and tedious. Putting groceries away can already feel like a lot of work, and now you're adding the extra step of unpackaging your food and placing it into containers.

But, if you're willing to put in the work, decanting is worth it.

What Foods Should I Decant?

There is no right or wrong way to decant pantry items, it's really up to personal preference. Some common things to decant include baking supplies (like flour, sugar, baking soda, etc.), cereal, pasta, spices, rice, dry beans, and snacks.

A good rule of thumb to follow is if you don't use an entire package in one sitting, you should decant it. For example, one household may use half a box of pasta for one meal while another might use the whole box — so if you're using the whole box, there's less of a need to decant it.

How To Decant Food

Decanting food is very simple, once you have the proper tools. So, the first step is to choose the right storage containers. When choosing which containers you want to use it all comes down to personal preference — like plastic or glass and bins or baskets.

The most commonly used containers for decanting are plastic pantry canisters, like these from The Home Edit ($12 each) or this set from OXO ($55). The canisters have an airtight seal, come in an array of sizes, and can be used to store almost any dry good.

If you choose to decant your spices, there are many sets of spice jars to choose from — like this 24-piece square set ($29) or this 12-piece round set ($35). And if you want to decant snacks, many people like to use bins, like these from The Home Edit ($19 each), or baskets, like these from Ría Safford ($15.20 each).

After you've got your containers, simply remove your pantry staples from their original packaging, place them in the containers, then label what each container contains. Voilà, now you have a perfectly stocked pantry that's as pretty as it is practical.


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