Leftovers: They're pretty much a fact of life. So what do you do with them? Your grandma probably stored hers in Tupperware bowls or reused plastic packaging like margarine tubs and cottage cheese containers.
What your grandma didn't know, however, is that those plastic items aren't the best food storage containers. Sure, they're reasonably priced and don't break easily, but using the wrong plastic food storage containers can wreak havoc on your health.
Ahead, learn about the best Tupperware for meal prep and other food storage.
Top 5 Non Toxic Food Storage Containers
Conventional Food Storage ContainersMost food storage containers are made of plastic. No type of plastic is entirely safe for food, and some types are truly awful. Plastic containers have a tendency to leach unsafe chemicals into your food, and those chemicals end up in your body. Read on to learn some of the worst things about plastic for food storage.
What Chemicals and Materials Are in Most Food Storage Containers?
Chemical or Material
Safe to Use?
Bisphenol A Plastic (BPA)
Bisphenol S Plastic (BPS)
Bisphenol A PlasticVerdict: NO!
Bisphenol A plastic, more commonly known as BPA, is a sturdy material for making containers and other consumer products. Sturdy or not, it's not a good choice for storing food or drinks.
BPA can leach endocrine disruptors into your food. These are chemicals that mimic estrogen, which may have negative effects on your body. As a result, they may do harm to your reproductive and hormonal systems. They may even have a link to cancer.
For the most part, BPA has been removed from food dishes and containers marketed to young children. However, it may still be found in food storage products that aren't designed specifically for babies and toddlers.
Learn more about BPA exposure in this video:
Bisphenol S Plastic
Many manufacturers have replaced BPA plastics with a different type of plastic: bisphenol S, also known as BPS. Unfortunately, BPS has not been shown to be a safer plastic than BPA, and it, too, releases estrogen-mimicking chemicals.
At first, scientists thought that BPS was a better choice because it leaches in smaller quantities than BPS does. Studies have shown, however, that exposure to small amounts of BPS can affect development and behavior in animals even more than BPA does.
In other words, manufacturers may have replaced one bad plastic with an even worse one!
Some plastic food storage containers expose you to phthalates. Also known as plasticizers, these chemicals are used to make objects more flexible or sturdy.
If your food is stored in containers that were made with phthalates, these chemicals can leach into your food, and you will ingest the plasticizers. Oily and fatty foods are the most likely to absorb phthalates, and heating the containers can also increase the leaching of phthalates.
Exposure to phthalates may affect the reproductive system or other parts of the body. They may alter brain development and cause excess weight gain.
Non Toxic Food Storage Containers
The safest way to store your food is to simply avoid plastic as much as possible. Fortunately, as a trip through the home goods department at your favorite store--whether local or online--will reveal, there's an almost dizzying array of alternatives on the market these days.
What Chemicals and Materials Usually Make Up Non Toxic Food Storage Containers?
Because it's non-porous, glass doesn't absorb smells from your food. It's usually safe for the dishwasher, microwave and refrigerator. Some glass can be used in the freezer, the oven or even on the stove! Another benefit of glass is that it can be recycled.
While most glass containers are safe, some made in China may have high levels of lead or cadmium. Some of the best glass food storage containers are made in the United States or Europe.
Yes, glass containers are more prone to breakage than plastic ones, but the best glass Tupperware containers are made of tempered glass dishes to increase their durability. You can also buy glass containers with silicone sleeves to help protect them.
Another alternative to plastic containers is using ones made of ceramic, a category of material that includes earthenware and stoneware. Although fragile, ceramic dishes are versatile since they can often be used in the microwave, oven, dishwasher and freezer.
As with glass, heavy metal contamination can be a concern. The glaze used for these dishes may contain lead or cadmium, so look for brands that specify that they are free of these contaminants.
It can't be microwaved, but stainless steel containers are still handy for food storage. They can often be used in the oven, on the stove and in the freezer.
One of the big perks of stainless steel containers is that they weigh less than glass or ceramic containers and aren't fragile. Therefore, they are great to pack lunches in.
Look for stainless steel that is marked Type 304. This food-safe stainless steel is durable and resists corrosion. Series 200 stainless steel may not hold up as well over the long run.
It may look and feel a lot like plastic, but silicone is not the same material. Both are polymers, but they are comprised of different basic elements.
Studies have generally found silicone to be a safe material for food storage. It doesn't leach chemicals into your food. When shopping for silicone containers, make sure to buy products that are specifically rated as food-grade.
Silicone containers are great for freezer storage. However, there have been some studies that indicate that silicone may not be entirely safe for use at high heat. Therefore, it is best to keep these containers out of the microwave and the oven.
Choosing Safer Plastics
Although glass, ceramic, stainless steel and silicone can be excellent materials for food storage, there are times when you may need to use plastics. For those instances, you need to know what the best Tupperware type containers are.
A "BPA-free" label can be a good sign, but keep in mind that the BPA may have been replaced with another unsafe type of plastic.
It can also help to pay attention to the recycling code on the bottom of a container. Items marked with a 1, 2, 4 and 5 are the best for food storage. Those marked with 3 or 6 are definitely unsafe. 7 is the label given to plastics that don't fit in the other 6 categories. While some are safe, many are not. Do your research before using items marked with a 7.
Not Using Plastic At All = Best
1, 2, 4, & 5 = OK
3 & 6 = Definitely Unsafe
If you do choose to store food in plastic, avoid heating or freezing the container. Leaching increases at extreme temperatures.
Learn more about safer plastics in this video:
You may notice that even when the body of a container is made with an alternative material, the lid is still made of plastic. Is this safe?
You'll have to decide for yourself whether you are comfortable with this level of plastic exposure. Some people think that plastic lids are acceptable since the the lids do not usually have much direct contact with the food.
Others prefer to avoid all plastic, so they choose only containers that are made entirely of another material.
The Top 5 Non Toxic Food Storage Containers... Reviewed
Pyrex makes some of the best glass food storage containers. Many consumers consider these to be one of the best food storage containers of any type, and their popularity means that they are easy to find on store shelves. Snap-on lids keep foods fresh.
If you don't mind using plastic lids, these glass containers from Glasslock can be a sturdy solution to your storage needs. Tabs on the lids fold down to hold them securely in place. You don't have to worry about the tabs breaking off because a free replacement lid program makes these a great option for the best glass Tupperware.
If you are interested in the best Tupperware for meal prep, consider using stainless steel containers instead of plastic. Lunchbots makes rectangular food storage containers with one to five sections. As one of the best meal prep containers, Lunchbots make it easy to keep your refrigerator stocked with ready-made meals for the week or to pack your lunch daily.
Some of the best meal prep containers, such as these Latch Tiffins, are made of stainless steel because it is a lightweight yet sturdy material that can easily be carried in a backpack or lunchbox. With this brand, you have up to three different compartments that stack on top of one another and, therefore, are entirely separate from one another - no mixing of foods here!
For those who want the best Tupperware but are short on storage space, consider collapsible containers made of silicone. The Collapse-it line of bowls folds down to just 3 inches tall when not in use, and these dishes are free of plastic parts. The lids have a built-in vent to keep food fresh.
PIN FOR LATER:
Written by Ashley
Chief editor here at Nontoxic Reboot. I'm passionate about providing you with the best and easiest ways to make your world healthier and a little less toxic.