How to Organize Food Storage Containers | Build a Stash

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Whether you want to pack school lunches or stock your freezer, food storage containers are the way to go! But when they’re cluttered, it can make things tricky.

You can organize food storage containers in your kitchen with a few steps. First, you need to downsize by getting rid of defective ones, place a limit on the types of storage containers in your kitchen, and arrange the containers by stacking up the same-sized ones to free up some space.

Keeping storage containers and lids in order is essential in every kitchen as it makes finding items much more manageable. However, a cluttered kitchen can frustrate you every time you open your kitchen door. That’s why this detailed guide highlights the best ways to organize your storage containers, keep your kitchen tidy, and maintain your storage containers to keep things fresh at all times.

Recently, we noticed that many people have difficulties locating some items in the kitchen due to cluttered storage containers. So, in a quest to fix things up, we started learning different kitchen organization ideas. After our research, we applied what we learned and reorganized the kitchen to become more spacious and easier to navigate.

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How to Organize Food Storage Containers

It's tiring having to struggle each time you want to pack up your lunch due to piled-up storage containers and lids. This experience can place a dent in your day. But, with the easy-to-follow steps listed below, you'll reorganize your kitchen and free up some space!

Step 1: Declutter and Downsize

Move around your kitchen and gather all your food storage containers in one spot. Don’t forget all the containers in your fridge or freezer too. You’ll need to keep them in mind when deciding on what to toss or keep.

Look for lids and containers that are stained, broken, smelly, warped, or won’t close properly and get rid of them. You should recycle margarine and yogurt tubs. This kind of plastic does not fare well in dishwashers and microwave ovens.

Make sure that every container has its lid on it. If you come across some containers without lids, set these containers aside and wait for about one week to see if a pair is found. If not, you should get rid of them.

Step 2: Decide What to Keep

Now, you need to place certain limits on the kinds of food storage containers in your kitchen. When doing this, you must consider why you need each container and what you intend to store in it.

For instance, you can ask yourself if you need containers for storing leftovers, school/work lunches, stocking the freezer, etc. You should keep enough of each type to meet your needs.

A few days’ worth of lunch containers gives you more than enough time to clean them out before the time to repack your next lunch comes. If you like to cook meals in advance, some of your containers will always be in the freezer. So, you will need plenty of containers in your kitchen.

You can see through transparent containers to know what is stored inside. Keep that in mind when deciding what to keep. Also, if you want to save space in your cupboard, you should only keep the same-sized containers as they stack up nicely without taking up much space.

Some people prefer to reuse instead of recycling. If that's you, use lid-less containers as small baskets or drawer organizers for corralling other items. You can use lids as palettes for children's painting projects, spoon rests, or to catch drips by placing them under the honey pot, etc.

It's advisable to limit your "reuse" collection. One or two of each type is perfectly fine.

Step 3: Organizing Food Storage Containers

Once you finish sorting your containers, the next step is to arrange them in the kitchen properly. Finding any container you need when you need it can be pretty easy if you have designated storage areas.

Your kitchen layout can be set to allow all your containers to have a designated storage area. If not, you may want to store containers for leftovers in one cabinet or drawer and the ones for lunchboxes in another cupboard.

If you have a limited storage space, it will help if you nestle all your storage containers inside each other. For the lids, you can put them all in a bigger container. Also, you can sort all the lids by size and put them in a magazine holder, letter sorter, or you may reuse an empty cereal box.

There's also the option of purchasing ready-made lid organizers.

Alternatively, gather all containers of the same size with their lids and put them in a basket. Once you’re done, put the basket inside a cupboard or drawer. When storing in a drawer, you should separate lids from bottoms using a drawer divider.

People who are looking to upgrade their kitchen will find this very useful. If you are using glass storage containers that don’t nest well, you can maximize your cupboard space using shelf expanders.

How to Maintain Food Storage Containers

Maintaining your food storage containers and lids is easy. You just have to go through them from time to time (three to four times each year). This way, you can ensure that all containers have mates. You may notice that you always have to reorganize your storage space.

In that case, you must analyze your storage space and make putting away clean items in designated spots easier. While at it, don’t be in a rush. It could take some time to generate a system that works best for your household.

Different Ways to Organize Food Storage Containers

If you need creative ideas for cleaning and organizing your kitchen, you’re in the right place! Lids and containers can form quite a cluster. But with the tips below, you will get them under control quickly.

1. Store Lids in a Hidden Magazine Rack

If you have lids that are out of control, a magazine rack might be the perfect solution. By adding a file sorter or magazine rack to the inner part of the cabinet, storing your leftovers will become much more manageable.

Ensure that the holes in the organizer are big enough to contain the hooks.

Another option is to get a file sorter that can be mounted on the wall and fastened into the cabinet door using screws. This could serve as a semi-permanent solution.

2. Stack Lids Vertically in a Plate Rack

Organizing food storage lids with a plate rack is easy and convenient. When you arrange and divide everything by size, it makes finding anything you need faster and easier.

Plate racks are an affordable option. For instance, you can purchase a bamboo dish drying rack for $10 or less.

These bamboo racks can be placed within your reach on top of your kitchen counter. You can also keep them inside the kitchen cabinets.

3. Use Book Bins as Dividers

If you need a straightforward solution for keeping your plastic storage containers of different sizes clean and tidy, this is a reliable option.

You can use cloth book bins turned on their sides as dividers. The good news is that they are pretty inexpensive, and you may already have some soft-sided book bins in your children’s room.

You can use any type of bin or basket to organize your food storage containers. But make sure that they can fit into your drawer or cabinet with the opening side up.

4. Buy an Off-the-Shelf Solution

If some of the mentioned DIY solutions are not for you, this is another way to organize your containers.

There are many food storage lid organizers out there from different organizing solution companies. You can always go and purchase the one that works best for you. Some of these organizers come with several adjustable sections and have different sizes.

So, you can choose one depending on the size of the space you want to sort out. Some companies have solid and straightforward designs with an acrylic look that can easily match other organizers you have. You can also opt for a bamboo version.

5. Keep Lids in Check using Tension Rods

You can effectively prevent lids from getting out of hand with small tension rods. These rods can be stretched to fit any size of the drawer. Extend them to a side, across the depth or width of the drawer. Leave enough space to prop up a stack of many lids on their side.

You may already have tension rods at home. But if you don't, you can get one for less than 15 dollars. The extras can serve as a bonus shoe storage in your closet or prop up baking sheets in other parts of your kitchen.

6. Separate Containers and Lids with Drawer Dividers

Your drawer can look super organized and satisfying when you separate containers and lids with drawer dividers. Ensure to stack all containers and lids smartly in a way that makes it easy to find items you need.

For about $15, you can get an adjustable organizer with dividers that work in two directions. The good news is that any type of tension drawer dividers can do the trick!

7. Use Pegboard to Keep Containers in Place

You can also keep all your food storage containers neat and tidy by adding pegboards to your slide-out cabinets or drawers.  It’s a clever and inexpensive way to keep things in order. Pulling it off is straightforward, and you only need simple hardware store supplies.

Alternatively, you may purchase a ready-made pegboard kit for around $20. There are many different options out there to choose from, including kitchen cabinet organizers that mimic the storage capabilities of pegboards.  

8. Hack a Cereal Box

Hacking a cereal box could be the fastest and most affordable solution. Families that eat plenty of cereal, pasta, or just about anything that comes in a box won't have any trouble doing this.

Once you get the box you wish to use for the recycling, cut off one corner and the top. Once you do this, you have created a magazine-style organizer.

If you are feeling a little extra, you can dress it up. Use beautiful patterned paper to wrap it like a gift. Once done, tuck and tape the paper around all the cut edges.

9. Use a Drying Rack to Create a Lid Organizer

This solution is perfect for people who are already storing food container lids in a small bin and want to make it tidier. If this is you, then you can follow these few tips; create small sections in your bin that your lids can slide into by snagging a roll-up dish drying rack and unrolling it on the top. 

Roll-up racks are quite affordable. You can purchase one online for as low as $8 and in the bargain sections of many stores.

10. Invest in an Entire Storage System

For people who prefer a ready-made storage solution, investing in an entire storage system might be the perfect one. You will be happy to know that many excellent options are available to keep your food storage organization on point. You can easily browse the web for some of them.

Amazon has a lot of unique solutions from which you could choose. With around $250, you should be able to purchase a storage system that can suit your needs.

With all this inspiration, you can step up your kitchen organization skills and eliminate all cluttered containers. The best part is that these ideas are easy to implement and also inexpensive! So, do your best to give your kitchen a new look it deserves!

Verdict: What’s the Best Storage Method?

There is no single answer to this question. It entirely depends on what suits you best. If you are on a budget and would like to try a DIY method, we recommend using book bins as dividers as the easiest to use method for container storage.

The best method overall is to invest in an entire storage system with a single purchase. While it is costly upfront, it can do everything you need and makes the storage process much easier.

Whatever way you decide, use these tips to better organize your food storage containers. It is the number one way to free up added storage in your kitchen and your home.