Zero Waste Freezer Meat Storage Solution

My collection of left-overs in their little glass Pyrex tombs...

So I have been obsessing about buying and storing meat without using disposable plastic over the last few days. I always double wrap meat for freezing - once in cling wrap, then in a plastic bag (usually reused - I have been doing a 'bit' for the environment, you know!). This is all in order to prevent freezer burn.

What to do? What to do? I spent hours hunting for zero waste freezer solutions on the interweb (got a tiny bit side tracked..) I left a question on Bel and Dunc's site - they are a local couple doing a year's zero waste challenge, nothing new, no waste for a year. They freeze their meat unwrapped in plastic containers without a problem. Turns out, freezer burn not a problem as I only freeze meat for a fortnight or so normally. All these years I have been over-packaging for no reason.

I have decided to freeze meat in glass. I don't have enough plastic containers spare to freeze meat in, and I don't want to go and buy more plastic. I have a bunch of Pyrex containers that I already use to freeze leftovers and extra dinners in, and they are really handy. So yesterday I went out and bought more Pyrex dishes. Yes, ironically, to reduce waste, I bought more new products... my justification being that they should last me forever. They have plastic lids, but the ones I have now have lasted for years, and you can get replacements for them. They come all the way from Pennsylvania, but I love the packaging - all cardboard.

Well played, Ms/Mr Pyrex. The only information I'm not clear on is whether the plastic lids are #5 or #7 for recycling purposes. Will hopefully have that cleared up in the years before I need to recycle them... (actually, hoping #7 will be able to be recycled at that point).

So all this brings me to the point, this morning, at which I'm going to the butcher's to pick up our meat for the week. I feel a bit silly, to be honest, with my blue insulated bag full of Pyrex containers to take to the butcher. I hate feeling conspicuous, putting people out, doing odd things. I am not an extrovert environmental evangelist by any means.

But the lovely Rob doesn't bat an eyelid at my request, and is more than happy to not use a plastic bag (I have slunk in at 9.15am, figuring there won't be a crowd. Nope, only me). He is a butcher of the old school. No namby pamby plastic gloves for him. It's bare hands, and slap the meat straight on the scales. As it should be.

So, here is our new-look zero-waste freezer meat storage solution. It's rather more elegant than plastic bags, and having spent the weekend reading about the phthalates leaking into our food from plastic bags, I'm now less worried about freezer burn, and more worried about chemicals disrupting the endocrine systems of my babies. Glass storage, good on a number of levels.. it's the old story - what's good for our environment is good for our health.

However, I'm already feeling pale about the hundreds of other products in my pantry, bathroom cupboards, and laundry to consider. I think we will be well-sorted by about 2033. I'm going to have a cup of tea and a lie down..


Lizzi said…
Good for you. I haven't been brave enough to go shopping with containers yet. I don't eat meat but my husband does. We buy a chicken at the farmers' market once a month and it is wrapped in a recyclable plastic bag and tied with a piece of 'proper' string. Nothing else - no plastic tray etc. She used to offer me a brown paper bag for it but I always refused so she pops it straight into my shopping bag.

It is not 100% perfect but so much better than all the over wrapped (and chemically injected) chickens from the supermarket.
Jo said…
Hi Lizzi, your chicken sounds like it had a happy chicken life, and the recyclable plastic bag is a plus.
To be honest, I did feel a bit silly asking to have the meat put in a container, but I'm hoping that after a few more times we will just both get used to it. Sarah commented a few days ago that she takes her icecream container into the butcher, so I'm clearly not alone!
And now you mention the chicken - I can't think what I would put one of them in - maybe a big 4 litre icecream container? Maybe get it wrapped in paper.
Plastic bags really are so easy. I'm trying to imagine how your 'chicken lady' would get all the chickens to market without them. Truly we have come a long way from living without plastic. Our imaginations fail us when trying to think of alternatives!
Anonymous said…
We use the pyrex style glass in the freezer too but just a small warning, never try and dig something out of them if you don't defrost them quick enough. Victim of exploding glass container speaking from bitter experience. I now make ice-cream (if I make it) and put it in a corningware (ceramic) container. Otherwise I LOVE my glass storage. We're on the reducing plastics run (still) too.
Heather said…
I have a lot of plastic tupperware, but I've seen glass storage containers available on the same shelf in the store. If I ever feel the need for more containers, I'll probably choose the glass next time.
Jo said…
Oooh, thanks for the tip Jessie! I am terrible at forward planning, and would no doubt be found doing just that at some point! Although icecream, when we occasionally make it, usually doesn't last long enough to take up room in the freezer!
That's the thing, isn't it Heather - most people have tons of containers already. We used to, but then I had to radically declutter to fit everything into my new small kitchen, hence having to buy more.. sometimes decluttering counterproductive!
sorry for not stopping by recently, jo.
i'm in awe of your pyrex storage. i feel guilty about the plastic 'chinese containers' i have for storing food and leftovers. but then i would feel guilty about buying extra products to reduce waste (as you say!). dilemmas.
what to do, what to do indeed!
Jo said…
I'm hearing you, e. It seems like an excellent idea to keep on using those storage containers. So much better than my freezer bag and ziploc bag addiction. Don't heat them up in the microwave now, though. Watch out for those pesky phthalates (who invented such a ridiculous word?).
Anonymous said…
Jo, are you in Tassie? If so we would love to know the name of your butcher!! I know what you mean about feeling silly about taking in your containers too!! This is something I do too. I'm going to reflect more on that in my blog I think.
Anonymous said…
Hi five! I too have an old school butcher too! He's great with my weird ways. So I don't feel strange using my ice cream container (which isn't ideal but it's to get it home and cooked right away). I'm lucky to live walking distance to the Pyrex outlet too - but use your meat containers for meal leftovers mainly.
Jo said…
Bel and Dunc - Rob and Rose are at Casalinga, corner of Elizabeth and Charles, opposite Princes Park...
little ad here.. they only stock local meat and free range chicken. Their pork is free range, and they have wallaby from their family property on Flinders Island. Rob makes all their own small goods, from family recipes from his Italian heritage, and while he tends to package ham, bacon, salami etc in plastic cryovac, he is always happy to slice it fresh.
You can also buy goat's milk in glass bottles there (should you want to do such a thing..).
Sarah, I was so encouraged to see that you bring your containers to the butchers too. I was having this moment thinking, 'what AM I doing,this is so ridiculous.' It's good to have company when trying new, odd things!

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