Friday, April 17, 2015

How to Organize...Food Storage Containers

It has only been a couple months since I started my absolute obsession with all things organizing.  Before it was just a personal pleasure.  Now it is all I talk about, to the point that my friends should start a game where they take a drink every time I say something about my blog (DRINK!).  Though I have to admit that I was surprised by the topic that has been brought up the most during conversations about getting your house in order. What the heck to do with your food storage containers (aka Tupperware).

If you are like me, you have containers from around 3-4 different sets. They were complete sets at one point in time but, like one of each of my children's socks, they have mysteriously disappeared over time. They have a policy at my job where they will throw away (gasp!) your lunch and whatever it is in if you accidentally leave it over the weekend.  I've likely lost 10 containers over the years to this policy alone.  

And don't forget about the containers you inherit. Containers from cookie exchanges, pot lucks and your mother-in-law, who sends you home with leftovers after every family dinner.  Plus all the Chinese food and Cool Whip containers. Stacks and stacks of containers.  Heck, for some of us, our entire food storage system is Chinese food containers. You would think that with all the sophisticated technology we've invented over the years, food storage containers wouldn't be a problem anymore but they seem to haunt us all.  Luckily there are ways to turn your food storage container graveyard into an efficient and functional system. Let's get started!

Step 1: Locate all your containers from various spots around your kitchen or house and place them on top of a table where you can see everything.

Step 2: Match up all the lids to the bases and set aside anything that doesn't have its matching part.

Step 3: Remove any containers that are not BPA-free.  Unfortunately I didn't find a lot of containers that have BPA-free markings but if you do a little research and use your best judgement (I'm talking about you Chinese food containers!!) you can weed out most of the questionable containers.  Technically the jury is still out on BPAs but here is a quick article if you need more information.

Step 4: Remove any containers that are warped, broken, stained or not functioning properly.  Lids that don't close all the way seems to be my biggest problem.

Step 5: Assess what you have remaining.  Are there any sizes that you never use?  I have these shallow and long containers that I never touch for some reason.  Or are there any sizes that you find yourself using so frequently that you run out before you can wash them, so you might need to buy more?

Step 6: Sort your remaining containers into similar shapes.  Squares, circles, rectangles, etc.

Step 7: Lids are really the biggest part of this puzzle.  If you have different types of containers, the lids are not going to play nicely together.  There are a couple different things you can do to to keep the miscellaneous lids organized.  I have an extra large food storage container that I use to hold everything.  You can also use a regular plastic non-food storage bin.  Try to keep the lids stacked vertically with large lids in the back and small in the front so you don't have to dig through the whole bin each time you need a lid.  One of my friends uses small bins that hook on the inside of the cabinet door to hold her lids.

Step 8: Repurpose your unwanted containers.  Just because the containers no longer work for food doesn't mean you need to throw them away!  Use them to hold loose nails in the garage or markers in your junk drawer.

If you've purged your cabinets and discover you don't have anything leftover, or if you just want your containers to look uniform and pretty, it is probably time to invest in a new set.  I did some research on the best food storage containers and most agree that glass containers are the way to go.  The glass is less porous so it keeps your food fresher, longer and you don't have to worry about chemicals like you do with plastic containers.  I'm kind of a klutz so I wouldn't trust myself to travel with a glass container but I've been trying to use them more at home.  Here are a few products that have received good reviews, glass and plastic:
We have the Rubbermaid Lock-Its which I now realize, after doing all this research, that I've been using incorrectly (they snap on the top of the lid, not the bottom!).  I find that the sides of the lids don't always snap in place but otherwise they are a good set that doesn't leak or stain.  Plus there are very few sizes in the set that I don't use.

Whatever your food storage container woes, you ultimately need to keep your food fresh, eliminate anything that contains potentially harmful chemicals and be able to find that damn lid!  As always, figure out what works for you.  Do you only need one set of containers or do you need a variety?  Where does it make the most sense to keep your containers?  Are they placed too high in the kitchen or too low? Do you need to label your lids and containers with numbers so you know when someone has run away with lid #14? Play around with it and hopefully food storage containers will stop being the bane of your kitchen's existence.

A big thanks to all my friends that let me showcase their food storage container cabinets!  Now let's see those after pictures. 

1 comment:

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