Reduce, reuse, recycle. That’s the mantra we were taught in school, and they are still words to live by. Cutting down on plastic waste is key to protecting our environment, and it couldn’t be simpler to swap out zip-sealed bags made of plastic for options that are designed for reuse.
Ahead, read our guide to navigating the available options, and don’t miss our top picks below!
- BEST OVERALL: Bayco Reusable Storage Bags
- BEST FOR FAMILIES: Nordic By Nature Reusable Sandwich Bag Snack Bags
- MOST VERSATILE: Home Hero Reusable Silicone Food Bag
Reusable food storage bags vary in material, size, and features.
Silicone, fabric (polyester or a cotton-polyester blend), and PEVA (non-chlorinated vinyl) materials are most common among reusable food storage bags. Silicone and fabric have the benefit of being flexible and nontoxic, and they won’t add plastic to the waste stream. PEVA is closer to plastic in look and feel but doesn’t give off chloride gases (like a PVC shower curtain would, for example). It is also quite flexible and durable through repeated uses.
Fabric bags can be sealed using Velcro or zippers to keep food fresh. Either works as a closure, but some zippers are stiff and can be hard to open and close. Velcro, in contrast, can catch fuzz, hairs, and other particles. Zip-sealed fabric bags are great for sandwiches and dry snacks especially, as crumbs won’t escape. Silicone and PEVA bags can be either zipped or “pinch locked,” which creates an airtight seal and makes them perfect for on-the-go meals and leak-free storage.
Fortunately, you won’t suffer from a lack of choice when it comes to size. Reusable food storage bags come in four different sizes: small (snack), medium (sandwich), large (storage), and extra-large (gallon). Exact dimensions vary depending on the brand, but look for large bags that hold up to 1500 ml, medium bags that hold up to 1000 ml, and small bags that hold up to 500 ml. Gallon bags (approximately 3785 ml) should be freezer-safe so you can use them to store soups and frozen goods.
- Kid-friendly: Polyester and cotton-blend bags are great for sandwiches and dry snacks, and are often patterned in fun designs. Some silicone and PEVA bags feature leak-free seals, which can be especially helpful for school lunches and on-the-go snacks.
- Easy to clean: Silicone and PEVA bags are especially handy when storing liquids and messier foods, as they are easy to clean with soap and water. Not all silicones and PEVA bags are created equal, though. Make sure the label specifically notes that the product is dishwasher safe, otherwise only wash by hand.
- Temperature range: Reusable bags can be great for snacks, but some are also microwave-, oven-, and freezer-safe, as well as designed for steaming and cooking sous vide. Be sure to read the label carefully, as temperature specifications should be listed.
Our Top Picks
These Bayco bags boast standout features and great overall design. Each includes an integrated, self-zip closure that makes food stays where it should (inside the bag), and each is made of food-grade silicone, safe for use in the freezer, microwave, dishwasher.
Nordic by Nature’s washable snack bags are kid-friendly, adult-approved, and available in stylish patterns and colors. The best feature? Their durable, high-quality design. While the outer layer is made of a cotton/polyester blend, the inner layer is made of food-grade thermoplastic polyurethane. The latter boasts all the sturdiness of plastic with none of the worrisome chemicals normally associated with plastic (e.g., BPA). Cleanup is easy: just rinse and wipe dry, or throw the bag in the dishwasher for a deep clean.
Home Hero reusable bags are aptly named. Made of FDA-approved silicone, these leakproof bags will not leach toxins into your food, nor will they retain stains or odors. The seven colored sealing rods, included, enclose the bags completely to ensure no droplets leak out. Three large (1500 ml.) and four medium (1000 ml.) bags are included, along with a bag holder and sponge for easy cleaning. Safe for a wide range of temperatures and suitable for any number of uses, Home Hero silicone bags can be put in the fridge, freezer, microwave, oven or dishwasher.