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Nine Plastic Cling Wrap Alternatives

I never was a huge fan of wrapping leftovers in plastic wrap. Whether you call it cling film, cling wrap, food wrap, pliofilm, or by the brand name Saran wrap it never sticks fully and the food it is supposed to protect ends up drying out in the refrigerator – yuck.

Not to mention, plastic wrap itself isn’t very eco friendly, although when it actually works, it can keep food fresher longer and that is less wasteful. Food wise that is, not trash wise – especially when you do the toothpicks in deviled eggs on a plate to keep the plastic wrap from sticking to them kind of thing.

So it wasn’t much of a stretch for me to bypass the roll of food wrap in the kitchen drawer and store food and leftovers in a container with a lid and pop it into the refrigerator. Bingo! No more dried out science experiments in the refrigerator – especially when I use a clear container.

Save food, save money, and reduce our household kitchen trash. High fives all around.

9 Ways to Easily Replace Plastic Cling Wrap Film  in the Kitchen
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9 Easy Ways to Replace Plastic Wrap and Save Boatload of Cash

I haven’t banished all shrink plastic wrap from my kitchen (Trader Joe’s and Aldi uses it for the meat and fresh vegetables I buy) but I have noticed my grocery bill and amount of weekly trash go down when cling wrap isn’t my first choice for storing food.

Here are some of my favorite alternatives to using plastic cling wrap to store food and leftovers in the refrigerator.

Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post for your convenience.
1. Wash and reuse Plastic Ziploc bags like these –  Husband insisted on us using zipper bags for lunches and to store leftover cheese, lunch meat, etc. because plastic wrap never seems to stick and the food ends up drying out. My comprise was to wash and reuse the bags that did not hold meat. Eventually I moved on Suggest Two because it cuts down how many bags and the occasional sheets of plastic wrap we got through

Update 2/26/2018: I did not include cloth sandwich bags as an alternative because the food dried out in all of the reusable snack bags I tried. I found a better alternative!  These reusable silicone zipper food storage bags keep food fresh and from drying out and I can't recommend them enough!

2. Food Storage Containers with a Lid – Chances are you probably already have some of these at home. I had a bunch of BPA free Rubbermaid plastic food containers similar to these (the greenest thing is what you already own!) and I excel at dropping and breaking things. Eventually the plastic containers stained, cracked, and got icky. I bought a set of glass food storage containers with locking lids (I like this kind) as an experiment since Husband wasn’t keen on glass. Turns out we like the glass containers better (except for travel) because they don't eventually get icky and you don’t have to be concerned if you stick it in the microwave like you do with plastic.

3. Glass jars – If you don’t want to repurpose plastic or layout a ton of money for all new glass storage containers, repurpose a jar. I freeze homemade broth and soups in wide mouth mason jars (learn more about them here) that haven’t been heated during canning with great success as long as I leave enough headroom at the top of the jar for the frozen liquid to expand into.

4. Ceramic Baking and Serving Dishes with Glass and Plastic Lids – I got a this Corning Ware Bake and Serve Dish Set as wedding present and it is the best thing ever! 

I’m going to tell you how many years I had these dishes in my cupboard and didn’t realize I could use them just like Tupperware because it is an embarrassing amount. 

At first I liked that the style doesn’t look out of place on a causal and formal dinner table but the sealable plastic lids are the thing that sold me because I can stack other food containers on top of them when we play Refrigerator Jenga.

I often use my lidded serving dishes to store a large amount of leftovers (for example, when we use our Instant Pot (you can get one here) even if I don’t cook the meal in one. I have a small kitchen and need things to do double duty as much as possible.

5. Elastic bowl covers (they look like this) – I vaguely remember my grandmother using these covers on serving dishes that didn’t have a lid. I’m not sure how air tight they may be but it is a reusable option so I’m adding it to the list.

6. Silicone stretch-top lids (check them out here) Personally I think these silicone bowl lids are a better sealing alternative to the elastic bowl covers. I like how they stretch to odd size containers.

7. Plate on top of a dish – I got a reader suggestion that putting a dinner plate on top of a dish is their grandma’s answer to not using cling wrap. I haven’t tried it but I’m not about to argue with Grandma.

8. Silicone suction pot and bowl lids (learn the difference between them and Number 6 here) – Are an option to Suggestion Six if you don’t the hand strength to pull a silicone bowl cover over the sides of the bowl (which I do not because I spend way too much time on a computer typing.)

9.  Cook smaller portions – Another good reader suggestion that also cuts down on potential food waste.

Now, you are probably asking what about cloth and beeswax bowl wraps like these? Why aren’t listing them as a plastic free food storage option? When researched them for this post, there was a mixed reaction on how well they work for long term food storage. Beeswax bowl covers seem to work best for covering a dish that you are going to take to a pot luck for example, rather than for a dish you want to store in the refrigerator for several days. Some users like My Plastic Free Life also find they change the taste or smell of the food they are covering. You can read more about Beth’s finding in her post Can Beeswax Cloth Wraps Replace Plastic Cling Wrap?

On the other side of the pro plastic wrap coin, The Kitchn brings up some valid points in why plastic cling film might still be useful in your kitchen in their post No More Plastic Wrap: What About Baking?

What about you? Do you use plastic wrap? What about the freezer? If not, what do you use instead?

If you are looking for more plastic cling wrap altneratives, check out the following ideas  - and more! - below!

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Teresa B said…
Interesting. I need to check out those silicone lids, I think they could be a good alternative for us.
Thank you for sharing at The Really Crafty Link Party.
Chloe Crabtree said…
Great round up of ideas. I know I have been trying to reduce my use of plastic. The images of plastic in our oceans is heartbreaking. I have used the plate on top of a bowl for years! Maybe I am showing my age! Thank you so much for sharing at Celebrate Your Story!
Frenchfry said…
Plate on a bowl. I use this most of the time. Can be a small plate on a smaller bowl. Benefits are that you can reheat food in the storage bowl covered with the lid, and put both in the dishwasher. So no trying to get spaghetti sauce stain out of plastic containers.
Frenchfry said…
Plate on a bowl for sure. Smaller plates for smaller bowls. The benefit is that you can reheat in the same bowl, put them in the dishwasher, and you don’t have to try to get spaghetti sauce stains out of plastic.