February 2, 2017  

Organizing Leftovers With Laminated Labels (Plus Free Printable Labels!)

This post has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. See my disclosure here. #OrganizeWithBrilliance #CollectiveBias

I am always working on organization projects that make our house run smoother and our lives easier. But one of the areas I’ve never shown here on the blog is our fridge, which is usually anything but organized. The fridge truly seems like one of those places that needs some organizing attention in every house, doesn’t it? How’s your fridge looking these days?

Whenever I start an organization project, I try to assess the situation, purge as much as I can, organize what’s left and then decide if I need any additional storage containers or products to finish things up. When I turned my attention to our fridge, I quickly realized that leftovers were to blame for most of the mess. So I created some fun labels to help with organizing leftovers, and I’m sharing the printables with you today!

Organizing Leftovers

I threw out some old food before I remembered to take a before picture, so it was looking even worse than the below photo when I started. Now, I know some of you may be thinking that my fridge looks pretty clean compared to yours. I can understand that since I’ve seen many fridges packed to the max…after all, I did grow up in a household of six hungry people ;).

Since it’s just David and I, our fridge isn’t overflowing but it’s still amazing how much food two people can accumulate! I actually hadn’t been grocery shopping in several weeks when I worked on this project, and I was determined to clean things out and organize it before I brought home even more food. We are notorious for buying food only to discover we already had it at home in the fridge or cupboard.

David and I are also terrible at using up leftovers. In fact, over time, I’ve tried to learn how to cook just the right amount of dinner for us so we don’t end up with leftovers. When we first got married, I’d cook enough pasta for an army! It certainly is an adjustment to go from preparing meals for half a dozen people to just two. While I’m much improved, we still end up with our fair share of leftovers.

As I was cleaning out the fridge and organizing leftovers the other day, I decided part of the reason we don’t end up eating them is because it’s always questionable how long they’ve been in there. So one of my goals was to find a way to label leftovers so I knew exactly when to throw them out.

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I pulled everything out of the fridge and placed it on the counter, pulled the trash can next to me and started throwing things out. I ended up tossing nearly half of the fridge contents! It’s clearly been a while since I’ve done this ;). I also wiped out the fridge with a wet rag while it was empty.

One of my pet peeves is having storage containers that match and stack well. When I was pulling containers of leftovers from the fridge, I noticed how many different kinds of containers I was using. And half of them had plastic wrap instead of the lid since we can never seem to find the correct lid amongst our hodgepodge of containers. It’s much easier to stick with one kind of storage container so you aren’t always searching for the correct lids.

I decided it was time to upgrade our food storage containers to something that’s higher quality and uniform. Using a uniform set of food storage containers will not only make your leftovers look tidy in the fridge, but it also makes for a more organized storage drawer/shelf. Mine is currently out of control, so I actually purged a ton of old mismatched containers to make room for my nice new ones.

I decided on a few boxes of the Rubbermaid® BRILLIANCE™ 10 piece set, which are such an upgrade from my old ones! I’ve always been a fan of Rubbermaid®, and their new food storage line is top notch. The BRILLIANCE™ containers are Rubbermaid’s® premium food storage product so I knew they were going to be high quality and loved that they are 100% Leak Proof. Guaranteed. A few of the reasons I like them is because they are crystal clear so it’s easy to see what’s inside, they stack perfectly, they are stain and odor resistant (I hate it when pasta stains ruin a container!), and the lids are uniquely designed to to be splatter-resistent when microwaving (yay for a clean microwave!).

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Armed with my new containers, I set out to organize and label all of our leftovers. No more messy mountains of containers with questionable expiration dates!

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I transfered our leftovers from the old mismatched, flimsy, lidless containers to my new Rubbermaid® BRILLIANCE™ storage containers. See how much neater they look in their new containers? And check out how nicely they stack!

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In an effort at being better at organizing leftovers, I created labels so it we could see what leftovers we had at a glance. I designed some simple labels, printed them out and laminated them so they are reusable and won’t wrinkle in the damp fridge.  If you don’t have a laminator at home, you can also purchase self laminating sheets which make it easy to make labels that will last.

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These labels have space for the contents of the container and the best by date. You can download these labels to help with organizing leftovers at your house, too! Click here to download the PDF labels (I even got fancy and made a few color options for you!).

I recommend using a wet erase marker on these labels if you have one. I couldn’t find the one lonely wet erase marker I have around here, so I ended up using a liquid chalk marker which worked very well. The laminated labels make it super easy to wipe off the marker and reuse them over and over again.

Leftover Labels Mockup Graphic

I added labels to the new containers, noting the contents and best by dates. I used a couple rolled pieces of washi tape to stick the labels onto the food storage containers. I used washi tape because it’s so easy to remove without leaving residue on my new containers.

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And here’s the after picture below! Gosh, our fridge looks quite empty here. It was apparently filled almost entirely with expired food and I clearly needed to make a grocery run to restock some things.

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I love how neat and tidy our leftovers are now! This was a simple organization project, which is always the best kind.

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If your fridge could use some organizing attention, download these labels and spend an hour organizing leftovers in your fridge. I promise it feels amazing to have a tidy fridge! I tucked my extra labels and a marker in the drawer with our food storage containers to make things convenient.

Download The Printable Leftover Labels

Leftover Labels Printable Graphic

And if it’s time to replace or upgrade your food storage containers, Rubbermaid® BRILLIANCE™ is now available nationwide at Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Amazon and other fine retailers.

Do you have any fridge organization tips? Any tactics for actually using up your leftovers? 

Happy organizing, friends!


This post has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. See my disclosure here. #OrganizeWithBrilliance #CollectiveBias

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About the author

Emily Counts is the founder of Small Stuff Counts, a home and organization blog she created in 2013. Her goal is to help moms make home life easier so they can create beautiful, organized, and thriving homes. She shares life at home as a working mom juggling two young kids, a corporate job, and all that goes into managing a home. The Iowa-based blogger lives in the suburbs of Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband, two children, and rescue dog. Emily has collaborated with brands including The Container Store, Cricut, Command Brand, Bissell, Sam's Club and Rubbermaid.

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    1. I am obsessed with how they stack, too! These look so nice and oragnized in my fridge, which is a huge improvement from what I had before. Thanks for visiting my blog, Samantha! Take care!

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