Container Ideas for Taking Meals
Someone recently sent me the following question in a Facebook message:
"Could you do a post about environmentally friendly ways to take a meal? I'm trying hard not to use disposable items or single use items - especially plastic. Thanks, Ally"
This is an excellent question and one that it has been good for me to consider. My personal opinion is that containers are a secondary issue when it comes to caring for someone with a meal. Convenience and simplicity are my main considerations as I want the meal to be a blessing and not a burden.
I would never not take a meal because I don't have the correct containers, but when you can plan ahead, there are some ways to choose containers well and you'll have them on hand when needed.
Here are some of my favorite container ideas because they are convenient, affordable, and environmentally friendly:
Clamshell Disposable Eco Containers - These containers are biodegradable and made from recyclable materials. You can cook a meal at home in your own dishes and transfer it to these large 10x10 containers. Reynolds made a similar product for a while that I used and liked, but those are no longer widely available. If you order online, the containers are 45 cents a piece, which is a great price. You could even split the order with a friend. They also offer smaller sizes. If your recipe is fairly watery, place a piece of wax paper in the bottom before putting in the food. I've never had one leak, but the containers can get flimsy after a day or two of holding moisture.
Canning Jars with Lids - Glass canning jars are an excellent choice for soups, stews, salad dressings, etc. They are sold at most big box stores. You can certainly use the typical canning lids, but you can also buy solid lids that screw on the jar. These lids are also less likely to leak then the traditional lids. Recently, Kate at Naptime Kitchen shared the idea sending along some peanut M&Ms or other small treats in one of these jars as an easy dessert and/or snack when you're taking a meal. You can buy canning jars or you can also save and recycle used glass jars. Thoroughly clean a used jar, such as spaghetti sauce or honey jar, and it's ready for reuse. If you're buying canning jars for the first time, be sure to buy wide mouth jars because it's much easier to spoon food items into those jars than the ones that are more narrow at the top. Also, these solid lids are made for wide mouth jars.
Beeswax Wrap - This product is an excellent alternative to plastic wrap. You can use it to wrap bread, fruit, cheese, etc. It's perfect for wrapping up cookies or brownies. You can also use these wraps to cover containers and bowls. The only restriction is that beeswax wrap is not made for hot products or the microwave. The wraps can be washed with cool water and dish soap. Each sheet lasts 6 months to a year. The wraps are made from beeswax (from a neighboring farm in Wisconsin), cotton fabric, pine resin and jojoba oil as stated on their Etsy Shop page.
Foil Pans - While not a perfect choice in the environmentally friendly category, you can buy recycled aluminum pans for taking meals and the used/rinsed pans can then also be recycled. Costco carries a pack of thirty Eco-Foil pans for a very reasonable price. I don't claim to know as much about this option as the others, but it's one that I use.
Thrift Shop/Yard Sale Dishes - Years ago, a woman using our site told me that she buys inexpensive glass casserole dishes at her local thrift store for meal taking. She doesn't care if the dishes are not returned and the recipient can pass them along to others. Another recipient told me that her friend brought a meal in glass dishes and also left behind a large box. The friend instructed the recipient to put all of the dirty dishes back in box after dinner was over and place the box on the porch to be picked up later.
I'm definitely not an expert in this area, but I hope this post gives you some ideas for ways you can minimize using disposable containers when taking meals and offers some creative alternatives. Thanks for a great question, Ally!
*The Amazon.com links in this post are affiliate links.
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