5 Tips for Plastic-Free Cooking

The folks at Rodale are hosting a Plastic-Free February challenge and they’re inviting anyone who’s interested to jump on board. Ever since reading about my pal Heather’s first day of the challenge, I’ve been much more conscious about the plastic I use in my day to day cooking adventures.

Not only is plastic bad for the environment, it’s not great for your health, either. Even if you’re using BPA-free plastic, those cooking tools and food containers can still leach nasty chemicals into your food. Do you feel like your cooking could use a plastic-free makeover? Here are some tips to ban plastic from your kitchen.

>>Next: Eat more whole foods.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by sun dazed

chip aisle at the grocery store

1. Eat More Whole Foods

Convenience foods so often come with a not-so-healthy dose of plastic packaging. From veggie burgers and bags of chips to TV dinners and cookies, it’s tricky to find processed foods that aren’t wrapped in plastic. The bad news is that means you’ll be making more food from scratch. The good news is that most of these pre-packaged foods aren’t so healthy, so getting them out of your kitchen is as good for you as it is for the planet.

>>Next: Check those utensils.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by ilovememphis

baby chewing on plastic spatula

2. Ditch the Plastic Utensils

It’s a no-brainer to use metal or wooden forks, spoons, and knives at the table, but are you using plastic spoons, ladles, and spatulas to prepare your meal? It’s never a good idea to mix plastic and heat when you’re preparing food. The good news here is that it’s easy as pie to track down stainless steel, wood, or bamboo replacements for those plastic utensils.

If you’re replacing old plastic, don’t toss them it the trash! Find out if your area takes plastic utensils for recycling. Can’t recycle them? You can keep them around for other jobs, like stirring paint or for craft projects. Plastic utensils might make cute row markers for a spring garden or a fun mobile that you can create with your kids.

>>Next: Plastic free produce.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by drewzuckerman

silk produce bag from Kootsac

3. Plastic Free Produce

If you’re a regular reader at Care2, you probably already sport reusable grocery bags, but what about those ubiquitous plastic produce bags? Never fear! With reusable produce bags, like the one pictured above from Kootsac, you can finally get rid of those disposable plastic bags.

>>Next: Say goodbye to non stick cookware.

Image Credit: photo via Kootsac

Good Health Skillet

4. Bye Bye, Non Stick Cookware

Before you oil that non-stick pan, you might want to check into what it’s made from. Many conventional non-stick pans use a thing coating of plastic to keep your food from sticking. Instead, look into ceramic, stainless steel, or cast iron pots and pans instead.

This is another case where you might want to repurpose your old cookware. Old soup pots make great planters for non-edibles. While you might not want to cook in that old non-stick pan, you could use it as a component in an art piece or do something simple like decoupage it with photos and fabric scraps to create a unique bit of wall art.

>>Next: Store your food in glass.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Jannie-Jan

glass bowl of cherries

5. Store Your Food in Glass

The really cool part about storing food in glass is that you can often serve and store in the same container, which means fewer dishes!

Since the advent of Tupperware, plastic containers have been the go to for storing food from chopped veggies to leftovers, but it’s not ideal. Glass jars are a great, cheap alternative to plastic for storing leftovers. You can buy mason jars or clean out sauce and soup jars as you use them.

To store larger dishes, you might want to look into some glass storage containers to replace that Tupperware. It gets a little bit tricky here, since all of the glass food storage containers I’ve found have plastic lids. This might be a place where you’ll want to go for the best choice — a plastic lid on a glass container beats a whole container made from plastic, right? Have you had any luck finding glass food storage containers with a metal or glass lid?

Are any of you taking the Plastic-Free February challenge? I’d love to hear how you’re giving plastic the boot in your kitchen!

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by [cipher]

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William C
William Cabout a year ago

Thank you.

W. C
W. Cabout a year ago


Edith B.
Edith B4 years ago

I have not seen a storage container with a glass lid in twenty years. If I found one, I would buy it.

Fi T.
Past Member 5 years ago

Eat smart to make a day

Isabel Ramirez
Isabel Ramirez8 years ago

Recently moved out of my parents home and I'm aiming to cook as healthy as possible. Thanks for the article!

Elizabeth O.
.8 years ago

Useful tips.

Matthew W.
Matthew W.8 years ago

I'm sorry - but I think the article is misleading in a few ways. First of all, plastics are not bad for the environment. Improper disposal of plastics is bad for the environment. I think it would be better to focus on the actual problem. And plastics do so much good in our lives. The next time you're in the hospital you will greatly appreciate the plastic IV bag, and the sterilized tools that are protected in plastic, and the latex gloves used by staff to prevent the spread of disease. Glass, wood, steel...can't do that.

Several posters above have already admitted to using plastic lids with glass or metal containers. The fact is, you won't be able to protect your food from spoiling as well as you can with plastic.

Don't throw out the baby with the bath water. Plastics are not evil. We just need to do better about recycling them.

Mervi R.
Mervi R8 years ago

Thanks for the tips!