Home Chef: The Surprising Utility of Take-Out Containers
Every month, Lori Yates from Foxes Love Lemons takes a lesson she learned in culinary school, while working with some of the country’s best chefs, and brings it into the home kitchen, where her tips will help make you a faster, better, and more confident cook. Welcome to her column, Home Chef. Her post today is in honor of this month’s DIY take-out theme (don’t forget to enter your photos in the #DIYtakeout contest!). You may not end up with tons of take-out containers if you cook with Blue Apron every night, but there are only three meals in each box, so…we’re realistic. Here’s how to make the take-out container go to work for you, long after the chicken and broccoli is gone.
If culinary schools and restaurants buy two things in bulk, it’s butter and plastic deli containers. The butter part is obvious, as it’s basically the foundation of classic French cooking. But the deli containers? They’re just plain convenient.
Ask any chef you know – they’ll tell you they adore deli containers for many reasons. They’re see-through, making it simple to quickly find and grab what you need. They’re stackable, so they’re perfect for organizing crowded pantries and refrigerators. They’re re-usable, recyclable, freezer- and dishwasher-safe. They’re also cheap (or even free), meaning you can use them to send leftovers home with family, and you don’t have to worry about getting them back. To my friends’ amusement, I even occasionally use them as drinking water cups.
And the benefits don’t end there. Deli containers can be used as prep bowls and even as improvised measuring cups in a pinch. The most popular sizes – quart, pint and half-pint – equal four, two and one cups, respectively.
My favorite alternative use for these little containers is using two of the lids to quickly halve grape tomatoes. Place 5 to 6 grape tomatoes between two lids. While gently pressing down on the top lid to hold everything in place, carefully slide a serrated knife between the lids to quickly cut all of the tomatoes in half. Fun party trick, right?
Deli containers can be purchased at most restaurant supply stores and bulk food stores. Containers and lids are purchased separately, and prices vary based on amounts. You can also simply wash and re-use containers you receive from delis, restaurants and grocery stores.
Make like a professional chef and get a stack of these for home use. Come to my house, and you’ll see them throughout my fridge, freezer and pantry. I use them to store prepped ingredients and dry grains, freeze homemade ice cream, package up homemade soup and just about everything else!