by Texas Homesteader ~
Do you hate the hodgepodge pile of stained plastic food storage dishes with their mismatched or missing lids? Me too. Ditch the Plastic! Glass jars are easy to repurpose for food storage. And being able to see the food in your refrigerator may slow down your food waste as well.
(Note: Some links in this post will take you to other related articles for further information. But links preceded with * are affiliate links. If you click and buy something I could receive a tiny commission.)
No More Plastic Food Storage Containers
As I was getting items out of my fridge recently I smiled looking at all the glass jars typically stored in my refrigerator. (Have I mentioned how much I hate plastic?? LOL).
Oh yes indeed, I used to have that same tumbling stack of plasticware that many of us are burdened with. They were typically shoved willy/nilly in the cabinet with all their mismatched lids.
Then one day I cried “ENOUGH!” I started using a sturdy and stain-free material that I already had – GLASS!
Switching to using glass containers to store my food in the fridge and pantry has been a game-changer for me. Especially with regard to the reduction of food waste since I can always SEE the food without even opening the container!
Where To Find Free Food Storage Containers!
Now I realize not everyone has the same strong aversion to plastic that I do. But the transition from storing our food in disposables, then in plastic storage bowls, and now in glass has been an easy yet a very positive one for me.
If you don’t already have canning jars just use whatever jars you have! Instead of placing that empty glass jar in the recycling bin, wash it out & use it to store your food. Food storage containers for FREE!
Cheapest Glass Food Containers
To keep from having the same mismatched lid issue I had when I was using plastic food storage containers, I sought jars that had same-sized lids:
Glass Mason Jars (I like these *One-Piece Storage Lids to go on them)
Wide-Mouth Repurposed Food Jars – My sister saves queso and salsa jars, as well as various other products that she often uses which have these same sized wide-mouth lids.
Problems With Plastic Food Storage Containers
There are several problems with using plastic for food storage containers, but the worst two are:
Heating Food In Plastic Containers is unhealthy. I’ve read that toxins can leach out of the plastic and into your food when heated.
Plastic containers stain with tomato products & more.
Every time a plastic storage dish became unusable it also made for more & more mismatched sets every year. More expense to replace, and more & more plastic having to be manufactured for my use, thrown away and repurchased again. Ugh.
How To Deal With Restaurant Leftovers
The environmental side of me has always HATED that awful Styrofoam box they force on you when you take home the uneaten portion of a restaurant meal.
And if the contents are the least bit heavy the container gives enough to pop the lid open. Plus those dang things are so bulky to store in the fridge. (not to mention Styrofoam is an environmental nightmare!)
So several years ago I purchased an inexpensive *small glass bake-ware dish with a snap-on lid.
I just wash the dish and allow it to thoroughly dry, then snap 3 of the 4 corners of the lid onto the dish so it stays clean and I store it in my car.
Since it’s always in the car I have it with me even if we stop for an unscheduled restaurant meal. I just grab this small dish & carry it in with me.
I always end up with leftovers at the restaurant. So all leftovers are quickly transferred to my container. Then I bring it home & place it compactly into the fridge. That way I can enjoy tasty restaurant leftovers for lunch the next day.
Since the glass dish is microwave safe I can heat & eat my restaurant leftovers in the same dish. No extra dirty dishes for me, no extra trash for the planet! Win/win!
Simple Homemade Repurposed Denim Dish Carrier
But it felt awkward walking through a restaurant carrying a casserole dish. So I whipped up this purse-like Dish Carrier for my glass dish.
It was easily made using repurposed denim from RancherMan’s worn jeans. I love everything denim, and I get so many compliments on this cute purse-like carrier!
How To Make Single-Serve Yogurt With No Waste
I also see in this picture several jars of yogurt. You see, many years ago I started making my own homemade yogurt.
And I always make my yogurt in handy single-serving-sized 1/2-pint jelly jars. That way I still enjoy the same grab-n-go convenience that the commercial stuff offers. But my yogurt is healthier and so much less expensive.
I make my yogurt unsweetened and unflavored so that if I wanted I could use it as an ingredient in my low-fat sour cream substitute. or whip up my own Homemade Salad Dressing in 1 minute or less.
But these days I’ve increased my breakfast convenience when I’m making my yogurt. I just plop a tablespoon or so of homemade fruit jam in the bottom of about half of the jars to sweeten it. Grab-n-go breakfast!
Repurposed Jar For Homemade Pickles
I also see a repurposed queso jar filled with homemade pickles. I recently discovered the simplicity of making quick & easy homemade pickles using the pickling cucumbers I grow in my veggie garden.
I sometimes use canning jars for my pickles, but my family also saves small wide-mouth jars for me.
They’re the perfect size to experiment with small batches of various flavors of pickles that I want to try – sweet, dill, garlic, etc. RancherMan loves them and I love the ease of making them!
Of course in that first photo I also see the canning jars from various things I’ve made and canned. There’s homemade applesauce from the apples my aunt shared with me from her backyard tree.
I see the chilled vanilla pears that I’m planning for dessert tonight. And of course RancherMan’s favorite pear preserves.
I very much enjoy preserving healthy food. So there is always a supply of shining reusable glass mason jars filled with my home-preserved food in our pantry or fridge.
Store Leftover Food In Repurposed Glass Jars
I repurpose jars to store our leftovers in the fridge as well.
Anything from the leftover veggies from last night’s supper to the leftover raspberry icing I used when I made RancherMan those Lemon Cookies last week.
And I gave up years ago on those tiny plastic disposable squeeze bottles of mustard. Now I just buy a large canister of it and pour the mustard into a pint-sized canning jar. I just use a butter knife to spread my mustard so it’s easy peasy.
Glass jars are super easy to repurpose. And being able to see the food in your fridge may very well slow down your food waste as well. Give it a try!
Other Low-Waste Stories
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- 5 Zero-Waste Products We Love
- Food Waste in America: What Do Those Dates Mean?
- Zero-Waste Hygiene – Using A Safety Razor
- Eliminate Plastic Produce Bags
- How I Got Cute Gingham Napkins For Only $1
- How To Host A Low-Waste Party
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The best advice ever!! Visible and labeled in clean glass jars, we used things more quickly and know when and what to compost! I am finding this such an improvement over opaque plastic, even when I was reusing those containers. I will also adopt the casserole idea for leftovers at the restaurant. No , or much less styrofoam is a real plus! Thanks for a great blog!
You’re so right Lemae – food storage in glass jars in the fridge has nearly reduced our food waste to ZERO. Such an easy switch. And that take-out carrier for restaurant meals? Heck I get so many compliments on that thing from fellow diners and servers alike. It’s worked out beautifully for me. ~TxH~
Like the idea of taking a glass casserole for restaurant leftovers. Is yours smaller than 8×8? I would love to see more pictures of the carrier you made so I could make one too.
Here’s the denim carrier I made –> https://texashomesteader.com/denim-casserole-carrier-using-worn-jeans/ . You can make it to fit whatever size casserole dish you’d like to use. I originally made it for a glass covered dish (a dish without handles fits nicer than a dish with handles) and I still use it with that dish. But I also bought a stainless steel 3-compartment tiffin that I like to use in my carrier as well. It’s lighter weight and offers compartments for different leftover foods from the restaurant. I made my carrier with two different snaps so I could adjust the flap holding my dish to a different size if I like. It was easy to make, even for this oh-so-novice seamstress. ~TxH~
I love using glass jars! I learned from a canner friend that mayonnaise jar lids fit regular mouth canning jars. My friend at work saves them for me. It keeps the rings from rusting in the fridge. I wash and reuse them over and over.
Yes! I reuse peanut butter jar lids and any others that I can find for various uses with regular mouth canning jars. I’m always on the lookout for wide-mouth jar sized plastic lids too, but they’re much harder to find. Repurposing those plastic lids are super handy for using on canning jars holding vinegar-based things that sometimes stress metal lids, such as pickles or mustard. And like you mentioned, it keeps the rings from rusting too. #UseWhatchaGot! ~TxH~
You made SO many good points! I keep every glass container I can to store all of my herbs in and then I buy the herbs in bulk, so no more plastic in my pantry 🙂 I’m going to have to try some of your tips for in our refrigerator as well! Thank you for sharing with us at the To Grandma’s house we go link party – hope to see you at the next one that starts tomorrow! Pinned!
Love the idea of the glass restaurant container! Very clever idea! I hate plastic, too and don’t think it’s good for our health. Thanks for the storage ideas! Blessings, Janet
I LOVE your idea of the glass take-home container. I have struggled the idea of either throwing away good food or poisoning the planet with more styrofoam. Even when I decided that even if I took a plastic container with me, I would be too embarrassed to actually use it. But you’ve inspired me. Putting it in the car to have at any time, makes it really easy to have no excuses. In the past, I’ve at least try to bring a water bottle with me every time we go to a place that I know is going to have styrofoam cups. Thanks for these other great ideas!
I should try to make our own yogurt. I have taken to making refrigerator oats in glass jars for breakfast though. I haven’t taken to bringing glass to restaurants for leftovers though. Thanks for posting at the #WasteLessWednesday blog hop.
Awesome! I am planning on doing some reorganizing this month, and I need to work on this. I especially love the idea of using small jars for yogurt. Why have I not thought of this before?!
I am thankful for your great idea of using glass jars for refrigerator storage. I have so many unused canning jars stored in our garage cabinets. I am really not happy using plastic containers so this is a great alternative. And even the small jelly jars are stackable. Thanks for a great reminder to recycle other glass jars for storage. Great post!
I switched to glass containers a couple years ago for 90% of my food storage, and love it! No more stains, rapid deterioration, and dangerous chemicals leaching into my family’s food 🙂
Thanks for linking up to This is How We Roll linky party!
This is such a great idea! I have several jars I have been hanging onto because they are too pretty to throw away. I love the idea of keeping a glass container in your car to take home restaurant leftovers – everything you’ve said about the restaurant containers happens to me when I bring leftovers home. That is, they take up room in the fridge if they haven’t spilled out in the car or on the ground when the container collapses.
Yay!! I am thrilled to hear about so many people using glass. You are the best group of people.
I would totally do this if I didn’t think my kids would drop them and glass would be everywhere. It is a great idea. Have a great day.
We are trying to get rid of all our plastic containers currently and I’ve started to purchase glassware instead. Never thought about using the glass jars for this purpose but I will start – thanks for the suggestion!
We prefer glass as well. It’s also used in the pantry for items like rice, beans, pasta and homemade cereal. It’s so convenient to be able to see how much you have left, so you know when it’s time to make another batch of something. Enjoy your goodies!
I was surprised at all the glass that already comes into the house or can be saved by family members. Keeps it out of the landfill or recycle bin. I really like to use the same kind of jars if at all possible so the jars & lids will all be interchangeable. Those wide-mouth queso jars are a fave of mine, as well as canning jars. I’ve found that peanut butter jar lids fit my canning jars so I can use a one-piece lid when using them for storing leftovers. ~TxH~
I like the idea, but rarely have leftovers at the restaurant. What can I say, I’m a pig, lol. And I know I would never remember to bring a container with me, ha! Thanks for linking up with Thursday Favorite Things!
Neat ideas. I’m afraid that if I took a glass container in to the restaurant I’d leave it sitting on the table! haha
LOL Jamie – I think the fact that I’ve purchased that glass container (as opposed to it being a free container from the restaurant) I’m more conscious of it. Many times in the past by accident I’ve left behind a restaurant container of leftovers but never once have I left this one. ~TxH~
I like your idea of keeping the glass container in your vehicle. I can think of lots of other times when that container could come in handy other than just for restaurant leftovers. We are not fans of plastic storage containers either, but I will admit I use the ones in which our occasional lunch meat purchase is packaged. I use them to store leftovers in the freezer since I am still a little traumatized by a “broken glass container in the freezer” incident. Lol. It was due to dropping the glass bowl though, not due to the bowl breaking as a result of freezing. Since the freezer leftovers are consumed fairly quickly and we do not reheat food in them, I hope we are being fairly safe in that regard. My biggest gripe about plastics, aside from the staining and residual food smell even after washing, is that they never dry completely in the dishwasher. It’s 2015 for pity’s sake, why has no one come up with a solution to that issue yet!
I hear ya MissB! There are places where I still use plastic such as in the freezer. When you have a loaded chest freezer one wrong ‘clink’ can spell disaster! Although I hate plastic, it’s the lesser of two evils for me for storing broth, etc. in the freezer. ~TxH~
I’ve been working to do the same thing. I used to have stashes of plastic tubs and now I have stashes of glass jars. It took a while, but we are mostly glass now. Hubby was opposed to taking any glass in his lunch, but now he has no problem with it. I LOVE your idea about restaurant leftovers…I will be adopting that! 🙂
There are some places where I’m apprehensive about glass – in my freezer for instance since I have a chest freezer and one wrong “clink” could bring on a disaster for me. But I’m pushing everything else to be glass – I’m even looking at a protected glass water bottle to replace the plastic water bottles I’ve used during the hours-long tractor duties I’ve worked when mowing pastures during the heat of summertime.
You and I must be long lost relatives or something as I also hate those plastic containers. Some of my square plastic containers I used to plant some Succulent Plants in and the others that I no longer wanted, I put in my Target recycling bag to have them recycled. We dump the bag at least once a week at Target in their recycling bins.
The other day I was putting my yellow mustard in glass jar and my dear sweet hubby asking what the heck I was doing; taking mustard from the plastic container and putting into a jar. Glass containers look much better in the frig than those ugly plastic containers.
Never thought about taking and leaving a covered glass container in the vehicle. I always carried a ziplock freezer bag in my purse. Like your idea so much better as I have a nice size decent size pyrex container with red lid that I could use. :}
Give it a try Colleen – I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to use my little lidded bakeware for restaurant leftovers. And even if I do leave it in the car by accident it’s a quick trip to the car to fetch it. I do hate styrofoam!