DIY (Sorta) Plastic Wrap Substitute

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What is Plastic Wrap - Saran Plastic

In our home (and in my kitchen), I am always thinking about health, about saving money, and about the environment – and about taste, of course!

For example, if I can:

  • make something healthier
  • save money
  • make it in a way that has little effect on the environment
  • and still have something taste good

Then, I am all over it :-)!

That also goes for what I use in my kitchen and how I buy things.

Of course, we have recycling bins and we use them.  But using fewer things overall, and reusing and repurposing is really the best way “to go green” (although I don’t really like that term and the political issues tied to it) and address some of the environmental issues that we face today.

Well, today I have kind of a funny little kitchen tip that has nothing to do with taste, but it will:

  • save money
  • have a beneficial effect on the environment
  • save time

I’ve never liked plastic wrap.  I don’t know when this all started, but I have always had a huge aversion to the stuff.  Just the idea of buying a roll of plastic to use super-temporarily to cover a container and then throw it out and add to a landfill has always, well – really bugged me.  I can’t tell you the last time I bought a roll.  And I think I’ve only bought one in my whole life.  Really.

Now, if you use plastic wrap, that doesn’t mean that I won’t be your friend :-).  And really, I didn’t grow up in a household that practiced sustainability or anything.  I just somehow had an aversion to waste built into me.

So anyhow, I love containers with reusable lids and all that stuff.

But sometimes you’ve got something in a bowl already – and there aren’t lids for bowls, right?  So why dump the stuff into another container and wash the bowl (using time and water) and then dirty up another container.  That’s where the plastic wrap comes in, right?

Well, here’s a more sustainable way.

Necessity is the mother of invention, right?

I had some necessity recently when my son knocked over a gallon jug of vinegar and it spilled all over our hallway.

After the spill and the clean up, we couldn’t find the lid and I didn’t want to waste time looking for it, so I found a temporary fix using a small bag and a rubber band!!

sustainable - what is plastic wrap

Then I thought, “Hey, wouldn’t this work on a bowl too?”  And guess what, it sure does (larger bread bag and rubber band):

What is plastic wrap | About the environment

Now, of course, you’d need a pretty large bag to use as a cover for a large container (haven’t figured that out yet), but my bread bags work great for this size.  I just think that this is the coolest thing!  And the rubber band works better than that cling wrap anyway.

So now you can use a great reusable plastic bag (make sure it’s a clean one) and a handy-dandy rubber band the next time you need to cover a bowl or the next time you er—have a gallon of vinegar spill all over your floor and you can’t find the lid – or – something like that :-).

Well, actually, it’ll work anytime you’re missing a lid to something.

The bags that I use are from Country Life Natural Foods and I use the 6 x 3 x 15 and 2 x 4 x 8 sizes.  These Bread Loaf Bags from Amazon and 2 x 4 bags from Amazon seem to be similar.

Now I just need a tip for not getting angry when there’s a gallon of vinegar spilling all over the floor.  I didn’t yell that much.  Really.  Always working on that – the laughing at life thing.

And if you’re wondering why there was a gallon jug of vinegar in my hallway – well, uh….

I was using it in the kitchen for my Homemade Dishwasher Rinse Aid and the bottle was making its way back down the hall for another handy vinegar tip that I’ll be sharing in the near future.  Hopefully.  Too many things to write about and too little time.

 How will you save time and money?

  • Save time – Instead of looking and looking for a lost lid, get on with your day.
  • Save money – Don’t throw away stuff just because you lost a lid
  • Save money – don’t buy plastic wrap anymore!
  • Bonus: Save the environment – repurpose rubber bands and re-use a bag instead of throwing away icky plastic wrap

Want some other money saving tips?  How about:

How about you?  Do you have a way to have a more sustainable kitchen?

{Top Photo Credit}


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Comments

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  1. There’s the old favorite, too, for bowls, etc of the small size, especially for in the frig- just cover with an upside-down plate. :)

    But love the bag/band to replace the vinegar lid!

  2. Don’t laugh — I’m nearly 72 and reading Wholenewmom? One is never too old to learn new tricks ;-) When I was growing up, there wasn’t such a thing as plastic wrap. Every kitchen had a supply of bowl covers — they looked like shower caps — and were washed and reused. Granted, they didn’t fit as snugly as your rubber bands, but served the purpose fairly well. Sounds like we’re returning to the ‘old days’ ……

    • I’m not laughing :-). They have those plastic bowl covers around now too. I haven’t looked to see how much they cost. They’d be great for the larger bowls. I think the old days are great :-).

      • I’ve bought actual shower caps, as well as plastic & elastic bowl covers (both at at dollar stores). The bowl covers came in a pack of various sizes and were sturdier plastic that was more durable & re-usable.

        That being said, I also like to serve in my Corelle dishes that have glass lids. Or better yet, I serve in the kitchen, most nights, straight from the pot. It saves money & time on fewer dishes that need washing, it saves time on setting & clearing the table, and it saves calories & grocery money (we have to actually make a conscious decision to get up and go get a second helping).

      • I buy a pack of shower caps (12 for a dollar) at the dollar store and use them on large bowls or when I am making bread I’ll put it over while it is rising. I wash them out and use them over and over and over again. I think a dozen last me about a year.

  3. Loretta Congdon says:

    I bought a box of those plastic bowl covers at my local Dollar Tree here in Tennessee, their are several different sizes in a box, and have 20 in it, I thought that wasn’t a bad deal for a $1

    • That is a great deal! I might have gotten some as well – I do like not having one more thing to keep somewhere in my pantry or cabinets, though!

  4. We mostly use shower caps…..but I do use plastic wrap sometimes. :-)

    • Shower cap – what a riot :-).

      • I always snag the shower caps when I stay at hotels. They make great bowl covers, with or without the rubber bands.

        • I do that, too. I never get in the shower without washing my hair, so have no need for their intended use. I also never leave one in the motel room, though I’m finding they don’t include them in their guest goodies as often as they used to.

  5. We use the upside down dinner plate method for large bowls too. A trick taught to me by my grandmother.
    I have seen tutorials on how to make bowl covers from fabric. I am planning on sewing a few of those soon.

  6. My grandmothers used to do that! It’s been over 30 years since I’ve seen a bag on the bowl secured with rubber bands, and your post made me feel all nostalgic.

  7. I was going to suggest shower cap too! I also hate plastic wrap because it never ever stays for me. So annoying.

  8. What a great, practical idea! I will be doing this in the future!! Like you I have always had an aversion to plastic cling wrap (I only use it with my embroidery machine). I found you on the Creative Juice Link Party!

    • OK…I’m a beginning machine embroiderer…share the plastic wrap embroidery idea w/ me please……Thanks in advance.

  9. Neat idea, my MIL does something similar or even with paper towels.

    Thanks for linking with It’s a Keeper Thursday, I am co-hosting this week and would love it if you dropped by to say hi.

  10. Very smart idea. I do remember the bag on the bowl covers too.

  11. I use our tupperware. I never put my bowls in the fridge because we don’t have too many dishes. For two of us we have a set of four servings. They are used and washed everyday. I try to use the item for its purpose, it works for me. I actually appreciate my tupperware that way. I take the time to move the food to a tupperware container then wash the dish so its ready again. I also don’t have too much tupperware and it all has lids that fit and work, and a place for it. Nice tight kitchen. I haven’t used seran for years. Obviously, I don’t even know how to spell it. :)

  12. I’m so with you on the term green, it’s so over and misused today, in fact, it has been “greenwashed.” Watch for the term “sustainable” to take its place.

    I love and use Pyrex with glass lids in my kitchen(both new and vintage)because it can go from the freezer, to oven, to table, to frige, with no added resources. Now that’s truly energy conservation at a practical level.

  13. Great tip! I love saving money. We try not to use too many disposable kitchen things like ziploc bags, but when we do I always wash and reuse them over and over :)

  14. This guy ( http://www.breadtopia.com/ ) uses the ubiquitous plastic shopping bags to cover his bowl of rising bread dough. I love this post! What a great idea! I always wash out and re-use plastic bags (that haven’t had meat or moldy things in them.) I have a place in my kitchen where I hang them up to dry, and then go there FIRST, if I need one. Thank you!

  15. Lol, I have plastic wrap in the house, but I don’t use it very often. I’m a huge proponent of containers and lids. That’s what we use for lunches too. Not sandwich bags, just containers. Lol, is it awful to admit that sometimes I even put stuff back in the fridge with no lid??

  16. Love these ideas, and I have some big rubber bands and plenty of bread bags.

    I’m going to start trying this.

    Thanks for the tip–I like using the existing bowls, and this allows me to do so. I’m very glad you linked to Food on Fridays!

  17. My grandmother used to do this all the time… works great! My only concern is where all those bags and bread covers have been. Can you imagine the germs that have accumulated while they were in the warehouses, in the trucks being delivered, handled by truckers, stockers, customers, etc. I guess I’m a germaphobe, but something to think about! :-)

    • Hi Karen,

      I actually completely agree with you, but my bread bags come in a box of 1000 (I know, crazy bulk amount :-)) and I assume that they have to be clean. I wouldn’t do this w/ bread bags from stores due to the same concerns that you have. I am not really so worried about the germs, though – it’s more the toxins. The germs can only live so long. Heavy metals and the like sick around forever and wreak havoc on our bodies. Thanks for stopping by!

  18. We do the upside-down plate as well!

  19. I think I used this idea once. I believe its Glad that makes this bags with a rubberband attached, similar to a shower cap. Those work great too. But husband thought I was using the hair shower cap, and thought it was gross. I showed him, they were made for food containers. I also dislike the plastic wrap thing. I think the last time I bought one was about five years ago. I more of a Tupperware person, and have all the lids in one drawer, organized by size. I do use foil, for wrapping burritos for using in the oven.

  20. Great idea! I really need to start re-using my plastic packaging from bread bags & tortillas!

  21. Other waste-free covers:

    cover a plate in the microwave with another plate, inverted, to heat more evenly and prevent splatters.

    cover a baking sheet in the oven with a second baking sheet, inverted, rather than using aluminum foil. A baking sheet can also be used to cover a smaller baking dish.

  22. Great tip! It’s even more eco-friendly if you reuse the bag, as someone else mentioned–here are my instructions for washing food bags–although I don’t reuse shopping bags or produce bags that ever contained not-clean-enough-to-eat stuff, and I reuse bags that are printed on the outside (like store bread comes in) only in ways where the food touches only the inside of the bag; I wouldn’t put one over a bowl.

    I’ve been saving the liner bags from boxes of cereal and crackers. They work for anything where you don’t need your plastic to be especially flexible or self-closing, so you can rubber-band one over a bowl. They also can be cut open and substituted for waxed paper.

  23. Amazing and smart! Great idea. Thanks for sharing!

  24. That’s really clever and simple! I wonder for larger items if it would work if you cut the bag open before fastening it with a rubber band?

  25. Fabulous idea! May have to incorporate this… :)

  26. Hi! Your post was one of the most popular links on It’s a Keeper Thursday! I’ve featured you on It’s a Keeper! I’d love if you stopped by and grabbed a button.

    And, feel free to link up another great recipe this week too!

    Cheers!
    Christina @ It’s a Keeper
    Follow me on Facebook and Twitter

  27. I love these ideas. We use almost all reusable products too and it kind of pains me to use baggies/plastic wrap. I even save the containers from lunch meats to use for freezing and storing food.

    Thanks for linking up to Momtrends this week.

    ~Shannon, Food Channel Editor, Momtrends.com

  28. Great tip! I have switched to all glass containers that each have a lid. Because I don’t have 34 random plastic containers any more, I always have the right lid. I use them for serving and then snap the lid on top. However, I can totally see using this tip for when I need a quick cover for a personal bowl!

    • Wow – can you give more info on your glass containers please? I have switched to glass and stainless, but I’d love to know what kind of containers you use. Thanks in advance!

      • I’m not Kelly, but I do have advice on glass containers! :-)

        I have some Pyrex containers and I love them! They’re actually made in USA. The lids are plastic but are very durable.

        I also buy nut butter, jam, salsa, etc. in glass jars that I reuse. To avoid the “too many different lids” problem, we save jars of only a few lid sizes so that we have a lot of interchangeable lids.

  29. I’m right with you sister! I remember my mom had bowl covers that looked like shower caps she sometimes put on bowls that didn’t come with lids. When I got married and needed kitchen stuff, I try to buy a bowl that comes with a lid.

    For the vinegar, how about a little mind shift? Instead of getting mad over split vinegar (hee!) swish it around the floor first and then mop it up. Lookie there! You just cleaned and disinfected the floor! My favorite floor cleaner is vinegar. I add a sploosh of dish detergent if it needs a little dirt fighting oomph.

    • Oh, you’re so right about the vinegar. I was just being honest that my first inclination was to get angry. I did wipe the floor up w/ it and was glad about it. There’s always some good in everything that happens.

      • I’m a grandma now and I find that if I have a “you spilled it, you clean it” attitude then I don’t get mad, I just hand them a rag. A lot of times they’re already upset and it helps me to keep my temper as well.

        now I do still help, especially the youngest who just turned five, but I’ve been doing this since the eldest was about 5 and it really does help me to keep my temper. I used to yell, now I just say, “Oh, boy. here, here’s a rag, lets get that cleaned up.” I yell most now, when I’m scared, if something broke, especially glass, I get really excited and it comes out loud. Oh, and with the older ones (up to age 12 now) I have to act as spotter. There’s a spot, you missed something there, you need to get another towel, etc.

  30. I *despise* plastic wrap! Good for your for promoting alternatives.

    (visiting from Raising Homemakers’ Homemaking Link-Up)

  31. Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. Great idea! Hope to see you next week! Be sure to visit RealFoodForager.com on Sunday for
    Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!

    http://realfoodforager.com/2011/10/fat-tuesday-october-11-2011/

    If you have grain-free recipes please visit my Grain-Free Linky Carnival in support of my 28 day grain-free challenge! It will be open until November 2.

    http://realfoodforager.com/2011/10/grain-free-real-food-linky-carnival/

  32. What a do-able idea. Some hints you think..for real? This is one I can use immediately.

  33. What a great idea! I just ran out of plastic wrap and I’m loathe to buy more. I, too, always feel guilty using it.

  34. Hi,
    This post is featured this week at Sunday Snippets!

    http://realfoodforager.com/2011/10/sunday-snippets-october-16-2011/

  35. Hey….that is a great idea! I love tips that are so simple that I can implement them without too much effort. I use my vegetable bags to put open cans of dog food in until the dogs finish that can. I do that for about a week and then it goes in the trash.

  36. We do this too – although 99% of the time, we use containers with lids.

    What kind of bread bags do you use?

  37. What a clever idea! I love solutions like this. Thanks for linking up last week. This was one of the most clicked ideas!

    I would love for you to checkout your feature here: http://www.crystalandcomp.com/2011/10/the-mommy-club-share-your-resources-and-solutions-14/

  38. LOL, I actually didn’t think anything at all about the vinegar, it is regularly in our hallway- making it’s way from the kitchen for cooking & cleaning, to the bathroom for cleaning and hand-washing clothing! How funny. Great tip, I’ll have to snag some rubber bands from the Hubby’s stash!

    • Glad I’m not the only one w/ vinegar in the hallway. My home is a little too lived in now (more than usual), but I’m working on it :-).

      • I keep separate bottles in each place so I never have to worry about vinegar in the hall. but there are always OTHER spills. like milk. LOL

  39. In my efforts to avoid as much plastic as possible, I use the plate on the bowl trick, but I also use waxed paper with a rubber band. I’ve also used brown paper, greased with lard and tied on with twine. This is a two person job when you try to cover a large crock. And if you use the paper with lard, you need to make sure the family dog can’t reach it.

  40. Great idea! And as for your son, I’m sure he felt bad enough already without anyone mentioning his accident. Poor kid.

    • Thanks – my son said he didn’t mind what I shared about it :-). He reads almost all of my posts and does a few things for me behind the scenes as he can handle them.

  41. Vinegar is so cheap. Why are you moving it back and forth across the house. Buy a gallon to keep in each room or move some from your main gallon to another container for use in the bathroom. No more spills yay.

  42. I love this, never thought of rubber banding them! We put smaller bowls in bread bags, plates and larger bowls in the obnoxious plastic shopping bags, and large platters in the even larger more obnoxious shopping bags. We also never leave a shower cap in a motel.
    I even resorted to occasionally buying turkey breast in the plastic reusable containers, so you end up with more storage for food, crafting items, baby stuff and more.
    LOVE re-purposing things!
    Glad I came across a post of yours on pinterest.

  43. I just came back to this article via the Works For Me ebook, and I noticed your offhand mention that bowls don’t have lids. Last night, my son could not finish his salad, which was in a soup bowl. His dad discovered that the plastic lids that fit our Corningware bowls also fit our soup bowls! So it might be worthwhile trying your lids on your bowls.

    Also since I first read this, we have had a broken cap on a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, which really needs a cap to keep its potency. We found that the cap from a beverage bottle would fit it.

  44. It is a good ebook. It has a little explanation of each article and then a link to the article on its original site, so you see any updates and you can look around at the blog if you want. The articles are organized in sections. It’s pretty well done. I find myself returning to many articles I saw when they were originally posted, but I have also seen a lot that I had missed!

  45. Hi Adreienne,
    I haven’t posted in a while because we just moved back to the States, but I wanted to share a tip with you re: vinegar in the hallway. This tip actually came from the Tightwad Gazette back in the 90′s (I think). Take the frequently used cleaning items and do one of two things: 1) Divide up the gallon of vinegar into different containers and put each container in the place(s) where it is used most. 2) Make a carry all from a basket, box, plastic tool box, etc. with all of your cleaning supplies and carry it with you as you clean. I am a proponent of number 1 because I don’t have a set in stone cleaning schedule (three kids running around). :-) Incidentally, I have used the baggie idea and the wax paper with rubber band idea. Both work great! Thanks for posting!

  46. Reusable Glass Mason Jars work well for storing refrigerated items, leftovers, etc. You can buy plastic screw top lids online to fit either regular size opening or wide size openings on the jars. If you use them to freeze, make sure you leave enough room at the top for expansion in the jar during the freezing process.
    If you have a rewashed plastic bag that has an onion odor, write on the bag in permanent marker onion and then only reuse it for onion.

  47. Virginia says:

    Ditto on the Wide Mouth Glass Jars. We use them for drinking, and for left-over food storage. Just grab a lid. This is also good incentive to use your leftovers, as you could end up not having a glass left to drink out of : )

  48. What a great ideas on here. Simple and easy to do, anybody can make such a small change like this and what a huge impact it would have. I do have plastic wrap in my kitchen, but we hardly use it. I think we have had the same container for 3 years. My husband pulled it out of the pantry the other day and asked how long. The box is all broken and beat up. I like the Bowl cover ideas from the Dollar Tree. I might have to run over there at some point soon. :)

  49. Great ideas!
    I’m trying to avoid plastic as much as I can. I have made cloth ones. I use PUL or plain fabric. I have a few in the 2 sizes that fit my bowls. I use elastic and either sew the elastic straight to the fabric or I make a casing and then put the elastic in it.
    I made a home for it by covering a box for sandwich baggies with contact paper and store them in there :)