Home Tech The best glass containers and reusable storage bags for eco-friendly food storage

The best glass containers and reusable storage bags for eco-friendly food storage

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Lots of folks are interested in storing their food (and baby food, and kid food) in things that are not plastic, such as silicone and glass. While plastic might be convenient, it isn’t the best choice for the environment or your body, so many people are switching to glass at home and silicone bags on the go (or for home as well). Not to mention that glass containers have certain advantages over plastic ones that make them infinitely more practical and appealing. For starters, most glass containers can go from fridge to freezer to oven to microwave. They’re also dishwasher-safe for quick and easy cleanup. And, because their surface is non-porous, glass containers won’t absorb odors the way plastic ones do.

There are plenty of options available when it comes to finding the best glass containers and reusable bags for your needs. Whether you’re looking for meal prep or leftovers containers or want something that’s safe for your baby, there’s a food storage container designed for every need. To get the right food storage container, consider: 

  • The size you need (containers range from small dip holders to large casserole-sized dishes)

  • The shape you prefer

  • Lid design (not all lids offer a leakproof seal and not all lids are plastic-free or microwave safe)

  • What’s included in a set (you might only need one or two containers, or you might want a whole set)

  • How you intend to use them (many glass containers aren’t just for storage — you can also pop them in the oven to cook or reheat food)

Here are some other things to keep in mind when comparing glass food storage containers. 

Why should I replace my plastic food storage with glass, silicone, or other materials?

Glass storage containers not only provide a fantastic sustainable alternative to their plastic counterparts, they are easy to clean, won’t retain odors or germs, and you can easily spot what you’re looking for since they are see-through. Glass containers can also be safely washed at high temperatures in your dishwasher.

Replacing your plastic food containers with glass, silicone, or other materials also helps the environment. That’s because glass can be reused for years, and is almost completely recyclable — unlike plastic options. Plastic has a highly inefficient recycling process that is no friend to Mother Earth. 

Another benefit to replacing your plastic food storage containers with more eco-friendly materials is that it also cuts down on costs. Yes, the initial investment in glass containers and reusable storage bags is costlier than plastic options, but it’s more or less a one-time investment — as long as you take care of your stash. And, there are still budget-friendly options available. 

You can also enjoy more versatility with glass food containers than you do with plastic. Tempered glass and borosilicate glass is durable enough to go from freezer to oven to table. You can also pop them in the dishwasher for convenient cleanup when the meal is over — unlike a lot of plastic options. Reusable storage bags can be washed in the dishwasher as well — or tossed in with your laundry for quick cleans between uses. (Yep, laundry!)

Additionally, there’s some evidence to suggest that when heated, plastic releases chemicals that leach into food and can be harmful to humans. So while it might be safe for simply storing food in, you probably shouldn’t be reheating those leftovers in your microwave in a plastic container. Glass and silicone don’t have this issue. 

What should I look for in glass food storage containers?

When shopping for glass food storage containers, there are several features you should look for, including: 

  • Can you pop it in the microwave? What about the freezer?

  • Can you toss it in the dishwasher?

  • Is it free of BPA, lead, and phthalates? 

  • Do the lids offer a secure, leak-proof seal? Do they lock in place? Are they also microwave safe?

  • What type of glass is it? Tempered or boroscolite is best, though untreated glass is suitable for dry goods.

  • Do they stack for convenient storage?

  • Do I like the style of a particular container or set?

What should I look for in reusable food and snack bags? 

When shopping for reusable food and snack bags, there are several features you should look for, including: 

  • Can you pop it in the microwave? What about the freezer?

  • Can you toss it in the dishwasher or washing machine?

  • Is it free of BPA, lead, and phthalates? 

  • Does it offer a leak-proof seal? Can any children who might be in the home open and close them unassisted?

  • What size will suit my needs? There are bags sized for snack-sized portions, while others hold sandwiches or more. 

  • Do they stack for convenient storage?

  • Do they stand open so I can easily fill them? (If you need this feature.)

  • Do I like the style of a particular bag or set?

What types of glass storage containers are there?

There are three types of glass food storage containers available: untreated glass, tempered glass, and borosilicate glass. 

Untreated glass is the cheapest glass to produce, and is often used to make jars, bottles, and cups. Unless your glass container specifically says it’s tempered or strengthened, it’s likely untreated glass. This shouldn’t be a deal breaker, though. You can still use untreated glass to store food in the fridge or at room temperature — just don’t freeze or heat it.

Tempered glass has been treated to withstand a wider range of temperatures, which is why it’s able to go in the freezer and oven. It’s also less likely to shatter. 

Borosilicate glass contains boric oxide, which makes it even more resistant to thermal shock than tempered glass. Because of this, it’s also more expensive than tempered and untreated glass.

Can glass food storage containers go in the oven?

Yes! Glass storage containers can go in the oven. While high-quality borosilicate glass is the gold standard in heating and cooling stability and can withstand extreme changes in temperature, tempered glass is also usually oven safe (just don’t go from freezer to oven directly). Generally speaking, glass food storage containers can withstand oven temperatures up to 425 degrees, but be sure to check the specifications for your specific container. 

Can glass food storage containers go in the freezer?

Yes! Glass storage containers can go in the freezer. While high-quality borosilicate glass is the gold standard in heating and cooling stability and can withstand extreme changes in temperature, tempered glass is also freezer safe. (Just don’t go from freezer to oven directly).

Can glass food storage containers go in the microwave?

Yes! Glass food storage containers can safely be used in the microwave. Keep in mind that if your containers have plastic lids, they might not be microwave safe. Always be sure to read the manufacturer’s recommendations to be certain. 

If you’re looking to ditch the plastic and upgrade to a more eco-friendly option, these glass containers and reusable storage bags are more than up to the task. And if you’re looking to ditch plastic elsewhere in your life, we’ve rounded up the best reusable water bottles, reusable straws, and reusable coffee cups to help you live more eco-friendly. Here are our picks for the best food storage containers and reusable storage bags for plastic-free food storage. 

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