Peoria, AZ, How to organize empty food containers and lids / Maid Services


Food storage containers are great for packing up leftovers for later use and taking lunches with you, but they sure can fill up cabinet or drawer space quickly. Here's how to keep your collection in check.


  1. Empty the drawer or cabinet where you normally keep your containers. Sweep, vacuum, or wipe out the crumbs and put down fresh shelf paper or drawer lining, if you wish. Take a good look at your containers while they're spread out on a counter or table.
    • Recycle any containers that are broken, split, stained, smelly, or melted beyond the point of usability.
    • Recycle anything you don't use. If it's too small for your regular portions, too big for the lunch box or the shelf in the fridge, let it go.
    • Decide how many containers you really need, and how many containers you need in any given size. Chances are, your supply of food containers never runs down to zero. If you have a stack of ten identical boxes, do you ever see the bottom two or three? Your answer might be yes if your family of five packs lunches in them each day; otherwise you may not want to keep all ten.
  2. Recycle any containers you can't or don't use. Discarding is always a good first step toward organizing because it means you will have fewer left over to organize and store, and because items you can't or don't use aren't in the way of the ones you do.

  3. Sort through your set and recycle any lids or containers that don't have mates. Put them together, if it helps, so you can see exactly where something comes up short.

  4. Remove anything that's not a food storage container and either discard it or store it somewhere else. Measuring cups, mixing bowls, and drinking glasses (even the plastic ones) should all go in some other, appropriate place. Put them with other items that function similarly.
  5. Get a matched set. If your budget and space permit, consider getting containers that are all the same type, with multiples of commonly used sizes. Often a matched set will stack more compactly and more easily than assorted, unmatched containers.
    • If you can, try out how the containers stack in the store before you buy them. Do they nest snugly, or do they sit up with lots of space in between?
    • If you do replace your containers as part of the organizing process, be sure to get rid of the old, unmatched ones.
  6. Choose a suitable drawer or cabinet. A large drawer works well, if you have one. Regardless of which area you choose, dedicate a specific area and make sure the space is ample for the contents.
  7. Nest and stack. For the containers, nest them in stacks that are as tall as your space. Start with the largest on the bottom and work upwards to the smallest. Make multiple stacks as necessary, keeping round containers with round, square with square, and so on.
  8. File the lids. Make one or two stacks of lids at the side of the space. If you can place them vertically, as you would with papers in a filing cabinet. Place them in order at least roughly by size. Freezer bags (like Ziploc or Glad) are also a easy way to keep lids together and in order. Another really effective way to store them is in a rectangular basket screwed on the back of the cabinet door. This way, they stay vertical and won't get in the way of the containers.

  9. Corral the small stuff. If you like to use miniature containers for leftover dabs or for single-serving portions of toppings or trail mix in a lunch box, put them all in one larger container.

  10. Give containers with long-term jobs permanent homes elsewhere. If a particular container is the one you always use to store flour in the pantry or cheese in the fridge, you might never need to store it with your other containers. Let it have its normal place in the pantry even if you're out of flour.

  11. Make a habit of restacking containers back where they go every time you put away dishes. If you start sticking "just one thing" in edgewise, it will all be chaos again soon. Get your family's help, too. If others do thedishes, explain the new organization system and ask that they replace items in the stacks you have arranged.


Get containers that will last a few years and reuse them. While some of the semi-disposable plastic containers can last quite a while when cared for appropriately, they tend to be best for sending food home with family members who don't bring back containers.

Avoid collecting containers that come as packaging, such as margarine and sour cream tubs, unless you have a specific purpose for them and regularly use them up.


Store less frequently-used containers somewhere else. The pie or cake carrier that only gets used on special occasions could go in the garage, on a high shelf, or under the corner of the counter where it's hard to reach. If you use it infrequently enough, get rid of it.

  • Using a dish rack (for drying dishes)in the drawer or cabinet is a good way to keep the lids upright during storage. Also, the entire rack can be pulled out for easy searching.
  • A napkin holder (or two) can also be used to store the lids upright. One can be used for round, one for square. These are usually available at the Dollar Store.
  • Round containers make for wasted refrigerator and storage space. Stick to square or rectangular containers.



  • Organizing too much stuff won't help. If you have too many containers, get rid of some.
  • Please be kind, and rather than trash unused or seldom used containers, consider re-purposing / reusing them, (not storing them somewhere else empty) possibly utilizing them to organize in the garage, bathroom, closet or kids toy area, with or without lids, as needed.
  • Unused containers (even without lids) can be sold at a garage sale or given away to charity.
  • Freecycle is a great way to get rid of things you no longer want. One man's trash is another man's treasure.
  • Homes for battered women is another great place to get rid of excess kitchen items. Many women leave with only the clothes on their backs, so helping someone set up a new household is another great way to make sure that your containers get reused by someone who desperately needs them.
  • Broken or otherwise unusable containers / lids might be able to be recycled rather than trashed.
  • The key is to organize, utilize, or remove as quickly as possible.


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Article Info

Featured Article

Last edited:February 20, 2009 by Lillian May

Categories:Featured Articles | Clutter Busting | Kitchen Cleaning

Recent edits by: Maluniu, Jonathan E., Mywildcrow (see all)

In other languagesPortuguês: Como Organizar Potes e Recipientes para Comida

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