Before we start, let me ask you: Have you ever used all your plastic containers and been left with an empty cupboard?
Interestingly I doubt many people could say yes, not even me. The thing is as many of you are thinking – different containers are needed at different times. Which is very true, but how many are really needed…
This is typically what I find at clients’ homes and if we were to pan out, you would find my client scratching his head in shock at how many he actually has for one person!
What we all want is an area that is easy to manage and use. I will show you how, but I would also like to challenge your thinking on how many you really need. Years ago I cut my ‘collection’ right down and have never regretted it and there is a little trick I will show you on how to make sure you keep the right amount for your situation.
- The first step is to get out all your plastic containers and match lids with containers.
- For any lids and containers that cannot be matched, check around to make sure their mate is not elsewhere (ie in the dishwasher) – I would recommend throwing out any that cannot be matched…how annoying is it to put leftovers in a container only to then spend half an hour looking for a lid that doesn’t exist!
- While the cupboard or drawer is empty, this is a great time to clean it.
- Throw out (recycle) any containers that are broken, split, stained, melted or for some other reason are no longer useful.
- Decide how many containers you really need. It is much easier to maintain a cupboard that is not overloaded with ‘just in case’ containers. Consider:
- How long you have had the container and have you ever used it?
- While doing this remember that you may already have some being used in the pantry, fridge and freezer. Take these into consideration.
- If you are nervous about getting rid of some you might need later, put them in a large storage container. Label the storage container and date it, store it out of sight. In your calendar pick a date in the future (a couple of months work for most people) and add a reminder to donate any you didn’t need, adding the location of the storage container. In the interim if you find you do really need one then return it to the kitchen. Follow the whole process or you risk cluttering up another part of your home!
- Think of alternative ways to store food that do not require keeping lots of bulky containers like using bowls and a lilypad lid (they are airtight).
- Consider sticking to one shape (round, oval, square or oblong) so that they can easily be nested and take up less of a footprint in your storage area.
- It is now time to look at where you store your containers and whether you are keeping them in the best place. You can see organising examples below. Consider:
- How often do you use containers, are they easy to access?
- If you have children who are at an age where they can make their own lunches etc, can they easily access the containers?
- Are the containers stored close to where you use them – if you are using a cupboard, do you have a drawer that would work better?
- How would you like to store the containers – by keeping the lids on each container or by stacking them separately. If you have young children, it would be easier for children if the lids were kept on the containers.
- When you have organised your cupboard, explain the new system to anyone else in your household so that they can help keep the area tidy.
- Remember – it only takes a few extra seconds to return the containers to their rightful place – try not to throw them back into the cupboard to ‘sort later’…it won’t take much for the cupboard to become messy again.
If you are nesting your containers and keeping the lids separate, I recommend that you do not use a larger functional plastic container to hold your lids in – what happens when you need to use the large container…it is time consuming to take out all the lids and they could end up in a big mess! It is best to buy a storage container specifically for this purpose.
In the pictures below we have used handled baskets. They make it easy to grab the container out and find the right lid. Consider storing round and oval lids in one container, square and oblong lids in another so that you don’t have too many to search through.
Below you will see how we organised for a family with a young son who loves to help out in the kitchen. The plastic containers are stored in the bottom of the pantry, and are easy for everyone to access. The containers that the child mostly uses have their lids on to make it easier for him. We have used an under the shelf storage solution to maximise the space.
If you are storing your containers in an awkward to get to cupboard, consider installing a pull out drawer like this one.
Don’t delay, start today