Container Confusion

Following Lucinda’s pantry and plastics clearout, I have done one, too! While preparing the house to be painted, I stuffed everything from the kitchen counters into the cupboards in a big jumble and it needed to be set right.

I’ve been trying to minimize buying plastic for several years. I take lots of snacks to work. I can take a few glass containers but multiples get heavy for my backpack. I still use some plastic ones for things that don’t need to be heated. Like Lucinda, I plan to use them forever and not buy more. Sometimes I just wrap things in a cloth napkin. For leftovers at home, I use glass containers.

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I have a really large, deep corner cupboard where all my food storage containers and baking equipment goes. I laugh because although Rom does half of the cooking, he has studiously avoided learning the locations of things in the cupboard. He always asks me where each thing is, and when I tell him, he doesn’t “see” them, so I have to retrieve them. I think it’s because the cupboard is so low and deep that he can’t bend and reach in there.

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The top shelf has the food storage containers. When I accumulate too many, it gets very precarious to pull things out without a landslide!

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These are the glass containers. The round ones at the back are our mainstays for leftovers. They are from Anchor Hocking and I do not recommend them, although they are constantly on sale. They have cheap, flat plastic lids which crack and warp no matter how carefully you treat them. I am sure the company just wants us to throw out the glass containers and keep buying more. Replacement lids are available at great cost (with shipping), but only the same type. The company has since made new lids (shown in photo) and although they are harder to clean, they are infinitely better. These containers cost more and are on sale less often. Anchor also makes the rectangular glass containers with the green lids which I love – great for storing a couple of servings of lasagna, or even a meal-sized salad. On impulse, I bought a batter bowl with lid, but since I only use it for pancake batter and I only make pancakes about 3 times a year, I’m not keeping it. I should know better than to buy kitchen unitaskers! I have two Corning French White glass dishes which I don’t use for storage because they are too small for anything, and the lids stain easily so tomato and curry are out of the question. Finally, I have an endlessly reproducing number of canning jars. I have bought them by the dozen for canning tomatoes and jelly (not recently) and also receive lots when family members give me nice things like jam and pickles. However, since they are leak-proof, I have taken to using them for everything from yogurt to salad dressing. I have boxes of canning jars stored away elsewhere for when the preserving bug hits me again.

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Here’s what’s left of our plastic containers. The large ones can hold two sandwiches or bagels, or I use them for cut oranges and grapes for a morning snack. The tiny ones I use for things like bringing a bit of butter or jam to work.

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This is the odd lot! The large container is technically a celery keeper. It really does keep cut celery fresh for a long time. I use it as a keeper for all sorts of greens, like washed romaine lettuce. The screen at the bottom allows moisture to collect away from the food. The round thing on the left may be familiar to people of my generation. It was called a “Patty Stacker” and was meant to form hamburgers of uniform size. Now used for veggie burgers. The round thing on the right is a sprouter which has yet to see any use, but I do love sprouts and plan to start some any time now! Why do I keep a Bulk Barn container? I sometimes buy peanut butter or molasses there, so I bring the container back and reuse it. They are not happy to give you the tare weights of your own containers. Last but not least, I always have a supply of maple syrup, homemade by my brother, and it is easy to over-pour from the jar so I funnel some into the mini-maple bottle and use it for serving!

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Next is the array of drinks containers. I have two Thermos bottles for coffee. The metal one is very light so I make coffee and take it to work every day. The other one keeps the coffee hotter but it is bulky. When family comes for dinner, I make an extra pot of coffee and store it in that one so we don’t run out (we are all big coffee drinkers!) There are two smaller Thermos containers which are meant for hot foods. I don’t need those since Rom and I both have microwaves at work. You will spot 5 water bottles. The Contigo ones on the far left are genius. They are 100% spill-proof. They were sold in sets of 3 so there is one for my workouts, one for the car, and one for Rom. I bring the giant one (1700 ml) to work during the summer when I’m trying to be good and drink lots of water. During the scare over BPA water bottles, we got rid of any old plastic ones and bought two metal ones. Every metal water bottle I’ve tried has a plastic sipping spout and they all have a chemical taste which never goes away. They are not spill-proof, either. They’re leaving us!

I have gone through endless numbers of travel mugs. You’ll see I have 4 plastic ones which I don’t use any more. It doesn’t seem like hot drinks in plastic mugs is a good idea. However, I have a sentimental attachment to the vintage Tim Horton’s mugs (red and white) which were ubiquitous throughout Canada until the mid-2000s. Maybe I will sell them on Kijiji 🙂 Once again, the spill-proof Contigo brand of metal travel mug is brilliant, and the recent ones are even easier to clean.

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Onwards to the baking stuff. On the bottom shelf of the cupboard, I store these things. At the back of the photo, you can just about see a metal file sorter which I use for standing up cooling racks and cutting boards and so on. Going from the back to the front of the picture, there are 2 ice cube trays, 4 cooling racks, 2 muffin pans, 2 Coring French white casserole dishes (nested), a pizza stone (used often – love it), 4 loaf pans (from bread baking days), a Bundt pan I had to have and has never been used (label still on), a spring-form pan, 2 square and 2 round layer cake pans, a small cutting board used only as a cheese board, a colander, and three serving platters.

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After going through everything, these are the items I’m not keeping. The only things not shown in previous photos are an old pizza pan, a lid for a dish I no longer have, and a couple of foil pie plates.

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Everything fits fine back onto the lower shelf. In fact, there is even room for the olive oil and a few bottles of wine!

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The top shelf looks much better now. There was enough space at the back to put my pedestal cake plate and my trifle bowl (not shown), because you know, they are indispensable!

Have you had a clear-out lately?

This is not a sponsored post.

24 comments

  1. I need to do this. I just got new cookware (it was a gift), so I’ve started an “out with the old” pile of pots and lids. My storage containers and drinkware need a going-over though, and I have a few uni-purpose items that need to go.

    One thing I haven’t found a good solution for is drink pitchers. My husband has been experimenting with glass tea jars (the kind with the pull-lever spouts at the bottom front of the jar), but they break easily. My old standby plastic/Tupperware pitchers are at the end of their lives, and I haven’t yet found a suitable alternative.

    • Ah, I don’t have any drink pitchers. I was thinking of buying a glass one for water, but mostly I just drink coffee or use water bottles. Good luck with your clear-out!

  2. Once a year I go through each kitchen drawer and cabinet and get rid of whatever is expired, unused, or stale (herbs). Donna is in charge of that for tea. I also go through the free and bought storage containers/jars and get them down to where they fit in the drawer and are manageable. I’m under orders not to buy any more pots, pans, or gizmos but I sneak them in and make room for them by getting rid of something else that I don’t use anymore…

    • A scheduled annual inspection is a great idea! Interesting concept that as long as your gear takes up the same amount of space, the content won’t be noticed 🙂

  3. Fiona

    I am swooning at such a neat and organised corner cupboard! That’s an impressive *lack* of plastic containers. You’ve done well to reduce so much and convert to glass. I’m glad to read a non-recommendation re: the lids. I’ve often looked at converting to glass but all my ‘test’ purchases have had issues with lids warping and not fitting etc. Still searching for a brand that will fare better.

    It’s interesting looking at the points you raise about poor-quality consumer items (the lids; the metallic taste in metal drink bottles.) It is so frustrating to think of the number of households world-wide who buy products in good faith but end up sending them to landfill due to the poor-quality.

    • Jamie

      Fiona, have you tried the Pyrex glass containers with plastic lids? I have two round ones that I use to soak my oats in and have been happy with them for about 2 years, but don’t regularly heat anything up in them, so can’t say how they hold up to that.

      It is so strange for me that you live on the other side of the world, Dar, and have a few things that are almost identical to what we have! We also have a celery keeper. Ours has a green base and a white (ish? Maybe it was once kind-of clear) lid. We use it to store carrots, as we eat so many of those (and never eat celery). My husband has the Contigo coffee mug and a similar Contigo water bottle for work.

      Our current rental has so many cupboards (though the whole house. It is wonderful!) and in the kitchen there are a number of deep, pull out drawers I store our plastics in. It also has a pull out pantry that is cute, but it struggles with my big bins of flour, so I store them in a different cupboard.

      I’ve had a few kitchen clean outs over the past few years with all of our house moves. I’m starting to find a few things I regret having purged. I ended up buying a wooden spoon at the supermarket the other day. I couldn’t find a suitable alternative in our kitchen when my daughter wanted to make brandy snaps a few weeks ago (for shaping them). We will see if it survives the next move. 🙂

      • Fiona

        Hi Jamie, I’ve looked at the Pyrex ones for ages but I thought a friend mentioned the lids were not great. (Or maybe Sarah, from Live to List?) I should buy one just to test it. I thought the same about the similar products Dar has despite being on the other side of the world!

      • Jamie, it’s great that you have good storage in your current place. I don’t recall having any regrets over getting rid of practical household things, but sometimes I feel a twinge over some sentimental or nostalgic things I didn’t keep. We have the Pyrex containers available here too, and if I were to start over, I would probably go for them!

    • Thanks. Some things I should have returned to the store right away (like the metal water bottles) but others, like the plastic lids, didn’t cause problems until a few months later. They come with a warranty which I wish I had kept.

    • Yep we use Pyrex here, and it’s my go to housewarming/enagagement gift now too! The lids on the ones we have are blue, which are not ‘leak proof’. I carry mine in a little (lululemon branded) tote which the rectangular ones fit in perfectly. I know there are ‘leak proof’ styles, but I haven’t forked out for those to try 😉

  4. NicolaB

    I’ve been feeling the need to have a good clear out recently but haven’t actually done it.

    I have tidied my knitting/craft corner, however, which is so much more peaceful now it is neat! More tidying needed…

    • I think tidying knitting and crafts would be much more satisfying than kitchen containers!

      • NicolaB

        I find tidying satisfaction is related to how annoying the area has become (everything falling on you when you open a cupboard, for example!) rather than what’s actually being tidied.
        Which reminds me, I really must tidy the shed, it’s probably a health hazard at the moment!

  5. When I come over, I want to try the homemade maple syrup. Sorry, I know what an aside, but I just love the thought. Reminds me of Little House in Big Woods when they had toffee made by maple syrup on snow. All our maple syrup (all the world’s?) comes from Canada. Most Aussies use fake stuff made from sugar and stuff.

    I use the Bundt baking ring as my mother is German and she baked many cakes in one. With more time (and less weight) I’d bake more.

    Gotta love a clean out.

    • We consider real maple syrup to be super-expensive as well, but when I run out of my bro’s supply, I do buy it because I can no longer abide “pancake syrup” – food snobbery has set in! As well as Canadian, we can get maple syrup from Vermont, US. I really do want to make a Bundt cake – what recipes do you have? I wonder if you wouldn’t use a regular layer cake recipe because the Bundt pan is so deep and wouldn’t bake the same.

      • I used to make a plain butter cake with half vanilla and half chocolate mix, swirled together. Looks brilliant cut. My mum makes simple butter cake mixes with lemon or vanilla flavour. Nothing special. Just cook for shorter time.

  6. The best thing about this home is that we have drawers in all the lowers! And generally heaps of storage. I think it’s genetic that I don’t like those cavernous cupboards, though mum has two now! Things are harder to get access to. I realise since moving in here almost 3 years ago, I’ve not done the level of ‘inside my cupboards and drawers’ posts which I did at my previous house. I think I should (and then direct my cleaning lady to the post, every week she finds new homes for things!).

    The Pyrex glasswear, both single serve and lasagne dishes go in one upper cupboard. A lower drawer gets the jars (rinsed from previous salsa jars etc), and plastic bits and bobs – rinsed sour cream pots if I see a need. The plastic items are all form others – Chinese take away containers or plastic boxes from mums. It’s a big drawer, so half is for flat and/or rectangular baking tins. Another upper cupboard gets cake tins (round!) & loaf tins. I appreciate the space, so that many of these locations things aren’t nested, making a ‘one hand grab’ possible – a concept I was introduced to when decluttering as a goal.

  7. Jo

    Very inspired by this post. I moved into our new house and just through all the containers into a cupboard just like yours. It is complete chaos. I can see a school holiday project coming up..

    I find the Anchor lids are terrible but the Pyrex ones have lasted for years. And they don’t quite fit each other:( But I have started using beeswax cloth over the Anchor glass dishes to cover in the fridge. Works well.

    I am leaning towards just reusing preserving jars for many things now, including freezing.

    • Hi Jo, I used the beeswax cloths for a while but I found they didn’t stand up to a lot of washes and they stained easily, so now I usually just use a plate as a lid! I use canning jars for loads of things now, and I agree they work great in the freezer, too.

  8. Seeing your Bundt pan reminds me that I have one that I have never used as well. Might be time to let that one go.
    I recently got rid of most of my plastic containers. Diva was attempting to clean up the kitchen and my excessive amount of glass containers made her want to throw out all kinds of other pretty glasses.
    I really need to let go of my small appliances. There are a few that I don’t use regularly at all. 😦

  9. I see your collection and I’m horribly ashamed. Ours is So much bigger and in a much more disarray! We need a clean out too!

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