Friday, June 12, 2009

NFR and DIY: Reused Plastic Containers


Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. I'm sure a lot of you know people who sell Tupperware, or have entire drawers full of Gladware. But you know what folks? I'm not buying it. Not because I'm cheap, but because it seems wasteful. So every time I go to the store and buy cottage cheese, sour cream, yogurt, or anything else in a sturdy plastic container, I wash and save it once I finish the contents off.

I've been doing this the last two years, basically since I got out of college, Tupperware-less. And as a result of various baking projects *cough*DB*cough* I tend to have various remnants stored in my fridge at any one time. Caramel syrup? Yep! Brown sugar cream cheese frosting? Always! Banana cream filling? Of course! The problem with this abundance? All my containers were opaque, so I could never tell what was in them. So ingredients would languish for weeks before I went through every container and figured out what they all were.


Needless to say, I got sick of doing that. It's annoying to have a perfectly good baking ingredient go to waste just because I had forgotten about it. So I decided to make a solution myself - inspired by dry-erase boards. I found some dry erase sheets at Hobby Lobby, basically a light-weight plastic with a dry-erase coating on it. They were sticky-back, but that didn't really bother me. After assembling all my container lids, the dry-erase material, and some good strong super glue, I was ready to go. All I did was cut out little rectangles of the material, peel off the sticky-back, and stick them on each lid with some super glue.

After a little bit of time, voila! A labeling system! Now all I have to do is grab my dry-erase marker, which is always on my fridge with the board I use for my grocery list, jot on the lid what's in the container, and stow it in the fridge. No more wondering what's in a container, because the answer's right on top! It works wonders for the bulk ingredients I get too - wheat germ, vital wheat gluten, quinoa, etc.


So here's a question folks - or maybe a couple. Do you obsessively keep little leftovers from baking projects? How do you store them - are you a Tupperware fanatic (I won't judge!), or a DIY'er like me? My little inquiring mind wants to know!

Oh, and just so all y'all know (the Midwesterner in me just shuddered from writing those words), I'll be in San Francisco today (6/12) through 6/21 and will be essentially incommunicado. While I considered bringing my laptop, the idea of having to drag it out for airport security stopped me. Speaking of, I need to find the right size bag for my liquids. Grrr.

25 comments:

Tracey said...

I tend to keep mine in various Tupperware containers but like you, I forget about them a lot and they go to waste. I've been trying to get better about it :)

Have a great trip!

Mary said...

I am going to copy you and put post-it notes on all my containers....great idea :)...

Natashya said...

I re-use containers too, but have a good supply of Lock'n'Lock containers for packing lunches, they are the only ones that don't leak.
I am a huge fan of mason jars, I have a billion. :) For labels, I tend to cut out the name of the item from the package and tape it to the jar.

Manggy said...

Hmm, our containers here aren't that great. I do keep the bigger (500g) yogurt containers for seeds and stuff, but it's no good for food-- not airtight! Have a great trip and I can't wait to hear about it! :)

Steph said...

My mom does this too! She likes that it's easier to stack because tupperware tends to hog up so much space.

Y said...

Oh you're speaking my language! Although, I find those reused containers tend to break too easily, so I have actually made the move on to proper containers.. and labelled! Sometimes, I have to open the cupboard just to look at my neatly arranged, containered and labelled spice collection. It even makes me tear up a little inside.

Have a fantastic trip!

Bridget said...

That is a great idea. I use leftover 1-cup sour cream containers for everything, and like you said, I'm always forgetting what's in them. I've considered labelling them with masking type and a Sharpie, but I knew it would be too much of a hassle to keep up with. This sounds so much easeier!

Amanda said...

Oh my goodness. . . I was just thinking last night how someone needed to invent a plastic food storage container that had a dry-erase surface on it so that people would know what was in their freezer without using permanent markers and ruining their containers. What a brilliant idea! I'm totally going to Hobby Lobby next week!!! Thanks for sharing!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Long time ago I bought a number of pyrex bowls with blue lids and those are my major leftover/extras. I also have a small narrow two shelf are that has worked well for odd jars and plastic containers for re-using. The last time I moved I was throwing out so many jars and plastic containers I was "saving" I decided there had to be a limit.
I'd rather use glass than plastic because I can see what's in it.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Enjoy SF!!!!

talat said...

I reuse all my containers as well. Eh can't be bad for the environment, huh?

Jackie @ PhamFatale.com

Lien said...

Label on girl!!

Have a great trip!

Michele said...

Great idea! Have a fun trip!

Katrina said...

I save allthose plastic containers and lids as well. And yes, some things get lost in the back of the fridge! Have a great trip.

natalia said...

Ciao ! I usually use baggies but if i'm in a hurry and don't write wath's in them then it's a surprise ! I hope SF was fun !!

happytummy said...

oh wow, i recycle jars, but great idea with the dry erase paper. so even if you wash the lids, it won't affect the dry erase paper? it will still work?

Amanda said...

My ex kept the tupperware in the divorce, so I re-use containers like you do--probably for 10 years or so now. We call it "Redneck Tupperware." It's not good for reheating, though, so keep that in mind. I also re-use glass jars--not processed--for short-term storage or for things like millet, etc.

Your dry-erase surface idea is brilliant. It doesn't rub off in the fridge?

Melody said...

My mother saved every container when I was growing up. As an adult for years I boycotted that practice just in rebellion - but now I have truly become my mother.

Carla said...

That is a wonderful idea with dry-erase strips! Whenever I lived at school, I would save some plastic containers as well as use the Tupperware my roommates had. However, I find that after several uses, smells kinda got absorbed in the plastic. I am a recycle freak, so all those plastic containers people do throw away, I throw in the recycle bin.

Jenny said...

I have a whole cupboard full of washed out yogurt pots and soup tubs! I currently have yesterday's chilli in the fridge in a ex-ice cream tub. I do have some lock and lock stuff for transporting messy things though, need something leekproof!

TeaLady said...

There are other plasic containers besides grocery containers??? Yup!! Have them. Use them. Especially the small ones. ANd yes, I too, have a collection of left overs from various DB and TWD challenges. I could never throw them out. Use them.

Y'all come visit now!!

Andreas said...

I have begun to collect empty glass jars for storing mostly dry ingredients (like baker's malt) or grains. (and I'm kicking myself at least once a week for throwing away batterys of empty tomato sauce jars while at university) For labeling I use black or white CD markers, depending on the colour of the content.

Baking Soda said...

Ahum.. ready?
I do obsessively keep any -any!- left overs. (DH always asks me: are we throwing this out or keep it to throw it out tomorrow?).
Almost everything is stored in rescued boxes, jars, ice cream jugs, take-out plastic... labelled. O gosh I'nm bad!

econcept infotech said...
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Lauren said...

I feed my sensitive stomach dog yogurt with every meal, so I get it in big containers. I love to cook, and try new recipes. As there are just the 2 of us, we have leftovers, so I always am able to stuff some leftovers in those containers, label them with a permanent marker, and give the leftovers (that we don't freeze for another meal) to some single guys at church (who, unlike my husband, actually THANK me for the meals). So I do keep every container I can for that purpose, or to freeze our own.