OA Aunt Q&A – organising plastic containers
Dear OA Aunt
I hope you can help me – I have a cupboard full of plastic boxes ie take-away containers, ice cream containers and other assortment of boxes and I can never find the lids that match the bottoms – also this is the most untidy area of my whole kitchen. How can I best organise this area – any help gratefully received!!
OA Aunt’s response:
Thanks for your question Jackie, it is very easy to let our plastic containers get out of control and it is a common issue.
- The first step is to get out all your plastic containers and match lids with containers – if you have children this is an easy task for them to help you with.
- Follow Finer Details simple de-clutter tips to get rid of anything you no longer need.
- 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 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
- whether you have ever used it
- is it really useful – does it serve its purpose
- It is now time to look at all the containers you are keeping and consider whether you are keeping them in the best place. 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 or could you keep them in the pantry?
- Consider how you would 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. Photo’s below of 2 different ways of storing your containers.
- Do not use a larger functional plastic containers 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.
- If you are stacking, consider still having the lids on really small containers and storing them in one large container. Consider above point when considering what type of container to use for this.
- 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 just throw them back into the cupboard to ‘sort later’…it won’t take much for the cupboard to become cluttered again.
- Round containers waste valuable space. Square or oblong (and stackable) is a better option.
If you live in Perth and are looking for new Tupperware, I would recommend contacting Audra Houghton on 0404 067 803 for all your Tupperware needs.
For anyone taking my advice, I would love to see your before and after photos, so if you are happy to do this, remember to take photos before you start and post your before and after photos on my blog.
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions – I would love to hear them.
The below photo is how we organised one of our client’s plastic containers:
This is 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.
I do not have children and the below picture shows what works for me. I decided to take this picture without tidying it up first:
The cupboard is really easy to maintain. The lids are separated into round or square/oblong and stored in order of size in a storage container. I have used a storage container with handles to store the lids in – it is easy to take the whole container out when looking for a lid or when putting one back.
Another suggestion would be to install an Elfa drawer system:
This works well for cupboards where it is hard to reach or see the back of the cupboard