It’s been a long time since I ditched my plastic storage containers for leak-proof glass ones and started making my own beeswax food wrap, but until this year I’d never found a flexible, non-toxic, and reusable replacement for single-use Ziploc bags.
So . . . I’ve been using the same handful of plastic baggies lined with parchment paper to store my homemade chocolate chip cookies and other baked goods in the freezer for years now. Seriously, if you haven’t tried eating those cookies straight out of the freezer I can’t recommend it highly enough, but that’s not what we’re diving into today.
Flexible bags are incredibly helpful when trying to squeeze a lot of food into a small space. When I started researching ways to keep fruits and veggies fresh longer I was so excited to come across some durable, non-toxic, and eco-friendly options for the freezer, fridge, pantry and travel.
We’ll dive into the details below, including the pros and cons of each and the best ways to use them.
Why invest in reusable storage bags?
For me, there were three main reasons:
1. Single-use plastic is clogging up our oceans and landfills, and even when it’s disposed of properly it often leaches pollutants into our water supply. That’s why I do my very best to reduce plastic waste with reusable shopping bags for grocery shopping, glass storage containers, reusable water bottles, etc.
2. Glass containers can be heavy and bulky. I love that they’re stackable and they work well in my fridge, but my freezer is almost always packed and I prefer soft bags that I can tuck into nooks and crannies.
Also, when I pack a picnic using our glass containers the bag is sometimes too heavy for my kids to carry. Non-toxic storage bags are lighter, leakproof and travel-friendly.
3. They help save money in the long run. Storing food properly prevents early spoilage, which means less food waste and more money saved because you have time to eat your groceries instead of throw away or compost them.
The 3 Best Reusable Storage Bags for Your Kitchen
As promised, here are my top three choices, including pros/cons, and the best ways to use them.
1. Stasher Bags
Made with 100% food grade silicone, stasher bags have won several awards for their highly functional, innovative design. They’re super flexible, dishwasher safe and come with a Pinch-lock™ seal that’s easy to use and stays put. I love all the different sizes and beautiful colors they come in, including half gallon bags, stand up bags, sandwich bags, and snack bags.
Unlike some bags, which need clips to keep them sealed or are made with materials I’m not quite comfortable with, Stasher bags work exactly like traditional zip-style bags and are free of PVC, latex, BPA, and PEVA (polyethylene vinyl acetate).
If you haven’t heard of it before, PEVA is considered by some to be a safer alternative to PVC. However, one study concluded that it’s toxic to some living organisms, so I’ve opted not to use brands that incorporate it.
In contrast, Stasher only uses silicone that has been made using platinum with no fillers. Basically, that means it’s made by converting silicon (the naturally occurring element) to silicone using platinum as the catalyst, kind of like the way lye converts fat into soap. When made without chemical fillers (which is the case with all Stasher products), the resulting silicone is something I feel totally comfortable using to store food in my fridge, pantry, and freezer.
One caveat, though: Although it’s considered appropriate for sous vide cooking, I personally will wait to use it that way until I see more research on how it performs at very high temperatures. For room temperature and cold use, though, it’s one of my top choices.
- Freezer safe and can also be used in the fridge, pantry, and for packed lunches / travel
- PVC, latex, and BPA-free
- Easy to clean – just toss them in the dishwasher
- You can write on them! Use a ball-point pen or dry erase marker to write and then wipe them clean with a damp cloth before reusing.
- They fact that they form an airtight seal is great for some uses, but not others where you want breathability (See Vejibag info below)
Ways To Use Them:
- Keep leftovers and produce like cut avocados fresh in the fridge
- Use as a freezer bag to toss veggie scraps in for homemade chicken broth
- Store frozen cubes of herb infused oil
- Store breastmilk
- Homemade freezer smoothie packs
- Store big batches of meatballs, chili and other easy meals in the freezer without taking up a lot of space
- Marinate shish kabobs and other meats without plastic
- Keep nuts, seeds, beans and/or loose herbs fresh
- Freeze baked goods or waffles to eat whenever you want them
- Store snacks and travel essentials on flights or roadtrips
Most of us have been told that the best way to keep veggies fresh is to make sure they’re very dry and store them in an airtight container. If you think about it, though, that’s pretty much the opposite of what most plants need to thrive.
In general, plants do best with at least some moisture, but airflow is key because there’s really one main organism that likes stagnant, wet areas . . . mold. So, to recap:
Moisture = Good for keeping produce crisp
Airflow = Key to keeping them fresh
The Vejibag delivers on both levels. It’s an organic cotton terry cloth bag that was created to hold just the right amount of moisture while also allowing ample airflow. To use it you just get it wet, wring it out until it’s lightly damp, and then store produce inside. More than one kind of produce can be stored in a bag, which helps maximize space in the fridge.
For a guide that explains what produce to store in a Vejibag and what does better in something like a Stasher bag, check out this article.
- Helps keep produce fresh for longer
- Holds moisture better than most cotton storage bags
- Machine washable and durable
- Can store different veggies together to maximize space
- Because they’re highly breathable, they’re not suitable for all types of storage (the freezer, for example)
3. Bees Wrap
Bees Wrap is perfect for items that are best stored in a dry but breathable environment. One good example is hard cheese, which is full of living cultures that don’t do well when tightly wrapped in plastic.
I like their reusable sandwich bags, which smell faintly like honey, for hard cheeses and taking snacks on-the-go.