How I Store Plastic Food Containers

(I’m teaming up with some other bloggers today to talk about . . . kitchens!)

How I Store Plastic Food Containers - A Slob Comes Clean

As someone who could create a graph of my life showing a way-too-sharp upward spike in plastic food containers followed by a way-too-gradual downward decline . . . I’ve learned a thing or two about how to store them.

For me.

And for my Slob Brain that doesn’t do terribly well with complicated and elaborate organizing systems.

Did I ever mention that once upon a time I was a Tupperware lady?

I graduated from college in December of nineteen-mumble-mumble, and planned to substitute teach in the spring.  When I found out I had to wait six weeks for my background check to go through, I decided to sell Tupperware.  I had been to a party a few months before, and all that domesticity, storage-possiblity, and promise of super-duper-organization was crazy-appealing to me.

Y’know, because I was still in that delusional I’m-a-slob-now-but-once-I-have-a-real-kitchen-I’ll-magically-be-organized phase.

Anyway, I collected tons of plastic containers while I was selling.  That was (over) fifteen years ago and I feel like I’ve been purging plastic ever since.

Now, I have finally reached the point where I can open my Tupperware cabinet without using an umbrella for self-protection, and can (generally) find what I need when I need it.

For me, that’s big.

Here are my two strategies for keeping it under control:

1.  Less is more.

While the idea of being able to store enough food to feed an army is appealing, it doesn’t work for me.  If I have more than two meals of leftovers stored in the fridge, I end up with too many fuzzy, unidentifiable substances that have to be spooned down the garbage disposal.

If I know how much food I can handle storing, I better understand how many containers I need.

And the fewer containers I have, the better organized the cabinet stays without  being officially “organized.”  Just like I find with all of my other decluttering efforts, it works best for me to just keep purging until I get to a manageable amount of stuff.

2.  Store containers with the lids on.

I know this goes against everything that most storage-container-organization-system-creators believe, but it’s what works for me.  No, it’s not the most efficient use of space if you’re looking to fit as much as possible into your cabinet.  But when I’m following my first rule, I find that I have plenty of room to store them this way.

Since I’m a grab-and-go kind of girl, reaching blindly into the cabinet and pulling out a complete container in one grab . . . works well for me.

Matching up lids and containers from a way-too-full cabinet . . . doesn’t.


Today, I’m teaming up with some other bloggers to provide ideas and inspiration for the kitchen.  Go check out their posts and be inspired to tackle a project in your kitchen!

Jami from An Oregon Cottage is re-vamping and beautifying her “pitifully small” spice cabinet.

Nony from A Slob Comes Clean is talking about how she keeps her food storage containers from causing an avalanche every time she opens the cabinet door.

Christine from I Dream of Clean is sharing cleaning ideas she’s learned from watching cooking shows.

Taylor from Stain Removal 101 is sharing tips, tricks, and how-tos of cleaning the fridge.

Lauren from Mama’s Laundry Talk is sharing the Dos and Don’ts of Dishcloths.



  1. 1
    Slob with OCD says:


    Less is MORE! I saw the Happiness project author talking about organization, and she said “Don’t organize–Purge” Her thought was that if you organize first you are putting a bunch of energy into stuff you don’t need and then you are even more committed to keeping it because it’s organized.

    This was certainly true when I went through the upstairs closet and the downstairs art supplies for my kids and discovered that the reason I couldn’t keep my daughters art stuff organized was that I had enough for a classroom, and I was never going to make it fit.

  2. 2

    I just recently purged my “plastics” cupboard with all the spare plastic containers and also my “glass” cupboard with all my mixing bowls, and other kitchen paraphanalia. It looks so fabulous now – just have to keep it that way – grrrr….

    I found the best way was to pull EVERYTHING out, throw out anything that I didn’t know what it was, that didn’t have spare parts or lids attached, etc. I wiped down the inside and had bought a heap of really cheap plastic basket from K-Mart. I put the large containers in one, lids in another and the small snacky ones with their lids in yet another. It has made it so much easier to pull out a container and either take out what I need or put it back (fairly) tidily. Just have to train my daughter to put them back in the right baskets when she helps me put away dishes!

  3. 3

    My husband stores Tupperware containers with the lids on. I was skeptic when we first married & moved in together, but it WORKS. I love not scrambling around to find a matching lid…at least this way the whole container goes missing, not just parts.

    My cupboard currently won’t even close and about ten containers cascade onto the floor when you open the door…I’m too scared to try this one!

  4. 4

    I have been trying to work on this, although my plastic cabinet is more butter/cool whip containers and not so much the nicer tupperware. The fewer I have(and i store with lids on) the better. If I don’t limit myself then there seems to be more unidentifiable items in the refrigerator-“relocated clutter” I think I am going to be brave and toss out all but 6 or so containers today.

  5. 5

    I still have to use the umbrella to open mine.

  6. 6

    Awww, my mom was a Tupperware lady when I was little and I was fascinated by the Tupperware closet. Yes, closet, not cupboard. Feel better now?

    For my part, I found one of the sets of plastic containers with the cute little spinning organizer (I think it’s called a Store ‘n’ Spin—the kind you see on cheesy tv commercials) brand new at a yard sale and it has been awesome. All three sizes of container use the same size lid, so that’s easy. It’s probably the only organizing gadget that has actually worked for me.

  7. 7

    I like the idea of storing containers with lids ON. I don’t know how many times I’ve reached in for a container, then couldn’t find a matching lid. It definitely solves the problem of containers without lids and lids without containers – and like you said, if you purge to what you actually use, there will still be space for everything. I think I’ll go do this now…..

  8. 8

    I am using the umbrella still too. Maybe I should move the plastic to a cupboard on the bottom? Sigh.

  9. 9

    I’ve actually converted (mostly) to glass storage containers (the lids are a heavy plastic with a seal that snaps down onto the glass containers). I store them with lids-on, and even though they take up quite a lot of room that way, I much prefer it.

  10. 10

    Totally agree about keeping the lids on! I’ve also banned myself from buying anymore, but am converting peanut butter jars and the like into containers if I absolutely need one.

  11. 11

    I love the idea of just storing containers with lids. Just have to be sure they’re dry dry first. I MAY not always be patient with dishes.

  12. 12
    Twyla Hajdukiewicz says:

    I gave up on real containers and just went to a restaurant supply store and bought a sleeve of 16 oz deli containers (no kids – just 2 adults, so 16 oz works for us, bigger families would need larger). While I have a handful of larger containers stashed in the pantry, the deli containers are my go-to solution. I can stack them without lids because they all use the same lid (same lid for 32 oz, too). If they get icky, they are cheap enough to throw away. Bonuses are that you can see through them so you know what’s in there and they are cheap enough to give away and not need back if you’re making something for someone else. They work for dry stuff, too….

  13. 13
    unmowngrass says:

    The best tip I came across is, Tupperware should be in a (deep) drawer, not a cupboard. That way you can get to whatever you need without having to pull everything out.

  14. 14

    For me, plastic storage containers are good to have. To keep them down to a manageable size, I mostly use gallon and sandwich sized zip lock baggies for left overs. Baggies take up less room and if you don’t eat or finish your left overs you just toss the whole bag out. Smell is contained in the garbage and nothing to clean. Helps tremendously with dishes and if something gets forgotten about and gross, no biggie.

  15. 15

    I like the idea with lids on just grab & go but I’m concerned with musty smells and condensation. What’s your thoughts on this?

    • 16

      As long as they’re completely dry, it seems to be ok. I have (since this post) started using glass containers. They seem to not have this issue the way plastic did.

  16. 17
    Christine Fowles says:

    I took all my plastic containers out ,matched the two halves and numbered them .Now instead take out number one lid and bottom or number six and so on .its working at the moment.

  17. 18
    Tommie Usry says:

    I’ve recently come to the same conclusion about storing lids with its container. After years of digging for the proper lid – wasting more time than I care to admit – I started putting the two together and WOW! What a time saver and frustration buster it has turned out to be! Wish I had read that tidbit before I finally came to it on my own! I’m looking at other “rules” to break now.

  18. 19

    All very good ideas,by the way I love your blog!!
    But what really works for me is to have all plastic contenders the same size and colour , no problem trying to find matching size or colour , it works with my husbands socks it works with my plastic containers the only thing is to find the right size for your needs..

  19. 20

    Thx for that those thoughts! I do have a lot and I do stack, which works ok for me , BUT I recently instituted a new rule , if I haven’t seen a top in more than a few days , it goes bye bye. Even if it means “hiding ” it in the recycling so I’m not accused of throwing out a perfectly good storage container ! And today I made real progress, I took a printer that the fax worked the scanner worked but no more printing, of course cost more to fix than replace, and it was bittersweet. As no side place for it for the potential fix, but crashed to the bottom of the garbage container BUT it sure was Liberating!!!!

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