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The Problem with Plastic

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Leanne Ely, CNC: One of the most frustrating things in the kitchen is dealing with the plastic stuff. You know what I'm talking about: Tupperware, Rubbermaid containers ... whatever brand or style you use, we all have it.

And boy, do we have it! We have it to overflowing. It is as if the Giant Plasticware Beast has thrown up in our kitchens. If we never ate a bite of our Thanksgiving dinners and sealed them all up in our abundant plasticware, we would still have enough plastic containers left over to bundle up the entire neighborhood's Thanksgiving dinners, also!

WHY is this so? I will tell you why: We have TOO much! Yes, there is such thing as too many plastic containers. We don't need as many as we think. As a matter of fact, I am of the opinion that having an ENTIRE cupboard dedicated to leftover-keeping is way too much plastic! We really only need a drawerful -- and even that might be too much.

The fact is, leftovers need to be used up within a couple of days of their becoming leftovers. So really, you should be using up what's leftover FIRST before you start over again with a new meal. Last night's dinner is today's wonderful lunch. Lots of leftovers from the night before means you can recycle your dinner by adding an out-of-the-ordinary flavor and calling it something different.

For example, last night's recycled roast chicken is now peeking through a tortilla with some beans and salsa to become a Chicken Bean Burrito. See how this works? But back to my point: too much plastic .... 

I have an assignment for you: Pull out your plastic, make sure you have the lids, recycle the stuff that no longer has a lid, bless someone with your excess (that's all complete and in good working order) and make it your goal to have a plastic DRAWER and give that cupboard space over to something else! If you have never had a pantry, here's your opportunity! 

Plasticware is helpful when it is a controlled substance. When it is out of control, it is a monster that must be contained. Don't let the plastic containers take over your kitchen! Set your timer for 15 minutes and slay that Plastic Beast! Go ahead, I double-dog dare you!

Leanne Ely is the New York Times bestselling author of "Body Clutter" and the "Saving Dinner" series. Her "Dinner Diva" syndicated column appears in 250 newspapers nationwide. Learn how to cook great and save significant money with the Dinner Diva's menus, recipes and shopping lists at

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5 comments so far | Post a comment now
XXXX October 22, 2010, 3:56 PM

Maybe you should clean your cupboards if it bothers you that much.

Robin October 22, 2010, 4:06 PM

I tend to have a lot of plastics because I cook a lot of food and then (revelation here) FREEZE leftovers for nights that I don’t have time to cook. We keep very little in the way of leftovers in the fridge (that space is dedicated to fresh foods,fruits and veggies) so my family doesn’t get sick of eating the same things night after night.

Denise October 25, 2010, 12:11 PM

I spray my plastics with non stick spray before putting in the left overs, then when they are frozen I pop them out, like ice cubes, and re wrap in foil or freezer paper. They are they right shape to go back into the container when you need to reheat and it frees up the container for another use.

Eros October 25, 2010, 1:40 PM

The other problem with plastic is the BPA and other toxins that seep into our food. For refrigerated items, use glass. For freezer, use foil. And NEVER microwave in plastic.

Nikki October 26, 2010, 1:10 PM


I LOVE that tip! Thanks for sharing! :-)

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