How to Store Food Without Plastic

How to store food without plastic

I’ve shared before the non-toxic and non-scratch cookware I use, and how we avoid chemicals in our water, but I get quite a few questions about how to store food without plastic in the fridge of freezer.

Plastic containers and plastic bags are the normal fare for this, and it can be a difficult switch. It has taken me years, but I’ve finally phased out all of our plastic food storage containers in favor of glass, metal or silicon options. The bonus here is that most things can be put directly in an oven or convection oven to re-heat, which minimizes dishes in the long run.

Refrigerator Food Storage

Instead of plastic bags and plastic containers, I now use these to store foods in the fridge:

  • Glass Mason Jars– Quart and half-gallon size jars work great for storing things like soups, sauces, broth, and even leftover casseroles and sides.
  • Silicon Food Storage– I love my collapsible fridge storage containers from Xtrema since they don’t take up much room in the cabinets when not in use and are easy to stack in the fridge.
  • Glass and Silicon Storage– Lifeactory makes some great all-glass food storage containers that have a silicon cover to help avoid breakage
  • Pyrex Glass Containers with Lids– These do have plastic lids but they are pretty inexpensive and some of the first containers I got when I made the switch.
  • Glasslock Oven Safe Food Storage– I also have this set and use it all the time to store almost everything
  • I also recently discovered these silicon suction lids that turn bowls you already have into fridge storage

I also ditched the plastic wrap (plastic and BPA), wax paper and foil (aluminum) when we made the switch and instead I use this homemade reusable food wrap from Mommypotamus to cover bowls and dishes instead.

Freezer Storage

Finding safe freezer storage options is a little more difficult because liquids need room to expand when they freeze and glass can be tricky.

I use a few of the same things in the freezer:

Non-Toxic Plates, Cups and Bowls

Once we had children, I wanted to make sure our plates, bowls and cups were non-toxic and not plastic. We originally used Corelle plain white dishes, but have slowly been switching to metal dishes (which have the added benefit of being non-breakable). We use:

The bonus to all of these options is that they are all dishwasher safe and most are oven safe. We don’t use a microwave, but most are microwave safe too.

How do you store food without plastic?

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Reader Comments

  1. FYI, your parchment paper has silicone on it. I’m not sure you knew that. I called the company a few months ago. Appears the only “real” parchment paper w/o chemicals is sold at Williams Somona. I don’t trust silicone. People are using it like we used to use plastic long ago. I believe gases and chemicals come out when it’s heated.

    • Good thing she only suggested using it in the freezer–not heating it.

    • I can not find a parchment paper that is not treat with a non stick chemical 100% are treated with tefflon, silicone or quilin. Unbleached is the paper only. Williams Sonoma has silicone treated to its parchment paper. The term Vegetable Parchment refers to the paper ONLY. In order for paper to be Non-Stick for baking, it must have some sort of coating. ( otherwise it’s just paper and cookies will be crumbles) Parchment paper rolls or precut sheets are coated with a Silicone-like coating or Quilon which is related to Teflon. We dumped everything in our home with Teflon 15 years ago and only use high grade stainless steel.

      So I do not use parchment paper for baking anymore..

      The only wax paper I use is Natural Value unbleached wax paper “Made from parrafin (sic) wax – soy free – landfill safe. You can get it from Amazon. we are a SOY FREE HOME!

    • Thanks. I have always had a fear of silicone ….. Never thought it was good to bake in it ….explain what is bad about storage with wax paper ???? How do you store fruits and vegetables. Like lettuce. Cabbage. ?????

  2. any suggestions for replacing breast milk storage bags? How do you store milk for when mom has to be out of town and avoid plastic??

      • Can you freeze the breast milk in mason jars or only out in fridge? I’ve put them in freezer before and had them break…

        • As long as you don’t overfill, they should be fine in glass jars, but check the instructions on your canning jars and don’t reuse jars from other products.

  3. I like using inexpensive wide mouth glass canning jars (ball or kerr) to store food in cabinet, fridge, or freezer and with an attachment made by Foodsaver you can suck out all the air so food stays good longer. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00005TN7H/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00005TN7H&linkCode=as2&tag=herbkati-20&linkId=5IWY55UJJIHBFNTM

    If you don’t have a vacuum sealer you can use a ziplock hand pump with the attachment. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003UEMFUG/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B003UEMFUG&linkCode=as2&tag=herbkati-20&linkId=W6NDZ5P4R7O6TJT6

    Watch this short video that explains it and other methods. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMDfyRjfBbc

    Weck jars from Germany are really nice too and they’re all glass, even the lids. http://weckjars.com/products.php

    • Oh thank you! The Weck jars are beautiful and I love that the lids are glass too!

  4. Hi Katie, I was wondering how would you recommend freezing baby food as all the little containers I have found are plastic and I read somewhere that freezing glass can be harmful too as it can crack slightly and microscopic glass shards can end up in the food. Would you have any recommendations? Also would you know if it is possible to get zip-lock/freezer bags that aren’t made out of plastic?
    Thank you.
    Love the blog, keep up the good work ????

    • Ball makes 4oz jars that would work well for your purposes. You can find them all over: Amazon, Walmart and Ace Hardware. I included the link for Ace because they’re so great about carrying varying sizes and supplies for canning jars.

      The jar is freezer safe, and you can use it with the typical 2 piece metal canning lid or purchase the plastic screw on lid.

      http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=4418846

  5. In soviet Russia before plastic wrap was available, they used plates to cover the dishes in the fridge. But that also had the second function of keeping the cockroaches out of the food.

  6. How do I know what sort of glass can go straight from freezer (or even fridge) to oven? I have heard you should preheat the oven FIRST where I thought that putting it in a cold oven would be safer to avoid breakage.

    • I don’t know of any glass that is recommended to go *straight* from freezer to oven. Preheating your oven would increase the temperature shock to your glass and would not be recommended. If you are going to use that method definitely place the dish in the oven as it heats up.

      Your best bet is to ensure your are using borosilicate glass (original Pyrex formula) instead of tempered soda lime glass (new Pyrex formula). Borosilicate is much more heat durable.

      There are several articles on this but here’s just one: http://nowiknow.com/the-war-against-pyrex/

  7. I repackage all food like org, sugar, beans, rice , other grains. Anything that comes in a plastic container is put into a glass jar. I have collected all sizes of jars – my gallon size came from yard sales.
    I use some glass containers with lids in freezer, but still have found no satisfactory way for all items: slices peppers from garden, grate bulk cheese. I suppose I could prewrap them in natural wax paper before putting in plastic bag.
    I live in a small town with limited food options, but I do buy whole foods and cook from scratch.
    We are slowly eliminating all packaged convenience foods from our diet. Organic tortilla chips is my one exception at this point !

    • How do you buy cheese? I used to be able to get it in bulk, wrapped in freezer paper but I am guessing the plastic lining on freezer paper isn’t good either?

  8. Katie, do you have measuring cups and measuring spoons that you recommend?

  9. As Lisa mentioned, using plates on top of bowls when storing food in the fridge works great. I learned the trick from my MIL many years ago. The nice thing is you can stack bowls on top of each other when there is a plate between them.

    • Yes, I do this all the time!

  10. Any tricks for freezing broth? Despite using the freezer safe jars and filling below the fill line, mine still break. Thanks for the help. Jennie

      • I use silicone ice cube trays and freeze the broth into cubes first. Then put into a wide mouth jar until needed.

        • That’s brilliant! I wanted to freeze dressing (into small servings) and your idea is perfect! Thanks 🙂

    • I use wide mouth canning jars and have never had one break in the freezer. You might try waiting until the broth is frozen to put the lid on. That way there won’t be pressure built up as the liquid expands.

    • I’ve never had breakage. Try letting your broth cool completely in the fridge and then move to the freezer. 🙂 Also, love my pint and a half jars!

  11. What is the solution to fresh produce storage (especially greens) in the crisper? I buy the plastic freezer bags because they are sturdier and I wash them +25 times before I recycle them.

    • I bought cotton bags from simple ecology: http://www.simpleecology.com/. If you spray the produce with water, it helps keep produce fresh like plastic bags.

  12. Katie…which containers have you found work the best for storing stock in the freezer??

  13. What’s the issue with Corelle dishes? Why did you stop using them?

      • Other than the dishes breaking, was there a reason you stopped using them?

        I’ve heard conflicting advice about them, but I want to buy them for my family if they’re safe!

        • My husband and I still use them, and for other adults when we have friends over for dinner, but just use the stainless for the kids now.

  14. Any suggestions for sippy cups? My kids drink out of a plastic cup with a lid. We use stainless steel straws but have no idea where to find cups with lids that are not plastic.

  15. I work in an enviroment where we are not allowed to bring glass or metal containers into the workplace. Most people use the plastic but i am trying to phase my plastic out. I am looking for something that will keep my tea hot, my homemade juices cold, and to store my lunch in. They provide us with stryofoam and wax filled paper cup. Do you have any suggestions?

  16. Katie,

    Thanks to all your hard work researching and writing…I know what to take before I become pregnant, during and how to help my clients by providing them with all the wonderful information. I am studying to be a certified doula.

    My family and I are eliminating all plastics out of our life as we are able.
    My question is this:
    What would you recommend for long term storage of dry bulk materials? If a plastic bucket had to be used, as a last resort, then it could be lined with nontoxic paper so that the food would never come into contact with the plastic. What do you think? What are all the options?

    • Long term storage is tough. There are glass and metal options but they are cost and size prohibitive. I’d probably line in paper or organic parchment paper and put the food inside a linen bag.

  17. The only plastic I use at this point is for cold storage. Cooled leftovers when the glass boxes are all used and dividing bulk meat purchases into FoodSaver bags for freezing usually with a marinade. How are you freezing bulk meats for freezing without using plastic bags?

    Is there risk when using plastic bags for freezer storage when they are never being heated? I never defrost with microwave, only by putting in the refrig.

    • There is less of a risk here, but I still like wrapping in natural parchment paper or freezer paper first, even if I’m putting plastic around it, so the food isn’t in contact with the plastic. Natural freezer paper is my favorite alternative.

  18. I have no problem with non-plastic storage for my fridge or dry bulk items as I always use glass jars or pyrex containers, and I use glass jars in the freezer for my bone broth, but I do bake bread in large amounts on a day and freeze them in plastic bags and haven’t found a good alternative for that. Any ideas?

  19. Hi. I would love ideas for packing school lunches w/o using plastic containers. I use reusable pouches for some things, but other things (sandwiches, crackers, etc.) need a hard container. I’m nervous about sending glass (even LifeFactory w/ the silicone). Would love some ideas.
    Thanks!

  20. Hi Juli,

    Here are some ideas that I use myself to avoid plastic as much as possible:
    Use a small stainless steel bowl and a paper plate on top of it then stick this inside of a lunch box.
    Use two paper plates sandwiched together inside of a Ziplock.

    Another idea that I have heard of but haven’t true is getting wax paper parchment from Williams Sonoma (they do not have toxic pollutants in them.)

    Hope this helps.
    Nina.

  21. So, is the regular baking paper ok to use? If not what do you suggest instead?

  22. The mason jars are good but the lids still have a liner on them that has BPAs that can leech into anything inside the mason jar from the lid
    I have gone away from all plastics as BPA free really means nothing more importantly is EA Estrogenic Activity a faux version of estrogen and it blocks other hormones as well this NOT good for women and even worse for Men

  23. What about the use of snap ware, that doesn’t have any BPA in them? Is there still other stuff in them that can leach into our food. I use mason jars for storing all of my flours, nuts, beans etc. But I ‘m using the snap ware for storing food after it’s cooked.

  24. If the plastic around the lids on the Mason jars has BPA in it, what do you use intead??? I use these jars for so many things.

  25. Hi, Katie. Thank you so much for all the information you share on your website. I have greatly benefited from it all. I am in the process of getting rid of all plastic (or as much as possible). I was wondering if you line your kitchen cabinet shelves and drawers? If so, what do you line them with? Thank you.

    • I don’t, I just clean with microfiber once in a while, though I did use parchment paper for a while and it worked well…

  26. Great post — many great ideas, thanks!

    I called the canning jar company. The sealing compound on the lids is made of “modified epoxy,” “modified vinyl,” and plastisol. I question the safety of it. Do you have any information?

    Thanks!

  27. Hi wellness mama! Wondering what kind of silver wear , bowls etc you use for babies when there just starting on baby food..?

  28. Hi,

    I just tried to use your discount code (wmx10) at Xtrema to purchase their silicone storage containers and received an error message that it was invalid…I tried several times to make sure I had it correct. I was able to get a discount by signing up for their email but thought you would want to know.

    Thank you for the great info!

    Alisha

  29. Hello,
    Thank you so much for all your valuable knowledge and insight to how we can keep our families and selves healthy.
    I was wondering if you use a colander, and is it stainless steel?
    Thank you in advance:)

  30. Hi Katie

    Thanks for this helpful post. Our household chronically loses or damages lids. Of your non-glass storage options, are there any that have the option of purchasing replacement lids or containers? I just hate having to recycle perfectly good containers because the lids disappear – and they always do!

    Mil merci!

    Amber

  31. I am a huge fan of glass Snapware (hello, Costco multi-pack!) I intend on purchasing some steel and silicone bento types soon to replace the BPA-free plastic bentos that my daughter takes to school. I’m just tired of worrying about plastic and hormone disruption! We have enough environmental stressors to deal with as-is.

  32. Are there any stainless steel square or rectangle containers (Lid material is not really important) for food to store in the refridgerator? (Stackable is important!) I am looking everwhere but so far i only found bento boxes which are not cheap when you want to buy multiple. (10 – 20 or more). They don’t need to be beautiful or well made just cheap and preferably the same size.

  33. Are there any safe microwave options for kids plates, cups and bowls? I know you prefer stainless steel, but we do still use a microwave, so was wondering if there are other safe options? Maybe silicone? If so, any brands you recommend? Thanks!

  34. Do you know if Kraft Rice Paper bags are non toxic? They say food grade but contain PET & CPP. I don’t know what those are. And when I try to research them it brings up pet food. I’d like to store my flours in a reclosable bag and store in the fridge because the humidity in Florida is causing my flours retain moisture in glass containers in my pantry. I don’t have room in my fridge for that many glass containers.
    Thank you!

  35. Please can anyone explain to me why it’s considered safe to use glass containers even though the lids are still plastic. I can’t seem to find many glass containers that don’t still have plastic lids, but I was hoping to go completely plastic free and remove it from our storage altogether, I thought that was the point?

    • I agree, its frustrating. I hope someone knows where to fine silicone lids as they would be ok for cold storage. Until then, there is always buying the very expensive all stainless steal containers (not airtight), the glassware that has stainless lids that say they are airtight (very pricey) or beeswax wrap (homemade or amazon).

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