How to Decant the Conscious Way

Glass jars for food storage

My philosophy behind organizing is based on conscious choices. Whenever I buy something I do my best to choose items that are eco-friendly and kind to the earth. A labor of love that I incorporate into my bi-monthly food shopping ritual is decanting. Yes it takes time. Yes it’s more effort than if I didn’t do it, but the benefits are so worth it.

Decanting food into glass jars is a great way to not only live sustainably, but it also helps keep your pantry organized. When you see what you have, you will more likely use it and not waste it! Not to mention food in glass jars look a thousand times better than store packaging.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, together, food and packaging account for almost 45% of the materials in the United States landfills. That’s A LOT of waste! Decanting helps reduce this problem by buying from the bulk bin and reusing your own containers. As a matter of fact,  Whole Foods, Erewhon Natural Foods, and Sprouts all have a great selection of standard bulk foods and will allow you to fill up the container of your choice! Check out Litterless to find out where you can fill up on bulk items in your area.

So now that you know the benefits of decanting, read on to see how to do it below.

1. choose your jar

Six glass jars to store food.

Select a jar that has a good seal or airtight cover to maintain the freshness of your food and to keep bugs out. My favorite jars are made by Anchor Hocking and Le Parfait french terrines. For products that come in bulk, choose a large jar (my favorite one is from Food 52!). Tip: Consider whether or not you need to put a measuring cup or scoop inside the jar. Most people want a jar that they can scoop out of when it comes to products such as flour, sugar, rice, etc.


2. clean jars

Products lined up above the kitchen sink.

The most important thing before you start decanting is to use clean and dry jars. Moisture will cause dry food products to clump if food is added in when jars are wet, so make sure that they are dried well. To stay on the conscious subject, opt for a natural soap like my preferred one from Murchinson-Hume. To dry, I love these flour sack towels; they are 100% cotton and reduce lint. Another option are these Unpaper Paper Towels from Food52 that are a great substitute for disposable paper towels.

3. label

Row of glass jars for food and spice storage.Labeling your jars is key to keeping everything organized. I like to simply write on the jar with a wine glass writer or a water-based Sharpie, both of which can easily be removed with alcohol. Another option is writing directly on washi tape.

Tip: Besides using the tape as labels, write expiration dates on them on the back of the jar. You can also cut the cooking instructions from the packing (if you are not buying in bulk) and tape it to the back of the jar, if needed. Although, most instructions can be found online.

4. organize

Glass jars for the pantry

When organizing your pantry, I like to arrange like with like—so corral all carbs, grains, flours, sugars etc. in a line or on the same shelf for easy access.

For more details on how to organize your pantry, click here!