Cook'n is the best selling recipe organizer

Volume III
May 11, 2013

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

Create a Little Time-Saving Simplicity in Your Kitchen

By Alice Osborne

Most of us are busy--some of us are so busy we're spread thinner than a drink of water. This is why I'm always promoting simpler ways to do things. Minutes are like money: a little saved here, a little saved there, and before you know it, you've accumulated some significant time.

So what I'm suggesting today to save some time is to do 2 things regarding leftover containers:

  1. Get rid of all plastic containers. Ooo, people hate it when I suggest this. Most folks have lots of plastic refrigerator keeps, and they see getting rid of them from the kitchen as wasteful. (But you can use them for nonfood storage after all.) Well, keep an open mind and read on:

    Back in February, dubbed the month Plastic-Free February, and invited everyone to join them (if they dared). And they had good reasons for this invitation.

    Why avoid plastic when it comes to cooking and storing food? The reasons stem from environmental issues (plastic can take up to 1,000 years to decompose in the landfill) and health concerns (BPA found in plastic leaches into food, but even if your plastic doesn't contain BPA--which I doubt there is such a thing even though manufacturers claim this--plastic is porous and is just not as sanitary as glass.)

    Mike Lieberman, Mr. Urban Organic Gardener, posted this on his site (, showing his progress at going plastic-free. This assortment of canning jars and recycled food jars is typical of how people first address the issue, and it's the easiest way to phase out plastic containers.

    And here's an assortment of my glass leftover containers. I use Ball and Kerr canning jars, Pyrex containers (which come rectangular as well as round), and I save jelly and spice jars. I will deliberately buy a brand just because I like and use the jar the item comes in. Vlasic Pickles is a good example. Their jars are great. Note the red rectangular keepers with the clear glass lids. I got them at a vintage/antique store. The small one was $4.99 and the larger one was $6.50. These are the very leftover containers my mom used back in the '50s (before plastic became the rage). And I love what a clean, simple design they have.

    I've converted my cooking cupboard (right) to glass (note all the canning jars used). And below is my baking cupboard with most of my ingredients stored in glass as well.

    Besides being healthier than plastic, glass is also a better protection against those nasty weevil that I've talked about before. I always transfer my foodstuffs to glass containers-no bags, packages, or boxes of this and that in my cupboards either.

    OK, so what's the other step I think you should take to simplify your life?

  2. Store all leftover containers with the lids on. Some people really balk at this idea. But you'll save so much time and energy doing this. No more pawing through drawers and hunting for the right lid to match the container you want to use. Who has time for that?

    Now I know, first of all you're thinking "WHAT? Forget the time factor?who has room for that? I need to nest my containers together to save space!" And then there are those of you storing all your lids in a box, organized according to size, or you're devoted to plastic and use the Tupperware lid holder. Or you have some other system that you get along with. OK, but back when I had 7 children and cooked for them in a kitchen the size of a phone booth, I still stored all my leftover containers with the lids on them. I kept only those I actually used all the time and they stacked nicely in a cupboard drawer. Here's my drawer today:

    If I could get rid of the plastic lids, I sure would. Note the orangey tinge to the lid towards the top, center. Yup-leftover spaghetti sauce was microwaved in this glass container, which is fine, but the lid shouldn't have been on. Now I always remove plastic lids and cover my food with a paper towel when nuking. IKEA does sell leftover keepers with glass lids and I'm slowly collecting those (see top left corner in this picture for an example).

I hope you'll at least think about these ideas and see if you wouldn't a) be better off without plastic in your kitchen, and b) save quite a bit of time storing your leftover containers with their lids on. I'd love your feedback on these ideas-write me at and let's talk!

blog comments powered by Disqus

Contribute to the Cook'n Club!

DVO would love to publish your article, prose, photography and art as well as your cooking, kitchen and nutrition tips, tricks and secrets. Visit the Newsletter Submission / Win Win for All section in our Forum for more information and details.