Ways to reduce plastic use: Your guide to a plastic free fridge

Plastic free fridge - chilled food
Inside: Plastic free (and less plastic) chilled food ideas including alternatives for milk in plastic bottles, yoghurt in plastic tubs and cheese wrapped in plastic. Learn about the pros and cons of each approach and how Ecojam's Eleanor Williamson buys plastic free fridge food for her family of 4.
 
This guide is part of my guide to going plastic free. We hope that it will save you time, money (as you won't need to spend money on options that don't work for you) and stress.
 
MILK 
 
1) Buy milk from a milk man in glass bottles
 
PROS
Delivered to your door
Glass bottles are reused many times before being recycled
Organic option available
 
CONS
More expensive than plastic bottles
There may not be a milk delivery service that delivers in your area on the days you want milk
Is it worse for the environment to have your milk delivered separately?
 
2) Use less milk and look for alternatives
 
PROS
There are lots of milk substitutes including almond milk, cashew nut milk, soya milk, oat milk and brazil nut milk
The alternatives are often healthier
No animal welfare issues
 
CONS
The environmental impact of the alternatives can also be negative
Alternatives often come in plastic or tetrapacks unless you make your own
Making your own (check out this excellent guide from Treading My Own Path) can be time consuming
Alternatives may be more expensive
 
BUTTER
 
1) Buy block butter instead of plastic tubs
 
PROS
Less packaging
Tastes better
 
CONS 
Still not totally plastic free
Can be more expensive
Alternatives may come in plastic packaging
 
2) Use less butter and look for alternatives
 
PROS
The alternatives are often healthier
No animal welfare issues
 
CONS 
Can be more expensive
 
CHEESE
 
1) Take your own tub to the cheese counter in your local supermarket, farm shop or farmers market
 
PROS
Completely plastic free
 
CONS
More expensive
Some supermarkets pre-wrap all cheese in clingfilm
 
2) Look for plastic free options
 
PROS
Completely plastic free (e.g. Bousin in foil and cardboard, Dairylea trianges in foil and cardboard, cheddar in wax)
 
CONS 
Very limited options available
 
3) Use less cheese and look for alternatives
 
PROS
Can be healthier if you opt for a variety of healthy alternatives – e.g. nut butters, eggs, seeds
Some alternatives are cheaper
 
CONS 
Some alternatives are more expensive
Doesn't work in recipes that require cheese
 
YOGHURT
 
1) Look for yoghurt in glass jars
 
PROS
Fully recyclable
 
CONS 
Glass bottles may have a plastic seal
May be more expensive
Options are more limited
Not as durable if using with kids or outside
 
2) Make your own yoghurt (see my favourite recipe here)
 
PROS
Easy
Healthy
Cheaper
 
CONS 
More time consuming than buying pre-made
More limited on flavours
 
SAUCES
 
1) Buy sauces in glass jars
 
PROS
Fully recyclable
 
CONS 
Glass bottles may have a plastic sleeve
May be more expensive
Options are more limited
Not as durable if using with kids or outside
 
2) Make your own sauces
 
PROS
Can work out cheaper
Healthier as there will be no preservatives or synthetic sweeteners
 
CONS
More time consuming
May not always be able to buy all the ingredients plastic free
 
DIPS – e.g. hummus, guacamole, tzatziki 
 
1) Make your own
 
PROS
Can work out cheaper
Healthier as there will be no preservatives or synthetic sweeteners
 
CONS
More time consuming
May not always be able to buy all the ingredients plastic free
 
2) Cut down on dips and choose plastic free alternatives – e.g. nut butters, oil, soft cheese in foil
 
PROS
Variety may make your diet healthier
 
CONS 
Takes time to adjust and remember to look for alternatives
Alternatives are not always plastic free
 
My solution to reduce (almost eliminate) plastic waste from our fridge
I decided that the savings I had made elsewhere on my plastic free journey could be used wisely on milk in glass bottles. We have drastically cut down on the amount we use but I am not ready to eliminate it completely (yet!). I now make oat milk, almond milk and brazil nut milk which I don't find particularly difficult to fit into my schedule. Remembering to soak the nuts is the hardest thing! I will write a blog on my experiences soon.
 
I make my own yoghurt but the kids are not keen. To be honest they weren't keen on the 'healthy' options I used to buy in plastic either!
 
We do buy blocks of butter but we use local rapeseed oil and coconut oil for cooking now so we are using less butter. I often look for cake recipes which use oil instead of butter.
 
I buy tomato ketchup and mayonnaise in glass bottles and my mother-in-law makes a delicious sweet chilli jam. I have thought about making my own ketchup when we get a glut of tomatoes from the garden but haven't managed it yet.
 
I make hummus and I make a cashew nut dip (see our plastic free recipe blog).
 
Cheese is our biggest plastic free fail! We all love cheese and would really struggle to give it up. We have cut down on the amount we eat but when I buy it it comes in plastic. If you have any suggestions on what to do about this please let me know.
 
This is the third article in our planned series looking at ways to reduce plastic. The first looked at plastic free fruit and veg and the second looked at plastic free meat and seafood. If you haven't already read our article which looks at why it isn't possible to write a step-by-step guide to going plastic free you can find it here:
 
 
Next up we look at the plastic free options we have found for our store cupboard food.
 
If you have found solutions that are not on our list please get in touch via Facebook and Twitter. We do not claim to have found the perfect solution and we are always up for trying new ideas.