Ryan’s notes

The Tupperware drawer

In every kitchen I’ve ever occupied, there exists a certain accepted chaos: the Tupperware drawer. Containers and lids of various sizes and colors pile up and, almost as if in a gaseous state, they expand to fill whatever space they occupy. Lids go missing (how!?); some seem to fit, but don’t. Every reach for a plastic vessel is a new, unpredictable, and often maddening experience.

I’ve tried to mitigate this chaos with various strategies: lids in one drawer, bottoms in another; stacking smaller containers inside larger ones (this never lasts for long); reducing the gamut of containers to just one brand. For a brief moment in time, order will hold, but the second law of thermodynamics eventually prevails: the entropy of the Tupperware drawer always increases. It’s a 3-dimensional jigsaw puzzle that seemingly defies solution.

I’d all but given up. Still, a nagging sensation kept me thinking: this must be a solved problem, right?! And, well, it turns out it is. Who stores more food in fridges and freezers, hot and cold, of various shapes and sizes, more frequently than anyone else? Professional chefs! And what do they use? Plastic “deli” containers. Thank you Luke, for bringing this to my attention. My roommates and I hatched an experiment.

It’s been two months now and this change has brought me a surprising amount of joy. We’ve deployed these containers for leftovers, tea, dry goods, mise en place, everything. It’s been a revelation.

Cylindrical deli containers can handle frozen fruit and boiling soup. They are cheap. They stack better than Tupperware and take up no space at all. They deviate from each other in just one dimension (height), so THERE IS ONLY ONE TYPE OF LID! They’re entirely clear so you can see what’s inside from any angle, though labels made of masking tape elevate the experience. Their stack-ability and featherlight qualities make them perfect for frequenting bulk food isles and reducing waste. Just three sizes means you will never again stare into the Tupperware junkyard looking for that very particular red Mazda.

Sure, there are some tradeoffs: these containers are lightweight, so they’ll flip upside down in the dishwasher if you don’t weigh them down. Make sure you get a single brand, otherwise they might not stack or lids might not fit. All in all, these inconveniences pale in comparison to the pleasure of using these paragons of plastic.

Hiking trails in Norway are marked by the red letter “T” painted on large rocks. As nature has its way, the paint fades, making it more difficult to follow the route. When I was trying to figure out what to do with my life before founding Even, I measured every opportunity against an obviously useful pursuit: painting fresh red T’s on Norwegian rocks. Now, as I contemplate what to do next, I know that it should be more impactful than proselytizing deli containers for home food storage, because let me tell you: that’s worth something.

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