The plague of the plastic containers

Tomorrow : What I don’t understand. . .

APOLOGIES! Grandchild exception: My first grandchild is in town from Mainland and we’ve been hanging with “the kids” and their kid. Forgot all about blog in my happiness! Now, on to plastic containers.
I’ve said it before: Unaccompanied men ought to be banned from big box stores.
The other day, Husband came home with a gigantic box of plastic storage containers (the cool new ones with the snap-on lids), which he dropped on the kitchen counter. I waited. No explanation. He went out on the deck to relax. The box sat. My annoyance grew.
When I finally broke down and asked, he said he was sick and tired of not being able to find a lid for a plastic container when he was putting away the dinner leftovers so he wanted to throw away everything we had. I had to go in the house and sit down because the diatribe I wanted to deliver would have endangered the weekend.
Finally, I put my thoughts calmly together and went out and delivered an edited version. I would, I said, go through all the containers we had and put the lids and containers together and throw away anything lidless. If, as I suspected, we had enough functional stuff, he’d take the new box back.
And, in future, I’d appreciate it if he didn’t bring home large amounts of stuff that would be left to me to deal with (thus reminding myself irresistably of Grandma’s huffy reaction to Grandpa’s habit of deciding to harvest all the tomatoes on a morning when she had other plans— she’d end up canning and grumbling the whole day).
I found exactly four containers among our old stalwarts that lacked lids. It only cost me a miserable morning on the floor with my head stuck deep in the bottom cupboard.
I was telling a girlfriend about this and she keyed in on the real story: Plastic containers.They’re like drinks to an alcoholic: One’s too many and 1,000 wouldn’t be enough.
But you NEED 1,000 of them. Different sizes and shapes. Pieces that won’t absorb colors and flavors. Leak-proof lids that aren’t too difficult to put on or remove. Pitcher-shaped things for liquids. Tubs for dry goods (pasta, flour, etc.). You succumb to oddball options at Longs: sandwich-shaped containers that are never large enough for real-life bread, SPAM-shaped tubs, tofu drainers. And you have to have some junky one-time takeout containers for giving things away. My Chinese cooking pal calls the recycled stuff “Chinese Tupperware.”
My friend Anna spent a long e-mailed paragraph musing on the angst she endured in deciding whether, and with what, she should replace her ancient Rubbermaid. She felt a little disloyal but the containers needed to go. She tried one brand and found the lids too tricky for her arthritic fingers. She tried another and hated it, too. Finally, she settled on one of those sets with the scarlet lids.
I feel rather the same way about my Tupperware: It lasts too long so that when you’re tired of it, you feel bad about discarding something that’s in such good shape.
I’ve pretty much got my container inventory down now. I get a lot of foolish pleasure from my oblong, flattish, oven-to-fridge Pyrex dishes with plastic lids. They stack neatly, they don’t stain and you can see what’s in them. I also like my many-sized rectangular, yellow plastic set from Sharper Image. It really keeps food fresh. I’ve gotten rid of everything else.
What’s your plastic container story? E-mail me your thoughts, anecdotes, horror stories, success tales.
Tomorrow : What I don’t understand . . .



  1. Margaret M

    July 5, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    I went through my plastic containers about a year ago, and took out bottoms with no covers, and covers with no bottoms. I have a drawer for square and rectangular containers and covers, and a drawer for round containers and covers. I also have a drawer for disposable/give away containers. This works pretty well for us.

  2. mauka-makai

    July 11, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Over the last year, I’ve replaced all my plastic with glass, and am so much happier.

    The two exceptions are, 1. Chinese tupperware (love that phrase) and 2. my son’s bento boxes, which are from Japan, and have the little compartment inserts.

    The set I love the most is Snapware GlassLock from, yes, Costco. You can find these pieces elsewhere, but it’s more economical in the set.

    The other reason I love this set more than pyrex, is they have locking lids (no leaking) and they are rectangle. The rectangle shape stores both in cabinet and fridge so much more efficiently! And they stack nicely.

    I do have a rule in my house, the lids of every container MUST be stored with the container, not exceptions! There is never any hunting for lids. This not only saves time, but also, keeps the amount of containers you have in check. I have since bought a few extra of the smaller size of Glasslock to put small amounts of leftovers or take some for lunch the next day. They are great for reheating in microwave and also go into the freezer.

    I like to freeze single portions of lasagne, enchilada casserole, black bean chili. It’s easy to grab one out of the freezer and send with husband for his lunch.

    No staining. No absorbtion of smells. Food stays fresher. You can SEE everything!

    I love these 1/2 gallon Ball Jars. I use them for brown rice, lentils, flour, sugar, chocolate chips, walnuts, cornmeal, panko, granola.

    Because they are tall and narrow, you can fit many into cabinet and because they are glass, you can see everything. I did purchase the plastic lids for them, canning lids (2 piece metal lids) are not airtight.

    They also look nice if you have open shelves.

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