Updated: Mar 25, 2020
Food storage containers are a notorious sore spot in many a kitchen. When left un-checked, they’re either plotting a booby-trap or generally crafting chaos that results frustration & delays. So when a friend asked me for tips on managing tupperware, I decided to writeup my 3 all-purpose, time-tested strategies for taming tupperware tornadoes (I can’t help it - I’m a sucker for alliteration).
Edit the goods
1. Refine: You probably saw this coming and I hate to sound cliché, but more often that not, clutter chaos is a result of excess stuff. Before you can truly get organized, you need to filter out what you don’t need. When it comes to food storage, we often err on the side of “what if”. And while there is the rare post-holiday dinner situation when you use nearly all your food storage containers, scads of tupperware is generally not practical for everyday life. I’m not saying you’ll never have left overs or you can’t save perfectly good food; maybe you’re disciplined enough to prep your meals for the week and need a decent amount of food storage supplies. Every home will be different. I’m just asking you to take a hard, honest look at your food storage collection and ask yourself - do you really need it all?
If you find it hard to filter down, here’s a few qualifying questions to put every item through:
Has it been used in the last 3 months?
Is it in decent condition? (check for cracks, stains, deformities, etc.)
Does it have a matching lid/bottom?
Is it dishwasher friendly? (only applicable if you have a dishwasher)
If you answer “no” to any of these, it’s probably time to remove it. If an item elicits at least 2 “no”s, definitely remove it. But don’t throw away the extras just yet- depending on the size of what you decide to remove, we may need 1-2 bottoms for later.
2. Group like with like: Start with material (plastic vs. glass) then shape (square, rectangle, round), then size. This is any easy way to sort so you always know where to find the shape & type you need.
3. Store lids & bottoms separate: First, this will prevent any funky smells from creeping in to your containers if, for example, you put them away when they’re not 100% dry (lids with rubber seals are especially prone to those problem!) Second, it enables you to stack smaller containers inside of larger containers of a similar shape, thus saving shelf or drawer space. Next, arrange your lids by size & house them vertically in 1 (or 2, if necessary) of the containers from your “remove pile”. Or if you happen to have an unused basket or bin that will better accommodate said lids, that works too.
Remove the excess
After you’ve wrangled your food storage supply, assess the remaining collection. If the items are in decent condition, you might consider using them as organizing bins elsewhere in your home - but ONLY IF you can identify a specific use case. DO NOT keep them “just in case” you find a use for them. The point is to get rid of clutter, not shift it elsewhere. Alternatively, you could drop usable containers at your local donation center.
Damaged pieces on the other hand, should go straight to the plastics recycling bin.
Keep out the clutter
Edit your food storage containers every 6 months. Set a reminder on your phone, create a calendar event, put a sticky note in the drawer or cabinet with your last edit date - whatever works. Life changes, things happen & clutter loves company. Regular assessment of your tupperware inventory will ensure you keep clutter bugs in check.
Implement a “replacement only” rule. It’s tempting to save take-away containers when you know they could be potentially reused. But when you already have what you need, adding to the collection will only put you right back where you started.
If possible, try to stick with the same brand of containers as they’ll be easier to nest and it provides a more cohesive presentation. Yes, even your tupperware cabinet can look good!
I've collected some new tips for other food storage items including bags, wraps & clips that went with my recent instagram post (Day 2 of "Daily Organizing Projects to Beat the Social Distance Blues") and am sharing those tips and pictures here since the publish posted somehow left out the example photos...
Bags, wraps & clips
Use a magazine holder or letter tray to group plastic bags &/or wraps
House bag clips in a sandwich bag, recycled box or take-away container
Dedicate a space to for labeling supplies