THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE FOOD STORAGE
There’s no beating about the bush – plastic’s a problem. It’s almost indestructible and around 12m tonnes finds its way into our oceans each year, endangering wildlife and getting into the food chain. And while plastic’s been our go-to for food storage for decades, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here’s how to take a stand against plastic in the kitchen.
How do you store food sustainably?
The most important thing is to avoid plastic. Plastic production involves pumping out greenhouse gasses, and any plastic you throw away can leach into soils at landfills or add to the mountain of plastic that’s choking our planet. From hard plastic containers to single use bags and cling film wrap, just say no.
How do you store food without plastic?
There was life in the kitchen before plastic, and there can be again. It might be easy and versatile, but plastic also warps and scratches and generally wears away. It can become stained, pick up smells from your food, and you often can’t stick it in the oven! There was a time when glass and metal ruled in the kitchen; those times are due a revival.
What is the most sustainable food container?
What you use will often depend upon what you’re storing and where. However, if you want to go 100% plastic-free, a completely stainless steel box is your best choice. They’re great for storing food at home, but just be aware that without any form of plastic or silicone seals or lids, there’s a slight chance of leakage if you’re on the move with soups or stews.
How do you preserve bulk food?
Most bulk foods you’ll buy – such as flours, cereals, nuts, seeds, grains and pasta – are dry, so they’ll have quite a long shelf life so long as they’re kept relatively cool. There are many large glass jars with airtight lids available, and they can often be an attractive addition to your kitchen, especially if you arrange them together.
STORAGE SOLUTIONS FOR THE CUPBOARD
Dry food, bought loose or decanted from packets, from oats to dried fruit, will keep for ages in glass jars. Mason Jars in various sizes are the top of the jar tree but there are many to choose from. Some of the best have cork lids that sit tightly into the neck. You can also find wooden lids and others with glass lids and a rubber seal. For smaller goods, why not reuse food jars from the shop?
Some veg, such as potatoes, carrots and parsnips, can be kept in the cupboard too. Try storing them in reusable cotton storage bags.
Keep it clear
Always clearly describe what’s in your jar and when it was filled. The best way is with non-permanent marker pens. If you’re reusing old jars, soak off the labels so that you can clearly see what’s inside.
As long as they are clearly labelled, storage jars should make your pantry easily accessible. You can maximise your space by using risers like small shelves – which you can buy in many kitchen shops, department stores and online. They enable you to store small jars below with your larger containers above.
STORAGE SOLUTIONS FOR THE KITCHEN COUNTER
Buy veg loose rather than in plastic packs, and just like your apples and oranges, much can be kept in a bowl. Tomatoes, onions, garlic and avocados are among the products that will thrive outside the fridge.
Bins and tins
Wooden or stoneware bread bins are fine for keeping your loaves out of sight, but to keep them fresher, wrap them in a cloth first. It will absorb moisture and ensure your bread keeps for longer. Crackers, biscuits and baked goods can all be stored in tins, either purpose bought or given a new lease of life after those Christmas chocs have disappeared. A sheet of greaseproof paper layered over the top can also help keep your goodies in tip-top shape.
STORAGE SOLUTIONS FOR THE FRIDGE
Keep it crisp...
A lot of the veg you might want to store in your fridge can simply sit in the crisper at the bottom. A few, such as carrots and cucumbers, may benefit from being stored upright in jars with a little water to keep them firm.
Once again glass can come to your rescue, with glass dishes the perfect way to keep leftovers, batch cooked meals and other less solid goodies. If you don’t have a lid there are alternatives to cling film, such as beeswax wraps that can be stretched over the dish. Pyrex containers are ideal for anything you plan to store and heat up.
Going to pot
If you have room, you can sometimes store meals in the pots you cooked them in, which also makes reheating super simple.
Plates are great
Partially used foods such as lemons, limes, onions and avocados can simply be placed cut-side down on a plate and will happily stay usable for a few days in the fridge.
Its a wrap
Veggies can also be wrapped in a damp tea towel, or beeswax wraps that are an incredibly versatile option. They can also be used for cheese, snacks and sandwiches. Similarly, butchers’ paper food wraps can be used for all of the above, along with cuts of meat.
STORAGE SOLUTIONS FOR THE FREEZER
jars part ii
Glass jars can be used to store most things in most places, and definitely shine when it comes to keeping food in the freezer. Always choose jars with wide openings and never fill to the top. Most food will expand once frozen and you need to give it room. Remember that anything you’ve heated needs to cool thoroughly before being stored in the freezer or the fridge.
If you have big portions to freeze, food-grade stainless steel containers or pyrex dishes could be your answer. Both are perfectly safe in those plummeting temperatures and the pyrex can slip straight into a microwave or oven for reheating.
If you’re freezing bread or baked goods, simply wrapping them in a cloth is enough to keep them neat and tidy and not in contact with other items in your freezer.
STORAGE SOLUTIONS ON THE GO
Pop it in a pouch
Aluminium foil pouch bags will keep your sandwiches and snacks fresh when you’re out and about. Simply wipe them clean and reuse again and again.
It’s a steel
Stainless steel lunch boxes are nearly indestructible so you can use them for years. Simply decide what sort of lunches you’ll be taking and choose one with the appropriate compartments. Consider tiffins for transporting meals
Beeswax wraps are your friend when it comes to taking sandwiches and snacks out and about. They’re waterproof and allow you to pop your food-on-the go safely into almost any bag.
At ZENB we are acutely aware that the food industry has a huge impact on the environment, and we’re constantly looking for ways to be kind to the planet. Our pasta boxes and food delivery boxes are completely recyclable and printed with vegetable oils. We are also passionate about raising awareness about food waste, which is why we use as much of the vegetable as possible in all our products.
We hope this has given you food for thought about how to be more eco-friendly in the kitchen. While you’re with us, find out what you can do to help fight food waste and consider trying our top sustainable cooking tips. You can also discover more on ZENB’s philosophy to be in tune with nature here.
Experiment yourself and let us now how sustainable you can be by putting them on Instagram and tag @zenb_uk