Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

Greener Packaging Options for Food Storage (and GIVEAWAY!)

Bulk is better...especially when M n M's are involved!

Bulk is better…especially when M n M’s are involved!

Back in mid-August, I wrote a post entitled “8 Tips for Greener, Healthier School Lunches,” with the hopes that it would provide families with a few fresh ideas for maximizing nutrition and minimizing empty calories during the school day.  Most of the ideas also happened to be more eco-friendly as well – but why stop at just the foods you eat when it comes to having a greener lifestyle?  The way those foods are stored can be just as important to the environment (as well as for your health!)  So here’s a few tips for “greening up” your food when it comes to packaging – whether you’re packing for a weekend of climbing, camping, hiking, or whether you’re just packing lunches for your school-aged kiddos!

1.  BUY IN BULK – Buying in bulk is not only kinder to the planet by eliminating a lot of excess packaging, but it’s also kinder to your wallet!  Making your own trail mix from bulk containers of nuts and dried fruit is significantly cheaper than buying a smaller container of pre-mixed goods, as is buying a large block of cheese over individually wrapped slices.  

Loads of cool patterns from SnackTAXI!

Loads of cool patterns from SnackTAXI!

2.  STORAGE CONTAINERS – For produce and bulk items that are divided out, you’ll need some sort of container to transport your food from the kitchen to the trail/cafeteria/etc.  Choose something that is easily washable as well as fairly inexpensive in the event that said container accidentally gets thrown away with lunch scraps.  While plastic may seem like an obvious choice, there has been a lot of talk in recent years about the dangers of chemicals leaching into foods from plastic storage containers, in particular BPA.  With that in mind, should you go the plastic route, please choose something that is labeled BPA-free.  But while BPA is the most well-known culprit found in plastic, it’s not the only suspect, so if you are still leery, go with one of many hard container alternatives – glass, ceramic, or stainless steel.

3.  FABRIC FOOD STORAGE – While hard containers work out great for a lunchbox or stacking leftovers in the fridge, they are bulky and take up a lot of room in a backpack on climbing trips.  (Not to mention that glass and ceramic containers are breakable!)  Our family used to rely on Ziploc baggies on climbing weekends – I’d gather up all of our bars, divy out fruit, crackers, and trail mix into snack-size baggies, and then throw everything into a big 1-gallon Ziploc.  Though they are of course plastic, Ziploc bags are in fact BPA and dioxin free…but reusing them more than a few times is pretty hard to do, so it’s a fairly wasteful option.  That’s where fabric storage bags really shine – lightweight and easily packable, but easily washable and reusable!  The first ones I tried were from Snack Taxi – and they were so kind as to offer up a giveaway (see below for details.)  All of the materials they use are lead, BPA, and pthalate free, and the inner liner (made from a polyurethane coated nylon, so technically still plastic, but far more reuable…) is easily wiped off with a damp sponge (or put in the washing machine for bigger messes!)  Snack Taxi offers a cloth option for a wide variety of sizes/types of food storage – from sandwiches and snacks, to bread and produce.  

C digging through our homemade collection of bags to find the perfect crag snack!

C digging through our collection of bags to find the perfect crag snack!

MAKE YOUR OWN:  In fact, I was so excited about this idea, that I recently went out and bought my own fabric to make loads of storage bags in various sizes.  (For any who are wondering, it took me a while to find a “food-safe” inner lining – I ended up going with EcoPUL.  And FYI if you just want your bags for “dry foods,” you don’t even need a laminated inner lining – just plain old cotton will work just fine!)  I modeled the sizing off of the foods we most often take with us on the go – small rectangular ones about the size of a checkbook that are perfect for C’s half sandwiches and small snacks, square ones that accomodate a large sandwich, chopped up fruit, or trail mix, and a couple of giant 1 gallon size ones to replace the ziploc bags we were using on crag days!  (And if you want to try your hand at making your own, I’ll be posting a tutorial next week!)

Kudos to Snack Taxi for offering such a brilliant storage option for on-the-go families, as well as sponsoring a giveaway in conjunction with this post!  Simply leave a comment describing your family’s food storage habits, and you’ll be entered to win a Snack Sack of your own to try!  (As always, more entries will be given for “liking” Cragmama or Snack Taxi on facebook!  This contest will run through Friday, November 1st, when a winner will be chosen at random.  But for those of you that don’t want to wait to see if you’re the lucky winner, Snack Taxi is offering 31% off of all full-priced items from now through October 31st!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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22 Responses to “Greener Packaging Options for Food Storage (and GIVEAWAY!)”

  1. Christopher Sorel

    getting the kids reusable storage container for their lunch bags so no more plastic baggies

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  2. christy g

    We use glass storage containers. We hardly use plastic bags anymore!

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  3. Heather

    We are avid “re-users” of any plastic container that comes our way! Everything goes into the dishwasher and we use it until it can hold no-more. Our favorites are the containers you get with Thai Food takeout- perfect for holding a bunch of grapes in your pack with out getting crushed. Other than that, we don’t buy any ziploc bags and just use appropriate sized glad-ware etc. and if anything needs to be heated up we use the Pyrex travel containers.

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  4. I have made tons of our own snack bags, and used to be really good at using them. That is until we had too many kids and I just couldn’t keep up with keeping enough clean. Throw in a daily school lunch + my husbands and we’ve been ziploc-ers this year. I’m really hoping to find a good tuperware like solution for the lunchboxes. I bought one at Target this year that was perfect but it broke after a few weeks and I can’t find another one quite like it!

    Reply

  5. Erica

    Good stuff guys. It’s nice to hear what other families are doing. Jessica, we definitely go through phases where we are more green than others. I think the key is figuring out what works for your family at the life stage/time/money/etc situation that you are in, and run with it!

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  6. Heather

    We also have been using more glass containers for storage instead of plastic baggies. When grocery shopping if we forget our reusable bags and they don’t have a paper bag option we get plastic bags. We reuse those for all sorts of things like the trash cans in the bathroom.

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  7. We’ve been using BPA free plastic containers but this weekend we’re learning how to jar our own applesauce!

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  8. we use reusable containers for adult, kid and baby food, fabric snack bags and wraps (though we only have a few!), refillable squeeze pouches, hand towels instead of paper towels, reuse packaging (bread bag for dog pickup!, etc.) and recycle!

    also we are trying to eat as much ‘real’ food as possible, which means a lot less packaged food (so less packaging waste) and i tend not to use the produce bags at the grocery stores unless i’m getting a lot of something really small, like green beans or items from the bulk bins (is that bad?)

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  9. We are a big fan of ‘re-using’ containers…especially the ones that are provided in the bulk bin section of a close by local natural foods store. We find that reusing them for not only food but also little parts to puzzles, toys, etc comes in handy, reduces wastes and cuts down on cost by not buying so many tupperware containers!

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  10. Elyssa

    Something secure for wet/dry snacks to replace small ziplocks…interested in what snacktaxi has to offer. 🙂

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  11. Richard Ferron

    Ziplock is unfortunatly our default solution. First time I hear about snacTaxi, looking good!

    Reply

  12. Michelle

    We successfully converted to all re-usable containers when my son started kindergarten. Even when I grocery shop at the coop I take my bag of containers. We don’t have any snack bags but would love some! Sometimes there just isn’t enough room in the lunch box for everything and these would be fit perfectly.

    Reply

  13. I love these ideas!! The only thing I haven’t dibr is make my own. Good on ya!

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  14. brittany

    We use mason jars with BPA-free plastic lids…while great for storing food in the fridge and reheating contents, they are heavy for travel. These bags are great!!

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  15. Erica

    David – jarring your own applesauce – that sounds awesome!

    Jill, I forget sometimes too…but I agree with Heather that the small plastic bags work great for bathroom trash liners!

    Joy – Amen! Tupperware gets expensive!

    Michelle and Brittany – The bulk/weight of all the hard containers is the main thing that made us switch to fabric bags on the trail – and C loves them so much that we use them in his lunchbox now too! (It also probably saves a little bit of water, b/c the bags in the washer don’t take up NEARLY as much room as the plastic containers in the dishwasher….)

    Jen – They were super easy to make – if you’ve got a sewing machine, you should totally try it (tutorial next week!)

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  16. We use a lot of tupperware, etc. That and wash and reuse ziplocs! but I would LOVE some of these to try! 🙂

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  17. wil colquhoun

    I use a reusable sandwich container and an AVEX water bottle.

    Reply

  18. Mary

    One of the things we do is use glass baby food jars for dried spices, individual portions of salad dressings/condiments (for lunches on the go), or refill with homemade baby food.

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  19. We too use plastic storage containers–the “snack trap” is one that gets used nearly everyday, and wash and reuse. I’m seen these reusable snack bags, and have been super curious to see if they would work with our family. Thanks for offering the giveaway!

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  20. I like to use mason jars to store leftovers. I even store nuts/seeds in these to keep in the fridge or freezer.

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  21. I think the reusable fabric bags is a great solution! I’m going to make some.

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  22. Jodie

    Thanks for the tip about the Eco-Pul. I’ve used rip-stop nylon in the bags but the bread always drys out. I’m totally going to try it! Thanks!

    Reply

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“Not all who wander are lost.” —JRR TOLKIEN