Why David Chang Says You Should Never Buy Food Storage Containers

Buying food storage containers for your kitchen is practically a rite of passage if you want to hold onto leftovers, but celebrity chef and founder of Momofuku Noodle Bar, David Chang, says there's no need. It's not that he's against leftovers — he just thinks there's a way to get around purchasing containers specifically to store food. In a video on GQ's Youtube channel, Chang explains that if you order takeout or delivery, you're inevitably going to rack up some plastic containers that can be reused. "There's no reason to buy Tupperware. There's no reason to buy those Ziploc things. This is just simply, solely, more useful to use as a storage of food," Chang said of takeout containers.

Considering over 10 million tons of plastic are wasted every year, according to Plastic Oceans International, any reason to avoid throwing out your takeout containers is a good one. Not only are you helping the planet by reusing them, but you're saving yourself some money by not purchasing brand-new food storage. According to Tiny Waste, American families use 500 Ziploc bags on average every year — so go a little easier on your wallet and take advantage of the food containers you're already getting.

How to reuse takeout containers

Although there is debate about the quality of the plastic in takeout containers, they're typically safe to reuse up to a certain point. As food scientist Bryan Quoc Le, Ph.D, told Martha Stewart, "Most food-safe containers from restaurants can be used as storage for a short period of time, as these plastics are usually meant for food-grade applications." If you want to double-check, you can look at the bottom of your container to see what kind of plastic it's made out of. You should see a number there — and 2, 4, and 5 are okay to reuse for food.

You may be able to use your takeout boxes up to 25 times before you need to throw them out — just make sure to thoroughly clean them between each use. You can try washing them with soap and water as you would with other dishes, or even put them in the dishwasher with a plastic booster. To get rid of stains, let your containers sit out in the sun for a couple of hours, then clean them with a mixture of baking soda and water. Once they start getting scratches, permanently holding onto grease, or falling apart in general, it may be time to toss them. Hopefully, by this time, you'll have ordered another round of takeout, so you can swap out those old containers with fresh ones.