Sometimes, we want to do better for the planet but don’t really know how. Or we want good plastic-free substitutes but don’t know whether they even work. We’ve all been there. That’s why we have created this easy guide on plastic-free ways to easily store food. But first, let’s understand why plastic is not good for storing food.
Why plastics are not good for your health?
Plastic is a polymer made from petroleum products. Before it reaches your home, it goes through intensive chemical processing (like, a lot!). It is said that all these chemicals are used in safe quantities, but studies suggest otherwise.
These no-so-good for chemicals include bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates.
- BPA which is mostly added to food-grade plastics, is linked to infant brain and reproductive harm.
- Similarly, phthalates, added to make plastics flexible are linked to reproductive dysfunction in animal studies.
- Research also suggests, phthalates links to decreased fertility, neurodevelopmental issues and asthma in humans.
- Oh, and yes! Don’t be fooled by products marketed as ‘BPA-free.’ According to Scientific American, they might have the same health effects as BPA. We are talking quantities as small as one part per trillion. (Yikes!)
Why is plastic unsafe to store food?
All these plastics include lunch boxes, plastic wraps, takeaway boxes and probably all the plastic you have.
- The problem starts when you heat these containers in a microwave or even your dishwasher. When heated, plastics can leach harmful chemicals in your food.
- This might even be true when you just store oily/fatty foods in your plastic containers. It is because most chemicals found in plastic are designed to be fat soluble.
Why is plastic not good for the planet?
Talking about harmful effects of plastic, it is particularly, not good for the planet either. There’s a lot of it floating in oceans and contaminating landfills.
- The worst part however is – plastic photodegrades. It breaks down into tinier particles in the presence of sunlight. These small pieces of plastic or micro-plastics are killing the coral reefs and leaching into the soil from the landfill.
- Infact, micro-plastics have also found their way in the food chain as well. It is ingested by the marine life including fish. And who else eats fish? Correct, humans. Rest is quick math.
So, what is the solution? It’s quite simple, switch to plastic-free ways to store food. This will also be good ‘cause you are reducing plastic use. Check out the best ones right here!
Plastic-free ways to store food
From stainless steel containers to reusable silicone lids, here are the most eco-friendly ways to store food and take on the plastic-free challenge.
1. Bowls you already own
This is the easiest and the most pocket-friendly way to store food without plastic. Just is use items you already have like a mixing bowl, cooking pot, or a baking tray.
To cover them, either put the lid on or use a plate as the lid instead of plastic wrap. Lids are obviously plastic-free, and you can reuse them infinitely.
You can opt for the clear glass bowls or metal bowls. Glass bowls just give you extra benefit of being see-through. This way you can see what’s in them and use up the food before it goes stale.
- We love this Pyrex’s 4 glass bowl set which comes with lids in beautiful colors. They are microwave, fridge, freezer and dishwasher safe making them an ideal choice for everyone.
2. Using silicone stretch lids
Silicone is the most durable and eco-friendly alternative to plastic. Reusable silicone lids are the talk of the town because they are simply versatile and don’t cost too much.
These silicone stretch lids are also an easy sustainable swap for reducing plastic in your kitchen. All you got to do is strech and secure on literally any utensil in your kitchen. It can be a jar, a bowl, or even a dish.
Moreover, these are easy to clean, BPA-free, microwave, oven, freezer, and dishwasher safe too. Now, isn’t that amazing?
- Get a pack of 7 leak-proof, airtight, and stretchable silicone lids from Unwasted. They are a perfect fit for your bowls and containers; totally replacing the single-use plastic wraps.
If you’re like us and love meal preps, then try opting for glass containers. Or you can simply use these containers to store your lunch.
While plastic containers do the same job, most of the time, they aren’t recyclable. Here are a few options for glass containers that you can check out –
- Pyrex ultimate 10-piece glass storage set – If you are looking for various size options in one set, this is a great option. The tempered glass makes it more durable and extremely lightweight, unlike other brands. The easy-press lids are airtight and leakproof. The color-coded design makes them super easy and convenient to organize as well. Isn’t that great?
- Verel’s glass storage containers – These come in various sizes and with bamboo lids. You can opt for them as one of the most popular plastic-free ways to store anything. They are especially great for meal prep.
4. Stainless steel containers
If you have kids at home and aren’t so sure about using glass containers, then we recommend opting for stainless steel food storage containers.
They are much lighter than glass and are great plastic-free alternatives. You can choose different sizes according to your needs.
And the best part? They are practical, durable, and leak-proof!
- Our favorite ones are stainless steel food containers by Everusely. The set gives you 5 different sizes with silicone lids. The lid provides an airtight seal which keeps the food fresh. They can be easily stacked one above the other in the fridge and can easily fit in a medium size lunch bag. They are good to go in the dishwasher and the oven (up to 350-degree F). Although, it is recommended not to put them in the microwave.
5. Paper and cloth
If you have brown paper or parchment paper lying around, you can easily use it to store veggies and fruits. This includes items like berries, potatoes, figs, pears, etc. that don’t need much protection.
Paper is good for storing them instead of the plastic as it absorbs excess moisture. Also, it is breathable, thus keeping ingredients fresh for longer periods.
You can also go for reusable sandwich bags and damp tea towels for mushrooms, greens, radish, carrots, and cucumbers. They are another accessible and plastic-free way to store leftovers and food.
Once the brown paper is out of use you can add it to your compost. While tea towels and sandwich bags can be washed and reused again.
If you have clean clothing items like cotton t-shirts, you can turn them into produce bags to or tea towels too and reduce plastic waste.
6. Reusable silicone bags
Reusable silicone bags are one of the safest and most versatile plastic-free ways to store food. They are leak-proof, freezer-safe, and easy to clean and seal; so you can store just about anything in them.
Besides you can use them for more than just storing food. Make popcorn, scrambled eggs, use as organizer for your toiletries, and much more.
- This pack by Stasher bags gives you a multipurpose pack of 4 reusable silicone bags – 2 sandwich bags, and 2 snack bags. Each in clear and cool aqua color. Cute, isn’t it?
7. Glass jars
It time to put all these mason jars you’ve been hoarding for years to good use. They are perfect for smoothies or flavored water but to your surprise actually use these a great plastic-free ways to store food.
You can store your special pasta sauces, pickles, BBQ sauces, and leftover curries. The list is endless. Glass jars also great for storing dry foods like grains, pulses, biscuits, etc.
By doing this, you will drastically reduce your plastic consumption. You can also get bigger sizes of these glass jars if you plan to freeze food in a large quantity.
Oh yes! Did we tell you? These jars make your kitchen look exactly out of a Pinterest image.
- Our top pick if you want to buy new ones are Bormioli Rocco Quattro Stagioni. These pint jars are perfect to store pickles and liquid foods. They are slightly on the larger side so, you never run out of storage. The best part, however, is that the gold-colored lids are a lot more durable and reliable. The classic square-sided design makes them beautiful and easy to clean.
8. Reusable food wraps
If you like cling wraps for their functionality, then we have found something even better – reusable beeswax wraps! These food wraps come in different sizes and are easy to seal the food.
This way, you can save money too. Moreover, beeswax food wraps are quite easy-to-clean and can last you for a year at least. Each reusable wrap is made from 100% cotton with organic beeswax.
After you are done with the wrap, you can cut it down into small pieces and compost it as it’s biodegradable too!
Related Article: What Is Beeswax Food Wrap? Is It Really Eco-Friendly?
9. Steel tiffins
Tiffins have been used for food storage for decades. It is one of the best plastic-free ways to carry and store food for work or picnics.
You can get them in so many shapes and sizes. They are easy to clean and ideal for both kids and adults. In addition, tiffins are super compact too!
Store freshly cut fruits or chopped veggies or leftovers from last night. They are great for everything from gravy to breads.
- This three-tier stainless steel tiffin by Go-to Ware is perfect if you like to include different varieties of food for lunch. And yes, it’s leak-proof too.
10. Bento boxes
This is one of the best plastic-free ways to store food. Aren’t they just perfect for taking lunch to work and school, or storing leftovers in the fridge?
Let’s check out our top picks –
- Natural Fiber Bento Box – We love minimal products, and this natural fiber bento box has our heart! Did you know that this bento box is an award winner? Yup. Made from natural rice paddy fiber, this box is zero-waste, microwave-safe, and top-shelf dishwasher safe. It has cute little compartments and an additional small container for your dressing.
- Bklyn Bento -Stainless Steel Bento Box
It’s important to know that reducing plastic consumption is a slow process, and it will take time. Try taking small baby steps to begin. Food storage may seem like a tricky area; but it isn’t really, once you get used to not using plastics.
If you just started your zero waste journey or are trying to curb your plastic consumption, we hope these plastic-free ways to store food will come in handy for you.