Short Term Food Storage

If I planned correctly food lasts a maximum of a week in my fridge. I can't always plan for food Greg buys (without supervision) like various cheeses, sausages, and deli meats, but ideally, I shoot for a week.

Once the package is open it's a matter of keeping it as fresh as possible. Enter the resealable plastic bag.

Most of my leftovers go in glass containers with the soft plastic lids. Packages of fruit, vegetables, nuts, or crackers go into resealable bags.

You have to be careful though. Not everything survives well in a sealed container. Cheese molds faster in plastic--unless it's that fake cheese. (That lives forever.) Fragile produce like cilantro and asparagus should be wrapped loosely and left standing in a half inch of water.

For this post though, let's talk about the resealable plastic bag. I use them, but I don't waste them.

Although they're meant to be temporary, don't try to stretch it longer than its normal lifespan.

Far more common is that people toss them after just one use.

Frugal Tip 101: Hang on to those bags!

Some people wash out their old bags and reuse them. I'm on the fence with this. It all depends on what was in it last. If it was fish, meat, milk, or anything greasy, I'll toss them and start fresh.

Bags that contained bread, crackers, or produce I'll reuse. If the bag looks soiled, I'll wash it and turn it inside out to dry. If it was used for dry goods, like crackers, I'll shake out any crumbs and reuse as is.

Many times I use old bags for shorter term use--like bacon I know I'll use later in the week, or something greasy that will only need a bag for a one time use only.

A few producers offer their own zipped bags. There's a particular brand of sweet peppers I like to buy at Aldi. They come in a very nice ventilated zipped bag. Perfect for other produce that needs to breathe, yet stay contained.

From way back I think we're socially trained to toss out containers once we've used up the food, but I like to give them second lives if I can.

Cheaper for me, and more green for the environment.

Best foods that live well in plastic bags?

• Dry food, like crackers, cookies, cereal, and bread
• Oily food like bacon (one time use) or nuts.
• Food you'll eat quickly, say within a day or two. Perfect use for second time around bags.
• Berries--but only if you're freezing them.

I sometimes store little bits of food from our dinner, like leftover steak in those small snack size bags. If I had kids I might use the snack sized bags more, but since I don't, I use them for very short term storage for the bits and bobs I'll use in breakfast later in the week.

Do you reuse your plastic bags? Is there one food that seems to lose its freshness fast in your house?


marlenedotterer said…
I do the same as you. I am apt to re-use them for too long - that will probably kill us eventually, due to chemicals leaching from the bags as they age. But I hate adding to the plastic pollution problem, so I won't throw them away until I must.

Like you, I use glass containers for most things. MUCH safer! Oh, and I use these: They aren't perfect - don't really seal well, but they are great for hard cheeses or short-term storage in the fridge. They really help reduce my use of plastic wrap.
Maria Zannini said…
Marlene: I was wondering about that beeswrap. I had read about it but I hadn't heard much else.

Thanks for the explanation!
Jenny Schwartz said…
I hadn't heard of beeswrap. Very cool.
Maria Zannini said…
Jenny: That's what I love about comments. You always learn something new.
lynnviehl said…
I prefer to use glass containers (usually recycled jars) or tins for dry foods that can be washed and reused. I do keep a supply of reusable plastics to send food home with the college kid or guests, but those come from the Chinese restaurant we go to for take-out. I shop now only with cloth shopping bags, which I keep in the car to remind me to use. I'm trying to get away from plastic shopping bags altogether, but I do reuse the bags that everyone else brings home as small garbage can liners.

My bread seems to go stale faster than anything else, so I try to plan using it right after I buy it. Recently I found a discount bread store where I get healthy loaves for 99 cents, which is two dollars cheaper than the market.
Michael Keyton said…
You pay for plastic bags over here so shopping bags are used and used and reused until the supermarket takes pity and gives you a new one and recycles the old. Ref plastics I'm especially wary of tinned tomatoes because the tin is plastic lined and tomato is acidic. And now I've discovered the innocuous teabag has plastic in it, so goodness knows how much has leached into our system :(
Maria Zannini said…
Lynn: Glass is my go-to storage container too. I keep plastic for homemade dog food that I store in the freezer.

re: bread
We used to live in a town that had one of those day-old bread stores, but I haven't seen one in ages. We always bought our bread there since they went straight into the freezer. Bread is the one thing I allow Greg to buy by brand. I'm not picky if it's fresh and soft, but he is, so I let him choose.
Maria Zannini said…
Mike: I know. There's plastic or who-knows-what everywhere. I'm hesitant to compost tea bags unless I'm sure it's paper.

I heard California has banned plastic bags, but elsewhere it's business as usual.