Strange Organizing Strategies that Work – Storing Food Containers


Does organizing your Tupperware cabinet make you crazy? Do you automatically cover your head every time you open the door to protect yourself from falling food storage containers?

I get it. I’ve totally been there.

I arranged and re-arranged and organized and re-organized that space so many times. It seemed that no matter what I did, the mess re-appeared.

How did I solve my tumbling container problem?

Short answer: I started storing my Tupperware and other food storage containers with the lids already on the containers.

Long (like, really long) answer: I accepted I had a Clutter Threshold. A clutter threshold isn’t the point at which stuff irritates me. It’s the point at which totally useful things turn into clutter.

Food storage containers are totally useful things. My husband (thankfully) lives off of dinner leftovers for his lunches. I can turn one meal into two (sometimes, three!) using these totally necessary kitchen items.

Once upon a time, however, I had too many of them.

I didn’t realize it was possible to have too many because they were useful. Because they were useful, any time I saw pretty ones at a garage sale or on deep discount at a store, I bought them.

Which increased the frequency (and the painfulness) of the tumbling.

My (hard-learned) definition of clutter: anything I can’t keep under control easily.

When I had way too many food containers, I had to get creative with how I stored them.

Lids here, sorted by size, and squeezed into some fancy contraption to keep them standing up straight.

Bowls together, nested inside one another, stacked as high as possible.

But then, I always needed the container in the middle of the stack.


And I never (like, ever) needed it in a slow and easy moment when I had the time or desire or energy to methodically pull out the teetering tower of containers, gently remove the one from the middle, and then neatly replace the slightly-lower tower.

And I was never patient about analyzing which single lid was the one I needed before pulling it carefully from its vertical home without sending the other 67 lids flying across the kitchen.


I’m a grabber, a finagler, an I-need-this-thing-right-now-before-I-run-to-do-something-way-more-interesting-than-maintaining-the-neatness-of-a-Tupperware-cabinet type.

How does storing food storage containers with the lids on help me live below my Clutter Threshold?

  1. The cabinet naturally stays neater. (I’d say “neat” but we’re still talking about me.) I reach into the cabinet and in one step grab the container I need. No digging, no matching, no need to rearrange.
  2. I’m forced to limit the number of containers I keep. Because significantly fewer containers fit in my cabinet when they are stored with the lids on them, I can’t live under the delusion that there’s no such thing as too many totally-useful containers.
  3. My home, overall, stays under control more easily because I have fewer containers. Because I don’t have an endless supply of containers for leftovers, I can’t keep shoving them into the fridge to grow science projects while they wait for The Big Fridge Cleanout to happen. Because I don’t have as many, I’m forced to wash them consistently and keep things moving.

I totally understand why the naturally organized person would never consider leaving unmatched pieces strewn and shoved in the cabinet in complete disarray when she spent hours perfecting her system for maximum-storage-in-minimum-space.

But I’m not naturally organized. I’m pretty much the opposite of naturally organized.

So I have to go with what works for me. For my unique brain in my unique home.

That’s what matters. What works. Not what should work. What does work.

And I’ve heard from so many of you who function better this way, too.

I’d love to hear what works for YOU, that might be contrary to what works for others!


Helpful stuff (some referral links included): 

If you suspect your brain might be closer to mine than to that of a naturally organized person, you need my book. It’s called How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind and it’s available wherever books are sold. Go here to read more than 100 reviews that will let you know if it’s for you.

If you’re desperate to declutter, but fear the fizzle of that determination, sign up for 30 Days of Decluttering Inspiration and get 30 days of ridiculously practical decluttering strategies delivered free to your inbox to keep you going.

I’ve actually now switched almost exclusively to glass food storage containers. I feel better about using them in the microwave and they don’t stain. These are similar to the ones I have.




--Nony get-how-to-manage-your-home-without-losing-your-mind-wherever-books-are-sold


  1. 1
    Lisa V in BC says:

    Love this! I switched to putting lids on last year as I had the EXACT same problem – now to convince my 10 year old that they need to actually be on the container BeFore they go in the cabinet as they never magically put themselves on!

  2. 2

    I ordered your book last night! I’m so excited! And yes, while I was there, I ordered a few more things. Not enough to sponsor a shopping trip, but maybe buy you a penny piece of candy (that now costs a quarter)??

  3. 3

    Pot drawer. Still a mess, but at least tupperware isn’t constantly falling on my head. Plus, you can always see all the stuff at once.

  4. 4

    Totally the way I do it, too. I started my own household when the lock&lock containers were quite a new thing, and I bought those. But the first generation of those were made in a way that you couldn’t stack them one into another. At first, that irritated me, but then I realized that it’s really helpful to store them that way. Can only recommend it.

  5. 5
    Peggy Molloy says:

    I love glass containers at home but cannot take them to work. Rubbermaid now makes hard plastic containers that the lids snap together to store and the containers snap into the lids. I just got a set earlier this month and they totally work for me. Nothing falls over and my cabinet is neat!

  6. 6

    It always amazes me that my mother calmly reaches into her cabinet and can get whatever container she needs, and knows exactly where the lid for it is. I was just thinking the other day I need to reorganize my plastic containers, maybe I’ll try your way and see if it works!

  7. 7

    You should look into Lock-and-Lock bowels. They have sets that stack inside each other with their lids on. I have several sets and I love them. I buy them from QVC.

  8. 8

    I implemented this today and feel better already. Thanks for the recommendation!

  9. 9

    I was actually contemplating going through my container cabinet and taking out the excess and unmatched pieces. I do stack mine, and keep lids standing up in a bin that fits my cabinet perfectly. I still have some spills and precarious stacks, but the lid bin has helped me so much. They are stacked by size from biggest in back to s,allest in front. My kids even negotiate it when emptying the dish washer. But i can see the value in stacking them with lids on.
    About halfway through your book. I am loving it and it is quite motivating. I did the Konmari purge for many of my things, and it felt great. But your recommendations for daily non-negotiables, momentum, and limits is what really can make the difference over time. But I really did like purging my clothes, shoes, and knick-knacks in big project like tasks. But the paper is the daily task that Konmarie didn’t help for me. And dishes and laundry, of course. They keep happening!

  10. 10

    “I didn’t realize it was possible to have too many because they were useful.” – This one sentence covers so many of my messes!!! Brilliant.

  11. 11

    This has been a problem for me for years. My partner will save any kind of container with a lid and expect me to keep up with them. I used to stack with the lids on and loved that method but we moved twice and now my cabinets are so tiny it isn’t possible. I thought i would be smart, stack the containers and place the lids in a large freezer type bag by size. That worked out ok for a few days until one day i opened the cabinet door, the bag top was turned facing the door instead of upright and i stood there in shock as each lid rapidly slid out one right after the other like the cards in a deck of cards falling all over me. I pretty much gave up after that and its a total mess now. Thank you for the inspiration to try the lid on method again, only they will be in the laundry room this time 🙂

  12. 12

    Chucking most of them out is the Only Way IMHO. 🙂

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