What was food stored/transported/packaged in before plastic?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 27, 2013 at 1:58 AM

Life before tupperware and aluminium foil - did people use waxed paper, paper?, cloth and pottery vessels? I would like to go back to storing food in this manner - any tips?



on January 27, 2013
at 04:10 PM

paper, cardboard, glass, tin foil and later aluminum foil.



on January 27, 2013
at 04:09 PM

paper, tin foil and later aluminum foil, and glass.

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7 Answers



on January 27, 2013
at 02:49 AM

My great-grandmother stored food in the cooking vessel. Lunches were wrapped in tea towels - the towel lined the lunch "box" (I have pictures of my grandmother eating out of a small metal bucket), the food was placed inside, then the towel gathered/folded and stuffed over the top. They had a root cellar where everything was kept cool and had no refrigeration unit or ice box until they came to California in the late 40s.

I stopped everyday use of plastic and foil , opting instead to use glass containers and mason jars. The only time I whip out plastic ware is when I am traveling and need to go with light weight vessels that will nest nicely and not take up a ton of space.


on January 27, 2013
at 06:32 PM

In SE Asia up until very recently banana and bamboo leaves were used to wrap food to boil and steam. The leaves impart a greenish tint and a wonderful flavor on the rice or meats being cooked.


on January 27, 2013
at 10:43 AM

look into canning, smoke curing meats, dehydrating foods, root cellaring,... i recommend looking to homesteading and gardening forums. probably your best bet if you have no knowledge of any of it, to ask questions and search things others have asked and talked about.



on January 27, 2013
at 05:45 AM

I love mason jars! They come in many sizes. But be aware that Ball and Kerr jar lids have BPA. I try to not have the food touching the lid. I also got a graduated set of pyrex bowls with plastic covers for fridge storage. Again I try not to let the food touch the lid.

To take food on the go I've bought "tiffins" which are metal stacking boxes, originating in India (Cost Plus has reasonably priced tiffins). Japanese bento boxes would work too, but most are plastic. I use jars, too--I've knit sleeves to slip over the jars so they don't bang together.

Trying to wean my husband off the plastic containers.


on January 27, 2013
at 03:51 AM

Glass jars most likely.



on January 28, 2013
at 02:22 PM

Even in the early '60s my mother wrapped my lunch sandwiches in waxed paper and put them in my metal lunch box along with a small thermos.

Current storage I use: vintage pyrex containers with glass lids - stackable. They're quite sturdy and reasonably easy to find on ebay or in large thrift stores. Mason jars for liquids, including using the 1/2 gallon size for fridge tea. Steel tiffin boxes for lunches. It's easy to reheat things if you have a kitchen available at work by steaming one of the box layers in a bamboo steamer. Almost as fast as a microwave. Thermoses were of course the traditional way in most of the early to mid 20th century of keeping food hot.

You can simply put food on a plate or bowl with another plate on top in the fridge. Wax paper with large rubber bands if you want to see what's in the bowl. You can keep a roll of masking tape next to the wax paper also for flat wrapping. Freezer paper in the freezer.


on January 27, 2013
at 06:37 PM

Storing and transporting in plastic is fine. Cooling and heating in plastic is where you'll get into toxicity.

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