What’s the scoop on reusable storage bags?
Published May 1, 2017.
Plastic sandwich bags are handy for storing and transporting sandwiches, snacks, and other foods, but they’re recommended for one-time use. In the last few years, a number of sandwich-size reusable storage bags have appeared on the market, claiming to be more durable, environmentally friendly alternatives to the disposable versions. Curious how these bags performed, we bought five 3- to 4-cup bags priced from roughly $2.00 to about $12.00 each and put them through their paces.
All the bags did a serviceable job of holding sandwiches and snacks and were simple to clean; none retained odors or stains. And they were indeed tough: After we opened and closed each bag 100 times to simulate extended use, most models retained their structural integrity, working just as well as before.
But the similarities ended there. The bags were made from either silicone or vinyl, and the material proved critical. We liked that the two bags made of silicone were dishwasher- and microwave-safe. And the silicone’s thickness and flexibility made these bags ultradurable—at the conclusion of testing, they still looked brand-new. In one case, the thick material also did a great job of protecting hamburger patties and fresh fruit from freezer burn. But that same thickness and floppiness made these bags clumsy and awkward to fill; they couldn’t be propped up on the counter easily. Even more problematic, the silicone bags were hard to seal tightly. When we filled them with water, turned them upside down, and shook them, one bag broke open on the first bounce. The other never stood a chance: Its toggle-and-hole closure had large gaps through which water flowed freely. The gaps also encouraged freezer burn and didn’t contain dry snacks well.
We preferred the three vinyl bags, which sealed much more securely and did a far better job of keeping water and food in and air out. They were also great at protecting food from freezer burn. And because vinyl is relatively stiff, these bags were generally easier than the silicone models to prop open and fill. The only downside? Because they’re stiff, the vinyl bags showed more wear after extended use, though they remained fully functional.
Material aside, we liked roomy bags that held at least 3 1/2 cups of food, and we preferred those that had openings of at least 6 3/4 inches—the best were 8 3/4 inches wide. The two silicone bags looked big enough but had relatively wide side seams that narrowed the opening of each bag to about 6 inches and limited the actual usable space, making it harder to squeeze in a 2-inch-thick sandwich. We also appreciated gussets, which allowed some of the better bags to expand to accommoda...
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Miye is a senior editor for ATK Reviews. She covers booze, blades, and gadgets of questionable value.