If you’re interested in learning about different kinds of waste free food storage, you are in the right place! Plus, we have upcoming green giveaways including a Planet Wise Snack Bag from Bring Your Own LLC and Beeswax Wrap from Dual Accord.
Here, I am specifically talking about mason jars with uniform mouths. Reusing mayo or other jars is a very admirable thing. I save glass bottles from liquor or vitamins and reuse them for little odds and ends. But for food storage, I stick to mason jars.
If you find buy jars at a secondhand shop without lids. I say grab them. Firstly, glass is easy to sanitize. They can go in the dishwasher and can withstand heat. Secondly, the lids come in two uniform sizes of ‘regular mouth’ or ‘large mouth’. This you can keep the rings and lids stacked and not worry about playing a matching game.
Mason jars are microwave, oven, Sous vide, and freezer safe. They fit in car cup holders and stack very well in the pantry. I also happen to think they’re pretty. In the pantry they are easy to see through. They’re a standard weight so shopping waste free with them is a breeze.
You might think that glass means breakable. But I’ve had many a jar fall of the counter and stay intact.
Update: Since writing this post, I have learned that the plastic tops to parmesan cheese and possibly the single serve blender tops fit the threads of mason jars. This would add to the ways you can functionally use them. I will have to try it.
Added bonus: Mason jars double as drinking glasses.
Just like jars, silicone can go in the oven, freezer, dishwasher, Sous vide and microwave. The plus to silicone is it’s easy to remove the air. Silicone only needs to take up the space of what is inside unlike containers with more structure that take up the size of the vessel.
Silicone in the dishwasher is delightful but you have to remember to stand them up in a way that the water gets inside. Thinking of it now, I should try to wash them inside out. Hmmmm.
One tip about silicone is to match the bag color to the contents. I thought this was just a visually appealing thing but it’s actually to prevent a clear bag from picking up the color of red pasta sauce.
Added bonus: Silicone bags have a tighter seal than ziplock so you don’t have to worry as much about leaking.
I have less personal knowledge of these snack bags. But from what I understand, cloth snack bags might be washer/dryer safe depending on the brand. Others might be dishwasher safe. Some cloth bags have a plastic liner and some do not. The liner would retain moisture whereas the just cloth would not.
Unlike silicone, they are not air or water right. Functionally these bags will replace snack bags for items such as pretzels or a sandwich. They’re great for same day consumption because they won’t keep the snack from going stale. They won’t replace ziplock baggies for marinading or other liquid uses.
These snack bags will save money and reduce your waste. Plus, the clever patterns are unique and fun.
Added bonus: The cloth bags come in many patterns which make customizing or identifying really easy! You could have a pattern for each child and know who ate or lost what.
I have a silicone lid for mugs which keeps the coffee or tea warm, so I am extrapolating and adding some knowledge from internet research. Silicone is dishwasher, oven, freezer, and microwave safe.
There are two kinds of silicone covers. First, there is suction, for these lids you essentially cover the top of your bowl with the lid by laying it on top. They’re that simple. You can use them to cover microwave spatter. Air could still get pushed out and the lid will vacuum seal back in place.
Silicone lids create an airtight seal. This retains moisture. Suction silicone lids don’t have to be the size of the container, they just have to be at least slightly bigger. Otherwise, you could use a giant lid for a small container and it would work fine.
Second, there are stretch lids. These lids do need to be the size of the container. You might feel more comfortable with these lids because they seem more attached to the bowl. For these lids you stretch it over the rim of the bowl. I have also seen these stretched over a half of a watermelon or other fruit.
For both kinds of lids, the flexibility of silicone makes for easy storage.
Update: Since writing this post, I remembered about the lids I use for cans of cat food. These are functional and would work for human food as well. Can lids like these fit three different sizes of cans which make them really functional.
Added bonus: You can use these lids to cover pots if you misplace the original lid!
Beeswax wrap is good to use for oddly shaped or large items that don’t need to be kept air tight. Some items we wrap in cling wrap for convenience actually should be wrapped in breathable items. Beeswax wrap is antimicrobial in nature so it will extend the fridge life of some foods. Beeswax wrap can also be used to store items in the freezer for a short time.
Beeswax might not replace cling wrap because it’s not going to be air tight. However, beeswax is easier to mold to a dish. You use the warmth of your hands to make it mailable and once it’s in place the wax helps the cloth keep its shape. The beeswax will help retain some moisture so the food won’t dry out.
Beeswax wrap needs to be hand washed in cold water. Beeswax wrap is not intended to be used with raw meat and it can’t go in the microwave. If you’re worried about smell, I haven’t had an issue with my Beeswrap but the ingredients vary from brand to brand.
Added bonus: Beeswax has the convenience of plastic wrap with the opacity of aluminum foil. You can cover your dish and have a big reveal!
Glass containers like Pyrex have similar benefits to mason jars because they come in uniform sizes. Buying replacement lids for Pyrex is easy if the lids get ripped or lost. Plus, they’re bowls which makes eating out of them easier. The best use for Pyrex is meal prep.
Pyrex bowls are great for saving half an onion or other produce. I love using them as prep bowls because you can pop the lid on and save the rest. Pyrex bowls are easy to stack and they nest for storage.
The only downside is I always tend to rip the lids after a few months. Pyrex glass is dishwasher, freezer, oven, and microwave safe. Pyrex comes in round and square bowl shapes. I even have some larger ones for lasagna.
Added bonus: Hosting a dinner party and using Pyrex as serving bowls makes clean up really easy! All you have to do is pop lids on the leftovers.
Before my waste free journey, I had purchased the systema storage system. These large containers are great for storing flour and other dry goods. They even have a measuring cup in each bin which saves you from having to wash one.
I actually don’t think there is anything wrong with purchasing plastic if you’re going to use it for the foreseeable future. There are some plastics that leach chemicals but I am just talking about for waste purposes. They’re air tight and both lighter and cheaper than their glass counterparts. For food storage, I prefer vessels that clip to seal shut.
Plastic containers can be great for very specific purposes. Using plastic might cut down on food waste because it can help you store food in the proper way. I have specific containers for half cut up peppers or cheese and the fridge life is greatly extended. Plus, when you’re looking in the fridge for your leftover onion, you can look for the onion shaped container;
From the occasional single use container that comes into my life, I will hang onto it and reuse it. Obviously the downside is mismatching lids.
If you have found a green swap that works for you, send it to me at SarahRyan@sincerelyseas.com and I will share it here.
- Use a plate to cover bowls or saucers to cover open cans. This system might even allow you to stack items on top.
- Reuse ziplock bags by gently washing them.