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We’re all after the best reusable products on the market to not only reduce the impact on the earth, but to save some money in the process.
Living with a smaller carbon footprint benefits you first and foremost, and in this case, can even keep your food costs lower as time goes on.
The average savings of switching to reusable freezer bags and food storage bags is around $420.00 for a five-year period.
Reusable plastic bags can last you for five to ten years on average, and can be recycled effectively without ending up in a landfill.
You’ll see short-term savings, and if you care for your bags properly, a long-term payoff that can stretch into the low thousands, especially if you’re getting these for school lunches for your kids. It’s an investment, and these are the top five best reusable storage bags to make the most of it.
Our Reviews Of The Best Reusable Freezer Bags on the Market
Inspiratek isn’t just an environmentally conscious company, they’re a brand that’s offering more than one alternative to help you cut down on your carbon footprint.
You get two stainless steel straws in this pack, which are completely rust resistant and work well in hot or cold drinks.
These are made out of PEVA, a plastic alternative that is not only biodegradable, but withstands temperatures better than single-use freezer bags.
Between all the bags, you get a gallon and a half of space, and each bag has around 400 uses before the seal begins to degrade.
When it comes time to clean these, it’s tricky. They’re basically reusable plastic dishware in a sense, but should only be hand washed and dried immediately. Use in a dishwasher could break the seal and make them unusable for the freezer.
There will be a bit of an odor when you receive these, but a quick rinse with hot water will take care of everything.
Two packs of these will completely replace your need for single-use bags for years to come.
Homelux Theory Reusable Silicone Bags
Sometimes you need to store leftovers while they’re still warm, but you don’t want to pop the pan in the fridge.
Homelux and their top notch silicone storage bags let you place warm or hot food inside without releasing chemicals into the food, or altering the taste. Put them right in the fridge, and you’re good to go.
You get a little less volume versus value compared to our top pick, but you’ll also get measurements on the side of each bag to track how much you’re putting into each one.
This works great if you’re splitting up a meal to have for a few days during a meal prep.
Homelux also offers something truly revolutionary: a lifetime, money-back guarantee. If these don’t hold up against the test of time, Homelux will buy them back from you, which is just insane.
The only thing is that you have to strictly stick to the cleaning recommendations, which is hand washing and hand drying only, no dishwasher use.
WOHOME Airtight Silicone Bags
Silicone is used in potholders, so it’s no surprise that it’s also extremely durable against the cold as well.
WOHOME’s silicone bags can withstand over negative fifty degrees, and up to 480 F (not that anything that hot is going into this bag), so you can rest assured that your food is ultra protected at all times.
You’ll also have the peace of mind that comes with the leak proof design, so even if this topples over in the fridge, you won’t lose your soup and come back to a mess on the bottom shelf. We mention that because they’re not going to stay upright on their own.
The silicone is durable, but doesn’t stand tall on its own.
The plastic end of the zipper can be a little difficult to close. It provides that airtight seal, but you have to double check that it was closed properly before putting it in the freezer so you don’t end up with frostbitten food.
For the few troubles that this brings, these silicone bags work phenomenally well, and last for ages.
Eco-Friendly Reusable Silicone Food Bags
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These are considered as some of the best reusable ziplock bags, or at least the best alternative to single-use ziplock bags.
Not only are they fully leak resistant, but they also offer the largest capacity on our list: 2.5 gallons worth of eco-friendly materials to store your food in.
These bags are excellent for freezer storage, but not ideal to store hot or warm food in to store in the fridge.
You should exclusively hand wash these bags and towel dry them immediately to prevent any warping or damage to the bags.
One downside is that you’re met with a chemical smell when you open the package, and it’s going to take a few washes to get rid of it.
Silicone is a tricky material, and where it holds onto the smell of plastic, it will also hold onto food smell.
This isn’t an issue with most foods, but highly acidic meals like spaghetti sauce and chili might retain an odor.
Envirogen PEVA Reusable Food Storage Bags
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PEVA is a fantastic material that’s food grade safe and biodegradable, which is why Envirogen made the best reusable sandwich bags out of it.
Envirogen gives you a complete money-back guarantee if you don’t love the five bags that you get, but there’s no specific allotment of time where you can make good on that offer.
As with most, these are hand wash only if you want to retain their shape and lifespan.
One thing that sets Envirogen apart from others is that these bags are entirely TSA safe, but with the material upgrade and benefits, you’re getting less room than other packs for a similar price tag.
Combined between the bags, you get less than a full gallon of space.
That’s not exactly a lot of space, so you would need to get two or three packs of these in order to replace single-use bags entirely.
If you’re considering combining these with other reusable bag purchases, these would work great for kids lunches and packing road snacks for trips.
Reusable Storage Bags FAQ
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about reusable storage bags:
Are Reusable Silicone Bags Safe?
Silicone is food grade safe, for the most part. Even though you can heat silicone up (such as with silicone potholders and oven mitts), that’s where you run into a problem.
Silicone doesn’t leak chemicals into your food when it’s stored cold or just sitting on the counter, but extreme heats begin to break it down.
When silicone containers say “Safe up to 450 F,” that doesn’t mean you should microwave with it or push your limits. That simply means at 451 F, it will begin to melt and rapidly break down, but there’s nothing magical about a one degree difference.
At 449 F, it will still begin to break down, it just don’t have visual effects or burn through it, but that’s when chemicals start to seep into your food.
Microwave-safe silicone and plastic just have to meet a threshold of releasing a very minimal amount of chemicals, but are not required to be foolproof fortresses that keep you food 100% safe.
It’s the same with tap water: everywhere has different legal limits on what contents and dissolved solids can be in the water.
They are completely safe for food storage, but you should use different containers to heat up food in the microwave.
Let your food sit at room temperature for a little while before storing it in a silicone bag to avoid this problem.
Is Silicone a Food Grade?
Not all silicone is food grade.
There are specific food grade silicones that technically don’t contain chemical fillers or byproducts, but the laws in the United States that govern what “chemical fillers” and “byproducts” are is much more lax than those in the European Union, for example.
Food grade silicone is better for you than standard silicone, so long as you listen to the temperature recommendations mentioned in the last section.
These are built BPA-free and contain no toxins, latex, or phthalates, but it still isn’t good to ingest it if it affects your food.
Technically, there’s no lead or phthalates in plastic shopping bags, but if you ingest small amounts of that, you’re still going to get hit with a negative health effect.
Silicone is one of the most abundant minerals that we have at our disposal, which means that we’re not stripping the earth with REE mining or anything along those lines.
The odd thing about silicone is that when it’s made food grade, it’s as if you’re using a malleable sheet of soft glass with a zipper on it.
Can I Use Reusable Storage Bags in the Freezer?
Yes, you can absolutely use these in the freezer. Most bags that are made out of PEVA or silicone (which is roughly 95% of the market on these types of bags) are resistant to extreme temperatures, both hot and cold.
The colder something is, the easier it is to break. Simply put, you can’t “break” water, but you can break ice.
With silicone and PEVA, the temperature ranges are much lower than the threshold for freezing water, and are often dozens of degrees lower than even a flash freezer.
Some of the silicone bags we reviewed can sustain temperatures as low as -52 F, which is impressive to say the least.
Even if you were able to get the bags to this super low temperature range, it would be difficult to break them.
You would have to expose them to extreme temperatures on the opposite end of the scale, such as throwing them in a preheated 475 F oven.
That’s deliberate, and isn’t going to happen for any reason.
The point is, it would take a lot of intent and time to destroy these bags or make them no longer viable for freezer use.
Because PEVA and food grade silicone is built out of non-toxic materials and sometimes even natural fibers, they only break down or react poorly to excessive temperatures (close to or over their maximum threshold, as discussed earlier).
They won’t break down or affect your food for any reason.
Is Freezing Food in Silicone Bags Safe?
Freezing food in silicone bags is completely safe, but there some guidelines you should follow for food safety.
Don’t just put hot food into a silicone bag and throw it right in the freezer.
Bring it down to a reasonable temperature in a safe manner by either leaving it at room temperature for a short amount of time, or using an ice cube stick to manually bring down the temperature of the food.
The reason we bring this up is because in the past, consumers have been led to believe that silicone bags are like wrapping your food in Superman’s cape.
Nothing is going to protect your food from bacteria and illness except listening to what science has to say.
Cooling food too quickly, especially when you bring it down from 165 F to 28 F (over the meat safe temperature to a below freezing temperature).
This is because it accelerates the growth of bacteria during the danger zone duration, which is anywhere from 140 F down to 41 F, the standard refrigeration temperature.
In between 125 F and 70 F, microorganisms are at their prime for breeding.
Putting hot food in a silicone bag and popping it in the freezer means you’re basically putting an insulated bag in a cold area.
You’ll bring down the temperature, but the cold air on the outside of the bag isn’t directly cooling the food.
Since silicone doesn’t retain temperature very well, the hot air on the inside of the bag will keep the food in the microorganism breeding range for longer than it would at room temperature.
If you use an ice cube stick, you can safely bring down the internal temperature of food from 140 F to under 70 F in about fifteen minutes or less, which is an excellent time span to get it done.
That leaves a very short window for microorganisms to grow, keeping your food safer for longer. This is especially helpful if you plan on storing food in the freezer for extended periods of time.
How to Clean Reusable Storage Bags?
First thing’s first: don’t abuse your bags.
Just because they’re reusable doesn’t mean they’re made of iron. You can clean your bags very easily.
Silicone and PEVA are partially water repellent by the nature of their production, so you won’t have to spend a lot of time scraping food, so long as you don’t leave it in for too long.
To start cleaning your reusable bags, fill them up with hot water from the faucet.
Leave them alone for about sixty seconds so that the water can begin to eat away at any stuck-on food particles.
Empty the water in your sink, and use the spray nozzle on the kitchen sink to get inside the bag. This will wash mostly everything out… mostly.
The corners can be especially tricky.
The hose might do the trick, but if you had soup or chili sitting in the bag for a day or two prior to cleaning, you’ll need some type of tool to clean the corners.
Don’t use anything too abrasive, like metal sink brushes.
The best thing you can use is a baby bottle brush, or something similar with long, soft plastic bristles.
Silicone is durable, but it’s still susceptible to punctures and damage from scraping.
If you use something that’s too abrasive, you could leave grooves and divots on the interior, which are going to get filled in with food particles.
Since reusable silicone and PEVA bags are best cleaned by hand, there’s human error involved—failing to clean those grooves could result in bacterial growth that’s passed by your usual cleaning regimen.
It’s best to just stick to soft bristle brushes or specifically soft sponges with no abrasive side when cleaning reusable ziplock bags.
What is the Lifetime of Reusable Storage Bags?
Reusable sandwich bags and silicone food storage bags usually last for around three to five years.
PEVA is one of the main materials that you will see, which are biodegradable.
As a result, they’re not built with a strong molecular chain like most lead and oil-based plastics are.
This can cause wear and tear, at least to the point where it’s no longer viable as a food storage container.
This process takes some time, but if you wash your bags by hand and store them dry, they won’t start to degrade until they’re introduced to a landfill with ample sunlight and bacteria.
Sunlight breaks down that molecular bond between different types of plastic, which is why plastic doesn’t decompose in landfills as often as it does in the ocean.
With silicone, it has a bond somewhere in between normal plastic and PEVA, and takes a lot longer to break down.
It’s usually built thicker than lead and oil-based plastics to account for heat distribution and retain its shape in extreme temperatures, and as a result can last for longer with proper care.
If you’ve ever seen silicone pot holders split and crack, that’s from not cleaning them and mishandling them.
This can be avoided, and you should get five to seven years out of these bags.
Does Food Last Longer in Reusable Bags?
Silicone, PEVA and plastic bags share one thing in common: their airtight seal can be compromised without the user being aware.
Your food will last for the same amount of time in a standard plastic bag (in a cool, controlled space like a refrigerator) as it would in a silicone bag.
The difference is plastic waste, and saving money.
Food will degrade through microorganism growth such as yeast, mold, and bacteria.
Those are going to grow no matter what, unless you’re vacuum sealing, jarring or canning food.
Reusable bags offer a long-term monetary payoff and help keep additional waste out of the environment.
On average, over a trillion plastic bags (every type of plastic bag from shopping to sandwich) are created in the United States every single year, and a large portion of those end up in the ocean, while others go to landfills.
Say Goodbye to Single-Use Waste
While you might not think of single-use freezer bags being a big part of the environmental impact that we have every day, you can help keep hundreds of these bags out of the ocean every year.
Switching to reusable products is beneficial for you and saves the environment.
When we think of environmental impact, we look to packaging and plastic shopping bags, but single-use freezer bags are somewhere in the gray area.
This is not only good for your wallet, but massively important to reducing ocean and landfill waste across the world.
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