Does this look familiar? More importantly, how does it make you feel? It made me feel frustrated and annoyed! I got sick of the mess and untidiness and was sick of not being able to find what I needed to store leftovers or frozen vegies!
I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone in my lifetime who at some stage hasn’t been overwhelmed by their plastics/tupperware cupboard. It’s one of those cupboards that never seems to stay tidy no matter how hard we try so I decided it was time to find a more permanent solution to the problem.
The biggest problems I find with storing these type of containers is:
- they are sometimes big and bulky
- they often don’t stack neatly or fit inside one another because of uneven sizes
- the lids often get lost or separated from their bases
- they are often stored on bottom shelves making them not very accessible, despite the fact we use them daily
- they are often scattered in multiple cupboards/drawers and not always in the kitchen
So these were the problems I wanted to solve. Now when trying to solve any storage problem I try to be creative and maximize the space I have. I can’t create more cupboards or rooms but I can use my space better and, believe it or not, the best solution for me was to take my tupperware out of the kitchen.
I have a beautiful big cabinet in my dining room (just off the kitchen) which had somehow become my “tupperware cupboard” … it was big, it wasn’t being used for anything else but it was also not very practical as the photo above reveals. It does, however, demonstrate that by “thinking outside of the square” I’ve been able to create a fantastic space where everything is now organised, tidy, visible and accessible … all the things I was trying to achieve. But whether you decide to use a cupboard in the kitchen or a cupboard somewhere else in the house, the basic ideas are exactly the same.
So here are the 6 steps I followed to create a beautifully organised space for all my plastic containers/tupperware:
- Remove everything from the cupboard … as you take everything out put similar items together and match up all lids. If your plastic containers can be found in multiple drawers, cupboards or other locations in the house, grab those as well.
- Declutter, sort, toss and donate … once everything is gathered together it can really be an eye-opener. I was embarrassed by how much I had accumulated and how many containers I owned that probably hadn’t been used in years. You may also find yourself shaking your head in disbelief after you drag out everything that’s been possibly hiding for longer than you care to admit. So here’s your chance … anything that is stained or damaged, throw out! Anything you no longer use, donate to family, friends or a charity who can use it. Anything that has missing parts or lids, throw out … after all it’s just plastic and what are you going to do with a container with no lid!
- Clean and wipe the shelves with a damp sponge and allow to dry.
- Measure … grab your tape measure and see exactly how much space you have to work with. Measure the height, depth and width (making sure you take into account things like hinges) and then round up baskets, drawers and shelving to increase your space. Try to use what you already have around the house but if nothing’s suitable, a little shopping trip may be needed.
- Organise your space … install the storage solutions you’ve come up with and only pack back into the cupboard the items you decide to keep. There is no point organising items you don’t use or want. This is also a great time to decide if the containers you own still meet your needs. E.g. if your kids have moved out of home, maybe you don’t need large containers to store items in bulk quantities. If your kids are no longer babies or toddlers, do you need to keep as many smaller containers for little serves … that kind of thing. Put all items that you use every day at the front of the cupboard on the top shelf and put least used items towards the back and on the bottom shelf. Stack things inside each other if possible, decide whether you want to keep the lids together in a basket/drawer or stored with the container they belong to … it’s up to you and simply personal choice.
- Maintain your hard work … job well done but now it’s important to keep it tidy. Make the time to store things in their new “home” when you do the dishes and unpack the dishwasher. Remember to give this cupboard a quick 5 minute tidy once a week so it doesn’t get out of control again.
So a couple of other tips and ideas to help organise this space:
- Large deep drawers … I found these fantastic drawers at Big W. Each individual drawer cost $17 and stacks on top of each other. This also left me the top of the drawer unit to store large items and the drawers are ideal for small containers, lids and other odd items.
- Deep baskets/crates … great for capturing loose, odd-shaped items particularly things that don’t stack together well. Baskets can slide in and out of the cupboard easily. Large crates could work well at the bottom of a pantry.
- Think outside the kitchen … do you have another area where you could store these items e.g. some spare space in the linen cupboard could be put to good use.
- Create a basket of commonly used items for lunchboxes separate from other plastic containers. I keep a small crate in the pantry and have allocated a kitchen drawer for other smaller containers and items specifically for lunchboxes but I’ll post about that another time.
- Consider buying “sets” of containers so that they will stack easily and also so that one lid will fit multiple bottoms and vice versa.
- Stackable shelves … these weren’t cheap but provided the perfect solution for the space I was working with because they allowed me to totally utilise the “dead space” at the top of the cupboard by storing things vertically, creating extra layers of space.
- When storing containers I like to store them with the lids off. This allows all edges, corners and seams to dry perfectly and prevents air being trapped in a sealed container, which may eventually smell “musty”.
- You may or may not have noticed but I also lined the base of the cupboard with non-slip matting to prevent all the shelves, drawers and containers from slipping around and to also protect the base of the cupboard.
- And my final tip, don’t be tempted to over pack the cupboard and squeeze too much in or it will once again become a jumbled mess. Give yourself some room to move and consider managing with fewer containers if you can … you really may need less than you think.
So, what do you think … are you up for the challenge? In all honesty, after I had purchased the drawers and the shelves, this little project took me less than an hour but the satisfaction I felt once I was finished … well I just wish I could bottle that stuff and sell it … I’d make a fortune!
So tell me, do you have nightmares when you think about your plastic/tupperware cupboard and does anyone actually know what happens to all those missing lids or is it just one of the mysteries of life?