Friday, June 24, 2011

Sustainable Glassware for Leftovers

Note:  See here for a correction about the foraged wild strawberries.

Like many of you, I'm trying to reduce the amount of plastic in my life, particularly that which comes into contact with my food.  Plastic, particularly that which contains BPA, can leech hormone disruptors into your body, certainly not a good thing.  Plus, I have always thought I could taste the plastic when something acidy (like soda pop) is stored in it or when it is used to microwave -- and if I can taste it, there is something there I don't want to eat.

However, we all keep turning to plastic storage containers for leftovers -- they are cheap, stackable, sealable, and transport easily to work or into your microwave.  I've looked for a substitute, and luckily market forces are on my side this time.

What you see above are glass containers with sealable plastic lids from (bottom to top) Pyrex, Rubbermaid, and Ziplock.  All of them go from freezer to fridge to microwave to oven to table (sans plastic lid, of course).  All have the benefits you want plastic for -- that is, the sealable lid.  But all of them allow you to remove the lid, reheat the food, eat, and go about your merry way.

Are they perfect?  No.  They will set you back a bit more money than plastic substitutes, although they will last longer and stain less.  They do have plastic in the lid (although at least one of the above said it contained no BPA), so I'm careful to let my leftovers cool before I put them in so there is no condensation off the lid.  And of course I don't cook with the lids on.

However, they are easily stackable, and they come in a variety of sizes if you are packing leftovers for lunch.  I commend these companies for responding to consumer demand and trying to give us options that are healthier.

The Analysis

Fast:  In some ways, these are -- if not faster -- easier to use than plastic containers because they have more structural integrity and are easier to hold and to stack in the fridge.

Cheap:  No, these are not cheap.  Even with coupons you can spend $5-$8 for each of the sizes I show above.  Theoretically, they will last longer than plastic and therefore have a lower cost per use, but if you are on an extra-tight budget the price of these could be a barrier to entry.  I like to pick them up one at a time when I have a coupon and some extra in the grocery budget.

Good:  While not a perfect solution, these go a long way toward letting you keep your food out of contact with plastic.  And that's something worthwhile.
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  1. I have a good start on my glass supplies for freezing of breakfasts for Hubby and leftover pasta sauce etc.
    Makes me feel better about safety and they look nice too.
    Thanks for putting onto the idea. Frankly I didn't know you could put glass in the freezer.

  2. I stacked a few on top of my fridge. Someone moved them and they smashed down on the ground when I opened my fridge doof, slicing my leg in the process.

    Now after hospital visits, stitches and clean up I am searching for new pyrex on special or in op-shops. I saw some lovely vintage pyrex in an op-shop before the accident but they are no longer there.

    I am trying to eliminate plastic in our lives but it is very hard. The majority of kids toys for little girls is PLASTIC.

  3. Have you noticed that one variety is better than others? We have some that I'm not thrilled with as the lids are too loose and they allow soupier leftovers to leak. I'd like to buy more, but am not willing to invest if I can't use them to pack in my bag, as leftovers are my at-work lunches! For now, I still use my tight-sealing plastic but move the food to regular dishware for heating.

    But a little review of what works the best would be wonderful!

  4. CK:
    The Rubbermaid are my favorite so far. The lids stack nicely, and they hold onto the bottom of the actual container when in the cupboard, so less mess in there. I also like the way they stack in the fridge when full, and I think the seal is just a touch more secure on this kind. They seem to be the ones I reach for if I'm saving something to send in Mr. FC&G's lunch rather than just popping it in the freezer where it will stay mostly stable.

    Let us know what you think!