Label Your Leftovers

Do you ever lose track of leftovers in your fridge?

For years, I’ve been keeping what’s left of our dinners in my favorite glass containers.  And, by years, I mean almost 15.  Yep, I’ve gotten my money’s worth with these, and then some!

Besides stacking neatly in my cupboard and cleaning up quickly, I love that they are clear glass, so I can see what’s in them.

There’s only one problem…

Sometimes I wind up with leftovers and I can’t remember how old they are.  If I’m not sure, I dump it – wasting money and the time spent cooking it in the first place.

Over the years, I’ve thought of labeling the containers, but couldn’t come up with an easy way that would survive the dishwasher.  I didn’t feel like peeling off sticky label residue.

Then one day it dawned on me…thanks to the chalkboard label craze, I thought of an idea and it works wonders!

I thought about the lids on my containers and realized they’re not too different from a chalkboard texture.  So I promptly headed out to the store to find a chalk marker.  I checked several places and no one had them.  Michael’s told me they’ve been discontinued.  What!?  I found some markers on Amazon here, but in the meantime, I found another solution and it works superbly!

I was walking through Walmart one day and it dawned on me that dry erase CRAYONS would be perfect!  You can find them at Walmart for around three bucks or on Amazon here.

Have you seen them?  Crayons for a white board OR a black board.  I have used them with my kids in the past, but decided to try them for my leftover labeling idea.

They work fabulously!!

I love that they are different from real chalk in that they do not smudge off, but also clean easily.  I rubbed the letters in this picture several times and they didn’t fade at all.

Here’s the best part – they are SO easy to clean!  I just used a damp paper towel and the water took it right off with no residue.

 See?  Clean without a trace of the label!

The crayons come in 8 different colors, so lids of all colors (including clear) can be labeled.  I tested it on a Glad container like these:

Guess what?  It worked great, too!  Mine had a red lid, so I used the dark blue crayon and it showed up perfectly.

One thing I should mention is that the crayons work best on lids at room temperature.  I found that they didn’t write as smoothly or as dark on lids that came right out of the fridge.

Now, everyone in the family can easily see what day the food was placed in the fridge.  This has eliminated so much waste because I don’t need to toss things when I can’t remember how long they’ve been there.  I label every leftover container this way even if it’s not holding last night’s dinner.  It helps me keep track of miscellaneous things like onions, olives, cheese, sauce, etc.

If you missed my fridge organization post, you can see it (and my leftover containers in use) here:

How to Organize a Fridge with Bins

68 Responses to “Label Your Leftovers”

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  1. Jennifer says:

    I LOVE the idea! And I love my Pyrex! We got it for a wedding gift and added more! It is SO great for leftovers!

    • Ginny says:

      Thanks, Jennifer. :) We’ve had our Pyrex since we got it for our wedding, too! I got a double set and have been so happy with that choice ever since. Glad you like the idea. :)

  2. Renee says:

    I was just thinking about this problem, I was going to make labels of the things I most often have left over of laminate them and then use a dry erase marker on the label to date them. I planned to attach them with those reusuable sticky things that 3m makes, but your idea sounds much easier! I want those dry erase crayons now, lol and it just so happens, hubby works at Walmart.

    • Ginny says:

      Yay! I’m so glad to hear that. I was on a mission to get them as soon as the idea popped into my head, so I completely understand. LOL! :) Maybe he’ll bring you some tomorrow!

  3. Vanessa says:

    I was just recently given some Pyrex! Thanks so much for your tip. I’ve recently found myself throwing away a lot of food. This will definitely help me keep organized in the fridge!

  4. margo says:

    Great idea Ginny, I am pinning this!

  5. I label my leftovers, too, using masking tape and a sharpie. But I love the idea of using a dry erase crayon. Didn’t know they even made those. Next time I’m at Wal-mart, I’ll pick some up. They’ll be easier than the tape and sharpie.

  6. Shinypigeon says:

    I use plastic containers from IKEA and a drywipe board pen on the lid. I find once I wash them up it has all gone from the lid! FAB. I love the idea of drywipe crayons though! :D

  7. This is such a great idea! I would also love for you to link up to my Linky Party via

    Mrs. Delightful

  8. Claire says:

    This is BRILLIANT! I just saw these crayons for the first time at Michaels last week and was trying to think of a way to use them. We often have a freezer full of mystery food so this is the perfect solution for us!


  9. Taylor-Ann says:

    What a great idea. I would love if you shared this with my readers at Show off Mondays @

    I can’t wait to see what you come up with next.


  10. Shiloh says:

    What a fantastic idea! I never would have thought of trying those crayons. It should definitely be helpful keeping track of food.

  11. Shyanne says:

    Great idea! I am pinning this to my “Nifty Solutions” board :)

  12. KCoake says:

    Such a fantastic idea! I will be getting some dry erase crayons! I can never remember when something is made. This would work so well!

  13. Wow – that’s pretty cool!! I didn’t realize they had dry erase crayons!! I also didn’t realize they work on chalkboards as well. Very cool.

    I love glass containers too. I’m pretty good at rearranging my leftovers to keep the old stuff in front. Since I menu plan, I can also track when I made a meal. Plus we have a much smaller fridge. This is a great idea when you are cooking a lot though!!

    I’m definitely pinning this. Thanks for linking up at Romance on a Dime!!

    • Ginny says:

      Thanks, Betsy! Yes, we live far from our family and friends and have visitors several times a year, sometimes for weeks at a time. You should see what happens to my fridge! C-R-A-M-P-A-C-K-E-D! Can you tell I thought of this idea right after some of our company left? :D

      Thanks so much for the pin – I appreciate it!

  14. Amber Mae says:

    This is sheer genius! What an awesome idea :) And there’s no labor involved, love it :)

  15. I love this idea! So simple. I was using masking tape and a permanent marker before but this is brilliant. :-) Thanks! I love your blog. I’m now following and going to adding your button to my links page! :-)

    • Ginny says:

      Thanks, Faith – I appreciate it! :) I think you’ll like trying this tip. It’s easy and cheap and cleanup is a breeze. Thanks for following me. :)

  16. Alison says:

    I have never seen those crayons before, but I LOVE this idea! SO smart. Thanks for sharing at oopsey daisy!

  17. Cynthia says:

    Ginny do you have a leftover shelf? A few years go I made a section of my fridge just for leftovers. It’s great when having a ‘goffer’ night–find something and go-fer-it?! It also makes quick fridge clean outs super easy. I also use the bins as you do in my fridge. Containers make it so much easier, take out the bin you need, search and put it back it! Thanks for the great ideas. I’ll have to try the dry erase on my lids!

    • Ginny says:

      I do have a leftover shelf, although it morphs into at least two when we have company come for 2 weeks at a time. :) I usually keep my leftovers on the top shelf at eye level so I can keep track of what’s there. That’s why I love the glass containers – so I don’t miss anything.

      The reason I thought of this idea is that we often have lots of visitors from out of town and they usually stay for at least a week. It can be very difficult to keep track of the date when something was made. The bins have worked fabulously. It helps everyone – including our visitors know where things belong. :)

      I love your name for leftover night. :) I might have to adopt that one!

  18. Ok…. sometimes I see things like this and I just think to myself… this is genius! Thank you so much for sharing with us this week, this is awesome!

    Take care,


  19. Maysem says:

    What an awesome idea! I always forget how long something has been in the fridge.. wonderful solution! Thanks for sharing:D I think I’ve seen those “crayons” at Michaels… I better go look for a 40% coupon (or 50%):P

  20. Great idea! Thanks for linking it up to my link party. I’m going to feature this tomorrow.

  21. Featuring this tonight at our link party! Stop by and grab a featured button! :)

  22. Brittany says:

    What a great idea! I use post its but this is so much better! Thanks for sharing your brilliant idea!

  23. Rebecca says:

    Instead of labeling, I write down what we ate for dinner every night on a calendar so I can see what leftovers we have and when they were cooked :)

  24. Cyndi says:

    I have the same containers. I have been writing on the glass with a sharpie I keep in my baggie drawer. I write on those too. The sharpie stays on the glass until I scrub it off with the scratchy side of a sponge.

  25. Melissa says:

    this is a great idea!! I’ve been using the little round adhesive dots, I seem to be the only one in the house who takes them off, this dry eraser crayon is a wonderful alternative! Thanks!!

  26. Deanna says:

    I use dry erase markers on my cheap ikea containers to label what is in them. Works great!

  27. Robin says:

    I’ve been doing this for months, but with regular old peel-off grease pencils (also known as china markers). It is so great to never have to wonder “when did we eat rice last? Can I eat this, or should I just throw it out, in case it’s too old to eat?”

  28. JulieBee in Iowa says:

    Thank you for pointing these out. I bought some from Amazon since the only ones I could find at Wallyworld here came with a dry erase board and was $10. Since I didn’t need a dry erase board, which was tiny anyway, I decided to look elsewhere. The box from Amazon was cheaper and has the sharpener and wipe in it like yours, but it doesn’t have a white crayon. I didn’t realize until I compared my box to yours that mine doesn’t say “Bright” on it. There are two light ones, though – orange and yellow. I’ll just be able to mark light containers REALLY well. :)
    Your site is always fun to visit. Thank you for all you do to share with us.

  29. I would love to share this in my friday link roundup.
    OK to use a photo?
    If not, please email me and I will just use a link.
    Excellent post!

    • Ginny says:

      Thanks for asking! You are welcome to use the picture with a link, but I would appreciate a note asking your readers to pin images to the original source. Thanks! :)

  30. Linda Reese says:

    I have just came across your website and “LOVE IT!!!” I want to start with the very first of your blog so I won’t miss any of your wonderful words and life. Hope you and your family will have a Bless Day!

  31. Jill Wolters says:

    Hello! Thanks for the tip! I had previously tried a Vis-A-Vis (or, wet erase marker), but it smeared too easily. The dry erase crayon is a great idea! Also works well to mark glasses when company comes over! Sometimes, I loathe plastic cups! I wonder if it would just come off in the dish washer? Thanks, again!

    • Ginny says:

      Oooh! I love your idea of using it for plastic cups. I’ll have to try it. It does come off in the dishwasher, but not always entirely. I have found that a quick swish with a magic eraser takes off any residue left after coming out of the dishwasher.

      • Jill Wolters says:

        Yes, the dry erase crayon works for glasses or plastic cups. Easy to see exactly which cup belongs to whom. :)

  32. I love this idea! This is going to save so much food from the garbage can. I shared a link to this post on my blog, but let me know if you want me to remove it, or if you prefer a different method of sharing content from your blog. I just started blogging, so I just want to be sure that I’m giving credit where it’s due!

    Here’s a link to the blog post:

    • Ginny says:

      Thanks for sharing my post on your blog, Lizzie! I appreciate the link back. Generally bloggers don’t mind if other bloggers share their idea as long as there is a link back. Most don’t mind if you use one picture, too, but it is always nice to ask first. I appreciate you asking. Congrats on your blog, too! Best wishes. :)

  33. Jana says:

    Thanks for the simple chalk tips.. I tried regular chalk and that works great too! When I make it to Target, or Staples, I’ll look for the dry erasable chalk too.
    I love your site, and get excited to organize more as a result so thanks for that!
    Cheers.. Jana

  34. Mrs. W says:

    Wow, this is an awesome idea! If I had pintrest, I would pin it =) I have been looking for a way to label leftovers. I am definitely going to use this idea!

  35. Fantastic idea! We use masking tape and permanent markers however, I often forget to take the tape off the lid before putting it in the dishwasher.

    I pinned this tip to my Family Organizing board.

  36. Holly says:

    I love this idea! I just discovered your blog and look forward to visiting often!

  37. Jean says:

    What a great idea! I had been writing on jar lids (like spaghetti sauce or jam), the date opened, with a Sharpie, but I hadn’t thought of writing on storage containers.


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