Ready to ditch the plastic in your pantry and fridge? Consider these greener options for storing food
1. Glass containers
Glass is non-porous, which means that it never gets stained or absorbs food odours, and it can easily handle the high heat of a dishwasher without warping or cracking, like plastic often does. Many of the glass containers available on the market work equally well in the oven, microwave, fridge and freezer, making them extremely versatile. And with glass, it’s easy to see the food that’s stored inside, which leads to fewer forgotten leftovers and less food waste overall. Plus, though it might seem frivolous to note that glass containers simply look nice, it means that you may be able to eliminate a separate set of serving dishes from your kitchen.
On the downside, glass containers are heavier than plastic and usually more fragile, making them a less popular choice to go in a hiking backpack or child’s lunch box. But at least broken glass can be recycled endlessly without ever losing quality, unlike plastic.
SOME OF OUR FAVOURITE GLASS CONTAINERS
- Pyrex glass containers with glass lids at Gourmet Warehouse
- Pyrex glass containers with wooden lids at Bed Bath and Beyond
- Pyrex glass containers with BPA-free plastic lids at London Drugs
- OXO glass containers with BPA-free plastic lids at Bed Bath and Beyond
2. Stainless steel containers
Stainless steel doesn’t leach chemicals when exposed to heat, and it’s non-porous, so it won’t get stained or absorb odours. It doesn’t warp in the dishwasher, like plastic, and it doesn’t shatter when dropped, like glass. Plus, stainless steel can be recycled repeatedly.
But stainless steel containers aren’t perfect. Because steel isn’t transparent, leftovers stored in steel containers sometimes get forgotten and ignored until they’re no longer edible. And unlike glass, steel containers cannot go in the microwave.
SOME OF OUR FAVOURITE STAINLESS STEEL CONTAINERS
- Onyx stainless steel containers with stainless steel lids at Gourmet Warehouse
- Minimal stainless steel containers with BPA-free plastic lids at Well.ca
- Keep Leaf stainless steel containers with silicone lids at Well.ca
- S’nack by S’well stainless steel containers at Well.ca
3. Silicone lids
Most sources agree that food-grade silicone is nontoxic and thermally stable. It doesn’t alter the flavour or odour of food, and it can go in the microwave and the dishwasher without any problems. Silicone lids are a popular alternative to plastic wrap in the fridge, especially since the stretchable ones can fit over everything from half-eaten fruit to a large bowl. (Bonus: They’re also useful for providing grip when opening a jar.) Some larger silicone lids are designed to go in the oven, replacing aluminum foil, and can even be used in place of a metal lid for a pot or pan on the stovetop.
The biggest drawback of silicone is that most regions don’t accept it for recycling. Also, silicone lids that are too pliable can occasionally flop into the food you’re cooking in the oven or on the stove.
SOME OF OUR FAVOURITE SILICONE LIDS
- Sili-Stretch bowl covers at Gourmet Warehouse
- UniLid silicone lids at Bed Bath and Beyond
- OXO silicone lids at Hudson’s Bay
- Brilliant silicone lids at Wayfair.ca
- Silicone fruit and veggie covers at Basic Goods Trading Company
4. Beeswax food wraps
Beeswax food wraps can be used instead of plastic wrap or tinfoil to cover a dish of leftovers or pack up a sandwich. Made from fabric (usually cotton) that has been infused with food-grade beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin, these handy wraps are easy to mould using just the warmth of your hands. When they eventually lose their grip, they can be composted or used as fire starter. They’re easy for DIYers to make themselves, and the array of cute cotton fabrics available means the colourful possibilities are, quite literally, endless.
However, heat makes the wax melt, so beeswax wraps can’t go in the microwave or dishwasher, can’t be used to store hot food and can’t be washed in hot water. This means they should never be used to store raw meat or raw fish, since they can’t be cleaned in hot water afterwards. In addition, beeswax wraps sometimes aren’t pliable enough to create a completely airtight seal, so elastic bands or string must be used.
SOME OF OUR FAVOURITE BEESWAX FOOD WRAPS
- Abeego beeswax food wraps at Gourmet Warehouse
- Mind Your Bees beeswax food wraps at Hudson’s Bay
- Core beeswax food wraps at Bed Bath and Beyond
- Beeswax food wraps at Tru Earth
- Beeswax food wraps at Basic Goods Trading Company
5. Resealable silicone bags
Silicone bags are the ideal alternative to single-use plastic Ziploc bags. Airtight and stain-resistant, they can go in the microwave, freezer and dishwasher. The best of these bags close easily, are simple to clean and have a flat base that allows them to stand upright. Stasher, by far the best-known brand in this category of bags, makes ones that are so durable they can even be used for sous vide cooking.
On the downside, this type of bag often attracts dust and lint easily, and it can take a long time to dry completely after being washed. And, as mentioned above, most regions don’t accept silicone for recycling.
SOME OF OUR FAVOURITE RESEALABLE SILICONE BAGS
- Stasher silicone bags at Well.ca
- Stasher silicone bags at Gourmet Warehouse
- MontiiCo silicone bags at Well.ca
- Stand Up silicone food bags at Basic Goods Trading Co.