Budget-conscious Americans are cooking at home more (also better for our health!), which means more leftovers. To reheat these, we know not to nuke 'em in plastic, no kind, no how, not since tests have shown that "microwave-safe" plastic can leach Bisphenol-A (BPA) when (surprise) microwaved. Also, the Polycarbonate (PC #7) plastic made with BPA is not recyclable in most jurisdictions, whereas glass is "infinitely recyclable" and, unlike plastic, not made from petrochemicals. Following are some top picks for your health and the environment.
* Greenfeet has lots of glass storage/microwavable containers, including these compact flat-topped enlarged butter-dish styles, $15.50, by Anchor Hocking. and this cute mini dish, $4.95, for that mini dormitory microwave. Also a set of 4 round glass bowls with plastic lids.
* The Container Store, aptly, sells many ovenproof glass food holders at reasonable prices, including 2-cup, glass-lidded Vintage ware for $5.99 a piece, and groovy-sleek Italian Frigoverre Plus, starting at $7.99, which is highly portable due to slosh-proof lids.
* Target has a nice basic oven/microwave/storage set of Pyrex tempered glass: square baking dish, rectangular baking dish and two round one-cup bowls, all with plastic lids (probably okay for micro-ing, so long as the plastic doesn't touch the food). $19.99. Or get glass-lidded white porcelain Corning ovenware (Corning owns Pyrex); Target's 10-piece set is $59.99
* BPA likes to leach into fat, so save your precious drippings in this porcelain Grease Holder, $15 from Williams Sonoma.
For simple storage, in containers you're not going to heat, plastic is fine so long as it's not polyvinyl chloride (PVC #3), which can leach hormone-disrupting phthalates; polystyrene foam and rigid plastics (PS #6), which can release toxic styrene, and polycarbonate (PC,#7), aka made with BPA. And, don't let down your guard! Many PVC, PS and PC items are displayed alongside their less-toxic counterparts. Check recycling codes on the bottom of containers, and choose #1,2, 4 or 5. Tupperware has a new set of space-saving lidded boxes in its panoply of #5 containers; Rubbermaid has this handy page of their food storage products that are BPA-free.
Story by Mindy Pennybacker. This article originally appeared in Plenty in November 2008. The story was added to MNN.com.