No matter how organized we are in the rest of the kitchen, food storage containers always seem to pose a threat to the order, with their varying shapes and sizes, orphaned parts, and frequent relegation to the darkest and lowest corners of our cupboards. Sound familiar? Here's how to tame the clutter.• First, pull out all of your containers and lids and lay them on a counter or table. Examine everything and recycle, repurpose, donate, or discard any containers that don't have mates or are broken, warped, or otherwise damaged. Also, ask yourself whether you truly need all your containers and get rid of any you realistically never use.
• Sort and store containers by shape and size. Depending on your containers and space constraints, you might want to nest and stack smaller containers inside larger ones and store the lids separately. Or, match lids to containers right away vow to always store them together.
• Store containers and lids in a single location, such as a cupboard or drawer, with room to arrange, stack, and easily access them. The more accessible the space, the easier it will be to keep the containers well organized. Prevent containers from getting lost in the back of a cupboard by installing a pull-out drawer.
• Keep lids together in a box, basket, or zip-top bag, or arrange them standing in a dish rack or napkin holder. If you need boxes to store lids or smaller containers, check out lovelydesign's photos and tutorial for making custom-sized boxes.
• Consider starting fresh with a new, matching set of containers. Look for designs with interchangeable lids or that can nest easily, like these Frigoverre Glass Storage Containers. If space is limited, you might be interested in FlatOut Collapsible Tupperware Storage containers or even the Smart Spin of As Seen On TV fame (we liked ours and only got rid of it because we switched to glass containers).
• Resist the urge to save every take out box, margarine tub, etc. Saving them might make you feel temporarily "green," but there's no point if all they do is clutter your cupboard. (Recycle what you can, and eliminate packaging in the first place by following these tips on How To Live Packaging-Free from our sister site, Re-Nest.)
• Finally, make a conscious effort to put your containers and lids away properly, and ask household members to do the same. Soon, it will become habit and you'll never again have to worry about container clutter!
Related: 20 Tips and Tools for Kitchen Organization and Storage
(Flickr member Rubbermaid Products licensed under Creative Commons)