Hi there! Today I’m coming to you to talk to you about your Tupperware. Tupperware is something that is kind of a funny thing. It’s a staple in every kitchen in all of America, and has been around since 1946 when Earl Tupper started selling containers in stores. It’s one of the first items you throw on your wedding registry, one of the first things that you pick up when you move into a home, and I know that I personally have gone through a LOT of Tupperware in my life. In fact, most people in this country have a whole cabinet dedicated to Tupperware. I have a whole drawer myself.
A question that has been on my mind recently has been, “How long should we keep a Tupperware container for?”
I have several different types of containers that I use to store foods and leftovers in my fridge. I have Rubbermaid containers and glass containers. Obviously the glass is better on many levels, from the plastic that is used in Tupperware containers to the leaching of substances into the plastic. I use mason jars for storing everything from dry ingredients to fruits and salads, glass just keeps things fresher longer. Glass is obviously better, but when you are trying to throw your leftovers into a container after dinner, you are limited to what you have readily available.
I received my Rubbermaid containers for my bridal shower in 2011, so I’ve had them for more than 6 years. This is a pretty long time for plastic containers. I think the whole set was about $25, you can get them on Amazon, but they’ve been through the ringer at this point. You can see scratches and staining from different foods. They are worn and icky looking, even though they are clean. I’ve washed them and put them in the dishwasher, but even the tops look like they are melted because some of them have gone in the microwave oven and have gotten melted from whatever was in them splattering on the top. But they still work! They still seal and you put them into the refrigerator and they work, so I’ve kept them because we are thrifty and that’s how it is. I even have one that I held some gear in when the girls were in the NICU back in 2013, so as you can see, I’ve used them a lot.
So I was thinking about it the other day because I was looking at one and it was kind of tinted orange, which means I probably stored something like spaghetti sauce in it. I was curious to find out how long you are actually supposed to keep these containers for because I would say that the average person who has a kitchen keeps their containers for probably around 5 years, and I have had mine for around 6 ½ years now. I wanted to know about the shelf life of a container because it is plastic and I don’t think much about it. I pull it out of the drawer and I slap some leftovers into it and I throw it into the fridge. There’s not much thought about Tupperware.
Then I throw it into the dishwasher and it never comes completely clean and I usually have to rinse it again and leave it out to dry because it never gets fully dry in the dishwasher.
I did a little bit of research and it turns out that these plastic containers don’t have any real shelf life, but it did say that these containers can become dangerous once things like scratches happen, not because of the plastic since most of these are BPA free now - they say made in America, recyclable, top rack dishwasher safe, microwave and freezer safe - but what happens is that once you get nicks in your Tupperware, bacteria can get right in there and sit in there. The dishwasher can’t scrub in those nooks and get the bacteria out. And most people just throw these containers into the dishwasher, and even though they SAY dishwasher safe, they should only go on the top rack. I never have space on the top rack because of the glassware, so I put them into the bottom rack. But the heat from the heating element can warp the containers.
These are some of the biggest concerns about these plastic containers. The plastic can melt and once the plastic starts to melt or soften, the chemicals - even though there’s no BPA in your containers, there are still chemicals present that harden the plastic - can leach into your food and the bacteria can just sit in those scratches.
I’ve had my containers for more than 6 years, and apparently this is frowned upon.
I’m going to go ahead and throw my containers in the garbage. It’s grossing me out just thinking about the bacteria that’s sitting in there. The next time my Amazon dollars come up, I’m going to invest in a set of glass containers.
A word on mason jars. Mason jars are expensive because they are en vogue right now and many people are using them, but you can find them at the dollar store, and if you’ve got a grandma, I’ll bet she has a box of mason jars stashed in her basement somewhere. Just ask her if you can rummage through her basement for glassware in general, because I guarantee she’s got some glass containers.
I use mason jars to drink out of because they keep your beverages nice and cold and they are sturdier than pint glasses you would get at Target or BB&B so they don’t break as easily. You can heat them up, you can put them into the fridge, you can put them right on the bottom rack of your dishwasher since they are GLASS. If you have mason jars but the tops don’t look so good, you can invest in more tops on Amazon or the dollar store.
Now, go throw out your Tupperware containers and get yourself some glass containers. Make the investment. It’s worth it!
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