Food storage containers are the socks of the kitchen. No matter how vigilantly you vow to keep the pieces together when you get a new set, containers and lids will get separated. Before long, lids get lost and every so often (you never know when), you’ll be scrounging for a lid while you’re getting your kid’s lunch ready or trying to put leftovers away. It’s inevitable.
You figure the missing lid must be in some other part of the dishwashing cycle and you believe it’ll eventually show up — so, you toss that lidless container back into the drawer. Before you know it, you’ve amassed a collection of mismatched food storage containers and lids that rivals the matchless sock basket you keep, ever hopeful, on top of the washing machine. Sometimes the lids show up and reunification happens. But this is rare and rarer still the longer you have your food storage set. In our house, lids get accidentally thrown away, the dogs get ahold of them and chew them up, or the snap portions wear out and break and we toss them without considering the orphan container the broken lids will leave behind.
Before long, you amass a collection of lidless containers that aren’t any good for taking food on the go or storing leftovers in the fridge. It’s too hard to toss them on the off chance that the lids will show up, and it can be painful to get rid of perfectly good food containers — especially sturdy glass ones! However, wasting precious storage space on broken kitchen tools is never a good idea. Keeping useless items is the very definition of clutter, and you’re guaranteed to be frustrated trying to match up containers and lids when it’s a gamble whether or not you’ll ever find a full set.
Recently, I realized that I could solve my miscellaneous, mismatched food storage container problem without just giving up on them altogether: I decided to use my lidless food storage containers as storage bins in my fridge and pantry.
I’m a huge proponent of creating zones and decanting or “containerizing” kitchen items (when it makes sense), so I already have some storage bins in both my fridge and pantry. However, between items that don’t fit in the existing bins and smaller items within the bins, I still have plenty of opportunities to use my orphan food storage containers to separate things even further.
For example, we sometimes buy what my kids call the “circle cheese” (mini Babybel snackers), and these can make a mess of the cheese bin in our fridge. Plus, when they get lost under bigger items like the sliced sandwich cheese, they don’t get eaten. Adding a food container specifically for this smaller cheese within the clear rectangular bin we already have keeps the section more organized, and makes it easier than ever to grab what we need without having to shuffle things around.
The pantry, too, benefits from the added order that food storage containers provide. Small bags of items like hemp seeds, chia seeds, nutritional yeast, or small leftover amounts of rice or dried beans all get easily lost among bigger items — and they’re the very type of ingredients I tend to buy again because I didn’t see the scrunched bag hiding on the shelf. Creating a space for these kinds of tricky items saves me time, money, and pantry space because I can see what I already have and use it.
Giving lidless storage containers a new life as organizers clears out my food storage collection of useless containers, and also creates more specialized, customizable storage where I need it. It’s my new favorite way to turn trash into treasure in my kitchen!