Everyone loves a homemade meal but, even in the busiest households, there are usually some leftovers. Food waste is a massive problem in Europe. Having a set of plastic-free food containers and reusable bags in your kitchen is the best way to keep your foods fresh and minimise food waste. The question is, what are the best food storage containers?
Plastic is the popular choice; it's cheap and convenient, but it's certainly not the safest food container for your health or the planet. Awareness of plastic pollution and the health problems associated with plastic containers is higher than ever. It's high time to remove the Tupperware and single-use plastic containers from your kitchen. Instead, stock your kitchen with these five zero-waste food storage containers.
What Are The Best Plastic-Free Food Storage Containers?
Beeswax Food Wraps
Best for: wrapping dry foods, covering open containers, cold foods.
Unlike cling film and zip-lock sandwich bags, Beeswax wraps are durable and reusable. They're also less fiddly to use than cling film. Beeswax wraps are made by coating a fabric, usually cotton, with food-grade beeswax*. The wraps are malleable and tacky, great for wrapping sandwiches and pastries, or for covering other food containers and bowels. They're breathable enough that your sandwiches won't sweat and, because of the waxy outer layer, beeswax wraps can be washed with soap and water, the same way you would clean a reusable bottle. Organic beeswax food wraps are compostable too!
*You can also find vegan-friendly food wraps. These are usually coated with plant resin or an oil, such as jojoba oil or coconut oil, instead of beeswax.
Organic Cotton Tote
Best for: dry foods, leafy greens and herbs, fruits and vegetables, shopping.
An old-fashioned cotton tote is one of the simplest eco-friendly food storage solutions. Cotton totes are more breathable than plastic and perfect for storing fruits and vegetables. Washing and storing your leafy greens and herbs in cotton bags will keep them fresh for longer. The fabric absorbs the water from greens, preventing mould, but holds the moisture which stops the leaves from drying out. With a reusable cotton tote, you can enjoy tasty summer salads all week long. Another advantage is that you can use cotton tote bags on your weekly food shop and wash them at a high temperature.
Stainless Steel Food Pots
Best for: all food types.
Food-grade stainless steel pots are the best food storage containers for home and travel. Stainless steel is a durable metal that's easy to clean, corrosion-resistant, and non-porous, meaning that it won't absorb bacteria or odours from your foods. It's recyclable too!
Stainless steel containers are suitable for storing both hot and cold foods. A thermally insulated food flask with a leak-free lid, like the FLASKE Food Pot, is the best food storage container to use on the go. With a high-quality stainless steel food flask, you can take your leftover soup to work in the winter and enjoy it hot or send the kids to school with healthy packed lunches. Unlike plastic, it doesn't leak toxins or give foods a nasty taste. Although stainless steel food containers are not microwave safe, many are dishwasher safe and stove friendly but always check with the manufacturer.
Glass Containers & Jars
Best for: most food types
Glass is a convenient and safe food storage container, although it's heavier and more breakable than stainless steel. Most glass containers are microwave and dishwasher safe and can be refrigerated. Glass containers are transparent too, so you can see what's inside them. Empty glass jars also make convenient, and free, food storage containers for spices, homemade jams, or iced teas. Many food-grade glass storage containers are safe to put in the oven or freezer but always check the manufacturers' guidelines.
Like stainless steel, glass is a 100% recyclable material. It's durable, washable, and non-porous.
Mesh Produce Bags
Best for: fruits and vegetables, shopping.
Mesh produce bags offer excellent ventilation, perfect for root vegetables and thick-skinned fruits. They're inexpensive and weigh almost nothing. You can take mesh produce bags to your grocery store instead of using plastic bags or buying pre-packages fruits and vegetables. Most come with a drawstring closure so you can hang your produce up in the kitchen or use them to keep your vegetable draws organised. Like cotton totes, you can wash these zero-waste storage containers at a high temperature. They're also safe to put in the refrigerator.
What is the Safest Food Storage Container?
Containers made from food-grade glass or food-grade stainless steel are the best types of food storage containers. Both are recyclable, durable, washable, non-porous, and suitable for hot and cold foods as well as liquid foods like soup.
Stainless steel food containers are more practical and safer than glass for travel and packed lunches. Stainless steel containers are also a better choice if you have young kids because they're lightweight and difficult to break.
Buying plastic-free food storage containers isn't the only way to help the planet. You can start reducing household waste and save money by washing out empty food storage containers, such as jam or pickle jars, and reusing them or upcycling empty cans and cartons.