I don't know about you, but one of my pet peeves in the kitchen is when I'm in the middle of cooking something and reach with my one clean hand for the cayenne, paprika, etc. only to realize that it has a screw top. That means I have to either wash my hands for the 17th time to remove the garlic, raw chicken, or whatever else that not-clean hand might be contaminated with to not only unscrew the cover but flip off the shaker top so I can fit a measuring spoon into the bottle. And, of course, you can't get the shaker top off the cinnamon or whatever without getting the residue on you, because unlike the ginger or anything light colored, for some reason, it never settles back into the bottle but stays on top.
That's probably what first got me to pay attention to lids and covers. Then there's the fact that half the time, you can't pry the shaker top off to get a measuring spoon in there without using a knife or something to get it started. You can't very well hold the bottle and slip a knife under the rim with one hand ... unless you have talented elbows and can tuck the bottle in the crook while unscrewing the top and prying the lid off with your free hand!
As soon as I come home with a new spice, I check to see what kind of top it has and whether I have a spare to swap it out with if necessary.
Another reason to pay attention to shaker tops is sugar sprinkles. How many times have you come home with a new color only to realize there is no shaker top. Depending on what you're using the sugar for, one might come in very handy, so it's always good to have a spare on hand.
Then there are car-cup gum containers. I'm hardly ever seen without gum in my mouth and a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee somewhere nearby, so I've got a bazillion of these little containers around. (If I could only come up with a use for all those coffee cups!) They're great for keeping track of small items. Maybe your junk drawer is starting to fill up with stray buttons, or you need someplace to keep your rubber bands or that broken strand of beads until you get a chance to re-string them.
The problem with the gum containers is that the lids are sometimes angled (varies with brand), so they don't stack well if you have a bunch of them. If that's a problem for you, I recently happened to reach over to put the top back on one and inadvertently screwed on the top from a peanut jar I had just emptied. It fit perfectly (red top), but doesn't flip open.
This is the one that made me think to post this now ... can tops. Every once in a while I'll empty a can of cashews or something and just hold the top in my hand for a few seconds thinking about what the next holiday is, and whether I'll need a new stencil for anything. Use an X-Acto knife to cut out a stencil on the inside of the cover.
You can use it to spread icing over or to fill the cut-outs with sugar crystals. The great thing about using them for sugar crystals is the built-in lip to catch the strays! I always use these when baking my Christmas sugar cookies. Our favorite recipe is one where you shape the dough into balls, roll them in sugar and press them out with the bottom of a mug or glass. We decorate the tops with sugar sprinkles, coconut flakes, small candies, etc., and one of my favorite "lid" stencils is of holly.
Maybe you ended up with a squeeze bottle that melted in the dishwasher or was used for something that refused to come out when you were done with it, no matter what you tried. The bottle may be toast, but that's no reason to toss the top. You never know when it might come in handy. Hey, store it in one of your gum containers! ;)
I've got a thing for glass. You might have noticed that in some of my other pictures if you've been following for a while. I keep my olive oil in a bottle that looks like kids dancing around a tree and has a glass/cork stopper shaped like a walnut. I like using that one for oil because the textured "tree" makes it easy to grip. My vinegar is in a genie-style bottle, canola oil in the Leaning Tower of Pisa, etc. I still need to figure out what to store in my Eiffel Tower. In any event, some come with re-usable corks, which is treat. Others may have come with cheap corks that dried out and crumbled, or vintage bottles having tin tops that corroded over time, etc. That's why I like to keep a few corks available.
I forget where I came across this one, but it fits perfectly on this bottle I had saved after finishing a present of Pear Vinegar I had received from someone as a vacation souvenir. Now it houses my Apple Cider Vinegar.
Going back to corroded tin tops, when I was unpacking in my new apartment a while back, I found an old wine bottle I had saved when going through my Dad's storage after he passed away. I had forgotten all about it. I love the bottle, but the top was gross! I went to the supermarket one day and noticed that they had 3 liter bottles of soda on sale for $1.00, so I picked up a few. Turns out those larger caps fit perfectly on my vintage bottle. Not so pretty maybe, but I could always do something about that if I felt the need.
I haven't decided what to keep in this one yet, but because of the wide mouth, maybe I'll change things up and keep my lentils or some dried beans in this one.
If not for yourself, maybe you have an aging parent or someone in the family with arthritis or carpal tunnel. Maybe they don't have the grip strength to unscrew caps that could easily be swapped out for something else?? Take a peek around your kitchen to see what containers you have that could swap lids ... like that shaker jar of Parmesan in the fridge. What might that cover fit on when it's empty?
So, do you have any tips for how you're already using different types of lids and covers? I'd love to hear your ideas.