Most plastics don’t make safe eco-friendly storage containers for leftovers. The growing concerns about plastic storage containers concerns the chemical BPA. Most plastics contain BPA which can leech into your food as the plastic container breaks down over time.
Plastic containers break down due to drastic changes in temperature such as being taken from the freezer and put into the microwave or oven. Heat can cause plastic to degrade, dry and crack. Fatty foods like meats, cheeses and gravy can cause leeching of chemicals from plastic containers as well. Even though there are BPA-free plastics on the market, many people are looking for ways to eliminate plastic storage containers altogether. Here are five eco-friendly options for storing your leftovers this Thanksgiving.
The best material for eco-friendly storage is glass. Although glass containers are heavier, bulkier and can take up more room than plastic containers, they are the healthier and more eco-friendly choice.
Be prepared to invest some money when making the switch to glass containers. They are a more costly investment at first,but they are much cheaper over time. Glass is easier to clean than plastic, which can become stained and retain strong food odors. Glass can also be safely microwaved and cleaned in the dishwasher without breaking down or leeching harmful chemicals into food. Glass containers can go easily from refrigerator to oven or microwave, making for easier reheating of leftovers.
When you want to discard your glass storage containers, they are recyclable. Glasslock tempered glass storage containers are my favorite eco-friendly storage containers for leftovers. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and include a leak-proof, air tight lid. If you will be freezing some of those leftovers and want to be able to pop them into the oven directly from the freezer, Pyrex glass containers and dishes are the best option. Pyrex can withstand dramatic temperature changes without breaking.
Saving Money on Glass Containers
Glass containers can be a costly investment, but there are several ways to minimize the expense. One way is to buy used glass containers at thrift stores or garage sales. You could also put the word out that you are being more eco-friendly and would like to receive glass containers as birthday or Christmas gifts. You can get free glass containers by reusing glass canning jars or glass jelly and spaghetti sauce jars for storing leftovers. These are safe if properly cleaned. Make sure you don’t reuse any glass jar that has contained a non-food item. Throw out any jar that has cracks or chips as these can harbor bacteria or leak.
Glass Canning Jars
If you have not used all of your glass canning jars, they make great eco-friendly storage containers for leftovers. Canning jars should only be used for refrigerator storage. Never use them in the microwave or oven, as they can break. Any food item can be stored in glass canning jars. And, you don’t need to wait until the Thanksgiving feast cools off before packing it up like you would with plastic.
Repurposed Glass Jars
Don’t throw out those spaghetti sauce or jelly jars. They make perfect eco-friendly storage containers for leftovers. Best of all, they are free. Reusing glass jars is a great option if you are looking to go the glass route but don’t have the extra cash to spend on more expensive glass containers. Make sure you save the lids as well. Many people also repurpose jelly jars into drinking glasses.
Stainless steel containers are all the rage right now, from lunch boxes to bowls and covered food storage containers. If you can’t find stainless steel storage containers in your area, the website Life without Plastic has many great eco-friendly containers. They have a wide selection of stainless steel options for every budget and purpose. Do not freeze stainless steel.
Ceramics, pottery and crockery are also eco-friendly storage containers for leftovers. Make sure any ceramic you use is lead free and safe to use for food. You also need to be aware that ceramics and crockery from non-U.S. sources may contain lead. The U.S. has lead content limits that many other countries do not follow. Ceramic storage containers are usually decorative and are easy to clean. They can be heated safely in the oven and microwave. Do not freeze ceramics.
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