Reusing Food Containers

Posted: August 11, 2014

Often one of the jobs of the kitchen helpers is to clear the table and put away any leftovers. Food storage containers can be great tools for kitchen helpers, or they can be a nightmare. Choosing the proper food storage containers is important both for food safety and food quality. Food safety experts warn not to reuse packaging materials such as paper, paperboard, and expanded foam containers, like foam cups and foam meat trays. These containers have air spaces that will store food particles and bacteria.

Read the packaged label when purchasing food storage containers to find out if they are reusable or only for one time use. Containers from take-out foods are not typically reusable, unless labeled as such.

Food storage containers that can be safely heated are also labeled as such. Some can be safely heated in a microwave, others are meant to store only cold foods.

Glass can be reused for all foods and for all processes. This is true regardless of what food was originally packaged in the glass container. There is an exception to this rule: single-use glass jars should not be used for pressure processing when preserving foods at home in a pressure canner. For example, a pickle jar can be used to store a homemade salad dressing. A relish jar can be used to store homemade salsa. But neither can be used in a pressure canner.

What containers do you store food in? Are they designed to be reused or use to reheat foods in? Take inventory of your food containers to ensure your kitchen helpers do the best job possible. Here is a recipe that is easy to make and uses vegetables from the red/orange group.

Fresh Made Salsa

Makes 2 cups


  • 1/2 onion, fined chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes or 1 One 15 oz can diced Unsalted tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 tsp cumin


  • Rinse and cut onion, pepper, cilantro.
  • Combine all ingredients.
  • Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes to 24 hours to allow flavors to blend.

Nutrition Information:

Per Tablespoon, 5 calories, 0 fat, 0 protein, 1 g carbohydrates. Excellent source of vitamin C.

Contact Information

Mary Reistetter Ehret, M.S.,R.D.,L.D.N.
  • Extension Educator, Food, Families & Health
Phone: 888-825-1701