One of the perennial problems with liking to improvise, and wanting to have a well-stocked pantry is that one person uses things more slowly than you would cooking for a family of four. I think that it’s important to store supplies carefully in closed containers rather than bags or boxes which can let some interesting beasties into your staple supplies. For years, I carefully cleaned and saved glass jars and their lids. Great solution? Well–until the lid loses its seal.
Then what do you do? My solution was to buy some Mason canning jars (Ball or Kerr) with wide mouths, in the pint and quart sizes. They are inexpensive, and lids are no longer a problem. The same lids fit all the jars, so I’m not standing around with a jar full of something and trying to find a lid to fit. The rings last, and last–a bit like the Energizer bunny–and you can replace the seals as needed! I think that my kitchen shelves even look rather nice…but then I kind of like a homey look.
If your pantry space is cramped, the wide-mouth jars stack well! Another advantage of the wide-mouth jars is that a 1/4-cup dry measuring cup will fit through the mouth of the jar easily–so you can dip and measure from the easily. Got to store that 10-pounds of rice that was such a great price? Well the same lids will fit the half-gallon jars.
With some minimal additional equipment you can even put food by in these same jars–just be sure that you have new lids if you’re going to use them for long-term preserving of foods.