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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 Silicone Storage– Lifeactory makes some great all-glass food storage containers that have a silicon cover to help avoid breakage
- Zip Top silicone containers are a great alternative and they come in fun colors to use in the kitchen or use in kids lunch boxes.
- 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
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.
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.
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:
- Pyrex Glass Containers with Lids– I’ve never had a problem with these in the freezer.
- Glasslock Oven Safe Food Storage– I also have this set and use it all the time to store almost everything
- Natural Parchment Paper – Natural Parchment Paper is great for wrapping meats, fish, etc for storage.
- Stainless Steel Latch Containers– These are my favorite for freezer storage since they are non-breakable and fit a lot.
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?
Discussion (110 Comments)
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
You might want to go with silicone.
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 love that idea
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 never had a problem either until last winter when several of my quart sized wide mouth mason jars filled with broth broke in the freezing process (and yes I left plenty of room). Ended up reaching out to Ball (who makes the mason jars) and only SOME of their jars are freezer safe!! (Not the quart size). It actually says it right there on the box too. The largest freezer safe size is a pint and a half wide mouth.
Thank you for this information! I freeze my one liter Weck tulip jars all the time (and I just checked their website—that’s OK), but I also have quart-sized Mason jars. You have saved me the heartache and headache of cleaning up a giant mess of my husband’s spaghetti sauce. I’m very grateful!
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!
I’ve been freezing soups for work lunches and have never had a breakage.
It could be the air not being able to escape from the sealed jar, and when the broth expands, it has no where to go, so it builds up pressure on the jar. Leave the lid loose until the broth freezes so air can escape.
Other than that:
1. As Stacy says, let the broth cool completely.
2. Only use straight sided jars. If you use a jar with a shoulder, the expanding liquid presses against the shoulder and cracks it.
3. Leave enough head space
4. When you need to use the broth, un-thaw it ahead of time, don’t “thermal shock” the jar. (I have discovered if you allow the jar to set on the counter for about a half hour, you can then immerse it in lukewarm water, which will melt the broth from the side of the jar, Once it is loose, you can turn it out into a pot or microwave safe bowl and melt it down.
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!
Does anyone use stainless steel ice cube trays or is there a better thought? I am using a silicon mold now but worried about silicon.
Katie, do you have measuring cups and measuring spoons that you recommend?
I bought an awesome set of stainless steel cups/spoons at Costco last Christmas. Would those work?
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?
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/
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.
I also use plates to cover food in fridge,being on my own I make dinner for two days I but one on plate and cover with second plate or in bowls and cover with the pan lid, We didn’t have plastic bags and tuberwere in my day or fridge,only a larder no supermarket so had to buy everything almost daily.
Showing my age 83plus years and playing golf 3times a week even in winter,shocked know PG was in so many things I only checked toiletries and make up which I would never buy thanks for the article wellness
Yes! I often cover the bowl with a plate or saucer when I store food in the fridge!
You can also use a saucer to cover food in the microwave to keep it from splattering al over the oven.
Also, speaking of microwaves, I have seen people at work cleaning them with counter top spray cleaners…. yucch! All those chemicals being re-vaporized and landing on the food!
I just put a bowl of water inside the oven, microwave it for 2-3 minutes, then let it set for another five. The steam loosens all the gunk, and it wipes out with a towel.
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?
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.
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. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00005TN7H/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00005TN7H&linkCode=as2&tag=wellnessmama-20&linkId=5IWY55UJJIHBFNTM
If you don’t have a vacuum sealer you can use a ziplock hand pump with the attachment. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003UEMFUG/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B003UEMFUG&linkCode=as2&tag=wellnessmama-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. https://weckjars.com/shop/
Oh thank you! The Weck jars are beautiful and I love that the lids are glass too!
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??
Katie - Wellness Mama
Small wide mouth glass jars.
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.
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. ?????