I get a deep sense of satisfaction from winning at a game of fridge Tetris. When my pantry looks like a styled Container Store photo, I'm at my most peaceful. Catch me in the 30-minute window after I've returned home with groceries and you'll wonder if my evil twin has stepped in, as I refuse to answer any of your questions while determinedly constructing a fridge-door-shelf tower of jam, kimchi jars, and several bottles of the same type of mustard.
Which essentially makes the day after Thanksgiving my food-storage Super Bowl. I train all year for it. I scour shops for deals on the sorts of fancy-looking glass containers that make me feel like I've got my life together. I save all viable lidded jars from my great brigade of weekly groceries. I practice new stacking techniques my mother feverishly texts me about (where did you think my obsession really came from?).
2. Stackable and nested sets will take you higher.
Think of every shelf in your fridge and pantry as intrinsically facilitating two to three layers of containers, and get organizing accordingly. Stackable jars or other containers allow you to make the most of vertical space without risking an epic sauce spill every time you fling open your fridge drawer. And if they can nest within themselves, even better for when they're not in use cradling your leftover stuffing.
I have to admit, I'm a bit of a sucker for anything that comes in a pretty glass jar—like this kimchi I'm never without—because to me, it's a two-in-one. Save the jars (and lids!) and, after a hot and soapy rinse, add them to your storage collection. You'll fill some natural holes in your container size line-up, and it will be deeply gratifying.
4. Clear is Key.
How else will you see what you've got left? (Sure, you could pop open a lid, but does that really sound like you?)
5. Bags are your BFFs.
Discovering reusable silicone storage bags changed my life. They're perfect for leftovers like sliced-up fillets of meat, herbs wrapped in damp paper towels, and half-eaten blocks of Parmesan. Not only do they self-seal, but their slim stature also saves lots of valuable space. They can easily be tossed into a vegetable crisper, or that shallow mid-height drawer that's ostensibly for cheese.
What are your top tips for storing leftovers? Let us know in the comments!
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Ella Quittner is a contributing writer and the Absolute Best Tests columnist at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.