Reusable shopping bags and produce bags are great, but what about when you get home? Today, let’s talk about some simple, plastic-free food storage ideas you can incorporate into your own kitchen.
Zero-waste and eco friendly living are kind of all the rage these days, have you noticed? More and more people are paying attention to their environmental impact, and doing what they can to change their habits.
Of course, any time something is trending, companies take notice and start making products to fit that demand. Which is great! Except, for those just starting out on this lower waste journey, it can get easy to feel bogged down by all the options available to you.
There are a lot of ways to reduce the waste in your home. But, one of the most wasteful areas in our homes is food. We do what we can to reduce food waste. Things like eating or freezing left-overs, composting scraps, and keeping our fridge organized so we can see what needs to be eaten are all big parts of that. But, another big part is how we actually store our food.
Because if you’re using fabric shopping bags and produce bags, but then coming home and storing your food using plastic wrap, throw-away baggies, and tupperware so old you can see it starting to break down…you’re not doing yourself or the environment any favors.
Today, let’s talk about some simple, plastic-free food storage ideas. I’ll do my best fo focus on ideas that are easy, affordable, and won’t make you miss that plastic wrap.
Tips on Getting Started with Low Waste Food Storage
Before we get started on what products I like, I wanted to take a minute and share some tips on getting started with low waste food storage.
Maybe it’s just that I’m super practical, but I don’t always feel like you need to run out and buy the newest, shiniest things in order to make changes.
I notice a lot of zero/low waste blogs put a lot of focus on what to buy to achieve that goal, sometimes, that just creates more waste.
It can be tempting to throw away all of your plastic containers and baggies when you decide to reduce waste, but by doing that, you’re just creating more waste, sooner than you would have if you just used up what you had.
Quite often, you’ll find that you actually already have a lot of what you need. Before you run out and buy a bunch of new stuff because you read about it on a blog, here are a couple of things to consider.
Have you used up what you have?
First, have you used up what you already have? What I mean by that is…you’re not going to throw away something perfectly useful just to buy something “zero waste,” are you?
Do you NEED it?
It’s easy to get caught up in lists like these, and buy everything that’s recommended. But…do you need it? Just because I love a product, doesn’t mean it’s going to work for your lifestyle. Figure out what you actually need and what you’ll use. Otherwise, you’ve wasted money and added extra clutter to your kitchen.
Do you already own something that could work in its place?
We don’t always have to buy something. Get creative with what you already have! Shelf stable left-overs can just be left in a bowl with a clean towel over them. Tins from those Christmas cookies can be used for baked goods and dry foods. Mason jars are a great way to store left-over soups, and most of us already have those on hand! I’ve even been known to stick a bowl of left overs directly in the fridge with a plate on top. It costs literally nothing, and is just as effective as bought containers if you don’t need air-tight storage. These are just a few ideas, but hopefully you catch my drift. You probably already have a lot on hand already to get you started.
Plastic-Free Food Storage Ideas
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We use mason jars for everything around our house. You want a drink? It’ll probably get served in a Mason jar. Flower vase? Mason jar. Left-overs? Mason jar.
I love them because they’re so easy to find most of the time, you can buy them in bulk, and they’re dishwasher safe. Plus, you can easily just save the jars from things like salsa and marinara sauce that you buy at the store, making this an even more frugal option.
There’s really very little that we don’t use mason jars for. I freeze our bone broth in them, use them to store left-over soups or casseroles, and put herbs in them on the counter. I even have a larger set that I use to store dry goods in the pantry!
You can find mason jars at pretty much any box store or thrift store in various sizes, or, they’re pretty cheap to buy online, too.
Linen or Fabric Bags
These are great for storing most dry foods. Flour and sugar would probably get through, but things like beans, pasta, nuts, and bread store great in fabric bags! I got my first set through MightyNest as part of my monthly box. They’re labeled as produce bags, but since I get most of my produce delivered to me, I decided to get creative with how they’re used. You can also find similar products on Amazon, like these, these, or these.
These fabric wraps are a great way to cover bowls, jars, and containers without resorting to flimsy plastic wrap.
They’re really affordable, last a long time, and, when they do start to fall apart, they’re compostable!
Glass Bowls with Lids
Anyone else grow up with a “tupperware cabinet?” If you’re anything like me, you still love the idea of having assorted containers with matching lids to store food. You can’t beat it!
I’ve been slowly transitioning to glass storage containers like these, and while they certainly aren’t as cheap as the plastic alternative, they hold up really well. I’ve got a similar Pyrex set that I got for my wedding over 10 years ago that still looks as good as the day I bought it, so I’m pretty confident in saying glass containers are a worthy investment.
Reusable Fabric Bowl Covers
These are great for when you just need to cover something quickly without a hassle. They come in a few different sizes, with an elastic band to hold them snug. Depending on what I’m storing, these are sometimes a better option than the beeswax wraps, because the elastic actually holds on to the container. The con here is that they definitely have one, specific use. Unlike beeswax wraps, mason jars, or bowls with lids, these only serve one purpose: to fit over a specific sized bowl without an air-tight seal.
If you’re on a budget and just starting out, I wouldn’t say these should be the first thing to buy. But, they can certainly be a convenient and cute plastic-free food storage option to consider once you’ve got the basics. You can find them here in all sorts of prints.
Silicone Stasher Bags
Outside of mason jars and glass bowls, I’d say these bags are one of the most versatile things I’ve purchased for food storage. They’re a great alternative to plastic baggies like the ones we’ve always used for sandwiches and snacks on the go, but you can use them over and over! They come in all different sizes, too, so you can use them for all sorts of stuff.
I recommend getting a variety pack like this one so you can use them for all sorts of foods.
Repurposed Food Containers
This whole post is full of plastic-free food storage products you can buy, but I can’t let you go without reminding you to repurpose and re-use. Like I said earlier in this blog post, get creative!
Save the jars from your spaghetti sauce, re-use those cookie tins, and clean out those glass bottles to re-use. There are so many things you already have on hand that make great food storage options, so keep your eyes peeled for new ways to use them.
Plastic Free Food Storage Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated
Most of us create most of our household waste right in the kitchen. Between plastic baggies and seran wrap, tupperware containers that have started to wear down, styrofoam and plastic to-go containers, and everything else we use to store food, it’s easy to see where this can become a problem.
But the good news is, plastic-free food storage doesn’t have to be complicated. Most of the ideas listed here are versatile, affordable, and easy to find. Just remember-start small, use up what you have, and build over time!
Learn more about low waste food storage and products here:
- 10 Easy Ways to Reduce Waste This Year
- Eco Friendly Product Review: What I Think of MightyNest
- The Best Zero Waste Products for Beginners – From Hopeful Holistic
- The Definitive Guide to Storing Food without Plastic – From Treading My Own Path