Preserving Food Sustainably
Updated: Jul 25
There is nothing I dread to read more after finishing a pack of tortilla wraps than the words “packaging not yet recycled”. Plastic does tick all the boxes for preserving food but loses many marks on sustainability unless it can be recycled. Even though some manufacturers are moving towards more recyclable food packaging, they still have a long way to go. Nevertheless, we can all play our part within our own kitchens by avoiding the use of unsustainable methods in preserving our food.
Cling film is one of those kitchen essentials but maybe we should no longer see it as an essential item. There are many alternatives to using cling film so we should start to view it more as a back-up, or even ditch it entirely, than relying on it as our go-to for preserving food. Ultimately, cling film is not worth the damage it does to the environment, especially because it will gradually break down into its harmful chemical components. Even though it may end up on a distant landfill out of sight, it should certainly not be left out of mind.
There are many sustainable alternatives we can introduce or use more frequently to save the planet from unneeded waste. Lunch boxes or reusable plastic containers are great for storage for leftover meals, vegetables and sandwiches. They also provide a hard barrier to protect your food in contrast to cling film, which might have otherwise left your sandwich squashed if it landed at the bottom of your bag (ouch!). Moreover, if you are looking for some extra containers, save the containers that your hummus comes in- they are particularly handy for leftover avocadoes.
Resealable and reusable plastic freezer bags are also great substitutes for cling film. Squeezing all the air out of the bags before you seal it leaves less room for microorganisms to grow so will keep your food fresher for longer. If you do not anticipate to finish your mushrooms before the best before date, these bags are particularly ideal. Wash your mushrooms, chop them up, place them into the bag and put them in the freezer. This allows your mushrooms to last for longer and you can use them as needed in your cooking. I can never seem to finish a bag of spinach before it starts to go off either, so this method works wonders with spinach too. The only con is that you miss the fresh side of vegetables but if you are going to cook them, you won’t even notice. With some added salt or squeezed lime, it can make your food last for longer and also give it a fresh taste.