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Can't ever find the lid that matches that plastic container? Here's how to organize plastic containers and lids so you have just the amount you need.

How to organize plastic containers and lids

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Can't ever find the lid that matches that plastic container? Here's how to organize plastic containers and lids so you have just the amount you need.

Can’t ever find the lid that matches that plastic container?  Well, today I will show you how to organize plastic containers and lids so you have just the amount you need.

Here is my plastic container cabinet.

Can't ever find the lid that matches that plastic container? Here's how to organize plastic containers and lids so you have just the amount you need.

Everything is stacked neatly so I can see all of my containers at a glance. The lids are also stacked neatly and since I have sorted everything in the space, I know there is a matching lid for each container.

Gather up all of your containers.

First thing to do is to gather all of your plastic containers and lids from throughout your kitchen. As you sort them, put the correct lids with each container.

When you are done sorting, set aside any containers or lids that don’t have matches. We’ll deal with those shortly.

Keep only clear containers.

Next, get rid of all those butter tubs and other non-clear containers that don’t allow you to see what’s inside them.  It makes it much easier to use up those leftovers if you can actually see what you have in those containers.

Can't ever find the lid that matches that plastic container? Here's how to organize plastic containers and lids so you have just the amount you need.

Otherwise, you will have the same look as my son when he thought he scored cookie dough. 😉  Actually, it was leftover veggies we had brought home from a party the night before and hadn’t had a chance to transfer to one of our clear containers yet!

I will say, though, some of my favorite recycled storage containers are the ones we get with our lunch meat. They stack neatly and the lids seal pretty tight to keep leftovers fresh, so we have several of those.

Tupperware (the exception).

Twenty years ago when I was newly married, I had a Tupperware party and scored big as hostess. So I acquired A LOT of Tupperware, which we still use. So, you will see quite a bit of Tupperware in my stash, and yes, a few of them are opaque, but over the years I used those for things like Legos, Barbie shoes, and various other odds and ends accumulated when living with 3 kids.  Since they are all teens now, the Tupperware has made it back to my kitchen, but those are the first ones I use for holding other items throughout the house.  I am sending a few with my oldest daughter when she heads off to college in a few weeks for her to store things in.  Because, doggone it, Tupperware lasts forever!

I also have a set of square containers with blue lids that I use when I freeze large batches of ground beef.  So, as I use the meat, the containers go back into the drawer until I freeze up another batch.

Only keep what you use.

Okay, so now you have sorted everything.  You have clear containers with matching lids. Great!

Here is perhaps the hardest part. Take a good long look at the number of and sizes of the containers you have left. Do you need to keep all of them?  Think about how many containers of leftovers you have in your fridge at any one time.

Ask yourself these questions:

Do you very rarely have leftovers?

I usually have enough leftovers for 1 or 2 containers, and that works great for us since my hubby takes them for lunch at work over the next few days. So I always have a couple of containers of leftovers in the fridge.

Do you entertain often?

But we also entertain a lot and often have leftovers from these occasions.  We are the host house for bible study twice a month, and we always seem to have leftovers afterwards as well as from cookouts and other family get-togethers.  So, we use containers for those.

What about holidays?

Do you have large get-togethers for Thanksgiving and Christmas? We do, and we also do a lot of baking at Christmas to give as gifts to friends and neighbors.  So there are certain times I really do need a lot of containers, but most of the time we only need a few.

So be mindful of the amount of containers you think you will need, and set aside the rest.

Organize the containers and lids you have left.

I find for the most part that the easiest way to store my containers is to separate the containers from the lids.  We have a very long cabinet where we keep all of our plastic containers.  In order to keep everything neat, I added a few boxes.  I store the stacks of containers in the largest box.

For many years I have had a small lid holder.  It can be set in a cabinet or mounted on the inside of the cabinet door to hold lids. It is great and I use it for storing the smaller lids.  For our larger containers (that I use for cookies at Christmas or other large items), I store the lids right underneath the containers. Because I use all of the space, the lids don’t slide around.

Can't ever find the lid that matches that plastic container? Here's how to organize plastic containers and lids so you have just the amount you need.

Here is a picture that shows how I have the lids stacked underneath some of the containers.

Can't ever find the lid that matches that plastic container? Here's how to organize plastic containers and lids so you have just the amount you need.

You can also use a cut down cereal box to store lids and tuck the box right next to the stacked containers. This is another great inexpensive space saver.

Use a cereal box to neatly store plastic ware lids.

All 5 of us take our lunches to school/work each day, so you will see in the picture that we do have a few containers that are not clear.  We keep these in the front of the drawer because they came with our various lunch boxes and are used only in the lunch boxes, not for leftovers. So, I just wanted to explain why you do still see some opaque ones in our cabinet. 😉

What to do with the extra containers?

Go through your discard pile and toss any containers that are cracked or not usable in the recycling bin.

  • You can recycle lids or set them aside to be used under potted plants to protect tables.
  • They are also great to use as a paint tray for touch up jobs, when you only need a small amount of paint.

Have sturdy containers, especially Tupperware, that you just don’t need? Here are some ideas of how they can still be useful.

  • Check with local homeless shelters or food pantries to see if they could use them to distribute food or keep food supplies.
  • Local daycares/preschools might be able to use them to store toys or crayons or use as building blocks.
  • Reach out to your local animal shelters to see if they can use them for food or water bowls.

Any of these are a great way to pass on perfectly good items to those who could really use them.

Sit back and admire the neatly organized cabinet!

By the way, here are some other great ways to use cereal boxes!

Awesome ways to recycle cereal boxes - including storage for kitchen, bedroom and office. Even wall art and as a lamp! Really!

And  here is how I freeze ground beef:

Time-saving freezer kitchen tips. Freeze your own ground beef.

So, there you go! That’s how to organize plastic containers and lids so you have just the amount you need, both for everyday use as well as special occasions.  And you get to share the excess with others so they can put them to good use as well. Score!

Happy organizing!

~ Pam

 

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Author: Pam Hoepner

Hi I’m Pam, a seasoned homemaker with a husband, 3 teenagers, and a houseful of pets. I’m also a librarian and professional organizer (The Economical Organizer) who loves to share my hard-earned homemaking, DIY and organizing skills with others so you too can have a Life, Creatively Organized.

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