My husband and I pack lunches and snacks every day (sometimes dinner too) using plastic containers and 4-5 baggies per day. I want to cut down on the amount of baggies, yet don't want to use numerous additional plastic containers. We do not have a dishwasher and already have to wash a LOT of plastic every evening. Does anyone have ideas for what might be workable substitutes for the baggies?
I use unbleached waxed paper bags (sold in health food stores or online). They are a little more environmentally friendly than plastic baggies.
I save glass jars (mustards, salsa, olives) and reuse them. Doesn't work well on sandwiches, they get smushed up (that was a joke). Of course they will have to be washed. Do you have somewhere at work to keep snacks. I keeps nuts, dried fruits rice snacks and crackers in jars in my desk drawer. Also, I sometimes bring in my lunch on a small dinner plate if I am out of tupperware. I am anxious to see what other people have to say about this one.
Lots of people save the empty bags from cereal, crackers, bread bags...you could use those. I like the name brand "Baggies." They have 150 on a roll You could just reuse some of the bags, especially if all they had in them was dry goods.
Use furoshiki style folding to wrap your sandwich in a cloth napkin or flour sack towel or something.
I have seen a lot of different plastic food storage (like Tupperware) that is one unit but has built in dividers to separate the food in sections. I have seen ones with 2, 3, 4, 5 different sections. So all you would have to wash is one bottom and one lid.
If you ate eating more like sandwiches and such then there are wipeable Wrap n Mats:
Or make your own...
When packing lunch for my daughter I used the unbleached natural waxed paper bags also (as Meredith posted). The brand is "Natural Value". I get them at Whole Foods. They actually worked for almost everything except liquids or liquidy stuff. I put sandwiches, wraps, cut up veggies, most fruit, nuts, etc in them.
They were great because I didn't feel guilty when she threw them out, they didn't get left in her locker for ages (as did the containers) and I didn't have to wash plastic containers everyday. What was neat was that when she got older and environmentally conscious she chose to take her lunch in reusable containers. Even got her self a "cool" retro style lunchbox.
You can get a big roll of butcher paper-ask your local meat market where they get theirs. It is like waxed paper-can be used for anything except very wet or liquid.
I buy a huge roll of plastic wrap from Sam's Wholesale Club. It is called Food Service Wrap and comes in a box. It is 12 inches wide and 300 feet long and the price is about $10.00. It sticks to itself and to plates and bowls much better than the brands that you find at the grocery store...like Handiwrap, Gladwrap, etc. I bought the box I am now using in mid July of 2007. And I use it for lots of other things as well. For example....I belong to PaperBackSwap, and I always wrap my books in this plastic wrap before I wrap it in paper to ship. I wrap a lot of meats indiviually, like hamburger patties before I put them n the freezer. Then I put them in Zip Lock bags, but the plastic wrap helps avoid freezer burn, and I can take any number I need for a meal from the package. I use a lot less plastic bags than I used to. I used to pieces of onion in sandwich size bags, but now I wrap them in the plastic wrap.
Harlean from Arkansas
I was looking for ways to reduce my plastic bag consumption and I became bento obsessed in the process. www.ichibankanusa.com is a Japanese dollar store and they sell tiered bento boxes for an incredibly low price. They are held together with this elastic band and you can get insulated carriers for them. Very green, very easy...the only downside is you just can't throw them in the dishwasher. You can also pick up bento sets on ebay or if you are lucky enough to have a Asian market nearby, you could go to one of those.
Of course you can save, wash and re-use the baggies but sounds like you've got enough hand washing to do. You could wrap items first in a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap and then slip into a baggie. The baggie will stay clean and then can be re-used. The idea of a multi compartment plastic container sounds good to me as then you just have the one item to clean. Tupperware does make items like that but I think you may find some at Dollar stores as well.
Depending on what you put in each plastic container, washing it every use may not be necessary. My husband and I each have a container for pretzels and another for cookies, and will reuse that container throughout the week for lunches, refilling it each day and washing it on the weekends. Neither of those items will "go bad" in the container. For our sandwiches we use fresh containers each day.
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