Eco-friendly ways to save leftovers
Holiday meals tend to mean lots of leftovers; either we make enough for an army, or the army we expected didn’t materialize. If you’re worried about the environmental impact of that king-size roll of plastic wrap or that stack of disposable plastic tubs, here are some alternatives:
Glass jars, stainless steel
“The key to storing leftovers in an eco-friendly way is to use - and reuse what you already own,” says Madeleine Somerville of Edmonton, Alberta, author of “All You Need Is Less: The Eco-Friendly Guide to Guilt-Free Green Living and Stress-Free Simplicity” (Viva, 2015). “Making use of (jars and containers) that you already have will almost always beat out buying something new,” she says. “Don’t worry about not having a perfect, Instagram-worthy fridge or freezer. As your old containers break, get lost or wear out, then you can begin investing in glass or stainless steel options.”
Soups, stews, smoothies, frozen fruits and vegetables all work well decanted and stored in glass jars; just leave 1/4 of the jar empty for expansion. And while a glass container with a snap-lock lid isn’t 100 percent plastic-free, it does a good job keeping turkey and other meats and leftovers fresh, and can be used indefinitely.
Williams-Sonoma stocks a variety of glass Mason or Weck canning jars. Check out Fishs Eddy’s jar collection, embellished with strawberries, flowers, bees or polka dots. Mighty Nest stocks Duralex’s tempered-glass storage containers, which can go from fridge or freezer to microwave or oven. The lids are free of phthalates, BPA, PVC and lead. They’ve got sturdy stainless steel containers, too. Boston Warehouse has a stoneware collection that can be used for cooking as well as storage. Pieces have modern geometric prints on them, and vented lids. Check out Corelle’s enamel steel storage collection, in a variety of prints and patterns, ready to go from fridge to table.
Bee’s Wrap, invented by Bristol, Vermont, mom and gardener Sarah Kaeck, is a beeswax, jojoba oil and resin-coated organic cloth that can be used to cover bowls or to wrap breads. It comes in several sizes and warms to a pleasing malleability when handled. The wraps last about a year, and can be cleaned with cool water.
And if you find it hard to relinquish zippered plastic bags, consider Bio Bags. They’re made of plant starch, so when you’ve eaten up the leftovers you can compost the bag.
Kris Bordessa, who writes a blog called Attainable Sustainable, suggests: “When it’s time to clean up after dinner, we often have small amounts of vegetables or sauces left in the pan. Not quite enough for a leftover lunch, but enough that I don’t want to waste it.”
She collects those odds and ends in containers in the freezer. When she makes soups, she reaches for one of those jars. The trick, she notes, is not to mix incompatible flavors.
She also freezes small quantities in muffin tins. Once the food’s frozen solid, she wraps it in wax paper and foil to store.
HGTV’s Scott McGillivray also utilizes his freezer: “I use a lot of fresh herbs from my garden while cooking for Thanksgiving, so I cut up the leftovers and freeze them in olive oil in ice cube trays. You can toss the frozen cubes in a sauce pan or frying pan for a future meal and you’re good to go.”
He also uses ice-cube trays for leftover wine. “In the unlikely event you actually have wine left over, you can freeze it and use it to enhance your next dish.”
This undated photo provided by Bee’s Wrap, shows the company’s eco-friendly alternative to plastic wrap.—AP photos
This undated photo provided by Bee’s Wrap, shows the company’s eco-friendly alternative to plastic wrap.