CHOICE membership

Plastic food containers

I gave away all of my sets of containers which required different sized lids about 10 years ago in favour of buying sets from decor which had containers of varying depths so that they all took the same sized lid. These were easy to store as the containers stacked neatly with the lids stored alongside. They were cheap enough not to worry about breakages or leaving them at friends’ houses. They were a great idea but unfortunately decor discontinued them a few years later which was frustrating. I only have a few left so I have had to buy other containers which means I am back to square one with having to sort through multiple lid sizes.
I’m not too concerned about discolouration so I keep containers until they break or lose a lid, which can be several years, even for cheaper brands.

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I replaced all my odd ones with Decor colour match a few years ago - most important feature was that they stack together - and as Sue Purrb says, can get different depths which take the same size lid and stack together. I have 3 colours in 3 stacks, fit neatly into one drawer now (previously took 2 drawers). Lids on the bottom or side of the stack. The lids can crack - particularly if you don’t warm up after being frozen - but I have fixed these with two part epoxy (araldyte) on the outside and repair still sound after many uses.

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Do you keep them all in one place and if so where?

6 big 900x150ish drawers. (I may have formerly been employed by a large manufacturer of these types of products and have far too many). Ideally I like to have them categorised, stacked and stored together with their lids and parts, but my family is NOT with that program, so its a big jumble.

Are there many missing lids? Have you ever had a good clear-out and got rid of any ones you don’t use regularly, or do you feel bad about throwing perfectly good containers out (maybe you recycle them?).

If I feel a piece is truly surplus to requirements and in good condition (like 10 of the 15 sandwich boxes we had…) I donate to charity shops or give away to friends and family. Other pieces are sent to the shed, or for recycling.
Having pieces all primarily from one brand does make it easier because the lids can be interchangeable. If I really like a piece and the lid is truly missing I buy a replacement part.

I previously was big on the warranty replacement - before that company began charging for warranty returns. It was actually a big reason why I ceased working for them. Having to pay to return a piece invalidates a “lifetime warranty”. I also saw the company begin to find ways to wriggle out of warranty obligations when they had previously been very accomodating. For the true lifetime warranty and service, the premium price seemed worth it, but not without it.
I’ve recently switched to purchasing Sistema products, which have been functioning very well.

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A few things I look for in plastic containers - durability, stacking (both empty & full), non-staining (any foods that do stain, like baked bean sauce, get their own which isn’t used by other foods), don’t discolour with age, dishwasher safe, available for years.

So far, ClipFresh have lasted years of daily use and the plastic has resisted staining (except for baked beans), no breakages, dishwasher survivor, stacks well, although I notice some lids in recent purchases are a tight fit on the older ones. They used to be available singularly or at a discount in packs of 3/5, but recent purchases I could only get a set which contained sizes I didn’t need at that time. They are cheap.

Tupperware Modular Mates - expensive, but have endured. Some lids split, but still serviceable. These rarely, if ever go in the dishwasher and are kept for storage of loose pasta or packets (eg flour to keep weevils out). Not used as often as ClipFresh. My gripe is the range keeps changing, can’t get the same lid colour, occasionally only available as part of a set with items I don’t use. I had a problem some years back where I paid for items and never received them, the agent quit and left town, but a year or so later Tupperware replaced the missing items. At least with a store you have them when you pay.

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Found the Clip Fresh - I use 3 rectangular sized from the Eazy range. http://www.clip-fresh.com/series/eazy/

I don’t do any re-heating / cooking in these, and rarely freeze, but they have survived quite well. Tupperware is used for pantry storage only.

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We had a Tupperware grater which consisted of the grater plate and 2 oblong plastic bowls which the plate fitted over for a great many years and the plastic grater plate split a few years back

I approached a Tupperware agent’s display in a local shopping centre to ask about it and I was advised to contact Tupperware.

The model had long since been updated to a better design and Tupperware promptly sent out the complete new model free of charge.

When some companies state “Lifetime Warranty”, they actually mean it.

image

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We keep all our containers in two drawers. We mainly use branded “plastic” (Tupperware) that can be recycled / replaced.
Periodically I’ll go through and any that can be returned for a replacement, gets returned. Any that is broken and can not be returned/replaced we find another use - plants, nuts and bolts and last of all it will make it to the bin.
Take away containers are recycled until they literally fall apart and margarine tubs are used for making large ice block - ideal to put in the Esky.
We do not appear to loose lids - they are stored in a separate pile.

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Those of our plastic containers not currently on active duty in either the fridge or the pantry live in the large kitchen drawer with their lids on the shallow drawer above it.

We mainly have Decor Tellfresh and Sistema ones in various sizes.

We have had to to dispose of some Decor ones that became unable to seal properly, and some of the new smaller siize ones can be impossible to seal as they are too tight, but an older lid will usually fit

No such problems with the Sistema ones.

The only other ones we have disposed of are ones that became too unsightlly, especially after being used to store curries, bolognese sauce, and such like.

No missing lids and none disposed of due to lack of use.

Some of our Decor ones are probably around 30 years old.

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We store all the food containers that for in a single drawer in the kitchen. I use Decor Tellfresh as they stack beautifully both empty and full. Sadly not every size I use is readily available. In particular I use the 125ml ones for stock and they are VERY hard to come by.
Some lids have broken over the years, so like others have more bottoms than lids. But that is mainly because they are brittle when frozen and if they drop in that state it is invariably the lids that suffer. We keep the containers until they break too. (a rare occasion). We also have takeaway containers in the same drawer. They get used for pizza dough (round ones) and to give food away to friends and family.

I also have some systema containers but find them useless for food. And they don’t stack well empty so they get used for other things. mostly small bits around the house.

Containers don’t get thrown away until they are broken beyond usefulness. That usually only applies to takeaway containers. We do toss miscellaneous sized ones though if they don’t store well. By toss, I mean they go into recycling. We live in an area that accepts all “hard” plastics for recycling. I only hope they do the right thing with them.

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Thanks again, all. Plastic container usage habits are certainly interesting! We have been putting these sorts of containers through their paces, and it’s been a fun exercise. I can’t say much more at present, but there will be some interesting audio/video to go with it! I also think many of you won’t be surprised with some of our conclusions.

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I regularly sort my containers, and only save them clean, dry and with lids.
Sounds neurotic, I know - but it is the only way to be sure I have what I want when I need it.
I recycle them, good quality ones to op shops and the rest to recycle bin.
I have a one litre container I bought 1977 for a trip across the Nullarbor and still in use. It’s not the latest type of food plastic, but still in excellent condition.

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Yes, in one drawer and one cupboard.
Are there many missing lids? No, all the lids are kept in the one container in both the drawer and the cupboard.

Usually when moving, only throw out the container/lid if it is completely unusable without the other.

Tupperware, like other comments, if it breaks you get it replaced.

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These days we only purchase/use Decor clear tubs and Sistema plastic clip lock. Some are more than 10 years old. None of the Tupperware tubs have lasted more than 5 years. Trick is to store food in them not cook food in them - exception below. We rarely if ever dishwash the tubs. Decor also make microwave cook pots and these are very good and will dishwash top shelf easliy. If a lid is broken the bottom is generally repurposed but breakages are rare. We store nested on a shelf by size and with lids together (in the tub). We have examples of all sizes in each brand - the stackability in the fridge is important to us. We generally purge when we move but since we don’t move often a rethink every 3 years is generally what happens. I have found the ‘flat’ Decor boxes esp. useful for chargers, cables, little camera bits and bobs and ‘man toys’ - they stick neatly in a shelf and you can see what’s inside easily. Cheap, too.

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"Do you keep them all in one place and if so where? " - Yes, in a drawer.
“Are there many missing lids?” - No, only a few, but many extra lids, some that don’t fit anything.
“Have you ever had a good clear-out …” - Periodically, but obviously not sufficiently frequently.

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I have resisted replying to this topic as plastic containers annoy me, but seem like a necessary evil.

  • my perception is they are not safe in a dishwasher, never seen one survive more than a few months without surface cancer so I just don’t anymore.
  • absorbing colour, especially from things like spagbol/etc - I don’t typically use products with added colours/etc so maybe this is another perception but plastic seems to take on colour. Maybe tomatoes are just great colour enhancers?
  • my plastic storage drawer is the biggest in the kitchen and its much the same as one of those enclosures kids play in full of multi-coloured balls - you simply have to dive in to find the stuff you want and the drawer often binds and rarely closes. Can I find all the lids to the containers? not a chance. Do they break? hell-yeah, especially when the drawer wont close :slight_smile:
  • I clean out the crap regularly. I don’t believe there is such a thing as good quality plastic, but in this arena my patience is small to nothing so my experience is probably not that of a patient and organised person.
  • life is too short to care about plastic … except to avoid its use wherever possible …
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The orange-red colour in tomatoes is lycopene which is soluble in fats and oils but not water. In your spagbol the fat goes bright red because you have been doing solvent extraction by boiling tomato pulp in a mix of water and fat, the colour migrates to the fat in preference.

My guess is that plastic takes up the colour because there is a thin coating of oil on it or in micro-cuts on the surface. It may adsorb directly on to the plastic but I am unsure of that. It would take some study to work out exactly what is happening. Lycopene may be unsightly but it is harmless and edible.

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Hi Kim,
Interesting topic!

My 1/2 dozen plastic containers with lids are stored in a small box in a cupboard.

I keep only those that are freezer and microwave safe, and have had a few for over 10 years.
Any soft plastic ones go into the recycling bin.

For fridge storage I use glass jars, easy to see the contents and no colour or odour absorption.

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Plastic is also curmudgeonogenic, it causes bad temper, ranting and impatience.

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We have a collection of approx 30 plastic containers, all with lids.
We used to reuse the cheap Chinese take away containers, but rarely acquire any these days.

The lids now seam to outlast the containers. Sistema or Decor.
Tupperware there are a few set aside for large cakes. Their lids all shrink over time and become brittle. Not a great product IMO.

All the regular use ones are loosely stacked in bundles on a low cupboard shelf opposite the sink. The others are variously hidden In the pantry, some with stuff in them.

We’ve also learnt that microwave safe plastic storage containers is a euphemism for place to store stuff you need to keep in the fridge, Safe only for one off use in the MW. The saved contents is always emptied into another container (Pyrex or MWS chinaware) prior to reheating in the microwave or on the stove top.

We also have 3 approx 20 year old microwave cooking containers (cream coloured plastic, two with clear lids) that have stood the test of time. Mostly used to cook vegetables, no fats or oils. They live with the Pyrex bowls and dishes. No brand ID to report.

Once every few years any the wise one determines inappropriate for the kitchen are recycled to the garage or for gardening assistance.

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It will be interesting to see if the Choice article about plastic containers will include microwave safe ones.
There’s conflicting advice about those being used to reheat in the MW.

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