When we talked last month about plastic-free cooking, quite a few people mentioned that food storage was one of their biggest challenges when it came to ditching plastic in the kitchen.

Since the advent of Tupperware, plastic containers have been the standard when it comes to storing food and even packing your lunch for work or school. Luckily, there are quite a few plastic alternatives for storing and for toting your food.

Glass Food Containers

Glass is a great alternative to plastic. Not only are glass containers durable and more eco-friendly, you can often amass quite a collection of glass storage containers for free! Next time you finish a jar of jam, pasta sauce, peanut butter, or pickles, stick the jar and the lid in the dishwasher for an instant, free food storage container!

If you don’t tend to buy food in glass jars, don’t despair! Shops like Amazon and The Container store have great selections of glass storage containers. You can also look out for vintage Pyrex with glass lids, like in the photo above.

The other great thing about glass storage containers? You can serve the food in the same bowl that you’re going to use for storing leftovers. You use fewer dishes, which means less to wash, so you conserve water, too!

Metal Food Containers

Metal food containers are a bit harder to come by, but they’re a great alternative to plastic as well. The great thing about metal containers is that they’re a bit lighter, so if weight is an issue it’s worth the extra hunting to find metal containers that work for you.

Life Without Plastic has some great metal container options, including this airtight metal container that looks like a handy size and shape.

Cloth Wraps and Snack Bags

You can find all sorts of cute cloth wraps and snack bags for storing dry goods like pretzels, sliced veggies, and sandwiches. A quick search on Etsy turns up pages and pages of handmade snack wraps, for example. If you’re feeling crafty, you can even make your very own snack and sandwich wraps.

When you’re shopping for cloth wraps, be careful! “Oilcloth” is actually laminated fabric, which means it’s coated in plastic. Oilcloth wraps are handy for avoiding leaks, but if you’re looking for plastic-free food storage, you want to look for wraps made with organic cotton, hemp, or linen instead. A fully lined wrap should be fine for most dry snacks, but for wetter foods, you’ll probably want to pack them in a metal lunch box.

Metal Lunch Boxes and Utensils

While you can tote your glass containers with you, glass is pretty heavy and it can get to be a bit much if you have to walk any kind of distance during your commute. This is a job for metal!

It’s a bit trickier to find metal lunch boxes, but there are some good options out there. A search on Amazon turned up a long list of metal lunch boxes in many shapes and sizes. I’m a fan of metal bento or tiffin lunch boxes, which normally have two to three tiers. That way, you can put each component of your lunch into a separate container, and it all snaps together handily.

You don’t want to go to the trouble of packing a plastic-free lunch and then eat it with a disposable, plastic utensil! Instead, toss a proper, metal fork and spoon into your lunch bag, to make the meal truly plastic-free.

Do you guys have any other idea for plastic-free food storage? I’d love to hear more suggestions in the comments! 

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Plastic-free food storage
You may feel that plastic is your only leftovers container option, but check out this list for better ideas!