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How to Organize Plastic Containers

Do you have an avalanche of plastic every time you reach for a container to store your leftovers? Get your plastic containers organized with these 5 easy tips from Domestic CEO.

By
Amanda Thomas,
Episode #146

Over the last 7 years, my company Moxie Girl has helped organize the kitchens of hundreds of clients in the Phoenix, Arizona area. When we ask the clients what is currently not working in their kitchen, they almost always say, “The plastic container situation!”

As handy as plastic containers are for storing leftovers and sending yummy lunches to school or work, they can also be a pain in the neck to try and corral. They topple over, lids go missing, and they become a giant mess in a cabinet or drawer. To help get the world’s plastic container clutter under control, I have 5 tips that are simple to implement in your home today:

Tip #1: Cut Down

If you’re like most people, including myself, you probably think that you need a wide variety of plastic containers so you are ready for whatever food storage need arises. That’s why we end up keeping the containers that lunch meat comes in, margarine tubs, as well as buying actual plastic storage containers.

Most of us have them in a variety of shapes and sizes, just in case. I recently went through my plastic containers and found that I had roughly 35. Some were round, some were square, some were oval, and I obviously justified keeping each and every one of them at some point. I mean, leftovers definitely taste different if they come from a square versus round container, right?

My first step to tackling my own plastic container clutter problem was to remove all of them from my kitchen cabinet. I took some time to match all the lids with containers, and then tossed or recycled any mismatches. From there, I allowed myself to keep just 8 of my favorite containers:

  • 2 large round containers for salads that I pack for lunch
  • 4 small rectangular containers for packing leftovers into individual serving lunches
  • 2 small round containers for packing snack nuts and salad dressings

I then boxed up the rest of the containers and put them into a closet. I told myself that I’d keep them because I would surely need some of them soon. And you know what? For the last 4 weeks, I’ve been living just fine with those 8 containers.

And you know what else? I realized that those are the only containers I had been using before. So I'd been keeping 30 more containers “just in case” for no reason whatsoever.

While this step alone can solve 90% of your plastic container storage problems, stick with me because I’m going to give you a few more tips to make sure that your mountain of plastic doesn’t come back to haunt you.

Tip #2: Use Other Options

I recently went to visit my Grandma. She’s 93-years-old and for as long as I can remember she’s had the same 6 pieces of Tupperware. Even when she was keeping lots of food on hand to feed her growing granddaughters, she still only had 6 pieces.

How did she do this?

She keeps a few bowl covers on hand at all times. These shower cap-like things are stored in a small plastic baggie, and can be used to cover almost any size bowl because they have elastic around the edges. These covers take up very little space, can be washed and reused, and work great for all kinds of leftovers. Another version of this is a silicone bowl cover. A brand I use is called a Lily Pad Cover. It’s a flat silicone cover that seals to the top of any container. Not only is it super functional, it’s pretty cute too.

Another option is simply storing the food in the container you cooked it in. It used to drive me nuts that my husband would take the pot from the stove and just stick it in the fridge. I thought he was just being lazy. When I got rid of most of my plastic containers though, this method allowed me to pack up just what I needed to take for the day’s lunch. I was dirtying less dishes and it helped me to not run out of plastic containers.

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