Do you cringe when you see that colleague in the lunchroom heating up their delicious lunch in a PLASTIC MEAL PREP CONTAINER?? I DO! If you answered no, perhaps you haven’t stopped to research exactly what is in that plastic that surrounds and smothers your food.
Lets quickly discuss…
Petroleum, PVC (polyvinyl chloride, #3), polystyrene (#6), polycarbonate (#7),BPA, BPS… And sadly, the list goes on. These plastics, especially when heated, have so many harmful chemicals that leak into that perfectly prepped meal of yours. If you do use plastic, make sure you look at the number on the bottom to see where it falls in the safety scale.
Not only does it sometimes make your food taste like plastic (YUCK!), they have been linked to chronic diseases including cancers, asthma and even autism. I don’t want to bore you with scientific terms or terrify you with all the detailed health risks, but rather make you aware of the benefits of storing your food in glass meal prep containers over plastic meal prep containers so you can make a positive change and enjoy all the benefits that come with it!
seven serious comparisons:
- Safety: Research has proven that harmful chemicals in plastic leach into your food (or liquid) during storage, especially when heated. In turn, we consume the food or drink, allowing the chemicals to enter our bodies. Glass meal prep containers do not have this issue due to its non-porus surface. In addition you don’t have to be concerned with glass being exposed to the high temperatures when you run it through the dishwasher or microwave like you do with plastic! The one area where plastic may win is that it won't break or shatter, making it the kid-friendly option for those bag-lunches.
- Freshness: We get asked all the time, "how long will my meal preps stay fresh?" and it depends how your store your food! The first rule of freshness is a good seal, which glassware can ensure because its much more ridged and can be sealed tighter. In a research study, glass food storage containers remained air tight for two weeks! Another huge advantage of glassware is that it repels food odors, colors, and bacteria to keep the taste of what's in the container its own.
- Cleanup: The last thing you want to do after scrubbing your pots and pans is struggle with your plastic containers. As I mentioned you can throw the glass right into the dishwasher without a worry of toxins leaking. But sometimes you want to quickly hand wash some tupperware and glass makes it much easier than plastic meal prep containers. Save yourself the arm workout and time spend over the sink.
- Multi-purpose: Serving your meals or sides to the dinner table in plastic just does not have the same appetizing effects as glass or ceramic. Plus, you can't bring the dish directly from the microwave or oven straight to the table! Yet another area that plastic can't compete in.
- Easy on the wallet: A lot of people hold back from buying the glass containers because they think it is so expensive however, if you really take a look you will see that it is actually cheaper… yay! How do you figure? Well, typically when you purchase a glass set it’s a one time investment whereas plastic tends to need to be thrown out and replaced because they get all yucky from the food absorbing into the plastic. Also, many glass meal prep containers manufacturers will have a lifetime warranty on their lids in the event they do give out.
- Environmentally Friendly: We just covered how glass lasts much longer than plastic and how that saves you money, but looking a step further it also has a profound impact on the environment. Glass can be completely recycled with relatively clean processes into "recycled glass" without the need for "new glass." On the other hand, every new plastic container requires new plastic and the plastic that is recycled gets "down-cycled" into other, lower quality products. Also, plastic manufacturing releases many harmful toxins and emission into the air, unlike glass. That being said, when you do make the switch to glass storage make sure you properly dispose of your old plastic so that it can be recycled. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 33 million tons of plastics were generated in the US in 2013, which represents about 13 percent all waste, however only nine percent of these plastics were recycled in 2013!! Do your part.
- Weight: This is one area you may consider using plastic containers if you're on the move and need to bring enough meals to make it worth it. Plain and simple, plastic is lighter than glass. But with so many other factors at play, you're not only sacrificing the freshness of your food, but also your ability to safely reheat it in the same container. Ask yourself if a few less ounces over your shoulder are really worth it - I think not!
So, you're ready to make the switch to glass containers but you're not sure what to look for? Here are a few things to keep in mind.
four key features of glass storage:
- Air tight, leak-proof lids made of glass, rubber, or safe plastic. Four-sided lid locks are the best.
- Oven safe, freezer proof, tempered glass
- Stack-able for easy storage. Square and rectangular shapes work best and can also help with reheating and cooling times, which is important to limit bacteria growth that occurs between 40-140 degrees.
- Lifetime guarantee. Snapware is one example that will replace your lids if they break.