How to Organize Your Kitchen Storage Containers in 5 Easy Steps

Sometime around when I left for college, my mom overhauled her plastic storage container stash. I came home one weekend to find her plastic containers neatly stacked and their lids meticulously organized. Although it took a little more time to keep things organized her way (as opposed to, you know, just tossing them into the cupboard after I pulled them out of the dishwasher), I liked the sense of order and I loved always being able to find the right sized lid every time.

Motivated by her method, I have tried to keep our plastic containers equally organized. Here are 5 things I do to keep the storage container cupboard tidy:

photo 1

1) Buy only one kind of storage container.

This is really the secret to my organization. Having a dozen different types and sizes of containers makes it hard to establish any kind of organizational system.

Our one kind of storage container is the Rubbermaid Easy Find Lid sets. I put these on our wedding registry because I was entranced by the price (less than $20 for 40 pieces) and the fact that the lids were interchangeable with different sizes of containers. I also liked that they were BPA free. It seemed like this style of container would be around for awhile, too, and so I thought I could easily replace my containers as they went missing over the years. Recently I did just that, and now I keep a box with new, extra containers so I can replace containers as they disappear.

For Lena’s snacking needs, we bought the Gerber Graduates Bunch-a-Bowls that are also BPA free and come with lids. Recently I also bought sets of IKEA’s colorful cups, bowls, and plates for Lena (and any young visitors) to use at mealtime. Bonus: these make great stacking toys!

photo 4

2) Organize all your containers by size.

We have 6 different container sizes but only 3 different lid sizes. I can nest my shorter containers inside deeper ones, which frees up a lot of cupboard space and helps me see at a glance what is in my cupboard.

photo 5

3) Store your lids by size.

I put my lids inside larger, inexpensive containers that I probably won’t ever need to use. You could also use containers that have lost their lids. I looooove having all my lids organized so that they can’t go slipping and sliding all over the cupboard.

photo 3

4) Store seasonal or little-used items in the back of the cupboard.

I keep my plastic drink pitchers out of the way right now. One of them stores all our sippy cups that are not in use. In the summer I might rotate these pitchers to the front of the cupboard (or just keep them in the fridge full of limeade!).

photo 2

5) Keep a stash of giveaway containers.

When you want to send some extra soup or leftovers home with a friend, or when you’re providing a meal for a family, it’s nice to have some containers on hand that you don’t mind never seeing again. Plus, a new mom loves not having to keep track of your Pyrex (or your nice Rubbermaid containers!) to wash and return to you.

I keep my giveaway containers stored on the top shelf of a kitchen cupboard, tucked up next to the teapot we hardly ever use and the cake storage container that, sadly, I use even less frequently than the teapot.


And that’s how I keep my food storage containers organized! I’d love to know if you have a system. Do you have any tips or tricks to share?

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11 Responses to How to Organize Your Kitchen Storage Containers in 5 Easy Steps

  1. Alica March 1, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    When we moved into our farm house 19 years ago, my sister helped organize my kitchen, putting all of my lids in a drawer under the counter. I have since divided them by shape…round lids in one drawer, and square lids in another. It’s nice to be able to find them easily this way!

    I have even more recently been trying to simplify even more…using mostly the square Rubbermaid containers (the ones that don’t stain!) because they fit better on my shelves than the round ones.

  2. OM March 2, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

    Ever since I discovered the Ikea set of 17 plastic containers (I don’t know the name, the ones with the green lids) I was sold. Every time I go I want to buy some more, because I find myself using only those: the interchangeable lids of some of them, plus the fact that they fit inside each other and save me tons of space and scrambling, are what sold me. True, they are not the sturdiest containers around, but they are well worth the price.
    I have no tips of my own because, despite everything, my container drawer is a mess right now. Thank you for sharing yours, I’m sure they’ll come in handy soon around here!

  3. Phi March 4, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

    I love those Rubbermaid containers too! Never thought of putting the lids inside of the containers storage– I’ve just been slipping/snapping them under which causes a lot of sliding of lids!

    Thanks for the great tips! :)

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