There is a tiger out of control in nearly every house in this country. I’m not referring to Barbara Hemphill’s “Paper Tiger” but to the tupperware tiger. Most kitchens have at least one cabinet devoted entirely to plastic ware commonly referred to as Tupperware®, although it probably has Rubbermaid, Glad®, Ziploc® and other brands mixed in along with a few butter bowls.
In most homes at least once a day someone carefully opens the cabinet door and very gently sifts through the contents, aware that the wrong move will disturb the sleeping tiger, sending it roaring out onto the floor. Replacing an item is even more terrifying. Typically we open the door, pitch the item in, shut the door quickly, and then listen for the sound of settling plastic.
This scene occurs over and over, in the house next door, in the house down the block, and probably in your house. There is a way to deal with this tiger. First it must be reduced and then it must be contained.
Begin by taking everything out and sorting like items together. Sort bowls by size and shape, matching lids with bowls as you go. Lids with no bowls can be thrown out or recycled, as can bowls with missing lids (unless you have a good reason for keeping them). Sort pitchers, colanders, water bottles and jugs into piles too. Typically cookie tins land in this cabinet too. There will probably be other items in there that don’t belong. Find a new home for those items.
After sorting, go through and decide how many bowls of different sizes will fit your needs. Eight or ten small and medium bowls for leftovers is usually more than adequate. An excessive amount of bowls leads to an excessive amount of leftovers with that familiar green fuzz growing on top. It is also necessary to have a few large bowls, two or three pitchers, a couple of colanders and maybe if space permits a couple of cookie tins. Water bottles – if your children play sports there could be enough of them in your cabinet to supply an entire team. Most likely your children have one bottle each that they use. Keep one or two extras and donate the rest.
Bag up all the items that you have discarded and donate them or save them for a yard sale. Your pile should now consist of only items that you actually use. Before your keep pile goes back into the cabinet it must be sorted again; this time by frequency of use.
Make three piles:
A – items used more than once a week
B – items used once or twice every month
C – items used only a couple of times a year.
Now it’s time to actually contain the tiger. Measure the opening of your cabinet and the space between the shelves. Buy containers that will easily slide through the opening and fit on the shelves. Any type of plastic container will work. Rubbermaid and Sterilite® make an assortment of bins and totes. I recommend that the lids be removed, because taking lids off and putting them back on is time consuming and unnecessary.
If you are short on space the C items can be stored somewhere other than your kitchen, but if you have plenty of space then these items will be put away first. Put the C items in one or two containers and slide them to the back of the cabinet (A blind corner cabinet is ideal for plastic ware). Next put the B items in one or two containers and slide them in. Finally you’re left with your A items, the ones you use all the time. Put these in one or two containers and slide them right inside the opening. The containers should slide in and out like drawers giving you quick access to your frequently used items.
This method works. I use it in my kitchen. To get to your B and C items, which of course is only occasionally necessary, you must remove the A containers. This is much easier than the frustrating method of digging through plastic and ultimately sending the tiger roaring out onto the floor. Try this method and you will find that taming your Tupperware tiger is really easy.