An Alternative to Organizing the Tupperware Cabinet

“You should write about how to organize all of these plastic food containers,” my dad suggested as he stacked up the lids in his kitchen cabinet.

“I can’t write about that.”

“Why not?”

“The whole article would only be two lines long.”

I don’t know a list of ways to keep all of those plastic containers nicely organized in neat stacks or the lids from getting lost, especially all the little ones, but I can show you an alternative instead: have fewer empty containers, and reuse what you already have in your kitchen in new ways.

I used to have two small Tupperware containers, but I lost them in the move, and then I realized I didn’t need to replace them. I decided to make do and repurpose what I have.

I most often make my two glass baking dishes (pictured above) pull double-duty to hold leftovers. The glass lids don’t provide an air-tight seal, but they do fine in the fridge for two or three days.

I also have a set of pyrex with two small containers that nest inside the larger dish (photo below). I’ve used this small set for years; it was perfect when my family lived in a one-bedroom apartment. I didn’t have space in my kitchen for storing a surplus of empty containers. Now I have so much space that some of my kitchen cabinets are empty, but I still don’t need more containers. I like that the glass doesn’t get stained, though I heard sunlight will bleach tomato sauce stains from plastic.

If I really need extra containers, I reuse glass jars. The lids are the same size, and the glass won’t melt in the microwave. I have an open kitchen pantry with glass jars to hold all the ingredients we buy from the bulk aisles (no packaging), and I use an extra jar to store soup in the fridge. (I make soup once a week and then eat it for lunches all week long.)

Jars are useful when I take soup to people: a quart size is enough for one person, and the half-gallon is more of a family size. They’re inexpensive or free, so I don’t have to worry about getting them returned. Canning jars can be found at Ace Hardware stores and certain grocery stores. The quart sizes cost about a dollar, and the half-gallon jars are about two dollars each, sold in sets of six or twelve. They will last for ages.

You can freeze soup or stock in glass jars, but leave off the lid until it’s completely frozen, and don’t fill it up all the way or the jar will crack. I haven’t been freezing food as much as I used to. We try to eat up leftovers in the next day or two instead of freezing them.

If I really need an extra jar to hold a little something for a snack later, my glass tumblers come with matching lids. The tumblers are normally our drinking glasses, and the lids go in the utensil drawer. (These are from Crate and Barrel, but the lids are not microwave safe.)

Another option is to place a plate on top of a bowl as a lid.  This way you don’t need to transfer food to a plastic container or use saran wrap or foil, but your food will stay covered in the fridge.

How do you contain your leftovers?

clear the clutter

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.

Comments

  1. My hubby takes leftovers to work for lunch, so we do have plastic because it’s safer, easier for him than managing our pyrex,but we don’t have so many that it causes a problem. I have a basket for lids to keep them organized. It isn’t perfect. I love those tumblers with lids.

  2. I mostly use repurposed jars. I mostly favor glass peanut butter and jam jars but we do use mason quart sized jars for some stuff. I have a few huge pickle jars that I have saved that we use as canisters for sugar, oatmeal and powdered milk.
    Heidi @Adventures of a Thrifty Mom´s last post…Good News!

  3. 1. glass jars with lids
    2. plastic containers – I store them with their lids underneath, so most of the time we find them easily.
    3. plates on top of bowls

    I rely on leftovers for lunches, snacks, and freezer meals for busy days. I want a good stock of containers on hand to handle the leftovers efficiently, so I’m willing to give up cabinet real estate to jars and containers. I avoid buying plastic, though, so when the plastic migrates or breaks, I don’t replace it.

    My husband and I do take glass pint jars with screw-on lids in our lunches. They never leak, unlike our plastic containers.
    Margo, Thrift at Home´s last post…There’s Been a Move

  4. yes! I am anti-plastic anything. We reuse jars for everything (eliminating the need for plastic wrap!), thinning the collection often, as necessary. I especially love wide-mouth mason jars in different sizes (and since we put things up, they are good to keep around!). I keep the lids on the jars and stack them in a cabinet.

    We were given so. much. pyrex as wedding gifts a few years ago– we were able to return most of the 160 pieces?!! We hadn’t registered for all of that, by the way. However, just this evening, we were taking dinner to our Bible study, and next to the car, my husband dropped the one thing that could be dropped– a lidded pyrex dish of deviled eggs. The eggs and the dish were totally fine! A regular glass jar wouldn’t have withstood that quite so nicely…

    • Glad I’m not the only one who is anit-plastic! Came here to recommend pyrex and mason jars, too. Baby food jars are handy for things like salad dressing and snacks.

  5. What do you use to store stuff in the freezer? I make a bulk pot of bolognaise sauce every couple of months (it makes about eight meals worth) and I use 500ml plastic containers to freeze it – they’re small rectangles so stack nicely in the freezer.

    I’d like to have less containers – but the boys school has a ‘nude food’ policy – so I have enough sandwich containers for a week; and the Bloke likes to take leftovers to work, so I have some lunch-y ones for him.
    Harriet Archer´s last post…Vegetarian Lasagne

    • What does “nude” food mean? I’ve never heard of such a thing. ;-)
      Heidi @Adventures of a Thrifty Mom´s last post…Good News!

      • “Nude Food” refers to rubbish free school lunches. So no cling wrap, chip packaging, juice containers etc. You can still send those foods to school, just decanted. We use sectioned containers. Here in Australia it is a very common school policy:)

        • That’s awesome! I have a ‘nude food’ policy at home, but at school they WANT some food packaged in disposable wrapping so they can eat it at the same time as they are playing outside. I have to buy cling wrap and sandwich bags just for that. :(

          • That policy puzzles me! When I was little, if I brought a snack for the playground it was nobody’s business but my own, and my parents sometimes decided to send me with a banana, sometimes with a cookie in waxed paper, sometimes with a granola bar. Nobody was policing it – I just ate, and if there was trash, I threw it away. How odd. If the issue is that the kids have to eat their whole lunch outside, while they are playing, then the school needs to give them more time to sit down, eat calmly, and then go play. I am sure there’s some issues I’m not understanding, and you likely have your own analysis of the situation, but it seems that they are not teaching the kids good food habits here!
            Bronwen´s last post…Immune system speed-dating

        • To further my comment for Bronwen(below)….clearly the nude food policy helps reduce rubbish in the playground, but it has also made parents and children aware of how much packaging we actually use, how much we can reduce our own waste, that it can be more cost effective not to buy individual packets of snacks etc. Our school gives the kids time to sit down and eat directly out of their lunch boxes, then if they have some fruit or biscuits left after that time, they can take that into the playground. The whole school has a morning fruit snack in their classrooms (and they compost the scraps for their vegie garden). The kids are SO proud:)

    • My mother use empty milk cartons to store things in the freezer.

  6. Except for some of my modular mates and a few divided plates for hubby to take to work, I purged all the plastic. I use jars as much as possible

  7. we have a couple real plastic ware containers, but otherwise mostly re-purpose jars or other containers (mostly because i am cheap and don’t want to spend money to buy containers). we do reuse old yogurt containers, which you can write on the side what it is that is inside. i like that. jars are great for some things, the plastic better for other things.
    charis´s last post…how to pray with boldness

  8. I love to use the Glad food covers. They sort of look like shower caps but they come in a variety of sizes so you can just throw them over whatever dish or pot your food is in. My favorite is that they are reusable unlike saran wrap!

  9. Rainya Mosher says:

    “Don’t have so many” is still a goal in my house. We have plastic ware that has been around since before we were married. Attempts to recycle or yard sale generally end up with the item mysteriously finding its way back into the cupboard. I am making progress towards the use of glass mason jars and other reused glass jars for various kitchen applications, but we are still a long way off from getting rid of the tupperware cabinet.

    One thing that does help is that my mother-in-law gave me a whole bunch of stretchy plastic bowl covers in different sizes that she had been given by a friend. I reuse them as often as I can, but don’t feel too much guilt if one gets too messy and needs to be tossed. It is convenient to pop a cover over a bowl or plate and stick it in the fridge. It’s also great when prepping food that you don’t want leave uncovered but a lid might be difficult to squeeze on (like a bowl of watermelon chunks).

  10. A couple of months ago I found an idea on Pinterest for organizing tupperware that really works! While it is definitely a good idea to limit how many food storage containers we keep around, using an inexpensive dish drainer to store the lids has helped to save my sanity when it comes to the food storage cabinet! I can’t believe how well this has worked at helping to keep that cabinet neat and organized. Just thought I would pass the idea along :)
    Leslie A´s last post…All-Surface Antibacterial Spray

  11. This post made me laugh because it really is as simple as those two lines, isn’t it? We have collected plastic containers over the years and we use them, since we have them. Though I too prefer glass containers since they don’t stain and they are just prettier. I am tired of the plastic filling up an entire cabinet shelf in the kitchen, as we have limited kitchen space. Definitely going to weed some out! Thanks for the motivation!

  12. Love this post, Rachel! Like you, I try to keep my leftover container collection pared down, and that makes organizing that cabinet pretty darn simple.

    I too use Mason jars, pyrex, lidded baking dishes, and plates-on-top-of-bowls to store food.

  13. My family has number of tupperware containers because we pack lunches to school and because I love lunch containers. More about it here: http://www.inalunchbox.com/2012/03/chore-or-quality-time-with-tools.html

    In order to safe space we also use the glasses with lids – they are fantastic. Ball jars are my husband’s favorite for tea drinking. I love taking those jars with me when traveling – it makes a perfect reusable, non plastic travel mug. Not as safe though…

  14. I’ve been using less and less plastic over the last couple of years, and we’re down to just a few. I use a couple of small glass containers with glass lids, from Crate & Barrel, which I adore. (We don’t eat a lot of leftovers, so I tend to make meals that are on the smaller size.)

    I really like your idea of quart and half-gal jars! I am totally going to buy those. They’re perfect for storage and also for giving away, since they’re inexpensive. Thank you!
    Erica {let why lead}´s last post…Wrangling a Fish and Developing Inhibition

  15. I like the idea of having fewer, but like others we do use them to transport lunches to work. We really do use them all (my test of whether or not something stays).

    I do have a great organizing method, though: I throw them all in a drawer. One drawer dedicated to plastic containers and their lids. It’s not neat or pretty, but it’s all in one place and it doesn’t take long to find the lid.

    Other important tip: Buy all the same kind. Nothing more frustrating than trying to get the lid from one brand on the bowl of another.
    Rita@thissortaoldlife.com´s last post…Spring photo displayThe art line comes through for us again

    • Alicen says:

      That is my policy too – buy all the same kind! I typically buy Ziploc brand containers, the covers next inside each other neatly and I know that if I pull a dish and a cover they’re going to fit together. So much easier than having 14 different kinds, trying to remember which container the red lid goes on, and which one is the yellow.
      We do have quite a few glass containers, which I use for lunches that will be heated. The plastic, I try to use for foods that will stay cold, so they dont see the microwave.

  16. I LOVE my Crate and Barrel glass containers. My problem is that ours get…broken, and we don’t have a Crate and Barrel in our town. (And shipping is $$$$!) So we’re overdue for a restock.

    I can’t adequately express my love for your two sentence tupperware post. That might just be worth writing :)
    Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy´s last post…Welcome to The Book That Changed My Life Carnival!

  17. vermontmommy says:

    I have a variety of mason jars. I have a cupboard that I keep them in. The lids are in a drawer.

    I also have a few pyrex containers that I store in our cupboards with the small lids next to the canning jar lids. The tall bigger lids are on their side propped up by the pyrex containers.

  18. wide-mouth mason jars are the best for food storage! i especially like that they don’t leak and are see through so more food gets put to use. unlike when they are in a non-see through dish and get pushed to the back–things can get scary that way!

  19. OK, I’m one of those people who needs to get rid of some plastic food containers. It’s out of control.

    I will keep some, though, especially for packed lunches for the kids and for taking meals to people. I like the idea of using glass jars. I already do that a little, but I’m realizing I could use them for more things than I thought – like soup! Do you ever put the glass jars in the microwave to reheat food?

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    • I pour out the amount of soup that I want into my bowl and then heat up the bowl. I keep the rest of the food cold because I want to minimize the number of times that it gets reheated.

  20. I keep a lot of Tupperware-style containers in a drawer in my kitchen, as we use them often for school and work lunches. They are easy to use, and unbreakable for children at school. To keep them organised, I stick to a few standard sizes, then I nest all the bases together, and pile all the lids together in a separate basket next to them in the drawer. It’s quick and easy to match a base with a lid.

    For leftovers and storing food at home, I use glass Pyrex containers.
    Kim @ Extra Organised´s last post…Growing yourself up

  21. Your 2 lines make me laugh!

    We have gajillions of plastic and glass containers. I save sour cream containers and salsa jars because they’re handy for sending leftovers home with people, and I don’t worry about getting them back.

    We also have tons of tupperware that Noel uses to pack for lunches, and I pack snacks for Eleanor and I. They used to be all neatly organized, till a small tornado was born into the family. :) But she has so much fun taking the containers out and trying to put the right lids on the right containers, that I figure it’s kinda like one big puzzle. Every week or so I take 5 minutes and put everything back in place so we can find matching ones again, but otherwise that cupboard is a big toddlerized disaster.
    Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm´s last post…Short and Tweet: Book Reviews in 140 Characters

  22. Last year I went through all our containers. I threw away any that were damaged, missing a lid, lid only. Then I threw away all of them that were originally some sort of food packaging. That left me with enough room in one cabinet to neatly organize the rest.

    Do I use most of them? No. Mostly I use the Pyrex containers and two or three large Tupperware containers and not really anything else. I do admit I own a lot of Pyrex, all with matching lids.
    Deb´s last post…Day 198

  23. I’m a fan of Rubbermaid’s Easy Find Lids line. Both bases and lids snap & stack together, and there are multiple sizes that have identical base dimensions.

    We tend to cook big then portion everything out into the containers for meals for work later in the week.

    I know miscellaneous tupperware pieces always do seem to show up, but being intentional about having (mostly) only this kind means they store neatly and easily.

  24. We are tupperware people, but it’s manageable because we have one complete set of tupperware that is easily organized in a pull-out drawer. We use ours a lot for sliced meats and cheeses, so I guess you should only have what you need and then find a good spot for it!

    I do collect plastic food containers to use for sharing leftovers or helping with small craft projects. Those go on a certain section of shelf in our pantry and get tossed periodically/as the shelf gets full.
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  25. We didn’t have many at all. Three pyrex containers with lids. I often put leftovers in the fridge either in the original container, like soup in a kettle, or I just transfer to a plate or a bowl. I haven’t been freezing leftovers since I tend to forget it’s there. We just usually eat it the next day.
    Now we are having to replace EVERYTHING since the huge mold problem in our apartment (a rental, and we are now temporarily staying with my father) I will go the same route. I will get a few lidded pyrex containers. I don’t ever need so many at one time, so 3-5 is a good amount, a couple of small ones for holding cheese that lost the wrapper, or one-time meal for DD who eats quite little. And then a couple of larger ones to hold bigger amounts.

  26. I love that the article would only be two lines long- hilarious. Nice work !
    Tasmanian Minimalist´s last post…Makes You REALLY Think Doesn’t It ?

  27. Yet another post that reminds me how much I LOVE your blog. :-)
    such a simple solution to the “problems” we make for ourselves.
    (long time reader, first time comment-er)

  28. I love this! I tossed out all the “free” plastic containers that lunch meat or other food comes in a few weeks ago. I have a few glass ones but would love to get some mason jars for the pantry and other storage. Great ideas!
    Debra Bell´s last post…Beyond sex and devotions to Intimacy

  29. I use a lot of mason jars for storage (not just food either). I have some tupperware that I use to transport food back and forth to church. I love the tumblers with lids..I’m going to have to keep an eye out for those!

  30. Suzanne says:

    I love jars and use them quite a bit. I also have a canning funnel which helps to fill the jars and makes the whole process much easier. I’m all for glass containers. They dry faster and stain less. My plastic containers are really pared down and that makes me happy.

  31. Interesting perspective on plastic storage containers. This did put me to thinking as we will be downsizing soon. I think as my current plastic ages and gets trashed, I will start to go without. I like the tumblers–I see many uses from baking to drinking and storing small amounts; corningwear–I recently bought plastic covers for a couple of my pieces; mason jars–I have plastic screw on covers for them and use them a lot And if you buy jarred spaghetti sauce–they are mason jars that can be saved and reused. I even have 4 or 5 Maxwell House Instant Coffee jars from 40 years ago when we were first married and used to drink (gasp) instant coffee–the jars have survived and are in constant use.

  32. I have 2 sizes of Rubbermaid so they all stack. I also use the plastic lids that fit on Mason jars so I don’t have to mess with flat lids and rings.

  33. Does putting the lid on the pot/pan and putting the pot/pan in the refrigerator count as storage? :) Fewer containers to wash and easier to warm up next time (we don’t have a microwave).
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  34. You have some really good ideas here, thank you! There are times I’ll buy ready made potato salad in a large container then save the container to give away food. Don’t have to worry about my dish returning. I have 2 Corell dishes that belong to someone else but haven’t a clue where to return them. They came when Dave died but have no name on the bottom…note to self…always use disposable dishes to give away food or dishes bought at a thrift store.

  35. Alas, this is one point on which your fabulous suggestions won’t work for my household, Rachel. I have a bevy of Rubbermaid and Ikea containers with snapping-stackable lids in a half-dozen sizes in the cabinet — we keep them organized on a deep, short shelf in the pantry.

    I used glass canning jars when I lived in the suburbs, but leftovers = lunches and glass is too heavy to carry on a walking commute. We do have a selection of mats and pouches from wrap-n-mat for packing sandwiches and non-crumbly-or-drippy foods; they’re light-weight, easy-to-clean, and superb in all regards. We keep them folded and stored inside our lunch bags. :)
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    Dad in his Father’s Day Socks.

  36. I use pyrex bowls & lids and mason jars for food storage which I keep to a minimum.

    I do use recyclable plastic storage containers for the freezer because they are expandable. I try to keep the plastic wrap to a minimum and hardly use foil at all.
    Thrifty Mom in Boise´s last post…Month End Grocery Wrap Up – April

  37. Ha! LOVE your short version – so true! I think many people have a misconception about how much food storage they really *need*. Left overs only last so long in the fridge, so if you run out of containers, chances are you’re storing food in the fridge that is not good anyhow.

    We have one shelf in a cabinet dedicated to holding food storage containers for left-overs. Some containers have been purchased (love the lock and lock brand) others have been re-used from a purchase (I love to re-use the plastic lunch meat containers for food storage as well as drawer dividers). I’ll never acquire more containers than will fit on that one shelf.
    Heidi of Operation Organization´s last post…How to Create Space in Small Living Areas

  38. As a mom of many I usually make extra food for dinner with the goal in mind of the leftover’s being lunch the next day. I have a large cabinet on the bottom level that hold my plastic containers with a large stock pot next to it for all the lids. This has worked well.

  39. I use pyrex containers to take leftovers to work for lunch every day but my trick is to wash out my lunch containers as soon as I get home from work. That way they’re clean and ready to pack up leftovers from dinner every night. It means I only need a few on hand and never have leftovers forgotten in the fridge!

  40. Years ago, I read in some article or book that if you don’t have containers available for your leftovers, you don’t need new containers, you need clean out your refegerator.

  41. For us, I realized, the problem wasn’t the number of plastic containers, it was the number of TYPES of plastic containers. So, we purged. EVERYTHING except for 3 extra-large Glad-type plastic tubs and about 8 sandwich-size containers.

    We then bought, in a surprising quantity, deli take-out containers in three sizes (8, 16, 32 oz) from a restaurant supply company. All of these containers use exactly the same lid so now we have one cabinet with three stacks of containers and one drawer with lids. There’s no searching for lids, no question about which size container to use and there is finally peace in this small section of my kitchen.

    I applaud the reuse of glass jars and envy it in my mother-in-law’s kitchen, but because our kitchen is SUCH a small space, we really needed a solution that allowed for stacking. And now that I know the bliss of never having to look for the right lid, I don’t know that I’ll use any other solution.

  42. I was drowning in containers and could never find the right lid and so I decided on one kitchen cabinet to keep them and chose a selection to keep – BUT I STORE THEM EMPTY WITH THEIR LIDS ON so there is never any faffing about. I threw the rest away. If I need extra, I store in dishes, cups or glasses with plates or saucers on top! I have also started just to throw leftovers away rather than store unless I am truly convinced they will get eaten up quickly.

    • I also store mine with the lids on, since I have a variety, including some old rubbermaid stuff, stuff that food came in and these dishwashable containers that our favorite noodle places uses for leftovers (which I really like). I get rid of broken or mismatched pieces, but I don’t have to worry if my hubs forgets to bring his lunch back and we lose the piece. The shelf (half a shelf) I have won’t actually hold all the plastic I have, but since the rest are usually in rotation in some capacity, It’s often half empty, which I think is a good sign that I don’t have too much.

      I like the idea of using large jars for storage of dry goods. I have a couple of huge pickle jars I’ll have to try that with.

  43. I’m fine with storing leftovers in glass such as my corningware that I got when I was married, but my husband and kids take their lunch everyday and for this glass is very impractical.
    And not to be a kill-joy, but how do glass containers take up any less space then then tupperware? At least I can usually stack plastic containers inside each other.

    • Glass doesn’t take up less space. Having fewer things takes up less space. If everything gets frequently used, that’s great.

  44. I used to be the Tupperware Queen. Never saw a piece that I didn’t like. The more colorful the better.

    Over the years, I noticed a stain here, a stain there, which did not come off. Or the “press in the center to close” no longer stayed shut. So I began to toss a few, then more. I have some left that I use which are “husband friendly” and I don’t have to go behind him to make sure the lids are sealed.

    When I need new ones, I now buy the clear plastic containers sold at grocery stores. If they get stained, I just toss and buy more.
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  45. There are some great solutions here. Mine is to limit type and number of container to keep everything efficient. We have three kinds of “leftovers” containers:
    1. glass Pyrex bowls with plastic lids. The bowls are oven, micro, and freezer safe.
    2. 2-section divided microwavable dishes for my husband’s lunches and for heat-and-eat meals we take to my mother-in-law.
    3. Disposable pint and quart sour cream and yogurt containers for taking food to the sick, new moms, etc. (I try hard to only take things that don’t need to be returned. I keep a stack of foil casserole-size containers for main dishes and use the plastic tubs for veggies, etc.

    Key is limiting the number of containers. Our kids know to check or ask me if they should keep an empty yogurt quart container — if we have enough, into the recycling bin it goes!
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  46. I am gradually transitioning to all glass:

    Canning jars
    Glass Containers

    Ziploc is even making glass containers now and I print $1.50 off coupons for them using my recycling rewards!!

    I have to have a few more than average because I have a food allergy and have to make all my own stocks/broths, condiments, dressings, etc. Besides being preferable for health reasons I just love the way they look. I’ve never liked plastic (even as a kid I didn’t want to drink out of plastic cups)…I think I’m an “earthy” girl :)

  47. The plastic containers I have are all from the same brand so the containers and the covers are stackable when they are empty. They all fit in a small drawer.
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  48. Great ideas! Thanks : )

  49. LILIANA GARCIA says:

    thanks so much, i have so many tupper ware that is becomink a problem!
    im going to declutter them!

  50. May I ask everyone who “tosses” or “throws away” to please recycle their plastic if possible? Thank you.

  51. Nevenka says:

    Rachel, I love the post. But I would love to know what you use for your kids. I think yours may be too young for lunch at school, but maybe I’m wrong. The reason I ask is that both of my kids eat lunch at school. Their school doesn’t have a cafeteria or offer any kind of lunch. So I make their lunch every morning. :( Any simple or smart ideas for packing a healthy and safe lunch for the kiddos? Not looking for recipes, but containers or packing tips. Thanks!

    • Rachel says:

      My daughter takes her lunch to school, and she has four little plastic containers with screw-on lids that go in her lunch box, and I wash them each night. I think they’re by Rubbermaid. They’re not fancy, but they’ve lasted the whole school year.

      • Helene says:

        We have had those screw on lids, too! They were great as they would never spill. Its hard to find screw on plastic containers. I agree, just a few, never heat them, and recycle them before they get old and start to break down. Long live glass and stoneware!

    • each morning my children pack their lunches while i make breakfast. their school has a limited cafeteria but it is much too expensive every day. there are some etsy shops that make colorful reusable sandwich bags. they are washable also, but depending upon what was in them you can simply wipe them out. i don’t like to use plastic but our children also have to pack a fruit snack (the whole school stops at 10:00 for a fruit break) sometimes that is an apple but usually a cluster of grapes or sliced up something. small plastic containers are nice for these.

      another quick idea is on sunday night make all the sandwiches and freeze them (even peanut butter and jelly freezes well) by the time they are taken out in the morning and eaten at lunch they will thaw out. wraps freeze well too. we also put family sized trail mix in small containers at the beginning of the week so they are available for packing.

    • Bethany says:

      Bento style containers work great and there are super cute kid’s ones out there They are nesting/stacking containers with compartments.

  52. Eszter says:

    We do use some of the same tricks it seems, but I still find the need for plastic containers. To make life easy I buy the exact same kind (mid size) container.
    - Any lid fits any container, no need to keep a system.
    - Stack up nicely full or empty. I can keep all of them on one, small shelf.
    - If I loose, stain, crack one of them, it’s OK, I don’t have to replace them right away.
    - If the kids leave them at school, the teachers know it’s ours and it usually finds its way back home.
    These containers house just about everything in our house: food (obviously), half built lego, sawing kit, magnetic letters, favorite rocks… If we are done with that activity, I just wash and off it goes onto the shelf. Simple.

  53. I have one set of Rubbermaid lid-lock ones and 2 larger sterilite bowls that are great as mixing bowls as well as storage. They go in one cabinet with strainer and a few water bottles. For the lids, I put them in a separate basket that easily pulls out in another cabinet (more so b/c they were under lock so little ones couldn’t make a mess). I don’t think I’ll give them up since 1. I already own them 2. good for stacking 3. easy container for leftover snacks, etc as well as other leftovers I’d rather not use plastic wrap or plastic bags for

  54. Oh I so hear you!!! In the olden days when I was a new student a friend of mine had a Tupperware party as part of her pre-wedding planning… I was just in college and marriage and kids weren’t on my mind back then. Well when the seller told us that these containers had a life-time guarantee I came to my senses… life-time? There is lasting, enduring and even classic… but life-time!!! Who on earth would want a plastic container to outlive them…Like no!!! Kitchens change, colors change, classics endure and seriously plastic lidded containers are not classics!!! We don’t have plastics boxes, my husband uses glass jars for yogurt and fruit salad or whatever he takes for lunch… they survive in the dishwasher so much better. Seriously the thought of a cupboard devoted to plastic containers that will outlive me just seems a little bizarre!!!

  55. Love this Rachel, especially the tumbler lids! I shared this post on the Beautifully Organised blog, hope that’s ok?

  56. I have no trouble keeping my tupperware organised, because that job has been delegated to an 18-month-old. She is very diligent: she reorganises it about every three hours. I won’t say she does it well, but she certainly keeps it all turning over.

    I’d rather use glass for food storage, but since the tupperware drawer buys me so much cooking time free from toddler nagging, I’m sticking with nice bouncy plastic for a few more years.
    Jess´s last post…Secret Fairy Business

  57. How to cover a pie pan to put in the fridge, for instance? Or a bowl that you want to serve the leftover salad in again? Or a casserole baked in a bread loaf pan that needs to be refrigerated for another meal?

    I love to use the plastic sacks that I get at the grocery store to bag fresh produce–bulk apples, avocados, tomatoes, etc. Put the pie pan in the bag, use a twister to close it, and put a cookie sheet over it so that something else can be stacked on top. Same for a salad bowl. When the bag gets smeared with the food, just toss the bag you were going to throw away anyway. If it didn’t get dirty or you wash it, you can use it again.

  58. I love that your tumblers have lids!
    I have stainless steel mixing bowls – with lids.
    Perfect for mixing up potato salad them sticking the whole messy thing in the fridge until it needs to go into something pretty for a picnic.

    I’ve watched various people dig for containers for leftovers. (It’s so much easier to see and solve other people’s issues – and it’s great when they are your own, too!)

    The dilemma is usually the lids.

    So, I have 3 sizes of lids…
    Yes, have 6 sizes of containers.

    Here’s how.
    http://www.cookingatcafed.com/2011/10/31-days-to-more-organized-life-day-4.html

    All he best,
    ~ Dana
    Cooking at Cafe D
    Dana at Cooking at Cafe D´s last post…Ginger Carrot Soup – In 30 Minutes

  59. I love that advice about tupperware!

    I use mason jars for everything, and they are really handy and go in the dishwasher.
    Meghan´s last post…Simple Pleasures

  60. I love the tumblers you have with lids, multi-purpose glasses, great! We have glass casserole dishes (the ones with blue flowers) with tops from hand-me-downs from grandparents. Thanks for the info.

  61. I second the Rubbermaid Easy Find Line! About a year ago I went through my disaster area of a plastic ware cabinet, and recycled or donated everything in there. I bought one set of the Rubbermaid(about 9 pieces with lids). The lids snap together in a stack so they don’t go all over the place and the containers nest nicely. I have also one set of nesting round pyrex bowls with lids. These two sets have turned out to be more than enough for just the two of us.
    I recently went to Mason jars for storing dry goods in the cabinet. I have a terrible problem with humidity and damp in the summer and I’m trying to keep from having to throw out all my spices, salt, corn meal etc. every summer because the damp gets into them. The jury is still out on how well this will work. But I’m hopeful! I put all my spices in the tiny half pint Mason jars, but I stashed the original containers in case I decide I don’t like them. For one thing, they don’t stack as nicely as I would have liked. We’ll see.

  62. I LOVE the idea of glass for storage, but we have tile floors and EVERYTHING breaks on them. We’ve broken so much glass, I’m starting to (reluctantly) move to plasticware.
    Last week a whole shelf of glass fell (on me, and on my baby. Read all about it and see the crazy photos here: http://www.thekriegers.org/post/21268267705/eight-months) and we’re replacing the pitcher and a few other things with plastic.
    Until our kids are older…or we’re less clumsy, we’re sticking with plastic.

    Plus, those cheap plastic containers are PERFECT for taking a meal to new moms or sick friends! They have their place!
    Amanda K.´s last post…Birdies for my baby

    • This so sounds like me! I just had to buy new dishes because I just kept dropping and breaking my dishes one week… I was so sick of sweeping up ceramic. Luckily my son wasn’t super closeby when I was breaking things. So yeah now we have all the mismatched dishes on the left to use daily in case I break more and my new matching set for entertaining company is on the right of my cabinet haha… we don’t have any fine china I think that’s a huge waste of money.

  63. This is awesome. I just reorganized our tupperware, because it was getting to the point where we were throwing lidded containers into the cupboard and they were falling out when we opened it.

    I stacked them as well as I could and decided to keep the lids in a small bag next to them. So far it has worked well. We don’t use them very often, and usually if we are, it’s to give food away. It’s nice to have some inexpensive containers to give away, so you don’t have to worry about someone having one of your nice dishes when you need it next.
    Jennie´s last post…Emotional Clutter

  64. Before moving in with the In Laws, my partner and I were doing really great at paring down the plastic food storage containers. Mostly we had the ones from the dollar store that I used because they stack nicely, even when they’re different shapes. We were getting pretty good at re-using salsa and spaghetti sauce jars for most everything we could, though. And I reuse hard apple cider bottles for everything liquid. The smaller of my two options is great for a batch of salad dressing.

    I had to purge most of the glass jars when we moved and we are slowly building up a new collection. I got rid of all the common ones, kept my special and favorites. The In Laws have one of those sets that comes on a rack where all sizes use the same lid and stack together nicely. I like it if it weren’t plastic, because my greatest gripe about all the glass options is that they never stack easily. Stacking is key, and my final sticking point.

    My partner and I are trying to reduce our plastic dependency. Switching to aluminum when we can, glass when we can, but arthritis and a woman with cerebral palsy in the house makes glass somewhat unsafe so they have a LOT of plastic. I’d like to get a set of aluminum drinking receptacles to replace the plastic ones, which never cleans properly.

    For right now, I’m focusing on reducing our paper usage. Before I unpacked the kitchen towels, the four of us were going through at least a roll of paper towel a day. Unpack one box and BAM that has been reduced to one a week. Next I’m focusing on purging the extraneous cleaning products.

  65. Beautifully explained, Rachel. Never thought about lidded tumblers–what great multi-purpose items!

    Two quick, slightly off-topic but related questions: 1) I love your countertops. What’s the material? 2) Do you have a go-to soup recipe you could share? Or generally what do you include in the soup you say you make for lunches all week?

  66. Michelle says:

    We have no plastic storage containers in our house. I’m definitely a pyrex person. I have two square sets and two round sets so that they can nest in each other. I store them all in a rectangular basket on the bottom shelf of a cabinet with their lids standing beside them. This limits trying to find the lids since there are only three sizes in each shape. I use these for my husband’s lunch if he has to warm it up.

    Otherwise I use Lunchbots. They are made of metal and come in three different sizes. My children used them when they were in school last year and now my husband uses them for sandwiches, etc. I always use them to pack snacks when we are on the go. No staining, no breakage and the lid always stays on. And obviously–very reusable. They are stored in a basket right next to the pyrex. Again, easy to find and put together. I do not like to store leftovers in them though because you can’t see into them. It makes finding the “right” leftover more difficult.

  67. Cre8tive Minxy says:

    After decades of feeding a large family (I had four children) it’s just me and with food allergies I don’t eat prepared foods at all. So I tend to cook on the weekends and make up meals I can freeze for use throughout the month. I also prep salad stuff etc and divide into portions in the fridge. This way I always have something I can grab for lunch or for dinner if I have a rough day. I have a collection of very inexpensive dollar store plastic containers plus a few other specialty ones that I use. Since my kitchen is rather small I have one of those two drawer plastic carts that I use to store all my plastic containers – stacked inside one another with the lids underneath. Just one drawer! The bottom drawer holds parchment paper and such. The key is to put the plastic containers away properly as they’re used and washed. Most of the time most of mine are filled and either in the fridge or freezer. But occasionally they’re all clean and in the drawer. Periodically I go through and get rid of any that are missing lids or are stained etc. I’d like to get away from plastic but for the way I use them I think it’s the best option. As long as they stay organized and don’t multiply!!

  68. I love mason jars too! You are so right about the plastic ware. I am just not able to keep it organized to keep the right lid with the container. Lately, I actually use ziploc plastic bags to store leftovers. I can clearly see what is in them and can even stack them in the fridge and if I end up throwing it out, I can just toss the whole thing. Not very environment – friendly, but I do wash them out and reuse if they are not too dirty.

  69. I was lucky enough to realize my hatred of plastic food storage before I moved out on my own, so I just never bought any. We have four or five glass containers, and a few stainless steel containers. I also have a few tiffins that I bought in an Indian grocery store in Toronto – much cheaper than buying them from “eco” retailers. I like them because it forces me to come up with a variety of foods for lunch to fill all the compartments, and I find I eat more salad when I have the satisfaction of filling it all up!
    Bronwen´s last post…Immune system speed-dating

  70. i HEART this post. We put it up on our favorite links! Down with tupperware.
    Deanna Caswell´s last post…Favorite Links This Week

  71. I’m totally with you on this. I firmly believe that if I have a problem organizing something, I probably have too much of it. I never thought of using the canning jars, before, although I’m a pro at the plate-over-the-bowl trick. I will also look for tumblers with lids. How handy!

  72. I love those tumblers with plastic tops, but $2.50 per glass is more than I want to spend right now. However, if you buy the Bonne Maman jam, the jar is plain and similar to the tumblers. It comes with screw on lid the color of the jam. Since they are jam jars, they may be less prone to breaking than the tumblers. Added bonus, you get yummy gourmet jam in them to begin with. I’ve got one and am planning to extend my collection since it’s been so useful. My kids go through lots of jam, anyway.

  73. I loved the short version. I break out in hives when I see Tupperware. It drives me nuts. I have mason jars all over the house. Why I never thought about using them for leftovers is beyond me. Thanks for the aha moment.

  74. Planetbox is a stainless steel lunch box (purchase online) that I’ve used for my Kindergartener all year and it works great. It keeps his food separated and for messier items (like yogurt) we bought a smaller stainless steel container with a seal from same company/site. All of it toes in dishwasher at night to be ready for next day. Still have to have some plastic storage though as we have issues with breaking glass in this house including a visit to ER… Maybe when the boys are older…

  75. I’m on the hunt for those tumblers. Love having something more multipurpose in the kitchen. Thanks for sharing!
    Emily @Random Recycling´s last post…Consignment Sale Success

  76. Sharon says:

    We have TONS of tupperware containers. Round ones, square ones and rectangular ones. We also wash out and re-use 32 oz yogurt containers, sour cream containers etc. Just a month or so ago, I saw a brilliant idea to put the lids in a big plastic container. That’s what I do now and it makes my cupboards much more manageable.

  77. I love this! We are working at simplifying our life and not having so much stuff that just weighs us down, in more ways then one. I love my glass jars for storage, decor, oh and making jam. I actually recycled most of the yoghurt containers I was keeping. I know make yoghurt and store it in glass jars. I love that I can see everything and that it also looks so classy.

    Great post!

  78. Erin Corrigan says:

    I reorganized my entire kitchen recently and my family didn’t appreciate how I disposed of almost every incomplete piece. I’m on this organization kick and even organized my computer files and bookmarks with a site called Clipix.com. Just like to see my life clutter free.

  79. I got a Rubbermaid set approx 10 years ago that had a stacking rack. They re-designed their containers but the new containers work on that rack as do the glad containers but in order to stack them nicely you can’t do both. You can do one or the other (rubbermaid or glad). It has been the only workable solution for me.

  80. Oh my goodness, this is what I have been looking for! My plasticware storage cabinet it a complete disaster and we can never find the lids. I am going to reduce my plasticware inventory and incorporate some glassware in my pantry. I’ve been using snap ware which has done just fine but we have SO much of it. It’s frustrating. Thanks for the motivation I needed to change my ways.
    Mel@TheDizzyMom´s last post…Lose the Baby Fat: The Journey Begins

  81. Isadora says:

    May I ask why you use those – admittedly very pretty (!) – glass jars for stuff like beans or lentils? I’m just curious, because as a near-vegan I have a lot of legumes and grains in my kitchen, but I keep them in their original packaging + adhesive tape for reclosing. On the original packaging there is usually a small basic recipe (in case I forget the exact amount of water needed for cooking or the exact cooking time), the best-before date and also nutritional facts in case I need them. I once tried to repack all those things in glass jars, but ended up writing loads of long lables – not exactly what I had in mind. :/ So I’m curious what’s your opinion is on this dilemma! ;)

    • At the grocery stores where I shop, the beans and lentils are in big bulk containers, and you scoop the quantity you want. Then you put it in a bag to minimize packaging, so that’s why I don’t store them in original packages.

    • Small label on the bottom of the jar with expiry date. iPhone photo of recipes and nutritional facts :)

  82. Claire Burk says:

    Thank you for this article. I finally decided to face my tupperware tonight. After collecting a mountain of unmatching containers & lids, I separated out matched pairs. But your message stuck with me. I decided to just a small stack of containers. Thank you so much for your continued inspiration.

    <3 Claire.

  83. shelley says:

    I keep all mine in a basket just slightly bigger than my largest container. I stuff all the lids down the side of it, that way when I use the biggest one, there is still something to contain them. It’s better than the tupperware shower falling out of the cupboard I used to have on a regular basis! Also if they don’t all fit in the basket, then I have too many!

  84. Among all these comments, I found one or two who gave any hints about recycling or reusing their plastic wares. I’m a die-hard, if I spent money on it, I want to use it ’til it can’t be used no more or donate it where it will receive the same treatment.

    I have some of the older colors of Tupperware that we use for camping – if they still have the lids, I use them for ingredient storage (dry ingredients can be pre-measured and combined when for a single recipe) or serving (any leftovers, put the lid back on); if they no longer have the lid, I use it for food scraps, to mix up pancake batter, etc. These are kept with the camping gear.

    Rubbermaid that’s been used in the micro too much, I use for bar soap -sometimes the soap remnants, sponges, scrubbers, etc. under the sinks in my house. (I also have plastic measuring spoons that I use for making cleaning solutions, feeding the plants, etc.)

    Other ideas: small toy, game, or puzzle pieces found after the searches were called off and await their proper place or next time for play; crafts which were already mentioned; office supplies; drawer organizers; small pieces from items needing repair; garage for extra auto fuses, light bulbs; potting shed for seeds . . . The yogurt and sour cream tubs are the right size for starting seeds.

    Send your unwanted plastic to a school, day-care, nursing home, etc. for their craft storage, window sill gardening, etc.

    Love how the toddlers like to play with and even organize the containers and lids.