“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.”
“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.