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.





A Solution That Works! (Finally!!)

A Solution That Works! (Finally!!) title at

I wrote a post a while back about how I was giving up on how I wanted things to be and just going with how they are.

I wanted that basket on the other side of the TV. So it wouldn’t run the risk of hanging halfway off the side of the dresser.

That never worked. As you can see in the top picture, the pile o’ games and movies kept happening on the other side.

I’m so glad I gave up.

I took the picture on the bottom without any staging whatsoever. It’s exactly what this space looks like on a random day.

Sure, there are pieces of a craft project, a tub of flannelgraph, and one measly little game on the left. And a green pony-tail holder and a movie just to the side of the basket on the right.

Yeah, okay. The basket sits precariously balanced on the edge.


THAT being its “natural state” is such a huge improvement over its previous “natural state.”

As someone with (generally unrealistic) dreams of systems that DO the work so I don’t have to, I’m calling this one a win!

Finally Finding a Solution that Works at


Baskets? Oh. I Get it Now.

Finally grasping how to REALLY use baskets to stay more organized.

I used to think baskets would solve all my problems.

So I bought them.

And then bought some more.

And a few more just in case.

Then, I’d get home and the Organizing Energy I had before I left for the store was gone. The baskets would sit in their bags on the floor or on a shelf for . . . like . . . . forever.

They became part of the clutter.

A big part of my progress in this whole deslobification process over the past five years has been realizing/accepting that it’s best for me to JUST declutter. To get rid of the stuff that we don’t need and/or that won’t fit in our home.

JUST decluttering makes the house feel 1000 times more organized.

Because Just Decluttering makes so much sense to my brain, I’ve found myself a little fearful of containers.

But now, more than four years after the lightbulb moment when I finally grasped the Container Concept, I’m using a basket.

And I’m pretty sure I’m using it correctly.

This is a big deal, people.

When I would hear someone say that the best way to keep countertops tidy was to use baskets, I’d nod on the outside and cry on the inside. All my own attempts at this totally obvious and logical solution had failed. I needed SIX baskets to hold all my stuff and then the stuff never made it back into the basket so my counters were covered in not only STUFF but in empty baskets.

Now I get it. I needed less stuff, not more baskets.

And once I had less stuff, the function of the basket finally sank into my Slob Brain.

The basket is where I put the stuff when I clean the kitchen.

Now I’m pretty sure a Normal Person would disagree and say “No, the basket is where you put the stuff after each and every time you use it so your kitchen counters never get out of control.”

Yay for them.

That’s just not how I roll. (Unfortunately.)

But with less stuff (ONLY what will fit in the basket) I find that the basket removes my frustration over my cluttered countertop since there is no decision to make, only a job to do. Move the stuff into the basket.

And if the basket overflows, then the natural limit of the container has been met and it’s time to see which bottle doesn’t deserve to be there. I’m using that basket ONLY for the vitamins and things that get used consistently. Random other bottles can go in the cabinet.

Don’t worry. I totally get that all these things are INSANELY OBVIOUS to most people.

They weren’t to me.

If this makes sense to you, and you want more home management strategies that actually make sense (to us not-naturally-organized types), check out my new book, How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind. The book will be released wherever books are sold on November 8th, so pre-order now. HowToManage_3D


Baskets Oh. Now I Get It.

Does even the thought of decluttering overwhelm you? Sign up for my newsletter and get my reality-tested decluttering solutions delivered to your inbox for free.


Random Affiliate Link for the Day:

Christmas is less than 100 days away. (WHAAAT?) So here’s a non-clutter stocking stuff idea. “Santa” put one in Hubby’s stocking last year but I’m pretty sure “he” really meant it to be mine. I use it ALL the time. And it’s only 2.82 at this moment with FREE shipping. Shipping takes up to four weeks though, so it’s worth it to grab one or two now. Bear Claw Telescopic Back Scratcher (Random Colors shipped)




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