Cost: Free !
I call re-purposed plastic containers ‘Saskatchewan tupperware’ because it’s a family tradition that goes back at least as far as my Grandma. She owned a couple of the big round Tupperware containers from the 60s or 70s – the ugly ones that came in olive green, amber and burnt orange. The rest of her reusable containers were old cottage cheese, yoghurt and sour cream containers, and the 4L ice cream buckets from Co-op. The ones that are so big and heavy that they come with a handle.
My Grandparents had a farm near Strasbourg where my dad grew up. He and his two siblings were born in the 40s. Farming must give people a certain appreciation of where their food comes from because they see just how much time and work it takes to grow. I used to be annoyed at how stingy my dad and my Grandma were. Now that I have a better understanding of the context, I think they were miles ahead of many modern environmentalists. They took reducing and reusing very seriously because it was practical. They they couldn’t bear to throw out things that still had some use left.
I’m not quite as thrifty as them, but I enjoy how living on the cheap makes me evaluate every decision and make sure it’s practical.
Anyway, it’s handy to have some Saskatchewan tupperware around the house.
Sending food home with friends
When I give friends containers of food, I can almost count on not getting the container back. People forget, and my containers get mixed in with their collection of mixed containers and after a while peoples cupboards are filled with a colourful mosaic of containers that don’t belong to them. When I give people food in Saskatchewan tupperware, I can keep my matching set of containers safe, and I’m not sad if I never see my container again.
Marinades n’ things
Since a lot of dairy containers are tall and narrow, they’re a good way to marinate meat with minimum marinade. (Note that your containers will stink for a while afterwards.)
Freezing garden vegetables
My Mom and Grandma would always fill up several Saskatchewan tupperwares with tightly packed spinach, beans, beets, herbs and things from the garden, then stick them in the freezer. My Mom must fill at least 20 each year, so it makes sense to do it cheaply by reusing old containers. I would take the food out before putting it into a pot or the microwave, since there has been so much talk about the chemicals plastic releases when it’s heated.
This one’s pretty gross. For fattier meats like ground beef, turkey or duck, the fat should never go down the drain. My Mom always pours it into a container, pops it out and throws it in the garbage when it becomes solid.
Sometimes I put craft supplies in my Saskatchewan tupperware. If you’re worried about plastic chemicals leaking into your food, this is a good alternative use.
I still have a matching set of the good containers because I let my Saskatchewan tupperware do the dirty work.