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Declutter Food Storage Containers: 15 Minute Mission

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Today's decluttering mission is to declutter excess food storage containers.

Obviously, don't get rid of them all, you need to be able to save your leftovers and other food items.

But if you're afraid a huge pile of them will fall out each time you open up a cabinet or the drawer won't close well because it is so stuffed with them you most likely have too many.

You know, if it looks something like this:

How to declutter food storage containers {a #Declutter365 mission on Home Storage Solutions 101}

I want to thank a reader, Tanja, for being game to show her plastic containers, when asking for help on how to get control over them.

What's The Right Amount Of Containers To Keep?

Keep a reasonable amount only -- enough to hold the amount of leftovers you and your family actually eat before they go bad, for example. That is a week's worth of containers, or less.

Which Containers Should You Get Rid Of?

Prime items to declutter are those containers which are warped or stained badly, or that don't have lids (or lids that don't have containers anymore).

In addition, if you've got a lot keep the quality stuff, not the junky ones.

Special Note About Re-Used Food Containers, Like Margarine Containers

And also a word on food storage containers like old yogurt and margarine containers, etc.

Yes, these can be good to use, in moderation, and are cheap since you already bought them with whatever food item you got.

The danger, however, is that you save every. single. one. of. them.

That is too
much! Once you have a reasonable amount, no more than a week's worth to use for leftovers, just like the criteria above, then begin to toss (or recycle) the rest.

If one begins to look bad, or becomes damaged, just toss it and then the next time you empty another such container, just save that one.

Once you get it decluttered down to a reasonable amount practice the one in, one out rule to keep these containers from slowly re-accumulating and becoming a big mess again.

What To Do With Containers You're Decluttering

There are many things you can do with these containers, and I'd love to hear more of your ideas for them in the comments.

As much as possible, try to recycle your containers, to the extent that is possible, and they cannot be reused by someone else.

But typically, unless you've got a full set in extremely good condition, it is not worth your time to try to sell these, at least in my experience.

So consider donating them. I'd love to hear your ideas of where to donate them in the comments below, to help anyone that's stuck trying to figure out a good place.

Make sure anything you donate has both has a matching lid and container though, otherwise you're not donating something useful, which is a big no no!

Below I've shown some of the pictures shared by readers who've done this mission, showing their before and afters for inspiration for you. So let's cheer these participants on!

Top photo courtesy of Jeroen

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I Got Rid Of All The Containers That No Longer Had Lids

by Ferris



How to declutter food storage containers from your home {a #Declutter365 mission on Home Storage Solutions 101} #DeclutterKitchen #KitchenClutteruse this Pin it button to save to Pinterest
Ferris from The Hamman Family Blog shared before and after pictures of her plastics cupboard.

She said of the after picture: "The middle shelf is my plastic containers and what I did with these was make sure they all had matching lids before I "saved" them.

If they didn't, in the trash they went. (Well, until I knew that I didn't need them for anything)

So the lids are in a small box to the right. That is where they will go after they are washed.

(I have a ton more plastic containers but think about the time of the year... my refrigerator is filled with them! I know those all have lids though!)"

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I Got Rid Of All The Lids That Didn't Have Containers!

Jennifer had the opposite problem that Ferris had. She found all kinds of lids that didn't have the container anymore, so she got rid of all those extra lids instead.

She said, "Here's the missing extra lids I stole from all of you. Lol."

Similarly, another reader, Jenni said, "Somehow I had this many lids without matching containers. They all go to the recycling bin. There's a lot more room in my cabinet now."

Plastic food storage containers lids decluttered as part of the #Declutter365 mission on Home Storage Solutions 101

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Went From Three Cabinets Worth To Just One!

by Jan

Before - 1

Before - 1

Jan from The Crafty Mermaid's Grotto shared these before and after pictures of how she stores all these plastic food storage containers.

Basically, she needed to do a major purging, because she had three cabinets worth of them.

She said of the first before picture, "Underneath is one of my plastic container storage places. I have three! I can't believe that the plasticware has spread out that much! Definitely needing a purge there."

Of the second before picture she said, "This is under the microwave cart. It is the only spot where that spinning plastic storage set will fit."

Finally, of the third before photo she said, "Here is the third plastic storage cabinet. This one, we had put a pull out three-tiered basket to hold the lids. Well my plastic container collection had grown so much over the past few years that not all the lids fit in that basket anymore. It will be repurposed."

Of the after picture she explained, "I purged a lot of plastic containers. I only kept the more expensive ones that were still in good shape, and a handful of the Ziploc disposable ones. I have all my plastic containers except the spinning rack in this cabinet. I bought those red file folder containers from Target's dollar section to hold all the lids."

Similarly, another reader, Kelly, down-sized her collection as well, choosing what to keep versus to recycle:

What Kelly decided to keep versus to recycle when doing the food storage containers decluttering mission on Home Storage Solutions 101

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Plastics Cupboard Winnowed Of Some Containers



Bec from 2012 - The Year of Challenges shared the before and after of her plastics cupboard.

She did a great job, don't you think?

Here's another photo, this one from a reader, June, who explained, "Here's the pic of the items from the food storage containers' cabinet that were in excess."

Excess food storage containers and plastics that June decluttered in the #Declutter365 mission on Home Storage Solutions 101

Want To Do More Decluttering Missions? Get Started With Declutter 365 Today!

Declutter 365 missions: 15 minute missions for your entire home

Once you declutter one type of item in your home I bet you'll want to declutter some more. After all, decluttering gives you a great reward for even a small investment of time and energy.

The Declutter 365 system is designed to help you declutter, over the course of a year, your entire house, with just 15 minutes of decluttering each day!

Hundreds of thousands of people use this proven system to get rid of their clutter, and bring peace and calm back to their homes.

Declutter 365 works to guide you to clear the clutter without overwhelm, focusing on just one small area at a time, and without making a huge mess in the process, so you see consistent forward progress without all that "messy middle" that makes it even harder to function in your home than before you started.

In addition to building a daily decluttering habit, the Declutter 365 program, along with the accompanying 52 Week Organized Home Challenge, teaches you the skills, habits, routines, and mindsets necessary to maintain the clutter free and organized state of your home from now on, so it'll never be as messy and cluttered as it is right now, ever again.

If you haven't already, make sure to get your copy of this year's Declutter 365 annual calendar here (it's FREE!), find today's date, and do 15 minutes of decluttering on the day's mission. Then, repeat again tomorrow, and again and again. Over the course of the next year, if you do this 15 minutes per day, you'll declutter your whole house!

Click here to take me to this year's Declutter 365 calendar

Get This Kitchen Decluttering Checklist + 32 Other Decluttering Checklists For Your Home

Right now you're decluttering your kitchen, and there's a lot of stuff to declutter in this space.

Get your 2 page kitchen decluttering checklist, plus 32 other decluttering checklists, to help you declutter your entire home here.

Get this kitchen decluttering checklist and 32 other decluttering checklists for your home {on Home Storage Solutions 101}

I've done the hard work of breaking down these tasks into smaller more manageable steps for you, so you don't get overwhelmed or worry you're forgetting a task, and you can go at the pace you want, whether that's fast or slow.

In addition, you can tackle these decluttering tasks in whatever order you want when you use these checklists!

Click here to learn more about 33 Decluttering Checklists Pack

How to declutter your food storage containers, including rules of thumb about how many containers to keep and which to get rid of {part of the #Declutter365 missions on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest
Bottom before and after photos courtesy of a reader, Kerry

Related Pages You May Enjoy

Getting Clutter Free 15 Minutes At A Time Hall Of Fame

Getting Rid Of Kitchen Clutter Hall Of Fame

Kitchen Drawer & Cabinet Organization Challenge

Go From How To Declutter Food Storage Containers To Home Page

Comments for Plastics Cupboard Winnowed Of Some Containers

Click here to add your own comments

where to donate
by: Jennifer

Donate extras to community food kitchens. (Used for clients to take leftovers).

number the bottom and lids
by: Amber

I numbered all of the lids and bottoms that way my kids, and hubby, just have to match up the numbers!

another place to donate
by: Kayla

Churches would appreciate donations of nice containers as well.

let guests take away leftovers in them and not expect them returned!
by: Christine

I keep a plastic bin of extra containers in the basement. When we have family get together everyone can take leftovers and I don't care about the container!

just did this!
by: Donna

I just did this two days ago! Tossed out anything without a lid and straightened the drawer I keep them in. Love this decluttering site, keeping me organized!

give them away with gifts of food in them
by: Deb

I downsize containers I use them to give food to neighbors etc. I tell them I don't want the container back. They can toss.

Where to donate plastic containers
by: Chris

Consider donating them to a local day care center. They can use them for food storage, as well as storing different items in the classroom such as crayons, beads and buttons, and small toys. Elementary school teachers use all sizes of storage containers as well.

kids named containers and lids
by: Linda

When the girls were younger I had them name the containers and lids with black sharpies. It was fun for them and it worked. They mainly did conventional names, but if I had it to do over, I would do Disney character names.

clear containers
by: Linda

We recently decided that we would stick with clear containers for things stored in the fridge, so that we could easily identify what was in them.

We found Rubbermaid has a nice collection. Clear, sturdy with lids that snap on the bottom of the container if you wanted to organize that way. Sam's store had a great collection at a good price. We kept what we wanted and gave the others away to mother in law.

Sometimes they do sell
by: AK-momkatt

I put last year's purge in a box at my garage sale for something like 2 for 25-cents. One person who bought some said he was going to use them in his chicken coop, another to keep in the car with dog kibble when they go to the park.

more ideas of where to donate
by: Anonymous

Maybe animal shelters and rescue groups could use these also. I have a rescue in mind to ask for my area.

Idea for the "extra"
by: Anonymous

Day cares and nursery schools are usually looking for low cost items to store things. Great place to donate.

Reusing & recycling plastic containers
by: Kris

I'm always looking for ways to save money, time, and the planet--so I pack my lunch in containers that can be reused or recycled. My employer has an extensive recycling program allowing me to bring my lunch in these recyclable plastic containers (cottage cheese, margarine, yogurt)--throwing those I don't need to return home into a bin. It's nice not to have more dishes to wash up at home.

A use for unmatched lids ...
by: Anna

When I have unmatched lids or bottoms, or the seals don't work any more so the containers don't shut - I use them to line shelves and cupboards that hold messy items like oil and vinegar. I stand the bottles and packets on them or in them. Then if the bottles leak they don't leak all over the shelf. I now also use old ice cream containers to hold the lids of the containers that made the cut for food storage.

Less food = fewer containers
by: Ruth

Being mindful of the portions of food you make reduces the amount of containers you need for left overs. If you have a meal in the fridge for more than 5-7 days you are making too much food to begin with and should edit your recipes to better fit your family's needs, and/or take better advantage of the food you now have ready made in your fridge. (ie: leftover night, lunches, half meals, etc.). If you correct this, it will equal compounded savings: less money on food, less money on Tupperware, less money on home storage for those said containers. Not to mention your fridge will feel/be cleaner without all those containers of food rotting for days/weeks.

I sometimes save plastic containers from take out meals
by: Julia

When it gets close to a holiday or party time at our home, I save plastic containers from take out meals. This way when sending food home with guests I have something more sturdy to hold the food. I put these in an open spot in my laundry room and when the party is over the space is empty again.

plastic storage "extras"
by: Darcy

After I match up the bowls and lids, I stack/nest some of the mismatched ones and store them in a box in the basement or garage. We have used them for science projects (chemicals), paint, garage chemicals (gas, oil) and then can just toss them when we are done.

Where to donate
by: Jen

Our local thrift shop sells craft supplies and old jewelry that has been donated. A lot of that stuff has many small pieces (think beads, embroidery thread, single earrings, etc.) and they need containers to sell the material in. I've bought plenty of these tubs to restock our craft supplies for the kids and always send back the old tupperware, etc. that I brought home. So sending your surplus plasticware to a thrift store is a great way to repurpose your extras!

leftover containers
by: trish

We host Thanksgiving so need to have extra leftover containers for that day but I didn't want to keep that many in my kitchen all year. Previously had decluttered a cabinet saving room for the extras during the year. Love the idea of donating extra containers to daycares and churches.

take to church
by: Dawn McCollough

What I don't need I take to church to use AFTER a potluck dinner.

idea for margarine, etc. containers
by: Linda

Regarding repurposing empty margarine/dip/whatever containers we keep a stash separate from our container cabinet to send leftovers with family after a family gathering; that way we don't need to get them back.

multiple use containers
by: Anonymous

I only keep containers that you can use multiple places, like microwave / dishwasher / refrigerator and freezer. Keep them and you don't need a lot.

just set out as free!
by: Galadriel

I know that donating containers without lids or lids without containers is not recommended. However, I have found that setting a box of them out by the curb of your home and marking it as "FREE" is one amazing way to get rid of the odd things you own like that. I put a box of lids for pots and pans and whatnot out recently, along with a very old waffle maker and toaster oven and an old stove-top coffee pot with missing lid and the next morning the box was gone.

My brother plans to take Mom's cast iron cookware to a place where he can get a little money for the scrap metal as we clear out her home (she is in assisted living). It is not worth the time to clean them up to donate.

donate to church for leftovers from meals
by: Tanya

I take my clean butter, sour cream, cool whip, etc. containers to my church. They are always having meals and have plenty of left overs. The containers are used to take food to people who can't get out to come to the meal. It's a great way to help others and help DE clutter your containers.

donate to wildlife shelter
by: Anonymous

We donate ours to the local wildlife shelter. They use them to take food to the animals in the various cages. I would think they might be useful at domestic animal shelters as well.

Tupperware may replace cracked items
by: Anonymous

All of my local thrift stores happily accept food storage containers - but I would not burden them with damaged items since they will probably have to pay to dispose of them.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if you have Tupperware - some cracked items can be replaced for free, so before you throw out that broken lid or container contact your Tupperware Consultant or call Customer Care at 1-800-TUPPERWARE to find out if you can get a free replacement (or credit towards new merchandise if your item is no longer being manufactured).

alternative uses for old food container lids
by: Niki T

I've found a few good uses of those old plastic food storage containers (namely the lids, but sometimes the bottoms too).

#1: plastic lids make great paint palettes. Whether you're a pro, or you have kids, you can quickly and easily squeeze paint out onto a plastic lid, and even if the paint dries on it, most of the time it will peel off in one sheet. Reuse it over and over again, and if it gets cruddy; recycle it.

#2: I do a lot of sewing. Plastic lids (and sometimes the bottoms) make great reinforcement for certain projects. The plastic can be cut to size and inserted between two layers of fabric to provide a rigid bottom to a bag or tote.

donate to schools and daycares
by: Cindy

I donate my containers to the local elementary school or daycare. They can always use these for doing projects with the kids. Another place is a senior center for the crafts they do as well. Always be sure you have container and lid.

holidays is only time I collect these types of containers
by: Janet H.

The only time I collect and re-use margarine and food containers is before and after a holiday (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.) My son takes some leftovers home with him and I don't have to worry about getting my containers back. My good containers are the ones that the bottoms attach to the tops.

ideas for recycling or reusing old containers
by: Anonymous

Several suggestions for your overflow (ways to recycle)

*contact a homeless shelter: ours has a supply closet for soaps, shampoo, etc. They can use some containers to repackage bulk items for individuals and families.

*know of someone who is ill, has small children, shut in? Share a meal with them and pkg. in the containers. They can recycle them and do not have to return them to you.

*Our church gets a few for those luncheons when someone doesn't want to take home leftovers and will share it with another.

give to daycare
by: Tara

I donate my storage containers to my nearby pre-school or day care center. The items are great for arts and crafts, toy storage or during the warmers months they work great for sand castle building.

consolidated all my containers into one spot
by: Jessica

I moved most of my storage containers from various spots in the kitchen to my pantry. This pantry also holds most of the canned and boxed food items as well. When I cleaned it out on Saturday the outdated cans told me the job had not been done since 2009. YUK!

Container madness
by: LG

I have three small sets of containers. Two are in the kitchen - a set of glass containers with plastic lids (my prime go to), and a collection of various plastic storage containers with lids, for our leftovers. The other collection of containers are kept in our pantry and consist of empty recycled food containers that I use for food that is going to someone else - care packages of leftovers, and sometimes lunches. No one needs to return them and we seem to have an steady supply.

The Dreaded Plastics' Cupboard
by: Anonymous

I took out every plastic container we owned and named it Mount Tupperware. From here I sorted all those with lids. Anything without a lid was put in the recycle bin and lids without containers went to the recycle bin. I still had too many. Next step was to recycle all the stained, warped and hard to put on lids. From there I STILL had too many. Next step was to take them to a family member in a large box to see if she wanted any containers with lids. I had kept only those I needed (and a few spare just in case!!) Her first reaction was I don't want your rubbish, until she looked inside and saw that EVERY container had a fully working lid. She promptly pulled out her own plastics, rather large draw and tipped the entire contents into the recycling bin!! Her comment was, "I can never find a matching B&%**y lid!" So she had a whole new set of containers WITH LIDS and my containers all sit in the "plastics cupboard" with their lids ON! Making for a very happy kitchen :)

Disposing of containers - make sure to recycle!
by: Drusilla

In our community all plastic is recyclable. So when I have a storage container that doesn't have a lid I just pop it in my recycle bin. Check with your community's recycling rules. It beats filling up the landfills!

keeping track of lids
by: Michal NK

I don't have a lot of containers but I have three sizes (large square and rectangle, medium jars and small round tubs) and in each size category they don't have interchangeable lids! They can stack because they are the same volume but the lids are one of kind for more than half of them.

The worst part of putting food away was finding the exact lid for the container.

Finally I went through all of them and got rid of the ones that really didn't have lids, or were damaged in some way.

Then I took all that remaining containers matched them to their lids and put matching colored stickers on the lid and container. So one square box/lid has a blue sticker and another has yellow.

I can find the lids now in seconds instead of in 10 minutes of trial and error seeing if this lid will fit!

I use glass containers, with lids kept on them
by: Anonymous

I switched from plastic containers to glass ones to help them last longer since my plastics always seem to get discolored right away and I like to microwave leftovers for lunch in them. I also keep all the lids on the containers so that I don't have to try and search for a match. Yes this means no nesting so they take up more space but I don't need to have that many containers anyway because then it just makes it easier to end up with way more then you need.

repurposing idea for containers
by: Anonymous

Containers, with or without lids, can also be used as drawer dividers or storage for small items (I'm thinking nails, screws, etc.) rather than buying more expensive storage containers or dividers.

Donating plastic containers
by: Anonymous

I gave a stack of bowls to a neighbor who was getting ready to move into a college dorm. She was happy and so was her mother!

re-use plastic containers
by: Sandra Cook

I have a scrapbook room and large messy shop to declutter so those icky containers with or without lids are great for sorting things in those kind of places.

switching to glass, and repurposing plastic ones
by: Lin

I am trying to replace my plastic containers with glass ones. My husband gladly took over the plastic ones for use inside the garage. Costco is a good place to find the glass ones. My plastic sets were from Costco as well, from over 10 years ago.

Donation Idea
by: Anonymous

Animal care centers are usually looking for plastic containers to hold food that they cut up and use for the animals. Our science resource center is always asking for them.

Plastic containers
by: Anonymous

I order Chinese food then keep the plastic containers from them instead of buying them. Also hubby buys ice cream in a plastic container and we reuse that one. Then if they go bad we throw it away and use the new ones that we just bought. But having a problem with the ones I keep to not clutter and make the cabinets look terrible!!!

Ideas for donating plastic containers
by: Anonymous

Preschool teachers may want these for use them with painting. The flat Chinese food containers with clear lids can be used for craft supplies, for example taking a set of markers on a car trip.

Reduce Reuse Recycle
by: Megan F.

I have been purging my storage containers regularly. We have been switching over to glass/lids. When I have containers without lids I will place a few in my craft room for painting or beading projects or in the garage for use in painting projects around the house. Also I use a deep drawer to store my plastic ware - this way it stacks/nests neatly and does not fall out of a cabinet. I also only use clear containers - otherwise they become mystery items in the fridge. As one of the other comments noted, being more mindful of meal sizes reduces leftovers and hence the need for excessive amount of storage containers. I also look for ways to use containers missing lids in help organizing other areas of the home - i.e.: junk drawer, bathroom, home office, garden, etc. Love all the ideas - thank you for the inspiration!

Take extras to share at potlucks
by: Shirley

I take excess containers when I go to a potluck meal. There are always lots leftovers, and most people don't want to take their own dish home again. I take the containers for anyone to use for taking home extra food. Obviously you want to be sure it is ok with the person who brought the dish. My friends are always appreciative of the containers, and they do not need to be returned to me.

family swap
by: Krista

I had a bunch of lids that I think belong to my mother-in-law, so I sent them back to her house! That way she can see if they match and if not, toss them.

Lego storage - use for excess containers
by: Anonymous

We used a whole bunch of excess containers to sort and store lego.

giving away my old ones as I give friends meals
by: Linda

I bought a matching set of containers. Using my old containers to give away to friends that are sick when I take meals to them. I tell them I don't want them back.

by: LaniB

One thing I have found is buying "sets" of containers! Five teeny containers, 1 big one, 5 round ones, 5 square and finally 5 rectangular, and all only $20. What a mess to try to store. I suggest you buy quality ones you need, take care of them (no microwave!) then you won't have such a messy storage.

Donate those plastic containers
by: Sharon

I taught high school for 34 years, just down the hall from the art room.

One day I was throwing away one of those "butter tubs" and the art teacher asked if she could have it. She took it to the art room, washed it, and put it in a laundry basket with a few other containers. She said she uses these to mix paints or for students to have small amounts of paint to share. She also used old pill bottles.

After that, teachers at our high school started saving our containers & pill bottles. The art teacher said we saved her a couple of hundred dollars a year.

Check with your local school and see if they can use them.

where to donate containers
by: Anonymous

We have a local non-profit artist's shop that sells odds and ends to artists. All the money goes to the local women's shelter.

Schools are always looking for containers for craft projects etc., sometimes kids need some interesting things for their projects. I had a student who wanted to make models of antique medicine bottles for her history project. Thank goodness someone had some different sized clear plastic jars that she could paint!

Always read those newsletters that your kid's teachers send home. You may find that someone wants the stuff you are getting ready to throw away! :)

Phase out plastic
by: Anonymous

The best thing to do is start using glass containers instead of plastic. Better for you and better for the environment.

Recycled containers
by: Debbie

Determine if extras can be used elsewhere in the house. Lidless containers can be repurposed as drawer organizers. Donate extras to company break room. Often catered meals have leftovers employees can take with them.

rule about lids
by: Anonymous

I had to make the rule that all plastic containers must be put away with their lids on. My kids know NOT to put away lids w/o containers, or containers w/o lids. That is the only way I have been able to avoid having the same problem over and over again.

Repurposing frozen dinner trays
by: Sherry

I sometimes have frozen dinners for lunch and those containers are fairly sturdy. I keep a few at work to use rather than a paper plate. I also keep several on hand to feed a few feral kitties and just replace with a clean one.

Donating Kitchen Items - consider a domestic violent shelter
by: Anonymous

Women leaving domestic violence shelters to set up their own new violence-free homes often need everything from plastic containers to dishes to pots and pans or bed linens.

As folks decluttering this year, please keep your local domestic violence shelter in mind.

donate to Camp Invention
by: Havilah

I like to donate the containers and lids that I am decluttering to Camp Invention. Granted this is a summer camp but they ask parents to donate items for the kids to invent with while at camp. I know that some schools like to have similar items for art class, too.

donate to church for bereavement dinners
by: Anonymous

We send food home after our bereavement dinners at church. These containers are very handy. They are not returned afterwards.

donate to my church
by: Ellen

I pass on my plastic food containers to our Saturnchurch. We often hold functions where food is served and leftovers abound! From senior luncheons to monthly community dinners, congregational breakfasts and more, there is always a need for leftovers to be taken home. Empty margarine, yogurt and even some fast food containers are sturdy enough to be used for this purpose and help keep my cupboards organized.

donate to schools
by: Julie

donate containers to schools to use in art room for washing out brushes. lids can be used as disposable palettes.

Hanging onto containers
by: Anonymous

I save them for myself and the freezer and also for when I have company and they need them to take things home. I store them in the dishwasher!

Extra/ old/ stained Food Containers
by: Anonymous

Oh my gosh, please, please,please give your old containers (with lids), even if they are yogurt containers etc., to your local food bank or soup kitchen. They always need them desperately!!! Because many of them have to split desserts and certain foods because of city regulations, they are always looks for containers!!

Donate food storage containers
by: Carla

Day cares and preschools can use them for storing arts and crafts materials or for the crafts themselves!!!

by: Anonymous

Can you please elaborate on how many containers to keep if you're trying to cut down waste by using containers for snacks as well?

I use glass containers for lunches/leftovers, slightly larger and flatter containers for sandwiches on trips, and long containers for snacks like veggies or crackers. I also use small round leak-proof containers for sauces and dips. I might have too many sandwich/salad containers, since they don't get used up every week.

I don't think they're "aspirational" containers because I really have been working to avoid plastic baggies and pre-packaged snacks. How can I tell if I'm keeping too many?

gave to school
by: Kimberly

The Science class at the middle school where I work needed plastic containers for a lab project. So I cleaned my cabinet, kept the glass ones, and took the plastic ones to school.

Plastic containers to recycle
by: Madelyn

This might make decisions about which plastic containers to keep and which to recycle:

It is VERY unhealthy to use margarine, yogurt and other plastic containers not designed for the microwave for reheating food!

If you've purchased plastic containers that are marked okay for microwaving that's different. (Although glass is safer.)

We keep a few re-purposed plastic containers for "cold storage" but recycle the rest.

Where to donate containers
by: Linda Hicks

I like to donate my containers to our church for funeral dinner workers to take home any leftover food.

by: Kypreacherswife

They can be reused/relocated to craft room, garage, laundry room or bathroom.

Ask an art teacher
by: Suzi

I work in an elementary school and see plastic containers like butter and yogurt tubs in the art room all the time. Ask your student’s art teacher if she could use them. Preschool and Kindergarten teachers may have uses for them too.

container heaven
by: Sue Magruder

I am ridding myself and closets of random plastic containers and freaky lid drawer. I purchased MR LID containers. The lid is attached to the containers and is dishwasher safe. No hunting for a matching lid in a drawer of a million random lids. HALLELUJAH

Donate containers
by: dtteacher

Our church collects food containers with tops and uses them weekly to take food to people sick or unable to attend our Wednesday night meal.

Make this a child’s chore
by: Suzi

Another thought: At our house we pay kids for chores by the hour. This is one of the chores I give my kids when they need spending money. Mine are teens, but younger ones could easily match containers and lids.

Matching lids
by: Emy Joe Bellenfant-Bilbrey

I use a sharpie to label "A" on lid & "A" to container, then B, C etc. then double letters when I run out of alphabet. I keep my round lids together and square lids together. It saves a lot of frustration when I used to try to find the correct lid. Also saves space! I’ve managed to keep it straight for a year!!!

fast food containers can be reused
by: Anonymous

Take out containers or take home "doggie bags" that have a plastic lid/container can be used to store the bacon and sausage prepared all at one time. Cook ALL the bacon and store it in paper towel lined containers Same with link sausage. Keeps well. I imagine cooked ground beef or other foods would also work.

Kool Whip containers
by: Pat

I tend to save Kool Whip containers, because they are the perfect size for a salad and other foods. But I quickly get too many.

So before every pot luck supper I attend, I put these and any other containers I’m ready to let go, in a bag or box. That way, people can take home something different from what they brought to the pot luck, and the containers are getting at least one more use before being recycled (hopefully) or discarded. I have had a number of people tell me what a good idea that was, and appreciate being able to take home some different food than they brought!

Great for arts/crafts!
by: Ronni

I do a lot of art and/or crafts. I have a studio full of supplies but it seemed never enough to mix mediums or for paint palettes (except styro plates which are expensive....) so when I purge all my plastic, it goes to the studio now!!! Some I can rinse and reuse and some go straight to the trash after use.

by: Marianne

I reorganized my container cupboard last year and found that it stays pretty neat now. The biggest issue was what to do with all the lids. My daughter actually had the best solution - use a big rectangle container, that you don't actually use, and store all of your lids in that. They stay neat and tidy and you never lose them. Then you can just stack up the rest of the containers within each other and it's easy to keep your cupboard neat and tidy!

BPA free?
by: Anonymous

You didn’t mention safety concerns about plastic containing BPA. I’ve been replacing my old Tupperware with BPA free versions but am also eliminating excess. I recycled most of my old instead of donating but saved some pieces for organizing non-food items in my home. Many are great for my craft supplies.

Number the lid and container
by: Anonymous

I keep hearing that people end up with missing lids or missing containers or just struggle to find mates. Match lids and containers once. Use magic marker and put the same number on the matching lid and container. Stack the containers next to the lids. You can then, easily pull out, for example, number 8 container. Then, it's easy to go to the stack of lids and choose number 8. They go together.

Donate containers
by: Anonymous

Our church collects containers to give to the local "breadline" that feeds hundreds of people meals 365 days a year. The guests are able to take leftovers home or to family members who can’t get there for a meal.

Recycle plastic
by: Saundra

Great ideas on here. Many new ideas. Thanks all! I refuse to wash old food containers to save. I understand now how these come in handy for donating. I hate washing dishes so I rinse best I can and recycle. Save none.

Optimized Food Containers
by: Kerry

I saw this idea in another challenge and did it a few years ago. It basically can be used for many things. After decluttering, you take all of the food containers out of the kitchen. You can store them in a bin. For a month, as you need them, remove them from the bin and keep it in the kitchen. That way after a month you’ll know how many you typically use based on your leftovers, dishwashing, etc. and it takes some of the guess work out.

Good use for those orphan lids
by: Roberta

I use the lids from my containers to put between mugs, etc in my dishwasher so they don’t chip.

Tupperware (the real brand)
by: Anonymous

I am a former "Tupperware Lady" and I want to confirm that your cracked and chipped Tupperware is eligible for replacement. Credit is calculated based on the price of the item the last time it appeared in the catalog. (if your dog chewed on it, it voids the warranty even if it cracks, so don't use your cracked bowls and plates to feed the dog)

The company will replace the container and seal together, if you only replace the seal it may not work with the old container.

Never toss out branded Tupperware. I have returned some 30 year old pieces and received credit against new items.
NOTE: If the damage is from the microwave, only items originally sold as microwaveable will be accepted; if the damage is from other heat sources you will not get any credit. You may get the dealer to take them back for factory recycling (those cute trinkets are often made from recycled product)

I have some modular pantry containers which are 30 to 40 years old and I use them constantly for dry foods like rice, beans, pasta, baking supplies, coffee and tea. Also check out the spice containers! If you have some of these you can purchase spices in the amount you need and keep them in these little gems.

Donating containers
by: Anonymous

My son and I volunteer at an outreach program that serves hot meals once a week. We donate containers (butter, cottage cheese, sandwich meat, etc.) to the outreach. Any leftovers after everyone has eaten gets sent home with the people who show up. By bringing in the containers, people have a way to take food home and have another meal. It is humbling to see how excited people are over a butter container to take food home when they don't have much.

Need containers for freezer too
by: Pam

I would say that, as well as the containers needed for leftovers and the like, for the fridge, I think the ones needed for the freezer need to be considered when deciding how many and what kinds to keep. A fair number of these are needed, specially if you stop using freezer bags and other single-use plastics, and if you like making meals ahead of time and freezing them (glass containers are great for this) or portioning out items from larger packages of meats and freezing them.

A use for those extra lids
by: Lady Di

I save some lids from small containers that I toss, and use them for spoon rests. They easily stack in a corner of the drawer next to my stove, and are easy to tuck in the dishwasher.

uses for big yogurt containers
by: Peggy

I save my 650g yogurt containers for my sister in a small box in the front closet, so it's out of the way. Whenever we get together, maybe 3 or 4 times a year, she gives them to her mother-in-law who runs and maintains a hall in the country. When you have big gatherings for a wedding, party of some sort, or a funeral, you always have lots of leftovers. This way, people can take some of this food home at the end of the night so the food doesn't go to waste. I tend to go through 3 of these yogurt containers a week so they always have some containers on hand. Or my sister also has raspberry bushes on her farm. If you have a lot of raspberries that you don't have enough time to make jam, she will put them in those containers and put them in freezer for her family to use later on. Once they are defrosted they almost taste like they were just picked off the bush. So, that's what I do.

Use for lids - spoon rests
by: Jeff

I use lids with no containers for spoon rests when cooking, but I still have waaaaay too many.

How I store my plastic containers
by: D. Popcorn

Let me begin by saying I wish I had enough cupboard space, but I live in a small apartment. My solution to accumulating too many plastic containers is to put them all in a sliding basket or container. This container goes all the way to the back of a very deep cupboard. The lids are in their own space in the basket. Very large containers are on the side of the basket which pulls out easily. I am trying to switch to glass containers which are far more healthy. The container is about 4" high so I can just toss in new containers. When it is full I reorganize it.

Donate to Salvation Army
by: Anonymous

I donate mine to Salvation Army. For the fourth week of every month anyone in need can come there for dinner. Clients can then take home the leftovers in these containers.

leftovers to give away, using disposable containers
by: Andrea

I save a few containers from margarine or cool whip to put leftovers in for my daughter to take home or to take to someone. That way they do not have to worry about returning it.

how I decluttered and organized my containers
by: Mary Beth

First, I got rid of the old containers that didn't have lids or I had the lid and no container.

Next, I saw some containers with lids at Joann Fabrics. They were square in shape. Then, I got a basket, also from Joann Fabrics and put all the containers in the basket for storage. The basket happened to match my kitchen cabinets. So when you open the cabinet it looks really nice.

Due to money issues I decided to start packing my lunch. I bought a lunch bag that had handles. It actually looks like a purse. I got an over the door hanger and now I hang the purse from my pantry door. This is organized as well as a way to keep away from my dog!

lids for leftover containers
by: Marjorie

All my lids for leftover/storage containers are stacked on edge in a clear plastic shoebox, no lid on it, and stored on a shelf in a lower cabinet.

Recycle and reduce
by: Anonymous

Recycle plastic butter, yogurt, etc. containers and mismatched lids and bowls where plastic recycling is available. I read in another article that a household needs 6-10 bowls of various sizes per person. I am cleaning out my plastic containers today. We are a family of three. I am only keeping no more than 30 containers.

where I took mine
by: Anonymous

I took mine to church.

Recycling old Tupperware
by: Linda

I knew of a preschool in our area that welcomed the bowls with lids, mostly for their water play and the sandbox. The glasses and small containers without lids were used for holding paint for their artwork.

Glass Tupperware
by: Elyce

In my journey to use safer products around my home I switched to glass Tupperware. The ones I purchased nest nicely inside one another and I didn’t order too many, just enough for our family of four!

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