Storing (and finding) Plastic Containers

February 12th, 2013 posted by Gary Foreman

Rubbermaid set of covered containers

What a Mess!

Akk! When I open up my cabinet of plastic ware, yogurt containers, etc., it’s worse than Mr. Magoo’s closet! What can I do to keep them straight, to have enough containers yet be able to find sizes and covers when I need them? I do have some set in a separate cabinet for my toddler, but still don’t have the others suitably arranged. Thank you. ~ Ann McG

Try a Box

Finding a way to stack plastic containers has always been a tough one. The first thing you need to do is actually take the time to match up the lids with the containers. Any extras–throw them away! The easiest and cheapest way to organize plastic lids for containers is to find a box that fits on the shelf of your cabinet. It can be any size you need for the space you have. You can neatly arrange lids in the box (you may have to cut down the sides to fit) but they are always together in one place–very convenient. If you want to get creative, you can make it pretty or match your decor with shelf paper, wallpaper, or even material. // Another thing I have found is a wire rack that slides under your shelf. These hold lids very nicely and take up very little space. You can usually find these racks in the housewares dept. in most department or thrift stores. I found mine at a ‘dollar’ store for a buck—what a deal! As far as the containers themselves, all you can do is pick out the ones you use most and use the ‘puzzle’ method. After several tries, you can usually find the most suitable way to fit them into the space you have. Happy stacking! ~ Doris C DeSoto, MO

For Small Containers

I made my own cover storage rack for smaller containers by cutting out all but an inch of two sides of a half-gallon milk jug. If you cut out the two sides away from the handle, you get two additional benefits. You can use the handle for moving it around, if you are careful not to tip it over far enough to spill them out. And the narrower part by the handle will be suitable for some of the even smaller lids. You can line them up from largest to smallest. This can hold covers up to 3 1/2 inches diameter. You could do the same kind of thing with the gallon plastic jugs, for medium sizes. I keep the covers for the “square rounds” in the top container of the stack of empties. They are not actually square, so you can fit in more of them if you put them in shorter edge down, and aligned with the longer side.

15 Minute Storage Meals: Quick, Healthful Recipes & Food Storage Handbook This book is a great guide for those involved with food storage. The reader is told how much to store for one adult for one month using the recipes in this book.

Most of the larger rectangular covers I store standing up on edge in narrow spaces of my cupboard, such as between cereal storers, or beside unopened boxes of food. There is also a small space next to my plate rack I use for large rectangular lids. The oval lids can mostly be kept in one of the tall oval containers. If you stack the shorter empty “modular” containers beneath the taller ones of the same shape/size bottom, I think you will find they stack more compactly. This works wonders with the several sizes of rectangular “mates” and the ovals. It also saves a little space with the square rounds. ~ Rose B, mother of three, in NC

Try a Dish Strainer

I recycle old dish strainers. They hold lids small in front to largest in the back. The silverware “department” holds plastic silverware I have washed to re-use for work lunches etc. Then I stack the containers nearby. ~ Kris B.

More Than One Step Needed

First and foremost, do you need (use) all of the containers you have? Your first order of business should be to eliminate any unnecessary containers and move any non-kitchen plastic ware to the area where it will be used (example: small yogurt containers to be used for seedlings should be kept in the potting shed, garage, etc.). Small containers that don’t stack well could go together into a larger container, the same can be done with lids. Tupperware sells a lid keeper that can be attached to the inside of your cabinet door. If you’re not interested in looks you could simply staple or nail a heavy duty plastic bag (zipper style freezer bag) to the inside of the cabinet door – depending on the size of the cabinet door, you could used two or three of these bags (one below the other) to sort lids by size and to keep the bags from bulging. Happy organizing! ~ Jen Ozols, Connecticut.

Match Maker

Number the lids and containers that match. For example all of one size containers would be labeled with 1’s and the matching lids would be labeled with 1’s. Then when you look in your drawer you can immediately spot the lid that fits!! ~ Vicki K.

Save Money by Conserving Energy

Concerned about your soaring electric bills? Here are a few tips to help you conserve energy this summer:

  • Wrap your hot-water heater in insulation so heat can’t escape.
  • Use ceiling fans to circulate cool air.
  • “Beef” up your insulation when remodeling.
  • Put in low-flow shower heads.
  • Seal holes around the house where air can seep in or out.

You can also buy energy efficient appliances. These machines will get the job done and save you money.

Courtesy of CyberTip4theDay

Worth Buying a Matched Set

I too had what I called “the cupboard from he–” filled with mismatched plastic ware. That cabinet even followed me from my apartment to my house. One day I got fed up with the plastic ware nightmare. I took everything out of the cabinet and sorted through it. I matched up all lids with the container. Any extra lids and containers that didn’t have matches I threw away. I also through away all severely stained and leaky pieces.

I was left with a pitifully small assortment of plastic ware. So I went to K-mart and bought a 60 piece set of stacking plastic ware from Anchor Hocking for $14.99. That was the best purchase I have ever made. Although the set was touted as stacking, you can’t stack with the lids on, which meant roaming lids that would disappear as soon as the cabinet doors were closed. so I needed a lid bin. I didn’t want to spend anymore money on bins, so I came up with a homemade version that has lasted 4 years and is still going strong. I took a couple of Gap shirt boxes (the deep ones) and I cut them in half. Using half of the bottom box I folded over each edge, creating a 1/4 inch lip, into the interior of the box. Then stapled (with a heavy duty staple gun like the PowerShot from Black and Decker) the box on the newly formed lip right to the inside of the cabinet door. Make sure to staple the base of the box first and then work your way up the sides. I was able to fit four of these shirt box bins onto the inside of the doors of the cabinet. I then placed all lids in the bins, different sized lids can be separated into a certain bin. This method has served me well for over 4 years and ended my plastic ware nightmare. ~ Angie Hoseth Newark, Delaw

Use Baggies Instead

When it reached the point that I had an entire cabinet full of plastic food-storage containers (most of which I couldn’t find the top for when I needed it), I decided it wasn’t worth the huge amount of space, time and money that I was spending on it. Now I keep plastic zip-lock baggies in various sizes, and use them for all my left-overs. I can always see just what’s in the bag, and they can be thrown away with the leftovers if they spoil. They also take up much less space in the fridge and freezer. ~ Teresa S


about the author Gary Foreman is a former Purchasing Manager and Certified Financial Planner. He currently edits The Dollar Stretcher website. It contains the web’s largest collect of free articles to save you time and money. There’s even a free weekly email newsletter. Visit and save some money today!



Gary Foreman (28 Posts)

Gary Foreman is a former Certified Financial Planner who currently edits The Dollar Stretcher website and ezines. You'll find hundreds of free articles to help you save time and money. Visit Today!


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