Some small tweaks in behavior can eliminate daily annoyances. One of those, for me, was the switch from storing leftovers in miscellaneous containers to using glass canning jars with narrow necks made by Weck.
What makes a glass jar revolutionary?
The mouth of a Weck ¼ L Cylindrical Jar (neck opening) nestles perfectly inside the rim of a Thermos insulated jar. It also holds just the right quantity of food to completely fill a 10 ounce Thermos.
I can microwave leftovers in their storage container (Weck jar), then simply invert the jar over the Thermos to quickly and neatly transfer the warmed food.
My old method was messy & inefficient
Before, I would transfer a serving size portion of leftovers—judged by eyeballing the quantity—from a larger Pyrex storage container to a plate. I’d re-heat the food, then fill the Thermos from the plate. Unless I took the extra step to measure out the serving of food, I routinely over- or under-estimated how much mass on a plate would precisely fill an insulated jar.
Or, I would store single servings in plastic containers, but then I would need to dump the food onto a microwave safe dish before re-heating.
We don’t heat food in plastic because of the potential health risk of leaching toxins. I prefer not to store food in plastic for the same reason, though I’m not zealous enough about the subject to avoid it when there’s a real danger of broken glass.
In either case, I also had to spoon the food into the Thermos after heating. That usually resulted in at least a little spilled food and a greasy mess on the outside of the lunch container. Remember, hand-eye coordination is not a particular strength of mine. My arthritis also means morning stiffness in my fingers, further reducing my competence in the kitchen, especially during the before school rush.
Objective improvements thanks to Weck jars
Here’s a list of functional improvements I can attribute to my switch to storing individual servings of leftovers in Weck jars:
- less wasted food
- no dirty measuring cup and/or
- no dirty plate used for re-heating
- no dirty spoon used to transfer
- no dirty kitchen counter from spills
- less frequent cleaning of lunchbox interior from carrying greasy Thermos
More subjective benefits
Though I tend to put function first, the intangible benefits of this new storage and food transfer solution have also made a big impression on me.
Glass jars are beautiful
I debated whether this should be reason number one, but it’s too easy to overlook little changes that bring a lot of joy to everyday life. Beauty is one of those.
Even with my lackluster photography, Weck jars make a pretty picture.
I originally bought a set of three of the ½ L Juice Jars from a fancy kitchen store at an exorbitant price. I had a functional use for them, but I also just loved them. Aside from looking nice, the juice jars, in particular, are sized to feel great in the hand while you hold them.
Compare these two views:
Though both cupboards store functional kitchen equipment I use every day, it should be obvious which items I store in a closed cupboard, and which are stored in plain sight.
Made in Germany, meant to last
Americans who aren’t familiar with the German manufacturer, Weck, should know that these are canning jars. Consider this a European equivalent to our Ball or Kerr canning jars.
The difference, and, again, what makes these so perfect for use with a Thermos, is the size of the mouth of the jar. You want a jar with a 2-3/8 inch opening to mate with a Thermos. Weck also makes wider mouthed jars more similar in diameter to the mason jars used in the USA, so check the size carefully before you place an order.
Because these are canning jars, they are made of thick, strong tempered glass. They were designed to be immersed in boiling water as part of the canning process, then stored for long periods to keep food fresh. They are sturdy.
They are microwave and freezer safe, and I routinely use them for both.
Avoid sudden temperature changes when using glass, and allow room for expansion when freezing liquids. Weck jars are sturdy glass, but any glass has the potential to break if mishandled.
Standardized sizes for sensible accessory storage
I realized years ago that buying a set of containers with interchangeable lids works much better for me than a bunch of disparate sizes. I am reasonably good about tossing a container that’s lost its lid, but why run that risk in the first place?
To keep up with the packed meal demands of my family of four, I own six Thermos insulated jars in two sizes, all of which use interchangeable lids.
Though I’ve now expanded my Weck jar collection to include both 2-3/8 inch and 3-7/8 inch diameter sizes, in both cases I can always order extra lids to replace any that are lost or mangled. The jars are somewhat expensive, but the plastic lids are very reasonably priced.
One less thing to worry about
A canning jar won’t change your life, but, if your family carries packed lunches, it might remove a moment of stress from typical mornings. In our household, that’s one of the busiest—and most stressful—stretches of the day.
And, after all, is there any more beautiful way to store your jelly beans?