Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

5 Ways to Pack a Fancy Dish Without Using Plastic Wrap

December 13th, 2012 · 24 Comments · Green Living

I’m so green, it bugs me when people get new plastic wrap to take a dish home when they already brought it covered in something that they had to throw away.

I’m the type to carefully lay the plastic wrap in a hidden location, food side up, and make certain the same piece gets back on my leftovers at the end of the party.

How to Travel with Food Without Using Plastic Wrap (6) (475x356)

I’ve already mentioned this week when I gave tips for a more eco-friendly Christmas that December is the worst month of the year in terms of waste generated in America. We live in a disposable society, and it drives me nuts!

I’m fairly adept at avoiding plastic wrap at home (and using aluminum foil is no better, probably worse!), but when it comes to taking a dish to a party, it is definitely more fun to use a fancy serving bowl or platter, which complicates things.

Other than just hosting everything at your house so your food doesn’t have to travel, this month I’ve discovered a few new ways to still use the special dishes – which often don’t have lids – and yet avoid using anything disposable.

This post is sponsored by Beeswrap.

1. Little Bowl Inside a Big Bowl

How to Travel with Food Without Using Plastic Wrap (15) (475x356)

If you can find a bowl in your house with a lid that would fit one of your fancy bowls right inside it, you can not only cover the food without throwing anything away, but the dish is now much easier to pack and bring somewhere if you’re traveling a few hours. You can stack other things on top of it.

How to Travel with Food Without Using Plastic Wrap (13) (475x356)

In goes the pretty bowl (filled with rice pudding from Healthy Snacks to Go, all dressed up for Christmas with dried cranberries and cardamom), and on goes the lid! I was even able to mound up the pudding inside for an attractive presentation, without the “mush” effect of plastic wrap.

How to Travel with Food Without Using Plastic Wrap (12) (475x356)

2. Pack Normally, Serve Beautifully

7 Layer Tex Mex Chip Dip (7) (475x356)

This idea won’t work for layered dips like my 7-layer Tex Mex from The Everything Beans Book (above), but for some party foods that just need to be served in a bowl, why not bring them in your regular lidded glass dishes and then transfer to the pretty bowl when you arrive?

As long as you can rinse out the pretty bowl before you go, you should be able to get to a party and home without any messes or waste. (The 7-layer dip could be done if you had enough time to assemble it on location, I suppose.)

3. Cover with a Plate

I’ve used this trick in my own refrigerator for years. Lots of bowls and pie plates manage quite nicely with a regular old plate of similar size resting on top.

Now I can stack them or pack in an insulated carry-case without getting anything messy. Obviously you still can’t rattle things around too much, or the plate might slide off.

storing pies without using disposables (475x356)

This idea is the only one doubled up from this article I wrote a while back: 7 Ways to Avoid Using Plastic Wrap

4. Steal a Lid That Fits Well Enough

How to Travel with Food Without Using Plastic Wrap (2) (475x356)

I could have used a little plate to cover this bowl, filled with Sweet Potato Garlic Dip that I took to a party on the weekend. I decided to try something that wouldn’t break if it fell out of the fridge after being jostled around:

How to Travel with Food Without Using Plastic Wrap (4) (475x356)

It’s not a perfect fit, but it will keep the food in and other stuff out, so I’m happy with it.

How to Travel with Food Without Using Plastic Wrap (3) (475x356)

5. Back into the Box

I have a Christmas tray that is rather deep, and years ago I realized that the easiest way to travel with it was to put it right back into the box! I can stack things on top of it and not worry about super huge messes.

Here are some Butternut Spice Bars (from Smart Sweets and the second edition of Healthy Snacks to Go):how to store food without plastic wrap (1) (475x356)

(I didn’t think to take photos until after I brought them to an Advent by Candlelight service.)

Back into the box they go!

how to store food without plastic wrap (9) (475x356)

A perfect fit:

how to store food without plastic wrap (12) (475x356)

If you worry about the food touching the inside of the box, you could always line the top with a silicone mat or waxed paper.

BONUS! Try Beeswrap

This little dealie has to be one of the coolest product samples I’ve received in a long time. It’s absolutely the eco-friendly answer to storing food without plastic, if one of the 5 brilliant ideas above won’t work for your bowl, jar, pitcher, or tray.

Image of Bee's Wrap- set of 3- medium       Image of Bee's Wrap- set of 3 wraps- small

Beeswrap is organic cotton muslin covered with beeswax, jojoba oil, and tree resin. You warm the beeswrap slightly in your hands, form a seal on the top of a bowl or around an onion, hunk of bread of waffle (below), and it seals in the fridge:

beeswrap (3)

I saved this half waffle for two full days in the fridge, and it absolutely did not dry out, something I cannot say about the reusable sandwich bags I reviewed a few years back. Impressive!

beeswrap (4)

To clean the beeswrap, you just wash in cold water. (Don’t use on raw meat.)

Beeswrap is described as “an old fashioned solution that feels miraculous in the modern world,” and I totally agree. It’s been really easy to fold and store in my bags and wraps drawer, and I’m just getting started on how to use it.

Try some beeswrap for yourself or a stocking stuffer -  the beeswrap boss lady, Sarah, is offering KS readers a 10% discount with the coupon code ecoholiday12 through Monday evening (12/17).

Need Food to Put IN the Fancy Dishes?

The discount code KSDISCOUNT  for 25% off Festive Traditions is still good through 12/18 – this ebook is packed with real food options for every course of a holiday meal or party.

You can also browse my own cheap and easy party foods and tips for menu planning at the holidays.

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Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money.  If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Festive Traditions and will receive commission. This post is sponsored by Beeswrap. See my full disclosure statement here.

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24 Comments so far ↓

  • Julia Janzen

    BEESWRAP!!!!! :) :) :D I am so excited to see this product you have no idea! Ahh the little things that brighten my day! I can’t wait to try it in DD’s lunch box!

  • Karen

    Amy Dacyczyn (hope I spelled that right–the author of The Tightwad Gazette) washed and reused aluminum foil. She said she could make a roll last for years that way.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Karen,
    That’s a frugal way to go for sure, and “green” in some ways – but aluminum is a bit of a health hazard, so I try not to let it touch my food whenever I can. But I totally reuse it when I do use it! :) Katie

  • Evelyn

    I use these and LOVE LOVE them http://www.abeego.ca/

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Evelyn,
    Looks like they use the same materials as Beeswrap, so I’m so happy to hear they’re a great product for you!
    :) Katie

  • Dawn

    I saw some silicone covers in a catalog, a pack of 5, that are reusable and stretch to fit “any bowl” supposedly. These and the bees wrap sound like great tools!

  • Robin

    I absolutely adore this post. I hide the plastic wrap too! Great ideas and I may just have to go ahead and order the beeswrap. Does it smell like candles?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Robin,
    I never noticed a smell, so I just went to smell it just for you. ;) The only thing it reminds me of is my MadeOn lotion, which makes sense, because there’s beeswax in that too. ??? I don’t know that I have any “real” beeswax candles – most are synthetic nowadays! There’s very little smell, bottom line. :) Katie

  • Briella

    I use the bowl within a bowl trick a lot! :)

    Briella, Denver IT Consulting

  • Jacqueline

    I use plastic wrap and aluminum foil as little as I possibly can (and what I do use, I wash and reuse) so I thought I’d become pretty good at figuring out alternatives. But there are a few in here that I hadn’t thought of. Thanks!

  • Christine H. Farlow, D.C.

    Good ideas! I like the beeswrap. Never heard of it before.

  • Kristel from Healthy Frugalista

    I saw this at Learning and Yearning about how to make your own beeswax food cover http://learningandyearning.com/uses-for-beeswax

  • Melissa from the Blue House

    Love the beeswrap idea. It always bothers me, too, to see all the foil and plastic wrap in the trash at a party. Such a waste!

  • Judy H.

    Great, timely post and you provided me with a solution for a few people I still needed gifts for ;-)

  • Ashlee

    Last night I had some ladies over for our monthly “moms night in”/book/bible study. A friend brought over homemade caramel popcorn in a beautiful bowl. What did she cover it with? A very thin disposable/hotel style shower cap! It fit perfectly and doesn’t stick together and get all weird like plastic wrap. I thought it was very clever!

    Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Ashlee,
    That’s awesome! I bought a pack of 20 bowl covers at a dollar store (for really one dollar) that look like shower caps but are different sizes. :) Katie

    Ashlee Reply:

    Maybe that’s what she bought too! I didn’t ask, but it looked like a shower cap (or something similar).

  • Andrea

    Great tips! They are simple but I don’t think I would have considered most of them. I especially love how you are able to stack things on top of each other with a sturdy lid like a plate, unlike with foil or plastic wrap.

  • Diane

    The stacked pie plates work great – if it’s a tall pie/whatever, I go ahead and stack them – and carry the stack in the Rubbermaid cake container. The flatter container for pies gets all sorts of use. We do a lot of charity cooking. At Sams Club, they get their cucumbers and tomatoes in heavy cardboard boxes that stack. Those work great! We’ve used the same ones for years. Free for the taking.

    Dianna Kasprzak Reply:

    I have used the plate over a pie for quite some time. I usually invert the plate and find that gives extra head space to my usually-rounded pies. Can’t wait to try the beeswax covers and have my order in!

  • Karen

    I save big rubber bands. Two can be criss crossed to hold a small plate on a small dish. Or wrap a bigger plate and dish together in a dishtowel and safety pin (I have some saved diaper pins) it closed so things don’t shift. Love the beeswax covers too!

  • Melissa

    Sorry, but plastic wrap is way cheaper for me than using these sorts of things and much easier.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    That’s the rub, Melissa — often easier and cheaper is not the best way for the environment or your health, so it’s all about striking a balance and figuring out what’s important to me. For me, I choose health and environment and take a little time to be creative. :) Katie

  • How to Have a “Green” Christmas | Green Your Way

    […] (even more tips on traveling with food without throwing anything away here) […]

Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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