Money Saving Tip: Reusable Food Storage Bags

Reusable food storage bags are among the best things ever invented in my book. They not only let us cut down on the amount of plastic we use, they also are a huge money saver. Yes, there is more of an upfront cost to them, but depending on how often you use them, they’ll easily pay for themselves in three- to six months. 

Photo of reusable food storage bags

Single Use Bags are a Waste

If I’m being completely honest, my family could easily go through a box of 32 quart-size freezer bags every two to two-and-a-half weeks. We use them for everything! The problem is that much of what we use them for is only for a few hours, a day or a couple of days at most and then we throw them away after we’re finished with them. What a waste! One or two reusable bags could easily do what 5-10 single use bags do in a week – at least in my house. 

Things to Keep in Mind

There are several primary things to keep in mind when buying reusable food storage bags.

  • Make sure that they are freezer-friendly. You need them to be multi-use to be worth the investment. They should be able to hold sandwiches to pack in a lunch and store soup or other leftovers in the freezer. 
  • Make sure they have a slider for sealing. Again, you need to be able to use these for anything, and you want to make sure that they’re sealed properly and won’t leak. 
  • Buy silicone bags. They will be slightly more expensive but they are the best at making sure that chemicals don’t leach into food. Most reusable bags say that they don’t contain BPA, but some do contain phthalates and Bisphenol S (BPS). These chemicals are also being called into question as endocrine-disruptors that are as potentially harmful as BPA.(1,2,3)  While there are some studies that indicate that there could be some chemical leaching with silicone that contains liquids4 and if the food being stored has a high fat content,I believe that silicone is still the best option out there when it comes to reusable bags for food storage. Just make sure that the bags are made from food-grade silicone. 
  • If you know that washing the bags by hand every day if needed is going to be an issue for your family, buy bags that indicate that they are dishwasher safe. 
  • Buy at least two sizes of bags. These should be as close to quart and freezer size as possible. If your set comes with other sizes, that’s great, but these are the two sizes that are most commonly used, so you’ll want to make sure that you at least have them. 

Saving Money with Reusable Food Storage Bags

You can easily find multi-packs of 3-7 silicone bags for between $20-$30. I recommend starting with one set of 5-7 bags to see what your patterns are for using them. If you find that you need more, you can always purchase another set. 

Since the quart-size single use bags that I had always bought cost $3.99-$4.30 for a box of 35, and we were going through a box every few weeks (or less), my bags paid for themselves in 3-4 months. If you need to buy another set, you double that amount of time, but still… paying for themselves in 6-8 months versus the many years of use that you’ll get out of them seems like easy math to me. Better yet, put them on your birthday or holiday wish list, and let someone else make the investment for you. 

Sources:

  1. Phtalates and diet: a review of the food monitoring and epidemiology data
  2. Bisphenol S Induces Adipogenesis in Primary Human Preadipocytes From Female Donors
  3. Bisphenol S and F: A Systematic Review and Comparison of the Hormonal Activity of Bisphenol A Substitutes
  4. Zhang K, Wong JW, Begley TH, Hayward DG, Limm W. Determination of siloxanes in silicone products and potential migration to milk, formula and liquid simulants. Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2012;29(8):1311–1321. doi:10.1080/19440049.2012.684891; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22575024-determination-of-siloxanes-in-silicone-products-and-potential-migration-to-milk-formula-and-liquid-simulants/
  5. Ruediger Helling, Anja Mieth, Stefan Altmann, Thomas Joachim Simat. Determination of the overall migration from silicone baking moulds into simulants and food using 1H-NMR techniques. Food Additives and Contaminants, 2009, 26 (03), pp.395-407. 10.1080/02652030802520852 . hal-00577342 ; https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00577342/document

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