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How to Freeze Food Without Plastic – 8+ Easy Tactics for Less Waste

Preserving food in the freezer is one of the easiest ways to extends its shelf life. Whether you’re using the freezer storage method for your garden harvest, meal prepping, or parceling out leftovers, it’s a time and money saver. But what if you’re also working on a greener household? Check out these ideas for how to freeze food without plastic. 

Freezing is a great way to preserve avocados when you have a lot.

frozen berries in a bowl on a rustic wood board

Non-plastic freezer storage

In recent memory, the consumers’ go-to for freezing foods has been plastic. But now that we’ve discovered that BPA (bisphenol-A) comes with certain health risks (and now, whoops! its replacement, BPS, might be even more damaging!) lots of people are looking for BPA-free alternatives.

It’s a big stumbling block for people like me who want to preserve our garden bounty. I freeze vegetables like green beans; their acid content is too low for easy water bath canning. And I like to freeze soup stock and pre-made meals without the potential health risks of plastic.

How to store food without plastic

There are a number of containers that work well to store food without plastic, but first lets talk tactics. You want the concept of freezer storage to make your life easier, not more cumbersome!

  • Freeze individual servings. Freeze items like muffins individually. Parcel out leftovers into serving sizes.
  • Freeze in measured amounts. Measure the exact amount of pumpkin puree you use in your favorite recipe. When it’s time to cook, you can pull out just what you need.
  • Flash-freeze items before sending them to freezer storage. Spread small items like berries and avocado chunks on a cookie sheet. Freeze until solid, then transfer to a freezer container. This prevents them from freezing into a solid mass, allowing you to easily grab what you need instead of having to deal with a solid chunk of frozen food.
  • Mark foods with the date when you put them into freezer storage. Use the “first in, first out” rule of thumb. Choose the food that’s been in the freezer longest when you’re deciding what to make for dinner.
frozen berries in a bowl on a rustic wood board

Store food without plastic

Whether you want to store food without plastic for environmental reasons or you’re concerned about possible health implications of freezing food in plastic, these ideas will get you well on the way.

How to freeze meat without freezer bags

Butcher paper was the standard for freezer storage when I was growing up. Meat from the butcher came wrapped in bright white paper and went straight into the freezer. When using butcher paper at home, double wrap products to extend their freezer life. Items wrapped in butcher paper should be used within 2-3 months, or you’ll have freezer burn.

Butcher paper is good for freezing cuts of meat, but it’s also good for wrapping other foods you freeze.

Wait what is freezer burn?

Freezer burn is often visible on frozen foods as discolored or whitish areas that look a bit dry. Ice crystals on food is another indicator. You may see it on portions of food where the packaging has torn, allowing air to reach the frozen food.

Essentially, freezer burn is dehydration. You’ll see it on the surfaces of frozen food that has been exposed to air. (This is why it’s important to seal food well before sending it to the freezer.) Food that has freezer burn is still edible, though the flavor may be somewhat altered. Freezer burn is not poisonous or dangerous! It’s simply a loss of moisture.

Aluminum foil

When wrapping pre-made meals (think: burritos) or meats, aluminum foil can be a good option to freeze food without plastic. If you don’t want it to touch food directly (it can react with certain foods, like tomato-based recipes). To avoid this, wrap items in a layer of wax paper first, followed by aluminum foil.

If you’re being especially careful to eliminate toxins, opt for a soy based wax paper (regular wax paper is made with paraffin, which is a by-product of petroleum). The downside of aluminum foil is that it can’t be easily recycled.

Related: Why I Don’t Recommend Recycling Plastic

frozen avocados in a glass freezer storage container

Glass storage containers

These glass containers are oven safe, plus they’re good for both refrigerator and freezer storage. Other glass containers that I use for freezing have hard plastic lids that are beginning to crack; I’m having a heck of a time finding replacements. The flexible silicone on these containers seems to hold up better (at least so far).

Another bonus when freezing leftovers in bpa-free glass containers? You can reheat right in those dishes in most cases. Simply thaw the frozen container and cook as usual. This is a great way to store meals like lasagna and chili.

BPA-free glass jars

When I tell people that I regularly store food in glass canning jars, it often results in disbelief as they’re sure the glass will shatter. I’ve had some breakage, but honestly? I think that was my fault. I shouldn’t have used the narrow mouth jars with shoulders. Go here for a complete tutorial on freezing food in Mason jars with no breakage.

When freezing in glass canning jars, you’ll want to use straight-sided wide mouth jars that say specifically that they’re for canning or freezing and be sure to leave enough head space for expansion of liquid items. I’ve also had good luck with recycling glass peanut butter jars. They’re straight sided and the glass is fairly thick, making them a good option to store food without plastic in the freezer.

frozen food in mason jars

Consider steel to freeze food without plastic

Stainless steel containers work for the freezer and there’s less risk of breakage than with glass. A reader commented that she invested in some steel steam table pans to freeze in. They stack well, are reusable, and come in a variety of sizes.

Recycled milk cartons and aseptic packaging

We’ve all filled a recycled half gallon milk carton with water to make ice blocks, right? They’re also great for freezing soups and stocks. Waxed cartons and aseptic packaging (think: commercially made soups and broth) are waterproof and allow for a bit of expansion as they freeze. Just make sure you have some freezer tape on hand to seal the containers.

(Yes, there’s an element of plastic here, but aseptic packages are bpa-free. And if you’re diverting items from the landfill, I say it’s a better option that buying new plastic bags.)

Muffin tins

If I want to freeze food items in small portions without plastic, I’ll fill muffin tins and freeze them. Once frozen, I thaw slightly, pop them out, and wrap in wax paper and foil. For larger meals, use the same method with freezer safe containers. Be sure to use containers with angled sides so the frozen food will slide out easily.

Related: Freezer Waffle Recipe for a Quick, Easy Breakfast

whole cherry tomatoes held in a left hand

Related:  DIY Freezer Garlic Bread (Without the Icky Ingredients)

Nature’s skin is perfect for freezing without plastic

This isn’t practical for most things, but you can stick some produce directly in the freezer without any sort of container. I do this regularly with tomatoes and bananas. Just toss them in the freezer and voila! When you’re ready to use them in cooking, thaw them out and the skin slips right off. It’s one of the easiest ways to store food without plastic.

Becci commented:

I have had luck putting bell peppers directly in the freezer as well. They mush up when thawed, but are perfect for soups when consistancy doesn’t matter as much.

Cooking for a baby?

If you are the parent of a baby and making your own baby food, rejoice! Check out these freezer safe glass storage containers that are perfectly sized for baby food. Alas, these aren’t exactly inexpensive options to store food without plastic. Life Without Plastic has some great bpa-free storage options, but again, not cheap.

When you do freeze food in plastic

If you do use large freezer bags for storing some items, here’s a trick for using fewer of these bags. Store the empty bags in the freezer. Any remaining food particles will remain frozen, and you can use them again for similar food items. This method works well for storing bread, waffles, and even frozen berries.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for plastic-free freezer storage, especially if you’re of a certain age and remember freezing before plastic – what did you use??

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135 comments… add one
  • Glyn Sep 21, 2021 @ 8:49

    I’ve frozen EVERYTHING (meat, muffins, veg, cubes of pesto, etc) in these 2 types of containers for 3 years, with no cracking or breaking (and no freezer burn except sometimes with things in cube shape)
    * Bernardin canning jars (wide mouth only, straight sided only — NO ‘SHOULDERS’, stay below the freezing line (below the threads) and usually let it freeze before adding the ring – usually find the 500ml is right for 2 servings & stack the best),
    * IKEA 365+ glass containers with plastic/silicone lids

  • Teri Rivas Sep 7, 2021 @ 10:41

    Can you line a plastic container with wax paper or parchment paper to prevent the BPA from leaching into the food when freezing it?

    • Kris Bordessa Sep 12, 2021 @ 8:36

      You could, sure.

  • Diane Feb 19, 2021 @ 9:34

    Hi Kris. None of the Container Store links go to containers anymore. The Life Without Plastic link still does go to their products.

    • AttainableSustainable Nov 11, 2021 @ 5:23

      Thanks for the heads up, I’ll check on those and update if needed.

  • Evelyn Ratschinski Sep 27, 2020 @ 20:38

    Es wäre so schön , wenn sie ihr Buch auf Deutsch übersetzen könnten.
    Lieben Gruß

    • Kris Bordessa Oct 6, 2020 @ 7:53

      Ah! I had to use Google to translate your comment. 😉 I’ll let my publisher know!

  • Maria Sep 26, 2020 @ 19:08

    I’ve exchanged all my plastic storage containers in the freezer for glass containers. I do admit that I still freeze bread in plastic bags, I do reuse them several times, until they get holes in them.

    • Glyn Sep 21, 2021 @ 8:51

      For bread, I’ve been very satisfied with beeswax wrap & put in a cloth bag for extra protection

  • Patricia Blank Sep 17, 2020 @ 5:15

    Wow, folks–so many great ideas about how to better reduce use of plastic! We will be getting a weekly produce box for the first time this fall, and I just cringe at the thought of all the plastic I would usually need to keep the bounty but now I have some super great ideas. I have previously used the flash freeze method for berries and that works well but now I will put them in a glass container instead of a baggie. I’ll start there and then try some other ideas I got from this post. Thank you all!

    • Kris Bordessa Sep 18, 2020 @ 11:02

      Glad you found it useful!

  • T MacKenzie Jul 20, 2020 @ 17:04

    Just a something to think about…aluminum foil is not the answer. The environmental impact of creating that foil is simply not worth it. Please look into it.

  • Nora Mar 28, 2020 @ 12:06

    I freeze chick peas, lentils and other beans after cooking them, that way I have what I need for the food I’m making.
    What would you freeze the cooked beans in?

    • Kris Bordessa Mar 29, 2020 @ 13:15

      I’ve frozen these in glass jars.

  • Ann Oct 19, 2019 @ 12:59

    Yep done it again… not you the world I guess. Changed definitions… parrafin in my day was wax. Wax was not petroleum based,,,, so you are telling me that if I buy parrafin to put on my jelly or buy eased paper it is now made by oil companies or their buyers??

    • Kris Bordessa Oct 31, 2019 @ 20:09

      I remember my mom using this method in the 70s. My understanding is that paraffin wax IS petroleum based, even if we didn’t know it back then. This wax method is no longer considered safe canning practices, though.

  • Teresa Oct 19, 2019 @ 9:38

    I’ve kept plastic tubs and other containers from the stores to re-use. While it isn’t plastic-free, it does keep plastic out of the landfill. I’ve also kept glass jars and bottles from drinks and store-bought sauces. It’s great for keeping water chilled for hot days, rather than running the water until it turns cold! I imagine it would be good for storing supplements that you don’t want exposed to plastic.

    • Kris Bordessa Oct 31, 2019 @ 20:10

      Yes, reusing what we buy is essential!

  • Graciela Mar 14, 2019 @ 12:40

    I want to shift to using these wonderful ideas. My question is…what do I do with all the plastic containers I have currently? Do I use them until they become unusable? Do I dispose of them ASAP? How would I dispose of them responsibly? It seems like throwing them in the trash would be wrong! What do you suggest?

    • Kris Bordessa Mar 15, 2019 @ 6:59

      Do you have a thrift store or reuse center that you could donate them to?

    • April Jun 7, 2019 @ 12:27

      Use them for storage of non food items, like pesky office supplies and junk drawer items that like to get jumbled up in a drawer.

  • Mary Poppins Feb 16, 2019 @ 4:28

    I generally but quite a large amount of minced beef, and cook it in a Slo cooker, and then freeze it in portions, useful for Spag Bol, Burgers etc. and add extra ingredients when defrosted and ready to use for whatever. I did freeze in small plastics boxes, which took up valuable freezer space, and am now freezing in paper cups, is there any reason please why I should not do this?

    • Kris Bordessa Feb 20, 2019 @ 11:21

      I’d put the paper cups inside a larger freezer container to prevent freezer burn, but other than that, I can’t think of a problem.

  • Gina Nelson Nov 29, 2018 @ 6:52

    Plastic free question here that isn’t about freezing but I am concerned about my supplements in plastic bottles, anyone including yourself know of companies who are going back to glass? It defeats the purpose of taking supplements to be healthy if they are sitting in plastic, I’ve looked at the bottoms and the all are triangle 1 which from what I am reading is questionable. Any advice?

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 29, 2018 @ 7:23

      Absolutely none. This is a concern/problem for me as well. My ND has some supplements that come in gorgeous blue glass bottles, but they’re not always the ones I need.

      • Sylvia Apr 9, 2021 @ 4:21

        Solgar brand uses glass, so does Gaia.

  • Sariya Sep 1, 2018 @ 20:42

    I won’t go for aluminum in an alternative to plastic. Aluminum is nocive too! Glass or ceramic is the best alternative here!

  • rose baker Aug 15, 2018 @ 0:55


    do you have a substitute for freezer blocks? I live in Saudi where the temperature is 46 degrees so food needs to be kept cold on my hour-long journey to work. thank you

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 16, 2018 @ 20:31

      You mean the plastic things that have liquid in them to keep items cold? I’ve used recycled milk cartons/jugs, coffee cans, and glass jars. Some are better than others as far as being water tight.

  • Carol Jun 7, 2018 @ 4:52

    My mom froze things in glass freezer jars. I’m not surewhat size they were, something between a pint and a quart. Straight sides with a wide mouth lid.

    • Kris Bordessa Jun 7, 2018 @ 19:47

      Yep, I use them regularly.

  • paula mcwhirter-buck Mar 12, 2018 @ 3:48

    some glass container companies will replace the lids…for FREE…when they break.

  • Becci Mar 4, 2018 @ 6:33

    I have had luck putting bell peppers directly in the freezer as well. They mush up when thawed, but are perfect for soups when consistance doesn’t matter as much.

  • Melissa Keyser Jan 23, 2018 @ 18:42

    I’ve been (mostly) avoiding plastic for years, freezing in jars or pyrex, but have trouble with large items. Those steam tray containers is BRILLIANT!

  • Michele Sep 28, 2017 @ 22:39

    Citrus fruits and bananas can be frozen in their skins. perfect for juice, smoothies, cakes etc. Sweet corn can also be frozen on the cob still in husks for ‘packaging’. I freeze excess tomatoes whole in a tub, ready to use for cooking whenever I need one. Tomatoes frozen in season taste much better than those purchased out of season.

  • Margot May 22, 2017 @ 16:10

    My grandma used homemade oil cloth and butchers twine.

  • Kate Jan 16, 2017 @ 18:26

    I grow about 20-25 tomato plants every year and I just toss the tomatoes in a plastic bucket that we use for making wine. It goes into the bottom of my freezer and when I feel like canning some home made V8 I grab some and thaw them in my stock pot. I usually don’t end up making this until November/December, as I’m a so sick of seeing tomatoes what with canning them and making salsa and sauce.

  • Mala May 15, 2016 @ 6:59

    I simply use steel containers ( called stainless in India). They have been in use in my kitchen and freezer for more than 25 years now and still look new. I’m sure Indian stores in the Western countries sell those. Great value for money!

    • Kris Bordessa May 15, 2016 @ 10:23

      This is why I appreciate the internet. We can learn so much from other countries/places. Thanks!

  • Meredith May 9, 2016 @ 7:49

    I’ve got those glass containers with glass lids on my wish list. I am worried about breakage though because I am a complete klutz – always dropping things.

  • Maggie Apr 5, 2016 @ 13:39

    When you’ve packaged your freezer items in paper like the burritos or the muffin tin items, or in those recycled milk cartons, now you can put them into your food saver vacuum packaging too. Even though it’s plastic, it won’t be touching the food because of your paper wrapper but will still keep your food from getting freezer burn and possibly longer. And the bags won’t touching the food, so they can be reused!

  • Summer Feb 19, 2016 @ 14:39

    Beechnut still makes their baby food in glass jars. I buy them occasionally and then use them to store homemade baby food. They’re also great for freezing small amounts of bone broth (for making pan sauces or whenever you just need half a cup) and they’re great for taking things in lunches. Love this post!!!

  • Shawnda Oct 18, 2015 @ 0:57

    the person using the steamer pan what they using to cover/seal the pANS?

  • Wanda Bland Sep 15, 2015 @ 12:58

    What about food grade silicone freezer containers?

    • Kris Bordessa Oct 5, 2015 @ 8:28

      My understanding is that silicone is a form of plastic.

  • Cooperdc Sep 1, 2015 @ 12:54

    I can in antique jars with the glass lids. I freeze, (but could also can) with the european glass top jars. I can juice in the european beer bottles with the clamp porceline top. But I have not found a freezer paper without plastic.

  • jean funk Jun 1, 2015 @ 14:54

    Back in the 50-60’s that’s all we used were square plastic freezer containers when my children were babies I froze there vegs in glass baby jars. We didn’t think about the hazards of freezing things in plastic because thats all there was. After awhile I canned all my vegs and aso canned my meat and chicken before we would get new beef and new chickens. Maybe we need to go back to the old method of canning. Hot water bath.

  • Ian May 24, 2015 @ 12:07

    Great ideas, but I don’t agree about using foil either. It’s environmentally dubious.

  • Belinda Christensen Mar 25, 2015 @ 16:18

    I freeze raspberries and strawberries on cookies sheets then pack the frozen berries in canning jars. I use my canning jar vacuum attachment to pull out the air and put them back in the freezer. The berries stay really fresh this way.

  • Catherine Mar 24, 2015 @ 3:31

    I found fantastic air tight stainless steel containers on the website of “my life without plastic”. There are expensive, but I like to think they are a lifetime investment. I also freeze in glass jars, mason type with glass lid, but make sure they are sturdy (not the ones made in china), and leave enough air space for expansion. I also reuse milk cartons for soups, I’ve read they are PBA safe. Where I live, citrus like lemons are very expensive. So when they are on sale, I buy a lot, press the juice out and freeze it in a metal ice cube plater, I then transfer the cubes in a non plastic container. Two ice cubes
    equal a lemon!

    • Mary Sep 24, 2021 @ 19:24

      just an idea, which I do, freeze your citrus rinds, in whichever safe method you choose, that way you have zest ready whenever you need. So convenient

  • Karen W Feb 27, 2015 @ 4:16

    i use plain old wide-mouth can & freeze jars to freeze .

  • Kim Feb 27, 2015 @ 2:52

    1) Go for beeswax wrap!
    2) I started using glass containers for my freezing (good, thick Pyrex), but when it came time to thaw, the glass broke every.single.time. How do I keep this from happening?

  • Jenny Jan 25, 2015 @ 20:49

    Take a look at this lovely people this could be the answer 🙂

    • Nora Mar 28, 2020 @ 12:52

      This is brilliant

  • Michelle in OK Jan 20, 2015 @ 11:04

    I’ve seen these recently in my wandering on the ‘net. Has anyone tried them for freezing? (Or at all?)

  • Laure Jan 20, 2015 @ 4:59

    Thanks! I often make huge pots of homemade soup, and just recently started using my canning jars for leftovers, in the fridge & freezer. The pints are perfect for soups, & 1/2 pints for sauces. It’s easy to tell what’s inside, too!
    It’s just the two of us now, but sometimes those really large sizes are just so much cheaper than smaller ones… So I buy the big one, & ration it out into smaller containers to freeze. Fewer trips to the store, more money in my pocket.
    I’ve come to hate the plastic ware that keeps falling out of the cabinet! The lids break, the bottoms turn orange, & I can never seem to match up all the pieces. Canning jars are easy – there are several different sized jars, but only 2 lid sizes.

    • Rolande Dec 2, 2018 @ 3:28

      Oh and aren’t they a pain to degrease? I too have switched to the wide mouth canning jars. They won’t break as long as you don’t overfill. I’ll freeze cooked meatballs to add to stews and spaghetti sauce, on a cookie sheet and place in one litre jars which holds about 20 small ones.

      • Loraine Jul 17, 2020 @ 5:01

        Thank you all for all these wonderful ideas! My mind is buzzing now! Kris, a wonderful website, I am so enjoying visiting!

  • bobbi Jan 14, 2015 @ 7:39

    I freeze bananas in their own skin too. Works like a dream.

    • Kris Bordessa Jan 14, 2015 @ 8:01

      Oh, I do that too! GREAT for banana bread.

  • Erin Jan 14, 2015 @ 5:48

    I freeze in the regular mouth jars, but lay them on their side to freeze. More surface area means more expansion room. I have never had one break on me.

  • Mary Jan 13, 2015 @ 9:46

    Please do not buy these cheaper Pyrex dishes from the discount stores. My daughter washed her Pyrex dish and put it on her drain rack to dry. A Hour later she heard a loud bang. The dish had exploded and was all over her kitchen. The glass was every where. Buy the old Corning Ware or the old Pyrex. Freeze in canning jars. Please be careful.

  • Feline Jan Jan 13, 2015 @ 8:59

    1- Unfortunately, the BPA – free plastic is more poisonous!
    2- Love the idea of turning the glass jars on their side to prevent breakage!
    3- I’m going to try the “freeze in square glass container, then remove”, wrap with wax paper, and then put it in zip-top plastic bags (that get re-used a lot!) , that I use a straw to remove most of the air before sealing.
    4- I’m keeping my eyes open for an old metal ice cube tray, but were they stainless steel or aluminium?

    • Rolande Dec 2, 2018 @ 3:23


  • Brooke Aug 29, 2014 @ 6:49

    For stuff I want individually frozen (fruit chunks, pepper strips, chopped onions, etc.), I put a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet, then scatter the food across it and put the whole tray in the freezer. Once it’s frozen, then I transfer to plastic containers. That way I don’t get a giant clump when I just want a few pieces.

  • Joan Mar 31, 2014 @ 21:08

    Just putting it out there, but could you use banana leaves or grape leaves etc to wrap food in and freeze, maybe then put in plastic freezer bags or something. Would like to know if this is safe.

    • Kris Bordessa Mar 31, 2014 @ 21:12

      That’s actually a terrific idea. I can’t imagine how it would be unsafe!

    • Nancy Lucas Jan 1, 2019 @ 16:57

      We used banana leaves and taro leaves to freeze things in–just use several layers and tie up with string

      • Kris Bordessa Jan 5, 2019 @ 16:38

        That’s a great idea for those of us with access to banana and taro leaves!

  • PN Oct 15, 2013 @ 16:30

    I turned plastic free recently – spent a lot of time thinking about an ideal solution and found one of the best solutions – steam table pans – they are stainless steel, comes in all different sizes, has a lid that perfectly fits (not tight fitting) – but is fine for freezing, is stackable and is rectangular in shape – which is ideal for space utilization. It is not heavy as glass and stoneware, is easy to clean and store and is much less expensive than stainless steel food storage containers that are around in the market. I bulk ordered them from a restaurant supply store.

    • Christine Mar 11, 2014 @ 18:21

      Seriously I feel like you deserve a ton of falling bollons and confetti with hero music!! Stainless steel steamer pans are PERFECT!!! Thank you so much. You ROCK!!

    • Kelsey Aug 13, 2014 @ 4:09

      PN– Whoa, GREAT idea!  Just curious, does using steam table pans work for freezing for a couple of months or just weeks?  No freezer burn!?


    • Lorraine May 4, 2015 @ 21:30

      PN- Thanks for the idea about steam table pans! I’ve thought about this before, but always assumed that since the lids aren’t airtight, there would be freezer burn. What has been your experience with that? Any special precautions you take? If anyone else has a thought on this, please chime in!

      • PN Feb 1, 2016 @ 5:54

        Hi Kelsey and Lorraine, I haven’t been here for some time – I still use the steam pans – I don’t seem to have any problems with freezer burns – do not fill it to the top – the air pushes it open and that can cause freezer burns. The only disadvantage is that you cannot take it out and stick it in the microwave – I defrost it in a pan of hot water until I can get it out into a microwaveable dish. The other disadvantage is you cannot do – ready-to- go type freezer meals in this because the lid is not tight….. I use it mainly for soups, curries, stews etc. I am currently looking for plastic free options for storing ready-to go meals – bento box type – there are some silicone ones available.

        • Seymour Marvin Mills Feb 3, 2020 @ 18:04

          Microwaves are very dangerous to your health.

  • stephanie Sep 22, 2013 @ 2:13

    not sure if someone mentioned this already… i freeze in glass jars (peanutbutter, pickle, mason, etc.) and after some breakage from expansion pressure, I came across a tip for freezing with jar laying on its side so space for expanding contents is evenly distributed down the whole side of the jar. after contents have frozen then i can stand the jar back up. i found this also seems to speed up thawing time slightly… no broken jars since i began employing this simple trick.

    • JoanB Aug 23, 2014 @ 9:09

      What a great idea.  I will start doing this.

  • Cheryl Sep 21, 2013 @ 14:22

    The butcher paper and milk cartons are now sprayed with plastic coatings!
    Please see this blog post with related content. Written by my Mom!

  • Sheri Sep 21, 2013 @ 11:50

    My grandma always froze in the milk cartons she saved, and there was no freezer tape. She opened up the tops completely, filled them with whatever, then cut the top to custom size leaving flaps to fold down, folded them over to protect the food and tied some cotton twine around the carton like a package to keep it in a tidy bundle.

  • Jenny Eide Bibler Sep 21, 2013 @ 9:29

    Thanks everyone for the great tips! First, a quick side note: if you cook in anything other than quality stainless steel, it will leach undesireables into the food. Yes, even glass. My first choice for cooking is always stainless steel, second would be cast iron, and I avoid all else. Now back to the topic of freezing; I have been using the BPA free Food Saver bags and so far have been quite pleased. Even though it is BPA free, I wait for the food to cool before bagging it and when it is time to cook I of course let it thaw at room temp rather than warm it in the bag. Heat releases the chemicals, even if all you do is run a soup can under warm water it releases BPA from the lining into the food! Anyway, even with BPA free Food Saver bags, I let things come to room temp because I read somewhere that all plasticizers are suspect, not just BPA. And as far as the BPA lining in all canned food, there is only one company that uses BPA free cans, and that is Eden Foods. Now if we can just get GMO food labeled… Good luck to us all!

  • Taylor-Made Ranch Homestead Sep 21, 2013 @ 8:43

    I love this post – The freezer is the last frontier where glass vs plastic is concerned for me. I absolutely hate plastic but I’ve had too many glass accidents in the freezer which is a hazard for the food beneath the broken glass jar as well as future digging into the depths of the freezer to retrieve food, so I’ve been freezing soups, broth, etc in repurposed peanut butter jars. I also use zippered freezer bags but I reuse those bags several times by wrapping the food itself in repurposed plastic bags from other food items such as baby carrots, tortilla bags, etc. and then placing that bag into a zippered freezer bag. As others have said, maybe not the ideal situation but certainly working for us currently.

    I cook in glass, stainless steel or cast iron. In the fridge my leftovers are always placed in repurposed wide-mouth glass jars and I have quite a collection of Pyrex to store larger amounts of refrigerated food in.

    Thanks for sharing this post!

    ~Taylor-Made Ranch~
    Wolfe City, Texas

    • Lynne Clark Jul 9, 2017 @ 8:40

      When I freeze food I usually place in on a cookie sheet to freeze [sometimes the food sticks to the metal but it usually pops off with a butter knife to encourage it], then place in freezer zip bag. When I take the food out, I keep the bag in the freezer to reuse later. I figured that any food particles still in the bag would stay frozen. I do this a lot with French toast and pancakes.

  • Linda D Sep 21, 2013 @ 8:42

    Thank you for the freezing whole tomato tip, I freeze whole lemons to grate (w/skin) and mix with honey and ginger for cough and congestion relief.

  • Maria R Jan 19, 2013 @ 5:53

    Interesting Article in the NY Times today:

    Butcher paper is not the same as freezer paper. Reynold’s Freezer paper is plastic coated, butcher paper is not. I have switched to soy-based waxed paper with an over-wrap of butcher paper. I’ll freeze things in a pyrex then move it to this. I label it and the blocks stack nicely. No breakage and the package can be recycled.

    And someone mentioned Canning jar lids? Tattlers are the only ones I know of also. They last nearly forever. I think they might be petroleum based but I don’t think that leaches into our bodies.

  • nanr42 Sep 8, 2012 @ 13:11

    One problem with milk containers is that they are layered paper and plastic, but I don’t know what kind of plastic. Waxed paper is waxed with parafin, a hydrocarbon. Butcher or freezer paper is plastic coated. So i’m pondering which is the least bad choice.

  • Laura Weldon Feb 26, 2012 @ 15:16

    We use a lot of glass containers for leftovers but I’ve broken too many in the freezer. Or maybe my kids have broken too many. Nothing like retrieving glass-studded strawberries that have cascaded through freezer racks. I often freeze things solid, then transfer to freezer bags. Mainly I’ve gotten away from freezing and done more canning instead to avoid the plastic problem. I was happy  with this until I read that the canning jar lids (as well as most baby food jar lids) have a coating that contains BPA in it. Screaming just a little bit over here. 

    • Attainable Sustainable Feb 27, 2012 @ 11:42

       @Laura Weldon That BPA in canning lids issue KILLS ME.

      • Crystal Nov 1, 2012 @ 12:49

        I know I have seen BPA-free canning lids on the Internet. Google!

        • Kris Bordessa Dec 5, 2012 @ 10:34

          Oh, I’ve googled my heart out. The only BPA-free lids I can find are the *plastic ones from Tattler. Not an ideal alternative, IMO.

          • cherise Mar 21, 2015 @ 6:27

            The Tattler lids are guaranteed for 20 years. Just curious why they aren’t a good alternative if they’re BPA free and reusable. Besides, the lids of the canning jars only touch the food while it’s cooking, not for all the years of storage. (I just used green beans canned in 2012 and they were perfect.)

          • Kris Bordessa Mar 21, 2015 @ 6:52

            I don’t have any experience with the Tattler lids. They ARE still plastic, though, with all of the worries that come with plastic – it’s a petroleum product, potential leaching… Just because it’s BPA-free, doesn’t mean it’s not leaching something else. That’s not to say the metal rings/lids are a lot better, but I don’t see a huge *benefit in switching from one to the other, you know?

          • Lynne Clark Jul 9, 2017 @ 8:34

            I was checking today and found Anchor Hocking canning jars that state that the metal cover is PBA-free.

  • lstroyan Feb 26, 2012 @ 4:00

    I just did a huge freezer day and came up with a new trick. I don’t like to store in plastic in the fridge, but I do use plastic zippered bags in the freezer — but not until after the food is frozen because it’s pretty inert in it’s frozen state. (Aluminum is also a health hazard that we have to avoid, so foil is not a good option for us). First I expanded my Pyrex collection (from their website you can get replacement lids as well as cheaper versions of many of the basics). I froze all of the food in the Pryex with a piece of cotton twine underneath the food. After the food was frozen solid, I ran it under water to loosen and used the twine to pop the food out of the dish. I put the food into zippered bags which I reuse several times (some of my bags had labels from 2006!).  When I am ready to use the food I’ll put it back into the glass container to thaw in the fridge and bake in the oven.
    I did find a new product which is paper on one side and foil on the other so the foil never touches the food. I haven’t tried it yet though.

    • Attainable Sustainable Feb 26, 2012 @ 11:58

       @lstroyan Love that trick with the twine! So clever.

    • Attainable Sustainable Feb 26, 2012 @ 11:59

       @lstroyan Also, can you share the name of the paper backed foil product? I’m curious.

      • lstroyan Feb 26, 2012 @ 13:16

         @Attainable Sustainable It’s Reynolds non-stick pan lining paper.  Here’s a link:

        • Nora Mar 28, 2020 @ 12:27

          I didn’t see the non-stick pan lining paper on the Reynolds site. Has the name changed or it’s no longer available?
          They have non-stick foil, but couldn’t see lining paper?
          Can you please redirect me?

    • Monica Green Jul 19, 2017 @ 3:13

      Great idea on the freezing in the shape of the pyrex container!!! I also think this would be fantastic for the crock pot! No more tipping the frozen food on its side with the lid off the crock pot until it heats up enough to fit into the crock pot!

    • Nora Mar 28, 2020 @ 12:16

      This is a so creative. Thank you for posting it.

  • JoeBlack Jan 17, 2012 @ 17:12

    Great ideas. You should be aware, however, that the inside of paper milk and juice cartons are plastic coated. 🙁

  • April Oct 15, 2011 @ 15:15

    Awesome idea Kris. I bet you could collect tons of baby food jars on freecycle. I was going to add that I’m going to post on freecycle to get extra glass pans for doing my freezer meals like lasagna or stuffed peppers so I don’t have to use those foil pans. It would be too expensive to buy that many.

  • Bethany Oct 5, 2011 @ 4:53

    This is a tough conundrum. I’m having a baby in a few months and so I’ve been trying to think about how I can preserve baby food and pumped milk in the freezer without plastic. Thanks for the link on those containers! I don’t really have much advice to give since I’m sorta just starting off on this journey. I also use my food sealer, but try not to waste the plastic by cutting the bags extra big for multiple uses, which I then wash and reuse. Chemically speaking though I have no idea if that’s the right answer or not.

    • Kris Bordessa Oct 15, 2011 @ 15:02

      I made an awful lot of my own baby food many moons ago. I used baby food jars from friends to freeze it. Just make sure you fill only about 3/4 full and you shouldn’t have any problem with breakage. Honestly, I don’t think there is a “right” answer. There’s often a “best I can do right now” answer, though. Good luck with your family expansion, and congrats!

    • My Healthy Green Family Feb 26, 2012 @ 12:14

      Baby food in stainless steel ice cube trays freezes perfectly then you can pop the cubes out and store in the freezer in a glass container.  The standard ice cube size is also considered a serving size for baby food so you can get a good idea of how much to serve that way. 

      • Tara Dec 5, 2012 @ 10:24

        Yes, the recycled baby food jars worked perfectly for me!

      • Eve Jun 5, 2019 @ 17:08

        Freeze pumped breastmilk this way too. I used lidded ice cube trays. No plastic bags and you can thaw however many cubes as you need. No need to thaw a whole bag when baby is drinking more or less than the a bag holds.

    • Melissa Jan 13, 2015 @ 15:03

      I didn’t do pureed baby food. We went with BLW (baby led weaning, or BLS baby led solids). My little girl started when she began to grab food off my plate, and I then made sure I always had some cooled steamed veggies (carrot, broccoli, anything easy to grab and pick up) on my plate as well…. then she would eat them while in her high chair. She progressed to grated apple, avocado, banana, rice, spaghetti etc. as she gained motor skills. It’s messy, but she pretty much ate what we ate without any of the spicy stuff. Google it…. it’s wonderful and a lot less work to prepare than pureed baby food. Uses less plastic too 🙂

  • Rebecca Aug 23, 2011 @ 8:58

    Excellent ideas on here. I re- use ice cube trays from thrift stores to freeze homemade pesto, and then toss the cube in my spaghetti sauce. Fruit pops with toothpicks too.

  • April Jul 27, 2011 @ 6:29

    Years ago before we had kids, we left plastic storage containers and switched to Pyrex storage containers. We never looked back. They do have plastic lids, but 7 years later they are all in perfect condition. I do put them in the freezer sometimes, but they aren’t space efficient. We mostly use them for leftovers, taking lunch to work (just DH now, but I did it too when I was working). The other problem is they leave air in there, which contributes to the breakdown of your food. That’s not a big deal if you are freezing something for a few weeks, but for long-term storage it won’t work. I have 5 kids ages 4 and under, so I’m all about efficiency. I make almost all of our food from scratch. To be efficient I like to do freezer meals, I make several loaves of bread at once, batch cooking (like last night I tripled the amount of rice I made so I could freeze some for future meals), etc. Right now I’m freezing blueberries, raspberries, zucchini and squash. I use the FoodSaver because it maintains the quality of the food for the whole year (I usually finish it off by the next year’s harvest). I would have to buy several freezers and I couldn’t afford all those glass containers. I hate wasting all those plastic bags, but I haven’t found a reasonable alternative for the quantity that I do. I do can whatever can be canned, and dehydrate some things, but for other things, freezing is just the best method of preserving.

    • K.C. Jul 10, 2014 @ 2:09

      Have you considered the Food Saver attachment that sucks the air out of canning jars? I like it because I can open the jar to get a bit out and then reseal it again. Works for lots of things — but NOT powdery things like flour, which get sucked up into the pump.

      Here’s what I’m talking about:

  • NoPotCoooking May 7, 2011 @ 3:59

    I’ve got those glass containers with glass lids on my wish list. I am worried about breakage though because I am a complete klutz – always dropping things.

  • I’ve definitely frozen things directly on a baking sheet and then transferred them to a container… it’s the container part of the equation that gets expensive and frustrating. Would Pyrex dishes be a dorky Christmas gift?

    • Wolfryder Jan 17, 2017 @ 5:23

      No, Pyrex would be an excellent gift for those who freeze food.

  • MyKidsEatSquid May 5, 2011 @ 5:46

    On Melanie’s point, I find that if I freeze meat in butcher paper it works out much better. I don’t know is it’s sustainable per se because it does have what appears to be a plasticy coding, but it could definitely work for veggies. I’m interested to hear your thoughts.

    • Tara Dec 5, 2012 @ 10:27

      We freeze alot of venison. My husband had the idea of using the regular white freezer paper, but turning it inside out so that the plastic coating is not touching the food. I’m sure it’s not a perfect solution, but it has worked for us. None of my meat has been freezer-burnt nor has any of it leaked out of the paper before the meat froze.

      • Melissa Sep 21, 2013 @ 18:19

        Brown butcher paper from whole foods is made with a soy wax. You could probably buy it somewhere.

        • Fiona Russell Aug 23, 2019 @ 14:05

          Please be aware of visitors and family members with soy allergies… Soy is becoming the new corn… It is everywhere 🙁

  • Jane Boursaw May 4, 2011 @ 10:41

    We use way too much plastic around here – including freezer storage bags. I’m vowing right now to change that. Seems like a few well-made containers would set you up forever.

    • Kris Bordessa May 4, 2011 @ 19:56

      This makes me happy. 😉

      • lola Oct 9, 2015 @ 20:00

        This makes me happy too. I get so excited when I hear that people are taking the time to make themselves and their families healthy. These comments are the best part of reading the article.

  • Donna Hull May 4, 2011 @ 4:29

    These are great ideas for avoiding plastic freezer bags. And they don’t sound hard to put into practice. Great sustainable living tips!

    • Kris Bordessa May 4, 2011 @ 19:59

      Thanks, Donna. We’ve even started taking “road trip” snacks with us in alternative containers!

  • Melanie @ Frugal Kiwi May 1, 2011 @ 19:21

    All in plastic from this butcher, sadly. I’d LOVE it if they were all in white butcher paper!

    • Charmaine Jan 3, 2012 @ 8:50

      Unfortunately, that white butcher paper is often lined with plastic coating.

      • LEE Mar 8, 2020 @ 6:08

        Can’t we just use the freezer paper “inside out”.z???

        • Barbarar Sep 25, 2020 @ 20:56

          Freezer paper is just thicker butchers paper. Still plastic. Parchment paper has silicone. If You Care (I.e. “If You Can Afford”) has plastic free products including butchers paper. I contacted them and they told me they are working on freezer paper.

  • Kris Bordessa May 1, 2011 @ 17:50

    Melanie, when you have a cow butchered, does it come in plastic now? The last time I bought a portion of beef it came wrapped in white butcher paper. I loved those little packages in the freezer!

  • Melanie @ Frugal Kiwi May 1, 2011 @ 17:18

    Definitely interested to hear what people have to say about this. Especially with 1/6 of a cow in the freezer now and another 1/3 of a cow coming.

    • Jan Albright Sep 8, 2017 @ 10:58

      I am 63. My mothe always just used butcher paper to pack meat for the freezer. I never knew what freezer burn was until after I was married because we never had it at home.

      • Brigette Jan 4, 2019 @ 6:27

        Good point, I’d like to try this. I want to not use so much plastic

  • merr May 1, 2011 @ 15:55

    I have recently been wondering about the safety of plastic and freezing food. I need to get some of these.

  • Heather Anderson Apr 29, 2011 @ 7:21

    Thanks for this great post. I have been thinking lately about non plastic freezer options. I food grade plastic jars from purchases of honey and peanut butter, but I have wondered if these are healthy to use. You have several great ideas that I will try. The glass storage containers look ideal and will certainly go on my wish list.

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