Labeling Food Containers

Labeling Food Containers at

I’m trying to re-use food containers.

As a person who has “issues” with containers, this was a big step for me.

Recently, I overheard someone mention that she uses a label-maker to label all her containers of leftovers.

For some reason, this makes me giggle.  I know it’s a good idea, but it’s one of those things I know I’d never do in a million ba-jillion years.

But I did feel the need to label one container.  Specifically, a container that looks like it should have butter in it.

Y’know.  Because it says “butter” on the outside.

It’s difficult to describe the disappointment you feel when you toast a piece of homemade (by someone else) bread, pull out the butter container, open it up, and find . . . last week’s casserole.

Or broccoli.

Or pink rice.

So I labeled the container.  Permanently.  I labeled it with the only information I really want to know:

“Not butter.”

Do you label leftovers?

Labeling Food Containers pin at



  1. 1

    I label my leftovers with the super high tech method of sharpie on masking tape. That way I can still reuse the container after it’s had the leftovers. I really like containers like that for the freezer since they take up hardly any room. If I put the tape on at room temp it’ll stay on in the cold.

  2. 2

    My husband WISHES I did! I think I’m adding masking tape to the grocery list.

    • 3

      Even easier in my families fridge if the lid and container DO NOT match it is left overs. No mess and losing the pen or tape.

  3. 4

    I use the tape and perm marker method like pittsburgh mama, my hubby hates it…but it works for me. I try to put sauce back in the jar though

    • 5

      I do not label my leftovers, however, we do have a specific shelf for them – it’s the one right by the cheese try. That shelf isn’t big enough for pans or anything like large, and it’s the first spot wandering eyes focus on. It’s my belief that there’s a higher chance of eating them if it’s the first thing I spot.

  4. 7

    Yes, I label leftovers. But this method works only for the fridge, not the freezer. I try not to put leftovers in the freezer where they fall to the bottom and become part of a giant glacier with unknown contents. This REALLY DOES WORK. Believe it or not, sticky notes will stay on in the fridge, if you put them on the container BEFORE you put it in the fridge. So, enough sloppy joe left for 2 sandwiches? Write “sloppy joe x 2” on a small post-it, stick it on the container, and into the fridge. And as an added bonus, remove the note before you reheat the contents, stick it onto the inside of the cabinet door next to where you keep your containers and it’s there the next time you need it. No need to keep making new ones. They last a really long time ! It REALLY DOES WORK, and is actually inspiring when you open your fridge and find a little “library” of leftovers to choose from.

  5. 9

    I’m a Perfectionist Slob, which means that I cannot handle re-using food containers (no, I don’t consider this an admirable trait). They don’t match and they don’t stack nicely on a shelf. So I use glass pyrex containers that I can see into. I can see what’s in the container, and I can see when it starts to morph into a science experiment. I do use a Sharpie to label stuff that goes into the freezer. A little rubbing alcohol will remove it from just about anything except latex paint.

    • 10
      Rhonda says:

      That’s actually healthier for you anyways. So you can pat yourself on the back instead of feeling bad about it. Reheating in plastic is not good. I do store in plastic containers because it’s bad enough having to clean up a mess that spilled out of the fridge when someone was careless without adding glass to the mix. I do always try to put it on a plate before reheating though.

  6. 11

    I use chalk markers and always add the date. The markers wash off easily, just gotta make sure the writing dries before you touch it.

  7. 12

    Your label is more accurate than the original because (look at the ingredients) that stuff is definitely not butter.

  8. 16

    I love that label.

    I reuse plastic containers for leftovers too (definitely prefer them to tupperware) and so I don’t end up with that disappointment, I purposely mismatch lids. I know a yogurt container with a sour cream lid won’t have either of those products in it.

    I also reuse smaller containers, one of which being a seasoning salt container that I put cinnamon sugar in so I could sprinkle it on my toast. I crossed of the label and wrote on it in sharpie, but it didn’t help one night when I sprinkled a good helping of cinnamon sugar on my oven fries.

    • 17

      Haha Me too!!

      I use the sharpie/masking tape system to label spaghetti sauce when I put it in the freezer so I can find it when I need to add it to the next batch. I also label the homemade meat/veggie broth so I can find it again in the freezer.

      In the frig though I often use the mismatch the container and lid method as well as try to keep the leftovers on the top left shelf of the frig so we use them quicker. I don’t like to take the time to label things and I sometimes reuse the containers several times before they have to be thrown out due to the accidental science experiments.

  9. 18

    I need to do this! I don’t re-use containers very often for storage because I can’t see what’s in them and I forget that I used them. Last weekend we had our home group meeting at church and were having tacos and I signed up for sour cream last minute because I saw I had a container in the fridge at home. I picked up the container and didn’t check inside & when we got to our home group meeting, well it was NOT sour cream and in fact was a buffalo chicken dip leftover from New Years. That could’ve been really bad! LOL!!

  10. 20

    I label my containers but I just use good old scotch tape and a sharpie. I also add the date so we know how old something is. “Hmmm… these tacos look alright, but we had them 9 days ago. Yeah, that’s ok.” 🙂

  11. 21

    Love this! I had to click on the “pink rice” link. That’s just funny. I love to make several batches of brown rice & freeze them. If I’m messing up the rice cooker, may as well make it worth it. It’s so handy. Takes a few minutes to defrost in the microwave versus 40 minutes to cook a new batch.

    • 22
      Rhonda says:

      Read an article recently that says you can decrease the calories in your rice by refrigerating it before eating it. So you are doing yourself a bigger favor than you though by making extra. Not sure I totally bough into it but hey can’t hurt, can it?

  12. 23

    I have to admit that before I read this post it NEVER occured to me to label leftovers. I do primarily use clear glass containers or jars buteven if I didnt I dont think I would label, and I am not going to feel bad about it!
    All my old food comtainers get taken for science experiments and bug collecting anyway.

  13. 24

    Sharpie and dry erase markers come off with rubbing alcohol. Wet erase comes off in the dishwasher with no additional effort if you can find one that works. Masking tape breeds bacteria. This has been your lesson from the chef.

    My partner also works in the food industry, so getting an item name and a date on most everything isn’t too difficult. His mom was amazed and surprised at how good an idea I had about labeling things before they go in the freezer, you’d think I invented the light bulb the way she went on.

    When I was a kid I used the mismatching lid trick, and had a separate section of the fridge for leftovers. Now I use those as planters and to make my own yogurt, and have clear containers that stack nicely for the leftovers because the old folks in the house can’t understand that you can in fact eat a food if you can’t see it through the container. Now if I could only get people to stop over stuffing the freezer so containers fall out and shatter, that would be great.

  14. 25

    I’m trying to do this thing where I only make enough food for the one meal because we never eat the leftovers unless its curry, and then it’s only me for my lunch the next day. It’s working out well.

  15. 26

    I’ve heard that nail polish remover will remove the original labeling on plastic containers. I have yet to try this.. mainly due to procrastination! Lol

  16. 27

    I don’t label leftovers. I do have an old baby wipes box in the downstairs freezer where I put individual portions of leftovers. Then my hubby knows anything in there is good for him to take to work. We started that after he took a container of red sauce to work thinking it was sloppy joe. So he ate a roll with homemade red sauce for lunch…at a meeting. Let’s just say his co workers were amused.

  17. 28

    This post made me laugh. A few years ago I made a trip to see family in Spokane , whilst there I purchased a beautiful olive oil bottle and decided I was going to use it as a pretty washing up liquid bottle, I placed a wine pourer in it and hey presto I had a jazzy bottle.
    All went well until my sons best made popped in and the two boys were making their own 2 foot sandwich, whilst myson was on spreading bread Ben maws charged with making fried egg , yes you guessed it he used washing up liquid to fry the eggs has never been forgotten. Sadly the bottle got smashed last year

  18. 30

    About half the time I label. I use a sharpie and masking tape. If it’s a container like the one in your photo, I would definitely label it. In fact, I just reused an almonds can for chopped dates and I put masking tape on both sides of the can so nobody would be surprised.

  19. 31
    Tasmanian says:

    DYMO all the way, inc date!

  20. 32

    This post is absolutely hilarious because I absolutely just did the same exact thing. I labeled my Smart Balance Butter tub “LEFTOVERS”, in black sharpie. Great minds think alike 😉

  21. 33

    I reuse washed-out peanut butter jars all the time; they’re see-through, BPA-free (glass), wide mouthed, and hold just enough for one-two servings (about all we ever have left over). Pickle jars work well too, and have more space of course.

  22. 36

    I love LOVE love mason jars, and other glass containers. I use them for left overs all the time. I mark them with permanent marker. It just washes right off. Also if you use permanent marker on glad ware it will wash off with a tiny bit of elbow grease and dish soap.

  23. 37
    Tiffani N. says:

    I just read this. It made me laugh. I love butter. I would be very sad if I ran out of butter. Even when we are very broke, I always have butter. If I am ever in a situation in which I can’t afford butter, then I will truly be broke.I just wrote sentences that contain butter, that is how much I agree with you!

  24. 38
    Stephanie says:

    I just scribble on the lid and over the logo because I can’t be bothered to write actual words lol. Leftovers don’t hang around long here so I can usually remember what’s actually in it, just not the right choice between “butter on the left” and “butter on the right” when I want butter

  25. 39

    I keep all the dairy products in the all the tolime (except cheese,) and leftovers in a different section. Otherwise, I fear I would constantly losing stuff in my fridge!

  26. 40

    I try to use clear containers as much as possible. If I can’t see it it doesn’t exist. If I do use a not-clear container I right on with a sharpie. And the next time I just scratch through the old info and write on new. By the time I run out of space the container needs to be chunked anyway. 🙂

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