(Lame) Excuse #3: But Containers are Expensive . . .



So you know about my love/hate, obsession/phobia, gotta-have-it/get-that-thing-out-of-here-before-my-brain-explodes relationship with storage containers, right?

OK.  Good.

Well, I went from being a Tupperware Lady and having everything I could ever possibly imagine I would need . . . to purging, purging, and purging-some-more until I had basically no containers.

I seem to be Directionally Challenged when it comes to finding that place called Happy Medium on stuff like this.

Anyway, I lived for a while (could be a year, could be four years . . . ) not having a storage container at all for my corn starch.  I don’t use corn starch every day, but it’s a must for my chicken stir-fry sauce that we love.

I don’t think corn starch goes bad, but I threw away and replaced many-a-package because I figured it couldn’t last forever . . . especially not in the crumpled up bag inside the box.

And then my kid did the egg drop science project around Easter and one of the things we tried was the corn starch box.  (Which didn’t work, by the way.)

So all I had was the crumpled bag.

That looked awful, and caused me to spend extra time sifting through it every time I made chicken stir-fry (which is supposed to be a quick meal) checking for critters.

And then I read Easy. Homemade.  It’s an e-book I purchased on a whim, thinking I already knew quite a bit about making things from scratch.  (Self-image isn’t generally one of my issues.)  I really loved the e-book.  It gave me new ideas and encouragement about how easy it is to make many basic pantry staples from scratch.

But one thing that stuck out to me was when she mentioned she uses glass containers.  The ones she uses are basically what she and her family collected from things they bought anyway.

Later, as I was eating the last pickle from a glass jar, I realized that the jar was a good size for a package of corn starch. 

Then, while at Costco last week, I lamented the fact that the fairly-priced organic strawberry jam was in such a big container.  A non-squeezable container.  And I may not be prissy, but do not ask me to dirty another spoon just to scoop out some jelly.

Squeeze jelly has spoiled me completely.  (OK, maybe I am prissy . . . )

But . . . I remembered we were mostly out of (meaning I couldn’t get any more out, but still hadn’t actually thrown it away) grape jelly.  So I bought the fru-fru organic stuff. Then I washed the squeezable container, and re-filled it.

I know.  It’s not like rocket science, but I’m excited and proud of myself.

Here’s the thing.  I used to save ALL of it.  EVERY little thing that came through our door that could possibly be re-used . . . I kept.

Way more than I could ever possibly use.

And the sheer volume of possibilities took up so much space in my kitchen that I had no hope of ever keeping it under control.

The stuff, or the kitchen.

But then (as I tend to do) I went to the other extreme and gave up. I pitched anything and everything and resigned myself to not having the containers I needed.

So, I’m now making a point to use the wonderfully-free containers that come to me.

Use them.

Not store them.

Just use them as they come available.  I didn’t have to store the pickle-jar/corn-starch-container at all.  I just washed it and used it immediately to solve a problem.

The not-quite-empty-but-really-actually-empty jelly container?  Giving it a purpose helped me get it out of the fridge, washed, and put back to good use. No storage necessary.

So the excuse in all this?  There are kind of two.

First, I let my corn starch sit in an ugly/not-practical scrunched up bag because I didn’t want to shell out the money for the perfect Corn Starch Storage Solution.  When really, several Corn Starch Storage Solutions had passed through my house and into the recycling bin over the past year.

Second, I’m not going back to the days of saving EVERYTHING while my eyes dance with possibilities that will never be realized.  Let things pass on through unless there’s a real reason right here right now to keep and USE them.

Make sense?


 Oh.  The link to the e-book, Easy. Homemade.?  It’s my affiliate link, of course!  It’s also available on Amazon for the Kindle.






  1. 1

    My mom has been doing the re-use of container thing for years. Apparently, it’s what women did before the plastic storage container industry existed.

    Me? I’m using up the boxes of empty mason jars that I inherited. Free.

  2. 2

    Good, good post. When a swarm of knats invaded my pantry I finally got sense into my head and went out and bought containers (we do sams club, so no butter tub, even the Sam’s Club size, was going to fit all that flour. Wish I had done it earlier because…well, I thought I got all the bugs out of the flour until I closed the lid…then with air gone they all came out of hiding and that flour is speckled so bad I’m going to have to toss the whole big Sam’s Club lot of it…but at least I will have a container cleaned and ready before I buy and MORE flour.

  3. 7

    Just wondering if you were in my head or in my kitchen 🙂 I can totally relate to this!

  4. 8

    Excellent! Good post. I try to save only the biggest jars, sometimes I forgot though. Now I would need some jar for a paint but I don’t have any that is large enough.

  5. 9

    Great series! I have been reading, just not posting. Gotta keep up with my favorite de-clutterer. I go from one extreme to the other on this one too. I have a bunch of protein mix containers, about 1 gallon in size. In my mind I go from how could these not be major useful storage items to why do I have these here. If I ever get my pantry in order they would look nice all matching then back to these silly things are just taking up a whole cabinet of space. This is an excuse that I seem to use often.

  6. 10

    Argo cornstarch comes in a nice plastic container. I bought that once and just refill it with the cheap stuff. So it even says cornstarch without me getting sidestracked by the prospect of making a cute label for it.

    • 11

      Yeah Christie I was going to say my cornstarch came in a plastic jar. I don’t use it very often so I don’t know how long it has been in the pantry. It is one of those things that I figure never goes bad.

  7. 12

    We have a milk crate of potentially useful containers. Once the crate is full, nothing more goes in unless something comes out. Another systems is to determine how many of something you might need at once (say 3 glass jars) and only keep that many in reserve. Write the number down on a label and put the label where the empties go so you’ll only keep that many.

    • 13

      This is a fabulous plan! We have a shelf. It has a bevy of containers on it, but it can only fit so many. If I have one that I really want to keep for whatever reason, I find another one that’s been sitting around for a while and get rid of it (or if I have 6 spaghetti jars, one of them might go). Of course I always seem to need exactly the one that just went out to recycling yesterday… But that could just be psychological. I always seem to make do well enough without that one perfect one.

  8. 14

    I know I haven’t commented in a while (although I have read every single post since the beginning :D), but I just wanted to let you know of something that I came across a few weeks ago that fits right into this post, and is something you can probably use.

    My daughter has a fetish with headbands… so much so that I looked on pinterest for some way to neatly store them all instead of just keeping them all on my dishwasher (along with the crazy amounts of old mail that are sitting on there too). I came across a pin that took an empty oatmeal container, covered it in pretty paper, and used both the inside and outside for hair stuff:

    It was super easy to make! From one cluttered mama to another, it has definitely worked so far! I no longer have stray ponies, clips and headbands lying around, as my daughter puts them away in her pretty little container herself now. And we’re not looking all over for them before school.

    I hope this helps you out Nony! And by the way, I love the Master bedroom and 31 days series!!

  9. 16
    PegOBrien61 says:

    I had to laugh when I saw the off from the storage company on this site. Oh, the irony!

  10. 17

    I don’t keep as many containers as I used to but I just can’t bring myself to throw away the gallon mayonnaise jars and the gallon ice cream tubs.i have at least 5 mayonnaise jars and 40 ice cream tubs.On another subject,if you want rid of the leftover label on your jelly container,spry it with WD40 then let it set for a few minutes,then rub and everything should come right off.Sometimes I have to do it twice,then I wash off the outside of the container and add my own label. I am really enjoying the lame excuse series because I can definitely relate.

  11. 18

    Wow! Did I ever need to read this one! ;o))

  12. 19

    If you put some bay leaves in your flour it will help keep the pests away. This is one of those things that floats around in my head – can’t remember the important stuff but this stuff stays around!

  13. 21

    I have a sterilite bin that I have been putting containers in….for a while. I have been saving them because “this will be AWESOME for that one project we want to do but haven’t yet” It is all mostly making paints and play-doh’s and what not. I just put it in my shed for storing until I need…..maybe I should toss the stuff?

  14. 22

    “I seem to be Directionally Challenged when it comes to finding that place called Happy Medium on stuff like this.” I feel like I am president of the No-Happy-Medium Club! I really relate to all your posts, but this one especially. Thanks for being so transparent about who you are, so that the rest of us feel comfortable de-slobifying with you. 🙂

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