How to Easily Switch to Glass Food Storage Containers

How to switch to glass food storage containers | Glass storage containers | Kitchen storage containersIf you’ve spent much time in the real food/natural living world, you’re no stranger to the potential dangers of plastic. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google “dangers of plastic” for plenty of reading material.) While I have not chosen to banish all plastic from my life, I do think that one big way to reduce your exposure is to opt for glass rather than plastic when it comes to food storage. As far as healthy habits go, this is a pretty easy one, but initially building your glassware stash can be overwhelming. Let me share with you what I’ve learned and what currently works for me.

Before proceeding, however, know that you can switch over to glass food storage containers as casually or as aggressively as you want. If you want to absolutely banish all plastic containers from your kitchen, more power to you! But, I also think that it’s completely fine to tackle the process gradually or just try to opt for glass over plastic whenever it’s convenient for you.

Personally I manage to use glass containers most of the time, but I also don’t stress if I put some leftovers in plastic because all our glassware is dirty. I also still freeze some things in plastic just because that works best for me.

Find out what you feel comfortable with and implement it in your own life.

Canning jars/mason jars

One of the most popular options for glass food storage are mason jars, also known as canning jars. Although traditionally used for canning, they are also great for general food storage. Mason jars are awesome because they are durable, easy to find, and usually pretty inexpensive. They are also very versatile because they come in a variety of sizes, from half-gallon all the way down to the tiny and super cute four ounce size.

I have a large collection of mason jars in various sizes. They are excellent for storing all sorts of foods, from soups to beans to kefir to kombucha. I recommend stocking up on a variety of different sizes to accommodate varying amounts of foods.

Mason jars come in both wide-mouth and regular-mouth. I mostly have wide-mouth because I find them easier to fill and easier to clean. I put all of my jars in the dishwasher, which most of the time does a good job of cleaning them.

 Ball Jar Crystal Jelly Jars with Lids and Bands, Quilted, 4-Ounce, Set of 12 Jarden 52505 Wide Mouth Ball Jar, 32-Ounce, Case of 12 Ball Jar with Lid and Band – Pick Your Size and Color (Clear, Wide


If you don’t like messing with the two-piece lids that come with canning jars, you can buy plastic lids in either wide-mouth or regular-mouth sizes. I love these and use them exclusively.

If you want to freeze foods in your mason jars, read my guide on how to freeze food in glass jars; not all glass jars are freezer-safe.

Repurposed glass jars that originally held store-bought foods like spaghetti sauce, salsa, etc.

Reusing jars that originally held store-bought products can be a great way to build your glass stash for free. Although I don’t buy that many things in jars anymore, I have kept several nicely-shaped and durable-looking jars over the years. So the next time you finish up something in a glass jar, consider whether it has potential food storage uses before tossing it in the recycling.

I am not sure whether old store-bought jars are freezer safe. Personally I don’t use them in the freezer, but that’s mostly because I’ve broken enough glass to avoid anything that I’m not pretty sure isn’t going to result in a breakage. If you’re more adventurous than me, I think you’d do well to experiment.

When keeping old store-bought jars, I recommend examining the lid for lingering odors before storing any of your own leftovers in the jar. While glass doesn’t tend to retain odors, the same cannot be said of the materials used to make the jar lids. I have often encountered salsa jar lids that continued to smell like salsa no matter what I did to them—and unfortunately, this meant that they also imparted that smell and taste to any foods stored in the corresponding jar. I have found, however, that many jars will fit the standard regular-mouth lids sold for canning jars, so you can often toss the original lid without sacrificing the usefulness of the jar.

Other glass storage containers: Pyrex and Glasslock 

While you can probably get by with just glass jars, I also like having a variety of other, non-jar glass food storage containers. Purchasing other food storage containers allows you to add a variety of different shapes to your glassware collection. I find that this is particularly helpful if you want to eat out of your glass containers, such as when you’re at work or on the road. Many of our glass containers easily lend themselves to acting like a plate or bowl when we’re not at home.

There are many, many different types of glass storage containers on the market. Personally I have been very pleased with my several Pyrex containers plus a couple sets of Glasslock containers.

 Glasslock 18-Piece Assorted Oven Safe Container Set Pyrex 18 Piece Simply Store Food Storage Set, Clear


When shopping for glass containers, I recommend looking for containers that are dishwasher-safe, freezer-safe and nesting. Oven-safe is also another nice feature, if you think you’ll ever want to reheat your food directly in the container.

Looking for More Green Living Posts?

Be sure to check out my posts on how to reheat food without a microwave and how to freeze food in glass jars (without breaking your jars)!

Have you invested in any glass storage containers? Which options are your favorites? 


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38 Responses to How to Easily Switch to Glass Food Storage Containers

  1. Sarah says:
    Thank you for posting this Meghan! I have been trying to "phase out" my plastic at home. It is expensive to completely switch over to glass all at once, so I am doing it gradually. I did find that my glass jars with locking lids do not break in the freezer, so I started storing my broth in them. Thanks again for all the great tips!
  2. Janira B. says:
    Thanks Meghan for posting this. :-) Another way to acquire glass jars & containers is by asking neighbors, co-workers, friends & family. Last week I sent out an email to a couple of my co-workers & the next day I received 6 jars. Also, if you add a piece of plastic wrap (eek, I know) or cut a piece of parchment paper to fit inside the lid to the smelly salsa jar lids, this will keep the smell from affecting your food.
  3. Judith says:
    Do you have any sources for lead and cadmium free dishes,and cups that are affordable?
  4. Tia says:
    I have been using glass for over 15 years. I find plastic to be odor and stain holding, and never quite "clean". I have gotten the bulk of my mason canning jars from the thrift shop. I too use old jars that once had store purchased products in them. The cleanliness of glass is apparent and you can feel how clean it is. I hand wash everything, we do not have a dishwasher. I heart glass.
  5. Meghan, I've been scoring old and not-so-old Ball and Mason jars at the thrift shop. I love adding to my glass jar collection for pennies, and I especially love how my new modern white plastic fridge/freezer screw on lids fit just perfectly with my vintage jars. Great post!
  6. Karen says:
    Repurposed glass jars bought from stores with stuff in them are NOT SUITABLE for freezing. The glass has to have suitable for freezing on it to use at really low temperatures. Otherwise I've been told that minute bits of shards can come off and into the contents and you don't realise. Very dangerous.
    • I had not heard that before, Karen. Thanks for sharing.
    • Lee says:
      Yes. Some glass jars are too thin to allow them to be safely reused. I was finishing up the last of the jelly from a glass jar and the knife I was using poked a small hole in the bottom of the jar and a small sized glass shard landed on the open face of the sandwich I was making. I notified the jelly company (a small organic manufacturer in the Pacific Northwest), and they said that had "NEVER" happened before, but I remain skeptical of the thinner glass containers.
  7. amy d says:
    What about plastic bags (ziploc, baggies)? I use them ALL the time for cut up veggies, cheese, etc. (grab-n-go). Do those, too, leak chemicals? If so, what alternatives do you use? THANKS! :D
    • Amy, I'm not sure. I haven't looked into ziploc bags. I do use plastic bags in my freezer because they're so convenient. I try to stay away from them in my fridge because they're not easily reusable (and I hate washing them). I think the containers that I mentioned would be good substitutes--albeit quite a bit heavier, if that's a concern.
      • Sarah says:
        Also, plastic bags are coating the ocean floor.
      • Heidi Cole says:
        Russbe makes reusable plastic bags that can be hand washed or washed in the dishwasher. Walmart sells them on line, but not in any of the stores in my neighborhood. Russbe also has a website.
  8. Maya says:
    What do you do about just-bought meats?
  9. Maya says:
    Well, if you put raw meat in a pyrex container won't it be affected by the air? I spend a lot of money on pastured meats but then they are wrapped tight in plastic and not really sure how to store them properly.
  10. Bonnie says:
    I got two sets of Pyrex storage containers on Black Friday last year for about half price and I love them! I also use wide and regular mouth jars. Did you know that the shaker lids from parmesan cheese fit regular-mouth glass jars? I have friends and family save them for me. I make my own taco seasoning and store it in a jar with a shaker lid that is split with a spooning section. Easy peasy!
  11. Kim says:
    Thanks. I'm trying to make the switch. I have some favorite jars I reuse, love to use my Grandma's old mason jars, pyrex is great, and a store in town gave me a couple of pickle jars (I use them for flour) - It took a while to get the smell out, but vinegar, soda, and some cloves helped me out!
  12. Lee McLean says:
    Has anyone found nesting glass bowls? I use Pyrex. LOVE them but they really don't nest. Yes, one does go inside the other of a larger size, but I would love to find some where the same sizes even kinda fit inside the other like glasses for example. :) Anyway, trying to get rid of all my plastic containers but still use a few of the ones that are tossaway but I have a drawer full of glass which I use first.
  13. Linda Ann says:
    Years ago, due to breast cancer and learning that the plastics we store and microwave our food in can mimic estrogen (I had estrogen fed cancer), I began to switch to glass containers. There are some reasons I prefer glass with the main one being that glass does not stain or hold odors. I can clearly see what is in my jars. I also use glass containers for my dry storage. @Maya, I bring home my meat and wrap it in freezer paper and then put that inside a "ziplco" bag.
  14. [...] A guide to glass storage containers Why we crave sugary foods… even when we don’t like them that much [...]
  15. Freeze Dried Pineapple says:
    In our house, I think only 10% of the containers are plastic. We're working on eliminating the plastic containers and replacing with glass containers. Thanks for making an article about the different glass containers.
  16. meridith says:
    Thanks for these tips. I never really thought about it before. I know that there is a lot of glass containers at my local Goodwill. So that could be an option.
  17. Maureen G says:
    The first place I bought some glass storage containees was a Ross/Marshalls/TJ Maxx type store at a great steal. These kinds of discount stores I find often have lots of kitchen stuff for a good deal because its overstock from a major store or alast one, or older model and I almost always see at least one or two sets of glassstorage containers with lids on the shelf when I'm there.
  18. bennybrew says:
    We have been using glass bowls from Crate and Barrel for years. They are kind of fragile but inexpensive:
  19. Coralie B. says:
    I love using canning jars and have been freezing stuff in them for years. The key to avoiding breakage in the freezer is to make sure you leave enough head space in the jar. Things expand when they freeze and if there isn't enough head space to accomodate the expansion that's when your container breaks.
    • Thanks for sharing, Coralie! I think that using jars with straight sides (as opposed to jars with a shoulder) is also important. I used to always leave plenty of head space in my jars but I'd still have them break in the freezer. But I was using wide mouth quart jars, which have a shoulder, and I didn't find out until later that those are not recommended for freezing.
      • Dotty says:
        I leave the lid off my jars for 24 hours, or just sitting on the jar but not screwed down until the contents have frozen, then secure the lid. Haven't broken a jar since!
  20. Lancaster says:
    I gradually started buying glass, especially when it was promotionally priced. It is so much cleaner and healthier. I have found Pyrex with snap on locking lids that I really like. I have thrown out just about all of the plastic, although have kept a few pieces to use in the garage, for painting, and for non edible storage. As I went through the process I would remember all those Tupperware parties I had been to :)
  21. Sarah says:
    I remove the smell from jars and lids (ones used for smelling things, like salsa, pickles, sauerkraut, etc.) by putting them in an out-of-the-way place outdoors for 4-6 months. The sun, air, warming, and cooling remove all the smells, especially from the lids. I then wash them in soapy water, and if I have any concerns, sterilize then in the oven.
  22. Cheryl Francis says:
    I have been able to use glass jars successfully also but have several glass dishes that I like to store food in but the lids are plastic, has anyone come up with a good alternative cover ? I thought about cloth ones but don't have much faith they would keep the food fresh.
  23. Mary Burke says:
    Paper towels will remove odor from jars. Place a sheet of paper towel in jar and close lid. When you open the jar the odor is in the paper. Even works for pickle jars!

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