Baskets, bins and trays are now designed just for the refrigerator to make things easier to find later. Sure they help corral leftover packets of taco sauce, but what about organizing the real food that gets stored in the refrigerator?
Store Food Without the Bulk Using Zip Top Bags
A myriad of plastic or glass storage container choices awaits consumers when shopping in the food storage aisle of any big box store. However, those options can quickly become expensive – even when sold as a 36-piece pack (good luck finding all the lids a year from now) – and take up a lot of space, both in the kitchen and while storing foods in a refrigerator.
Instead, consider using heavy-duty plastic Ziploc bags to store food. A quart sized bag holds leftover lunchtime foods like chicken nuggets or even mixed vegetables without taking up half a shelf in the refrigerator. A head of lettuce or fresh chopped vegetables store easily in bags specially made to keep produce fresh, reducing the risk of forgetting about them in the crisper drawers. Freezer bags can be used to store pre-made foods such as soup which easily reheats and can be lain flatly to take up less space. And since there’s nothing quite like trying to get a circular pizza into a rectangular container, consider using gallon sized bags for leftover slices instead.
Tips for storing food without containers
When storing food in plastic bags always make sure the seal is completely closed. If not, food can leak out if it’s liquid and/or air can get in and dry it out, which could potentially spoil the food. Marking the date the food was first made on the outside of the bag either with a marker or using a sticker is a good idea for food safety purposes. Pre-made food is usually good for two to three days after it’s made if stored correctly in the refrigerator.
Some refrigerators aren’t manufactured with solid shelving though and instead use a coated wire shelf system, which plastic bags can slip through. Placing an inexpensive sheet of acrylic plastic or glass on top of one area of the wire shelving – designated the leftover spot – can help fix the problem.
Packing a lunch box with ease using plastic bags
Although packing a lunch box isn’t difficult, it can be hard to get all the food together quickly in the morning before school or work. By using plastic bags in sandwich or snack sizes to store leftover foods, packing a lunch in the morning can be as easy as placing a bag into the lunch box. There are even microwave safe plastic bags available to make reheating safe and a breeze. Storing small bags of similar foods together in a larger basket or lidded container while in the refrigerator can also make at-home lunch prep easier.
Storing Homemade Spice Mixes in Plastic Zip Top Bags
Another great use for plastic bags as storage in the kitchen is to use them when creating and storing homemade spice mixes. Everything from Alton Brown’s taco seasoning recipe – which can easily make enough for four taco nights – to a ground espresso steak rub can be combined in a plastic zip top bag and stored either with other commercially purchased spices or in the refrigerator for a longer life.
Along with this idea comes the busy cook favorite tip of using a zip top bag to quickly bread meat or vegetables. Simply dip the food in an egg white wash, and place in a plastic bag with breadcrumbs. When all the pieces are in the bag, seal it up and shake to coat with the breading. Or, if dinner calls for a marinade, combine all the liquid in a large plastic bag and soak the food in the bag while chilling in the refrigerator. This method once again saves space but also saves time during clean up.
Refrigerators don’t have to be cluttered with plastic storage boxes or heavy, breakable glass containers. By using plastic bags instead you save space, money and time. Just remember to store safely and eat soon!
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