In the 1940's, after World War II was over, the ban on the use of plastic in commercial ventures was lifted, and many companies were finally able to mass produce and market their wares.
One highly popular use of plastic was (and still is!) in the home food storage arena. By the 1950's Tupperware storage containers were in every kitchen and sold by most women as a way to recapture the job loss they endured upon the end of the war and the return of men looking for work.
Since then we have embraced plastic storage containers for not just storing leftovers after dinner, but storing dry cereals, sugar, flour, nuts, beans, practically anything. If you go to your storage cabinet and take a quick peak, you will undoubtedly see cupboard space with a sea of plastic.
Plastic is durable, flexible, unbreakable, reheat-able, reusable and cheap. As with all plastic use, there comes a price, whether it is health, the environment or resources.
This post specifically targets plastics for food storage and leftovers.
So, you have made up your mind to weed out plastic from your food storage. Wonderful! Let's run down an easy list of substitutions for plastic.
- Start collecting mason jars and other glass jars that had previously contained pickles, tomato sauce, vegan mayo, etc. Get mason jars from hardware stores (like Ace) or on the web, from Amazon: Quart size, wide mouth jars are your best bet for storage [AMAZON]. $13.59 as of 8/24/2016.
- Note that you will need to get pint size freezer-friendly mason jars for freezing food. [AMAZON]
- Use gallon size mason jars for flour, sugar, cereal, etc., items that are large and bulky.
- Acquire wide-mouth mason jars when purchasing because it is easier to fill, especially with a wide-mouth jar funnel [AMAZON] (one I even take to restaurants to fill leftovers with).
- Note that the lids of mason jars are lined with BPA. There are some newer lids that claim BPA free, but it turns out that they just replaced it with BPS, which is bishenol S, instead of bisphenol A. Sounds more like a diversion than progress. Because of this, I recommend that you prevent the food from maintaining contact with the lid and store them only standing straight up.
Let's talk leftovers. If you are packing leftovers for lunch the next day, that will be a separate post. For family food storage of leftovers your choices are pretty nice, but all have flaws of one sort or another.
- Glass containers are great and I've been using them for years. They do come with plastic lids to keep liquids inside, but at least the whole thing isn't made of plastic. Try to prevent the food from touching the lid. Some lids are better than others in the sense of leak-proof or maintenance-friendly. The ones I use are the blue-lidded Pyrex [AMAZON] or the red-lidded Rubbermaid [AMAZON], which actually look like a newer model.
- There are other brands available now so you should have no problems getting the right size and shape.
- In addition to using made-for leftover containers, don't forget that jars make excellent leftover containers.
- Instead of plastic wrap, use soy-based wax paper (regular wax paper is coated with petroleum-based lining). If You Care is a great product. [AMAZON]. Do NOT buy this from Amazon - the price is outrageous! Wrap the wax paper in foil if you need to (foil is easily recycled).
If you find you are challenged finding just the right container for something or if you have questions, I'd be happy to help out.