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These Zero Waste Food Storage ideas are items that can help reduce your family’s plastic use and trash output. Learn about awesome products that can keep your food fresh without breaking the bank. Check out our favorite glass, stainless steel, cloth, and BPA-free kid-safe products.

reusable containers, water bottles, and other zero waste food storage ideas in a collage

If you’re here to see gorgeous photos of perfectly matched glass jars with chalkboard paint labels, you’re about to be seriously disappointed!

We’re talking about zero waste food storage, but storage for busy people and families with budgets. And kids are the destroyer of things, so I have even included some BPA-free kid-safe products.

If you get nothing else from this post, please understand that transitioning to more eco-friendly kitchen items should be a marathon and not a sprint. Even if you’re gung-ho about making changes, there is no need to rush out and get allllllll the things!

If you have a current stash of plastic ziploc bags that you’re looking to phase out, keep them for items that are harder to store in reusable containers (like meat).

There are no one-size-fits-all solutions for everyone when it comes to zero waste food storage. You can prioritize the environment and the actual life your family lives. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

When it comes to reusable containers, the price is always going to be higher than their single-use counterparts. The lunchbox my oldest kiddo has used for five years is $32. That price can give you sticker shock until you realize how many plastic and paper bags we have avoided using in that same period of time.

Look at reusable containers as long-term investments and invest in quality where/when your budget allows.

How to Transition to Zero Waste Food Storage

If possible, I would prioritize adding the following items to your home:

  • Cloth grocery bags
  • Glass food storage
  • Reusable water bottle(s) and straws
  • Reusable ziploc-style bags

There is no point in throwing out or donating items in your kitchen that are still working for you. Instead, have a game-plan and an idea for how you will replace them when they are at the end of their lives. 

I’m a huge fan of buying kitchen items secondhand whenever possible. Not only are you keeping items from the landfill, but you’re also likely going to get an amazing deal!

Thrift stores, garage sales, ebay, and local buy and sell platforms are amazing ways to score zero waste food storage at a fraction of the retail price. 

As we talk about our favorite items below, think if they would work for your kitchen and lives. And if they will, keep an eye out for them the next time you hit up your local thrift store.

OG Zero Waste Food Storage – Canning Jars

The uses for canning jars are endless! We use them for storing soups, cooked beans, leftovers, homemade sauces, and for basic kitchen organization.

This post on Canning Supplies goes in-depth into all the different styles of canning jars available. But the down and dirty canning jar primer:

multiple kinds of jars on a wooden board showcasing canning supplies

Wraps (Reusable Food Wrap)

My husband had a serious addiction to plastic wrap for years! It took a lot of nagging gentle guidance to get him past using it, but we’ve never looked back!

We currently use different sizes of Beeswrap in place of plastic/cling wrap. These wraps are great for sandwiches, covering the tops of containers (during the long rise time, I use it to cover the bowls of No-Knead Bread), and for little snacks.

Three purple beeswrap holding food

These wraps act like plastic wrap in that they can mold around food or containers. The wax in the wraps makes the fabric pliable simply by using the warmth of your hands.

They are reusable for at least a year if cared for correctly. Wash and rinse in warm water and hang to dry. It is not advisable to use reusable wraps for raw meat.

Beeswrap is made from beeswax so they are not vegan-friendly. However, Earth’s Basics sells a similar product that is suitable for vegans.

Another amazing plastic wrap replacement product is these silicone stretch lids from Modfamily. You place them over the openings of jars, bowls, plates, or pots and they create a seal just like plastic wrap. They are also dishwasher and freezer-safe.

Zero Waste Produce and Bulk Bin Bags

How many plastic bags full of lettuce, carrots, apples, and other produce come home with you from the grocery store? Chances are at least a few every shopping trip. There is a better way!

We have been using these light-weight mesh produce bags for over five years and they have held up very well. Or, support a small business and buy this version from Etsy. They’re washable and work great for fruits, veggies, and larger bulk bin items (dried beans, rice, nuts, etc.).

If you shop in bulk often and don’t want to use reusable bags, you can bring your own containers. Just make sure to weigh the container prior to filling it (this is called the “tare weight”) so that the cashier can remove the price from the purchase.

And if you have (very) basic sewing skills, you can make your own Zero Waste and Bulk Bin Shopping Bags yourself!  Just make sure to know the tare weight of the bags so you’re not over-charged at checkout.

two reusable produce bags

Zero Waste Shopping Bags

When it comes to packing up your groceries and bringing them home, do you choose paper or plastic? My vote is for neither!

Using canvas bags or totes means you’re personally responsible for fewer plastic bags in the environment. Did you know that plastic bags never really decompose? They just break down into smaller and smaller pieces until they eventually become an environmental cluster eff.

I prefer these large canvas bags rather than other plastic sided bags, simply because you can toss the canvas bags in the wash. One large canvas bag can replace three to four plastic bags worth of groceries! And it’s always fun to show your personality with these bags from Etsy.

If you can’t lift larger bags or carry heavy loads, choose a smaller option like these bags

a cloth bag full of groceries

How Do You Store Meat Without Plastic?

Most meat from the store will come wrapped in plastic. If you pick up an order at the grocery store’s butcher counter, ask if they will allow you to bring reusable containers.

If you’re able to buy meat in bulk, or even better, directly from the farmer, you have a few options for storing meat without plastic.

You can have the meat wrapped in butcher paper. If done correctly, you don’t even need to store it in additional containers in the freezer. 

Another option would be to freeze meat in single-serve portions on a baking sheet and then transfer to a reusable container like a silicone zipper-bag.

How to You Store Cheese Without Plastic?

Most cheese does come wrapped in plastic or wax. If you’re able to buy cheese without a wrapper, you can wrap it in Beeswrap. We then store ours in a glass air-tight container.

Best Glass Food Containers

My husband is fully convinced I have a glass storage addiction and I’m not the least bit sorry for it! 

Our favorite glass storage containers are from the Snapware brand. You can buy them online (this is the set we have), but the best price I’ve ever seen is at Costco. The base price is super affordable, and every few months they go on rebate, making them even more economical.

We love this brand because the lids are air-tight. No worries about soup spilling in your lunch bag, or your meal prep onions making your fridge reek.

If you’re like me and think different kinds of food should never touch, you’ll be happy to see these glass containers with dividers. Prayers do get answered, my friend. The various components also make them great for storing meal prep ingredients in one container.

For storage that doesn’t need an air-tight seal, we’re huge fans of these Pyrex containers. Ours are over seven years old and have held up very well.

three different types of reusable glass containers

Stainless Steel Food Containers

As much as I love glass containers, they’re heavy and not always convenient to carry. That’s where stainless steel can swoop in and lend a light-weight hand. Stainless is best for cold items as you can’t reheat easily in most of the containers.

Stacked stainless steel storage is also referred to as “tiffins”. You can keep different dishes in one stackable container. I have not seen a leak-proof tiffin before, so these are better for non-liquid items. 

There are also bento-style stainless steel lunch boxes that have dividers in them. Like the stackable option, these are not 100% leakproof but you can purchase some brands like this one with silicone lids.

two stainless steel bento boxes

Reusable Silicone Zipper-Bags

The days of only being able to use plastic zip bags are over! There are some wonderful silicone-style zipper bags on the market today.

I really like these heavy-duty silicone storage bags for freezing (related: Freezing Strawberries Freezing Cherries, and Freezing Peas) because they are air-tight and easy to fill.

Stasher can also be used for sous vide, microwaving or reheating food. Think: making a batch of Instant Pot jasmine rice, freezing in individual portions, and then reheating it in the microwave in the bag.

Stasher can be purchased on Target, on Amazon, or even via Thrive.

silicone zipper bags

Best Zero Waste Food Storage For Kids

Kids man. Kids are like destructo-bots! And I have boys, so anything that has survived daily use is something I highly recommend.

Both of my boys use YumBoxes for their lunches. We have had this smaller version for seven years and recently added this larger one once my (now) eleven-year-old got to third grade.

Yumboxes are made of BPA-free plastic and are leakproof. That means you can fill one compartment with applesauce or yogurt and it won’t make your sandwich soggy.

The leakproof lid also means that cut fruit doesn’t brown. You can slice up some apples the night before and have very little oxidation by lunch the next day.

We also have two Lunchbots boxes for the kids that I snagged at Goodwill for $5 for both! These are the perfect size for snacks or light lunches.

As mentioned above, I prefer Stasher silicone bags in place of plastic baggies. This brand is the most kid-friendly I have found.

We love to freeze homemade Easy Instant Pot Yogurt in these reusable silicone molds for homemade yogurt tubes. The kids love them frozen because they feel like they’re getting dessert. I love them frozen because I hate messes and frozen yogurt almost never spills.

Applesauce pouches are like pure kid crack. We make applesauce every fall (related: Canning Applesauce) and have a reusable pouch just like this one. They’re very easy to clean and are dishwasher safe. Ours is seven years old at this point.

These little homemade reusable snack bags are great for small snacks and treats. If you have even basic sewing skills, you can make some of these bags in under 15 minutes. Etsy is a great source for snack bags if sewing isn’t your jam.

different kid-safe reusable containers for zero waste food storage

What About Takeout?

Ordering food to go usually means styrofoam, plastic bags, and plastic utensils. Transitioning to reusable products doesn’t mean you can no longer eat out!

Before Covid, we would take our reusable containers to restaurants we love and give them to the staff when we placed the order. Now…we choose restaurants that doesn’t use styrofoam. Even better, if they use plastic lidded containers, I wash and reuse them to give away food when I don’t expect to get the container back.

Reusable Water Bottles

My husband Troy: “we have too many of these Liberty Bottleworks bottles“.


My waterbottle love runs deep and I won’t apologize for it. I fell in love with Liberty bottles years ago and now all our family members rock different styles and sizes of reusable bottles. 

We love their standard bottles but will all fight over their double-walled insulated bottles.

three kinds of liberty bottleworks reusable water bottles

Reusable Straws

Straws are a must-use in our house for kids, but we choose reusable straws whenever possible. We have a set of these BPA-free plastic straws, but I prefer the stainless steel ones we also have because my youngest kid is a straw biter.

stainless steel straws

Zero Waste Food Storage – Spices

As mentioned above, I love 4 oz mason jars for spices! But sometimes I need something smaller and stackable. 

I eventually ran out of old spice jars to repurpose and ended up investing in these reusable stainless spice containers. They come with labels (makes my Type-A heart happy), are infinitely reusable, and are magnetic if you have that storage option in your kitchen.

stainless steel spice tin for zero waste food storage

When possible, I purchase spices from the bulk section at our local grocery store. For the same amount of dill that would cost $6 in a jar in the spice aisle, I can refill my stainless container for about $.45.

No bulk spice section at your store? I also use Amazon and Thrive for online spice purchases. And I love the Litehouse non-GMO freeze-dried spices that I can get at Costco. They’re super fresh and last forever. Check out their line up of options on their site.

Zero Waste Food Storage, Misc.

I’m not going to tell you I never use parchment paper, because I do! I use the brand If You Care because it is compostable. I reuse it until it is almost shredded, and then I give it to my chickens to scratch apart. They don’t try to eat it, but they do love to play with it.

If you want something reusable, silicone baking mats are perfect for lining baking sheets for roasting, baking, and freezing.

Bonus – Homemade Cleaning Products

Going zero waste in the kitchen is a big step, and cleaning your house shouldn’t cause more trash. That’s why I make my own Eco-Friendly Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner and Homemade Dusting Spray and Furniture Polish.


Well, friends, that is my big ol list of zero waste food storage ideas. I’d love to hear from you now and see what sort of reusable containers your family uses and loves!



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About Sarah

Helping you serve up budget-friendly sustainable recipes with a side of balanced living.
Come for the food. Stay for the snark.

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  1. Hi Sarah,
    I hear you about the takeaway containers and covid, I can’t even use my keep cup to get coffee.
    So I don’t buy take away coffee, my partner and I make the stove pot and take that out for our walks.

    BUT the takeaway – pizza though high in calories is often the best ECO option, a few stores near us FINALLY have biodegradable packaging. Woohoo.

    Thai and Indian food pains me, it is so delicious and I love it – but the single-use plastic breaks my heart and makes me not want to order it. I rather put on the kilos and ate pizza than destroyed the earth!