The Secret for Organizing Food Storage Containers so They Stay Organized | From Overwhelmed to Organized: The Secret for Organizing Food Storage Containers so They Stay Organized

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Secret for Organizing Food Storage Containers so They Stay Organized


The Secret for Organizing Food Storage Containers so They Stay Organized | fromoverwhelmedtoorganized.blogspot.com



Is your food storage containers cupboard an avalanche waiting to happen?  Can you easily find what you need when you need it?  Do you have unmatched tops and bottoms?
The Secret for Organizing Food Storage Containers so They Stay Organized | fromoverwhelmedtoorganized.blogspot.com

One of the most difficult cabinets or drawers to keep organized in any kitchen is often the Tupperware/plasticware/leftover containers zone.  Even when you take time to neatly nest containers and organize the lids, it typically doesn't last.  When containers are used and washed and ready to be put away, who takes the time to put them back as neatly as they were before?  Most people toss them in and run.  It doesn't take long to become an overwhelming mess!

Want to know the secret to maintaining an organized food storage containers zone?  Read on!


Kitchen Organizing Tips


First, as a refresher, or in case you missed any, here's a list of all the tips I've shared already (with links to the corresponding post).
  1. Use drawer dividers
  2. Measure before you buy
  3. Determine the purpose of each drawer
  4. Purge before organizing
  5. Store like with like
  6. Keep items where you use them
  7. Store items you don't regularly use in "out-of-the-way" spots
  8. Maximize the vertical space in deep drawers
  9. Create zones in your kitchen
  10. Use boxes and baskets to contain like items
  11. Use clear containers for baking ingredients
  12. Label your containers
  13. Done is better than perfect
  14. Store dishes in a cupboard you can easily reach when you empty the dishwasher
  15. Maximize the vertical space in cabinets using wire shelves 
  16. Store all your hot beverage supplies together
  17. Use under-the-shelf baskets to maximize vertical space in cabinets 
  18. Store all your breakfast supplies together
  19. Use the top shelf of a food cabinet to store extra foods
  20. Hang paper towels on the back of a cabinet door to keep them off your counters
  21. Keep as many items in drawers or cabinets as possible, instead of on counters
  22. Rearrange or relocate items on counters for a less cluttered look
  23. Wash dishes frequently and put them away quickly  
  24. Relocate items that you rarely use so they don't clutter your kitchen
  25. Use narrow spaces under the sink for tall, narrow items
  26. Use plastic bins to contain cleaning supplies under the sink 
  27. Use short stacks as much as possible so you don't have to move items to access others
  28. Only store shallow pans in a shallow drawer

Many of these tips come up over and over in my kitchen organizing posts because I apply them in different contexts.  Today you'll see a version of #4, 5, 10, and 27 in the context of my food storage containers cupboard.  


Here's a picture of my cupboard before I tackled it today.




Scary stuff!  And believe it or not I organized this about a year ago.  If you look closely behind all those containers on the bottom shelf, you can just barely see the 2 decorative boxes that were intended to hold a bunch of the containers that are now piled in front of them.




I'm totally going against my short stacks tip in this cabinet.  Plus this cabinet REALLY needs a purge.  The containers in the front are the ones we use the most.  And to be honest, most of the remaining ones in the boxes at the back haven't been used in the last year. 

And that top shelf...  wow, it's full of stuff we rarely use (and a few containers that didn't fit in the piles below!).



I emptied everything out and decluttered 37 items!  That will help my total for the 365 Items in 365 Days Challenge :) 

Here are several cracked, broken, or excess containers I'm recycling or tossing in the garbage.




And here's my donate pile... it seems like 1/2 my cupboard!




A bunch of trays, bowls, and funnels we never use.  And lots of extra plastic containers we have not used in a long time or that we don't need anymore.  This brings me to the first part of the secret for organizing food storage containers so they stay organized.


Kitchen Organizing Tip #29:  Only keep as many food storage containers as you actually need and use regularly


And I mean ONLY those containers.  Not the 56 extras that you never use.  Or the 23 containers you only use for one specific purpose, when you have other containers that could be used for that purpose and several others as well.

Sounds simple right?  But so many people have such a difficult time limiting their collection of leftover containers.  We think we need every different size imaginable, but in reality we only use a few containers most of the time.  So why clutter up our cabinets with more containers than we need and use?

At any one point in time, is your plasticware cabinet ever empty?  What I mean is, are you ever using every single one of your leftover containers at once?  Nope!  Never happens.  Can you even fit all of your food storage containers (assuming you had enough food to fill them) in your fridge at once?  Nope again.

But by keeping so many containers, we make it practically impossible to keep this cabinet or drawer organized.  Why do we do this?

Let's stop the madness!

Want to see the difference this principle made in my cupboard?




Doesn't that look pretty?  Look at all that empty space now!  I purged so many containers and other unused items that now I have space to keep everything organized.

I applied the "short stack" tip on the top shelf.



The cereal container has 2 smaller cereal containers inside it, but we only use one of them at a time usually.  The other stacks on the left and right have only 2 pieces in each so it's easy to access them and easy to put them back where they belong.

On the bottom shelf I applied the "store like with like" and "use boxes and baskets to contain like items" tips.



These boxes had lids on them before and I had stacked them on top of each other to give more space in the cupboard.  Usually I encourage maximizing vertical space in cabinets, but it didn't work with food storage containers.

The extra steps of having to move items from in front of the boxes, pull out the box we needed, take the lid off, find what we needed or put back a clean container, and then reverse the whole process, was just TOO MUCH EFFORT.

You saw the result of our laziness... big piles of containers waiting to topple over on the floor when I open the door.

I'm still using the boxes, but without lids.  And with nothing in front.  Purging made that possible.  Here's a closer look inside each box.



This one has the containers we use most often (for muffins, muffin tops, cookies, and other baked goods).  The square container standing in the corner is mainly used when we make french toast.  It's the perfect size for a piece of bread.  The stack at the front is only 3 high (2 larger Rubbermaid dishes and 1 medium one).  It's easy to access and return the ones we use.



The other box has all our small food storage containers.  These stacks are mostly 3-4 high.  One of them is 6 high (3 deep and 3 shallow).  These stacks are manageable because all the containers are the same size and shape.

The smallest ones at the front are used when we go camping to hold small amounts of condiments, or for snacks or sauces the rest of the year.  The rest are used for leftovers or single serving freezer meals.

This is still more than we need because I have my carousel organizer and a few frequently used containers in one of my upper cabinets too.  So I'm actually going to watch what we use over the next few months and purge even more containers soon. 


Kitchen Organizing Tip #30:  Only use matching food storage containers


This is the other part of the secret to maintaining an organized food storage container zone.  If you have matching containers it's much easier to nest them, which makes it easier to keep your dishes neat and organized.  You can also mix and match lids and bottoms which simplifies the process of grabbing containers or returning them to their stack. 

When I purged my containers, a lot of what I gave away were assorted sized and various shaped containers.  What I kept were mainly Ziploc, Bernardin, and Rubbermaid sets like these, these, and these.  The containers and lids nest neatly inside each other.  New containers aren't in my budget right now, but for future birthday and Christmas gifts I'm going to leave hints for some of the newer Rubbermaid food storage containers like these :)  I love how they stack, both in the cabinet and in the fridge. 

I'm not saying you need to go out an buy all new food storage containers today.  But, start by purging as many odd-shaped ones as you can, and keep your eye out for sales on matching sets.  Dollar stores usually have quite a selection too.  Don't forget, as you invest in new matching sets of food storage containers, toss or donate the rest of your non-matching ones so you don't end up with too many again!

I know I'm going to be able to maintain this system now.  Even when we're lazy rushed, we can handle returning items to small stacks and open boxes!

Before:



And After:




So there you go... the secret is out!  Take advantage of this knowledge and go purge and organize your food storage containers zone.  And then maintain it!!  :)




Not sure what the 365 Items in 365 Days Declutter Challenge is?  Check it out here!  And join our 365 in 365 Facebook group here!  Get started decluttering your home :)

If you need more food storage container decluttering tips, check out my plasticware purging post from the 31 Days of Easy Decluttering series.


http://fromoverwhelmedtoorganized.blogspot.ca/2013/10/day-18-plasticware-31-days-of-easy.html


You can find more kitchen organizing ideas on my Kitchen Organizing board on Pinterest. 





And stay tuned the next few weeks as I wrap up this kitchen organizing tips series!  



How do you organize your food storage containers?  Do you have other tips for keeping your plasticware organized?   And do you leave hints for gift ideas too? 

Happy organizing!




I link up at these great parties - Check them out!

Here are all the posts from the kitchen organizing tips series:




34 comments:

  1. My container cabinet looks just like your before! That's TWO cabinets now I need to purge thanks to your inspiration. Thanks!

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    1. Glad to inspire you Melissa :) Good luck with your cabinets!

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    2. Thanks - I successfully cleaned it out as well as under the kitchen sink. I'd just like a lid holder to finish it up. I wish i'd taken before pictures...

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    3. Good job Melissa! Even if you didn't take before pics, make sure you take after pictures so you can remember what your cabinets look like now. You'll be more motivated to keep them that way!

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  2. Hilda these are great tips! I agree with using matching products and only keeping the ones you actually use. Your cupboard is an amazing before & after example. Fantastic! Come link up if you can!

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    1. Thanks Morgan! Sorry I missed your link party ... house full of sickies last week :( Next time though!

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  3. Such a simple and realistic tip. I seriously need to clean out my tupperware collection. I have WAY too much and need to get real with myself about how much we actually need. Thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. It really makes a difference Kristin! And it's amazing how little we actually use. If you're not sure what you use and what you don't, you could put anything you're not sure about in a box and only take it out if you use it. After a month or two, whatever's still in the box and be donated! Good luck!

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  4. This makes me laugh because i frequently (once a week!) sit on the kitchen floor and sort out all the containers - DUH - half of them don't even have matching lids! I'm going to tackle this today! LOL!

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    1. LOL Julia! It's such a simple thing, but it makes a HUGE difference. Good luck with your containers and enjoy the "after"!

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  5. "Most people toss them in and run", you said. Hilarious! And so true! It is just few weeks, I think, when I put my TW in order and what happened in the morning -couldn't find the place for clean ones...so I just toss them in and ran... ;-D

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    1. You're not alone Motoristin Mutsi! Hope these tips help you gain control and break that habit :)

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  6. I do have to apply your tips and get this job dine in my cabinets. Thanks for the tips!

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    1. You're welcome Sandhya! Let me know how it goes!

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  7. I'm lucky, the new house has a wall of pantry cupboards. I have one section dedicated to a nice matching set of food storage containers. All is at my eye level since I am the one that deals with clearing the leftovers after dinner. All of your tips and secrets are spot on and so helpful Hilda!!

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    1. Oooh... eye level would be great for food storage containers Kathe! It would be a lot easier to keep them organized instead of tossing them in the bottom. Maybe in my next kitchen :)

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  8. Following you! While my tupperware is pretty organized right now...I definitely suffer from keeping too much of it.

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    1. Good job having your tupperware organized Amanada! You'll likely find keeping less containers will help you keep it organized longer. And you'll be able to pass your less-used items on to someone who can use them. It's a win-win!

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  9. This was EXACTLY the motivation I needed to finally tame my tupperware! I am, admittedly, a borderline hoarder of tupperware. Your suggestion of keep only what you use was perfect for me. I went through all my tuppeware this weekend and through half of it out. So. much. better. Thank you!!!

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  10. In a few weeks, I'm going to take everything out of my one kitchen cabinets and "weed Out" stuff that has no need being there. One "round-a-bout" cabinet has become like a catch all..Don't you think that square food storage containers take up less space then round ones? Seems a lot of my tops have disappeared when DH occassionally unloads/reloads the dishwasher, so I'm going to start buying only square containers only.

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    1. Yes Pippi, I like square containers much better than round because they waste a lot less space. As I gradually replace mine, I'm getting square as much as possible. Good luck decluttering your containers!

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  11. Does anybody use a numbering system for their food storage containers so you know what top belongs to what type container?

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    1. I've never tried that, but it's a great idea Pippi.

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  12. I love the idea of using boxes in a large open cabinet. Great for plastic containers. I think I am going to try that one. I wonder if it would be too heavy for glass containers. Thanks for sharing these great tips.

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    1. The open boxes have been working really well for us for a few years now Sabrina! I think they'd be fine for glass containers too, as long as they were good quality boxes or containers so they could handle the weight. We also pull these forward for easier access so if you were doing the same for a box of glass containers you'd definitely want something strong.

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  13. I'm lucky to have four very large drawers in my kitchen. One drawer holds everything for food storage: foil, plastic wrap, freezer bags, and plastic containers. One large (but not deep) container holds all the lids and smaller pieces, and the others are nested into small, neat piles. The pieces that are too large for the drawer are stored on the top shelf of the cupboard (just one section).

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    1. I love large drawers in kitchens Janet! They make it so much easier to access everything. I don't know why I've never thought about storing plastic wrap, freezer bags, and foil in the same place as plastic containers but it makes SO much sense. Thanks for that tip!

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  14. Wow - that is a pretty impressive before and after view! One thing I do is keep my largest containers on the top shelf of my pantry. I don't use these often, so I don't need them in my prime real estate. Great tips!

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    1. Thanks Seana...I LOVE a good before and after scenario... especially when it's from my own home :) Good tip to store less used items out of the way. Makes it easier to access what you use most often!

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  15. Your list of kitchen organizing posts is so robust! I think you've got every zone covered. I recently saw on Pinterest someone used a diaper caddy to organize their Tupperware lids and it worked beautifully. Who knew?!

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    1. Thanks Sarah! My kitchen needed a lot of organizing and it was fun to blog about all the strategies I applied as I organized it :) What a great idea to use a diaper caddy for lids... definitely thinking outside the box on that one!

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  16. If there's one thing that's always been organized in my house compared to my client's homes, it's the tupperware. I CANNOT STAND having too much tupperware, or worse, having lids without containers or vice versa. Great job on your tupperware organizing project! Love the boxes!!

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    1. Now that I've organized it this way, it's staying organized Nicole! I totally agree... it's so annoying having to track down a matching lid or container.

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I love hearing from my readers! This is a great place to ask questions, answer questions, and share your organizing tips. Thank you so much for commenting! I look forward to getting to know you better :)