13 Tips and Tricks For Organizing Your Food Containers
How many times have you gone to reach for a food container or lid, only for all your food containers to come falling down? Well, I can definitely relate. Although nothing beats the convenience of these handy kitchen objects, they can also be a real pain in the butt to store and organize. Plus, organizing containers and lids isn't even the hard part — it's keeping them in their new neat and orderly organized fashion that is.
The key is finding the right organizational system that works for you. Whether that means creating separate homes for your lids and containers or using bins to stow sets (containers and lids) by size, it's really up to you and the amount of space you have available. However, before you go trying different organizing methods, you'll need to complete a quick preorganizing checklist. You'll find this below, followed by 10 ways to organize your food containers. Happy organizing!
Before You Start Organizing Your Containers
1. Take Inventory and Declutter
Before you begin organizing, create a clean workspace and assess the situation. Round up all your reusable food containers, including ones you may have left in the car, office kitchen, or a backpack or tote. Take inventory of your collection by matching each container to its respected lid. Discard containers that don't have a corresponding lid and vice versa.
2. Purge Smelly, Old, and Stained Containers
Now that you can see what you're working with, take things one step further by purging sets that could benefit from a replacement. Toss sets that fall under the SOS umbrella: smelly, old, or stained. If the set has a lingering odor, food stains, or is beaten up (perhaps the lid doesn't fit properly or is scuffed up), add it to the discard pile. Revisit these two steps every few months to prevent your food containers from getting out of control and unorganized.
3. Create a Home For Your Containers
For organizational and usage purposes, your plastic food containers should all live in one place. This way, you don't have to turn your kitchen inside out every time you need to stow away leftovers or pack lunch. Once you find a spot, line the shelf or drawer with nonslip shelf liner to prevent your containers from causing scratches.
10 Ways to Organize Food Containers
When it comes to organizing food containers, there is no right or wrong way. What may work for some may not work for you. Based on space, the amount and size of the containers you own, and your preferred organization method, there are several routes you can go. Find what organization tactic works best for you below.
1. Nestle Containers
Generally, food containers are designed to be stackable. If your food containers came in a variety pack, create a nestled stack for each shape. You can do this by placing smaller containers of a similar shape (i.e. round with round, square with square) within those of a larger size. Afterward, divide the lids by shape and size.
Depending on your available space, place the lids either vertically or flat on the shelf. Just like you did with your containers, try to keep similar lid shapes together in one stack. Take this a step further by placing round lids alongside round containers, square lids alongside square containers, and so on.
2. Have Separate Homes For Containers and Lids
If you have a large collection and extra storage space and prefer to see items in smaller, individual stacks, you may want to keep containers and lids separate from each other altogether. On one shelf, organize containers in separate stacks by size and shape. On the shelf below, do the same thing with the lids. The two shelves should line up accordingly, giving you quicker access and allowing you to take inventory more easily.
3. Store Containers With Lids On
This is an optimal solution for those who own eight or less sets of containers and lids. Simply stack same-size lids together on top of the matching stack of containers. It's not the most aesthetically pleasing system, but you'll never have to dig through a mound of lids or containers to find the right pair.
4. Use a Plate Rack to Store Lids
Stackable containers stand up on their own, but organizing lids is a whole separate challenge. Use a plate rack to keep lids neatly divided and arranged by shape and size. Not only is this super simple, it's also visually appealing!
5. Install Pull-Out Drawers
Pull-out drawers will help prevent your collection from becoming disorganized and outgrowing its home (not to mention back pain from reaching for weird places). For breakables like glass or Pyrex, place lids upwards and rest containers on top. Then, divide a drawer in half for all plastics: nestle similar-shaped containers together on one side, and arrange lids by shape and size (or as you see fit) on the other.
6. Use Bins to Separately Stow Different-Size Sets
Another way to keep things extremely neat and tidy is to assign each size set its own labeled bin. Depending on the size and fit of the bin, either place lids down first and then rest containers on top, or lay containers on their side with lids placed vertically. Continue this process for each size set — large, medium, small, and so on.
7. Utilize Drawer Dividers
When used correctly, drawer dividers are your best friends. In this scenario, nestle containers to maximize your space. Keep lids stored in their own separate dividers to avoid disorganization. Feel free to categorize the dividers by size, usage, shape, or however you see fit.
8. Install a Door Rack For Lids
Lids are tricky to keep organized, but thanks to their slim frames, they're super easy to store. If you run out of room, simply hang a spice or magazine rack with hooks on the inside of a cabinet or pantry door! Now your lids are all in one place.
9. Place Lids Underneath Containers
Keep sets together but separate by stacking lids underneath matching nestled containers. If you're short on space, nestle smaller containers within larger containers. Place the smaller lids either underneath or next to the small containers.
10. Invest in a Professional Container Organizer
When all else fails, you can always count on The Container Store for your organizing needs. The YouCopia Large StoraLid Organizer ($20) is great for arranging plastic lids, especially in tight spaces. For deep cabinets, try the White Mesh Food Storage & Lid Organizers ($15-$35). It has designated sections for different container sizes along with dividers for lids.