Plastic pitchers serve many uses beyond a cool summertime drink!

Although we may have fancy ceramic pitchers for serving at the dinner table, the old reliable plastic pitcher is found in almost everyone’s refrigerator, especially on these hot summer days. Fruit juices, teas, sports drinks and just plain icy-cold water are some of the typical choices. My favorite styles of plastic pitcher are the oval or rectangular space-saving shape. However, these pitchers are useful for a great number of foods and purposes which you may not have considered. Here are a few such uses.

Plastic pitchers usually come in one or two-quart sizes. Depending on what you’re storing, both sizes are useful. Let’s say you made a double batch of spaghetti, intending to freeze half for a dinner later. A plastic pitcher is the perfect container for this task. Be sure your pitcher has a tightly fitting lid and is microwave safe. Leave a little space at the top for expansion during freezing. When you’re ready to fix your second spaghetti dinner, you simply thaw the container overnight in the frig, and zap it in the microwave. Open the pouring spout and pour directly over your hot noodles. This also works well with chili and soups which freeze well.

These handy storage containers are also a convenient way to safely store rice, macaroni, orzo or other small size grains and pastas. You pour directly from the container into your measuring cup, without opening a plastic bag which may spill accidentally. You snap it shut and your dry goods are safe from insects and retain freshness.

Here’s yet another time saver. If you mix up a 2-quart plastic pitcher’s worth of fruit smoothie tonight, when the kids get up, there’s a cool, nutritious and appealing breakfast. Shake and pour. These make great after-school snacks too.

If you’re making a big batch of soup or other dish requiring a great number of chopped fresh vegetables, do your chopping the day before and store it in the plastic pitcher, ready to go when you are.

Many brown gravies freeze well and if you’ve got some of that delicious Thanksgiving dinner gravy left over, freeze in a pitcher for an encore next week. Thaw, heat and serve. You don’t even need to dirty a spoon. A paper towel can wipe up any errant drips.

Here’s a terrific idea for storing hamburger patties. Use one of the large, round pitchers to pack in individually made patties, with a sheet of waxed paper in between each. To prevent freezer burn, use a larger sheet of waxed paper to place over the top patty. This storage method also makes it easy to see just what you have left in your inventory.

I say, hooray for plastic pitchers!