A few years ago, for health reasons, I became interested in removing as many chemicals as possible from my kitchen. While of course there are places that strong chemicals and preservatives belong, I don't think they need to be in my food or near my food. It turns out that plastics (all the many varieties) break down over time and can leave dangerous chemical residue in our food. What started as a health journey to remove those items from my kitchen turned into a tidying journey as well, when I realized how much more organized, attractive - and appetizing! - my fresh food had become.
My first resource was the Berkeley Farmer's Market, which published this amazing and comprehensive resource on the best ways to store fruits and vegetables without plastic. Let me tell you I was shocked to discover that not only was I storing items in plastics when it was not necessary, but in a way that would make them rot sooner! What a waste of money! It is not only less expensive to store items this way, but it is more convenient, because I am never hunting down tupperware lids! How is this possible?!
Read my top 7 Ways to Store Food Without Plastic after the jumP!
1. Store Stemmed Veggies in Water
Kale, celery, and herbs like parsley and cilantro can all be stored in a drinking glass, jar, or mug with a couple of inches of water. Cut the stems off before putting them in water just like you would flowers! Refresh the water if it gets low. The veggies will last weeks! Cut the tops off carrots and store them submerged in a 3 pint mason jar or other glass food storage. They will also last forever.
2. Buy a Flat of Half Pint Mason Jars.
Use them for EVERYTHING.
You can buy 12 (Twelve!) half-pint mason jars for $8 and use them for everything. Compare the prices of regular glass food storage containers - even plastic tupperware - and you can't beat it. Vertical storage is more efficient and they also stack easily. They are better than the ones you can save from spaghetti sauce, because the wide mouth makes serving easy and the size is exactly one serving size. Half pint jars are perfect for a can of anything you open, including coconut milk! This means storing leftovers is a breeze. You can even microwave them sans lid! They are practically indestructible, freezer safe - AND - the lids are totally interchangeable. In fact, you can get wide mouth jars in tons of sizes and they all. use. the same. lid. Just make sure to dry them well after washing or they will rust.
NO MORE SEARCHING FOR LIDS. JARS CHANGED MY LIFE.
3. Use Jelly Jars for Small Fry.
While wide mouthed mason jars are super, I love little jelly jars for keeping cut lemons and bay leaves in the fridge because they are tiny AND cute.
4. Okay you will need at least one large glass storage!
I really wanted to sell you on the mason jars before admitting that yes, I do have a set of glass storage. Really the only one I use is the largest, 7 cup one, because cauliflower florets are impossibly awkward to put into a mason jar. My favorite are these Pyrex dishes with the silicone lids that can also be placed in the oven! Wow! A good rule of thumb is one large glass storage container per person in the household. You really don't need more than that. If leftovers are not eaten within 1-2 days they usually won't (and really, shouldn't) be eaten.
5. Cotton Bags for Produce
Produce bags are perfect for shopping, and they can go straight in the refrigerator! The bags allow produce to breathe, so they don't sit in their own moisture and rot early. I use them to store broccoli, spinach, and cauliflower before I cut it up! You can even buy them with pretty designs! Here are some simple ones like what I have!
6. Use Bowls for Fruit
Line a bowl with a scrap of paper towel and you have a perfectly beautiful container for fresh berries. Apples and other fruit can be stored outside of the refrigerator the same way. I am so much more motivated to eat them when they look this great!
7. Waxed Paper Bags
These are a great catch all for anything you might put in a plastic baggie. They are perfect for snacks and sandwiches and half bars of chocolate in the fridge. Sometimes I use a rubber band to wrap around and give them a more snug fit! You can find them at Whole Foods and on Amazon.
Storing foods this way does take a little bit of adjustment, but now it's the easiest thing in the world. I can see what I have and through the clean glass everything looks more appetizing. I am much more likely to eat my leftovers, and fewer foods rot in their plastic before I can get to them. It's almost like plastic just did not belong in the refrigerator, and now that it's gone everyone is happier! It reminds me of how Marie Kondo talks about storing like with like - natural materials with natural foods just fits!
Happy Refrigerator Tidying!