21 Tips to Avoid Plastic for Real Food Kitchen Storage

avoid plastic food storageHave you seen this article about BPA plastic simply being replaced by its cousin BPS?

It seems more important than ever to learn how to keep our kitchens and food as plastic free as possible. The problem is that plastic products have become so convenient and second-nature that many of us don’t have any clue as to how to store our food without it. With that in mind, I came up with this list of 21 ways to avoid plastic when storing food in your real food kitchen. Most are ways to store your food completely plastic free and others are hacks for how to store your food in plastic if it becomes necessarily.

  1. Use mason jars to freeze solid foods like beans, rice, meat, fruits and veggies. Don’t fill to the top to avoid the food touching your reusable lids. After food is frozen solid, add about 1/4″ of water on top of the food to keep more air out.
  2. Freeze meals in food-safe Pyrex dishes without a lid. After food is solid add about 1/4″ of water on top of the food. Place a tight fitting lid, or top first with parchment paper or butcher’s paper and then cover tightly with aluminum foil (you can reuse the aluminum foil many times!).
  3. Wrap breads, waffles, pancakes, muffins and other dry foods carefully with parchment paper or butcher’s paper (trying to get as much air as possible out) and tape closed with freezer tape. Then wrap tightly in aluminum foil to keep air out (you can reuse the aluminum foil many times!). Do not use waxed paper as most are waxed with paraffin.
  4. Freeze foods that are purees, soft, or liquid by first freezing in mini muffin or regular sized muffin tins. Pop out of tins and store them in mason jars or a cheap plastic freezer container lined with parchment paper.
  5. Freeze soft, pureed or liquids directly in pint freezer-safe mason jars. Leave extra head space and add 1/4″ of water on top once frozen.
  6. Wrap fresh meat for the freezer in butcher paper and freezer tape. Then, wrap tightly with aluminum foil to seal out air. (Reuse that aluminum foil!)
  7. Line freezer safe ziplock bags with parchment paper before filing with food of choice.
  8. Line and wrap food with parchment paper before placing in a plastic storage container to freeze.
  9. Of course, if you have the cash you could always try these stainless steel containers or even the glass storage containers to freeze your goods.
  10. Make your own waxed boxes to freeze or refrigerate food in by brushing a thin layer of melted bee’s wax on the inside of used gift boxes. Allow to dry. Fill with food and seal edges with freezer tape to keep air out. Carefully wash them to reuse by using cold water and mild soap on a rag on the inside. Rinse with cool water on a rag and allow to air dry. Another option for waxed boxes would be to purchase some paper clam-shell type to go boxes like these and wax them with bees wax. Again, always with the intention of reusing them as many times as possible.
  11. Make  your own reusable waxed fabric to wrap cheese, leftovers, and baked goods in. My friend Wardeh at GNOWFGLINS does this to age and store her cheese in.
  12. Make your own reusable waxed fabric bags to store food in the refrigerator or room temperature.
  13. Refrigerate leftovers in mason jars or reclaimed jars.
  14. Short-term store leftovers in the refrigerator in the stainless steel pot the were cooked in with the lid on.
  15. If really pressed for a container to store in, use a glass or stainless mixing bowl with a plate on top for a lid. If you want to keep more air out, use a layer of plastic under the plate and be sure that the food is low enough not to touch the plastic.
  16. Store food in Chinese take out boxes (I would personally rewax the inside with bees wax to avoid parafin). They can be reused several times by washing with mild soap and water and allowing to dry. You can freeze  (even liquids) in them by sealing all the openings  on top and bottom with freezer tape. Or check out these cute silicone versions.
  17. For packed lunches, nothing beats these divided stainless steel lunch boxes or a paper bag with the waxed fabric bags mentioned above.
  18. Store beverages in glass jars, glass carafes, or reclaimed glass milk jugs.
  19. Store fresh fruits and veggies in paper bags, cardboard boxes, baskets or in mason jars with some water. Read this post from My Plastic Free-Life for a more complete list of how to store specific fruits and veggies without plastic.
  20. Store dry foods in the pantry in stainless steel canisters or (you guessed it!) mason jars or other salvaged glass containers.
  21. Spices and seasonings store well in 8oz mason jars or these stainless steel spice tins (which mount nicely on your refrigerator with magnets.

I am sure this is not a complete list. What are some ways you have avoided using plastic in your kitchen. Share your tips and ideas with us in the comments!

This post was shared on Real Food Wednesdays and Homemaking Link-Up

Comments and Reviews

  • Becca says:
    I love reusing glass jars to store spices and other things in. I will have to give the rest of these a try also. Reply
  • elaine says:
    for many of these you mention adding 1/4" water - what is done with the water when thawing? Reply
    • Great question, Elaine! I just leave it as 1/4" of water really doesn't matter much when it comes to a casserole, something liquid or a puree.Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever done anything about it. It will evaporate when you heat it back up and I don't put it over things like breads (which are just wrapped in parchment and then foil) which would get soggy. Frozen cooked beans usually have a little liquid in them, so adding a bit more doesn't matter, same goes for soups. Frozen veggies and fruits can be done this way and when thawing you can strain off the juice, but don't throw it away! Put the strained veggie juice into soups and stocks and use the strained berry juice in smoothies, ice cream, reduce into a sauce or make into something else. Use good judgement, obviously, you don't want to put water over your ice cream or a few other desserts. In those cases, wrap carefully and put a tight lid. But the water trick is helpful and not a problem for most leftovers. Reply
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