Do you use plastic bags in your freezer?

Filed in Blog by on May 12, 2010 17 Comments
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How do you store food in your freezer?

How do you store food in your freezer?

I’ve had a great question from one of our new readers, Donna.

Donna wrote to me and asked about using plastic bags for freezing food in.

She tries to recycle and reduce waste as much as she can but is concerned about disposable plastic carrier bags. Like most people, she finds them useful and is looking for alternatives.

Donna wrote:

“My comment is about plastic supermarket bags, we are advised not to use these and to use reusable shopping bags. How do other peaople store food in their freezers. I have always used supermarket bags for this to store homemade bread etc. and homegrown veg. If I dont have supermarket bags I have to buy plastic freezer bags which arnt at all biodegradable. Plastic boxes arnt an alternative as they take up too much space. I would welcome your comments.”

Personally for things that can’t be stored in rigid plastic boxes or old yogurt pots (we have a pretty large freezer, so space is not an issue) we use polythene wrapping. This is the sort of thing that toilet rolls, kitchen towel and magazines are wrapped in. You will also find some shop bought bread and frozen vegetables wrapped in polythene bags. Once we’ve reused the bags several times (polythene is pretty robust) we recycle them with the carrier bags at our local supermarket. Not all supermarkets offer this facility, so you’ll have to check with your local store.

I’d love to ditch the plastic altogether, but I’m finding options limited. I cannot find rectangular stainless steel containers in the UK. I’ve seen (and bought) some round ones, but they still have plastic lids, which, after just one wash no longer fit the containers. I’ve seen a tiny sandwich container which was rectangular, but this isn’t large enough. I contacted Tickle Trunk, over Canada I believe, with regards to some review products but they never responded to me πŸ™Β  Perhaps they thought I was too cheeky!

What ideas and suggestions do you have for Donna? How do you store your home grown veg or bread without using disposable plastic carrier bags? Fake Plastic Fish – what are your plastic free suggestions?

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth’s fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (17)

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  1. I have a love hate relationship with plastic. I have rid myself of all Tupperware EXCEPT the small storage ones I can easily throw food in the freezer with. Since I grow my own garden and buy from markets often, I have to have something to freeze all this goodness in.
    I use old Tupperware
    Mason jars work but remember to leave enough room for expanding liquids.
    Natural waxed paper for meats
    I want to note that I run the package over warm water or let it sit out to thaw. I NEVER microwave any plastic EVER. If I need to microwave for fast thawing I pop out the food and put into a large glass bowl.

    Beth Terry from fake plastic fish has a ton of idea’s on what to use. The glass containers she gets are rather expensive but a good investment over the long haul.

  2. amanda says:

    here in canada our milk comes in either thick plastic bags or board containers..i buy the bagged milk as its more economical for us & wash/save the bags to use as freezer bags…my homemade stock is stored in canning jars in the freezer…to thaw anything out I put the container on a plate & leave it at bottom of fridge overnight…i will be contacting the Tickle Trunk Mrs Green mentioned to see if I can get any answers,,keep you posted.

    Amanda
    Toronto ON Canada

  3. condo blues says:

    I have a small top mount freezer too. I usually freezing items in flat plastic zipper bags (a compromise to ensure martial harmony) I wash and reuse any bag that doesn’t hold meat. I’ve heard that you can reuse the wax paper bags that hold cereal in the box to freeze items but I haven’t tried it.

  4. Karen says:

    I have for years used and reused cereal packet bags. They last a long time if care is taken. I rinse them and hang them to dry on one of these round peg things for hanging your socks and smalls. It is a long time since I have bought freezer bags. The new supermarket bags are not worth taking from the shop. They are so poor some shops even double them up. I once discovered something covered in plastic “snow” that I had stored in my attic in one of these bags. I use cereal bags for everything that needs a bag.I am sure I have saved myself a lot of money over the years.

  5. Mrs Green says:

    @surviving and thriving on pennies: Thanks for your great response. We found some glass containers this week,but they still had plastic lids! With my experience of stainless steel containers and plastic lids (the lids shrink after one warm wash), I’ve been a bit put off investing in these. Plus you’re STILL got plastic to deal with afterwards. I guess mason jars is a good idea if one has room to stack them. We get large ones with roasted peppers inside; these would work a treat.

    @amanda: Hi Amanda, great to hear from you and thanks for offering to speak to Tickle trunk πŸ™‚ I’ve always been wary of freezing glass but I probably just didn’t know how to do it properly. now I do !

    @condo blues: Interesting about the cereal bags. I’ve used them for sandwiches, but not frozen them. Something new to try!

    @Karen: Great to hear about your experiences of using cereal bags. Seems like a popular choice along with the glass jars for people who want to avoid plastic. Thanks! (agree about the supermarket bags!)

  6. LJayne says:

    I use the cereal inners too. At least I did until Traidcraft changed them as we eat their museli. Now it is biodegradable/compostable! In the freezer I tend to stick to using them for things like crumble topping and breadcrumbs but they would probably work equally as well on separating chicken pieces and the like.

    I do have a lot of plastic containers. A lot of freezer/cooking safe ones that I bought because I often batch cook for us (we are a family of 5). They will last for aeons. But also margarine tubs and the like. Like someone else said I never microwave these to defrost. But they are great for bits of leftovers – stock, the last bit of leftover sauce that no-one ate and which you can add in next time, that kind of thing.

    We are collecting less and less of these as we change our purchasing decisions and I do know there is the issue of what to do with my current stock as they crack or whatever. But they come from a time when I didn’t think as carefully as I do now and all of us cross that bridge at some time don’t we.

  7. sandy says:

    I use plasctic boxes, which I can use again and again, also cereal inners like a lot of people, jam jars, and perserving jars, but again I have a big freezer and there is only two of us.

  8. magdalena says:

    I use zippered freezer bags but don’t really like it. I re-use them unless they had chicken or ground beef thawed in them. I could make them last longer if I froze the meat on a tray, then transferred it to the bag for storage, and removed it to thaw. Also, don’t put a jar of frozen stuff in your microwave. The glass is not tempered for that extreme change. A friend was badly cut and burned when she did this and then opened the microwave door. The cooler air shattered the glass jar with explosive force. (Warmer air inside jar, suddenly expanding – BOOM!) As for square steel containers – the Japanese use something like these all the time – try an online Japanese products store if you can find one. Or try a restaurant supply house. Surely hospitals buy autoclavable steel for various use? What about a commercial hospital supply place?

    I find that the round plastic lids shrink less than the square plastic lids.

  9. Mrs Green says:

    @LJayne: Great news about the Traidcraft museli packaging; perhaps we will see other manufacturers on board with this one. I remember you posting about it on our sister site here: http://zerowasteshopping.com/215/on-traidcraft-museli-via-their-online-website. Like you, we still have a lot of plastic containers,but want to gradually phase them out.

    @sandy: Great Sandy; sounds like things are organised in your freezer!

    @magdalena: Good idea about making the bags last longer by open freezing the meat. I’ve searched all around for these rectangular containers; I’ll keep looking πŸ™‚

  10. greenlady42 says:

    Sorry came a bit late to this one ! I don’t use glass containers in my freezer at all, sorry – just do not like the idea personally from a safety point of view. I do use small but very sturdy earthenware containers. I don’t own or use a microwave so never defrost or cook from frozen in the microwave. I use some lock and lock containers, and re use all kinds of other plastic containers and bags many times before recycling or consigning to bin. I hardly ever buy specific freezer bags – to give you an idea, one roll of 60 small freezer bags took me 4 years to use up !

    You can apparently get biodegradable/compostable versions of greaseproof paper and freezer bags, but I have not tried them out personally. Hope that helps.

  11. Would love to add but..we don’t have a freezer πŸ˜€ lol
    One thing I DID used to use were washed out UHT cartons, clipped shut with a peg, once they are beyond use they went in my log burner.
    Also used spread boxes, still plastic but there are no facilities near us for recycling these (or anything other than the usual few πŸ™ ) so I at least used to re-use them in that way.

  12. Mrs Green says:

    @greenlady42: I’m finding the clips are snapping on my lock and lock containers – they don’t seem to be long lasting at all πŸ™ It would appear you don’t find that from your post…

    @Kelly Basford: Good idea about the cartons! and as you point out – it’s all good reuse.

  13. Sarah says:

    I use empty margarine pots as these hold just enough for a meal portion for the three of here, and they stack well. They’re ok for freezing home grown veg and left overs too. I’d rather use them until they fall to bits and then recycle the bits than just recycle straight away.

    I don’t see us being able to get rid off all plastic and I’d say reuse is the first thing to do.

  14. midi says:

    Kelly,

    What do you use now that you don’t have a freezer?

    We are completely moving away from plastic (except for TV, computer,…). We’re looking into stainless steel containers for the freezer.

  15. Hi Midi, quiet simply we don’t. I got fed up of my freezer either being full of 2 for 1 deals no one liked or wanted, permfrozen leftovers and spilt peas.

    We gave up the freezer (and the fridge) in March and haven’t looked back.

    I have posts about it on my blog if you want to look πŸ™‚

    http://thealmostcarlessfamily.blogspot.com/2010/03/musings-reflections-and-life-altering.html
    http://thealmostcarlessfamily.blogspot.com/2010/04/goodbye-fridge-hello-interesting-times.html
    http://thealmostcarlessfamily.blogspot.com/2010/04/fridge-less-update.html

  16. Mrs Green says:

    @Sarah: Hi Sarah, Good idea to use the stacking margarine pots. Unfortunately you’re right – we can’t do away with plastic just yet, but reusing is the better option πŸ™‚

    @midi: Midi are you in the UK? Would love to hear if you find some stainless containers for the freezer please πŸ˜€

  17. bader awadi says:

    Is it healthy to store foods in plastic shopping bags in the freezer ? regardless to reuse them or not .

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