Freezing food is a great way to ensure you have ample supplies on rainy days. It also enables you to prolong the shelf life of various foods that typically spoil in the fridge after a few days, so there really are no reasons “against” having a freezer full of your favorite foods.
One of the most important things to consider when you want to freeze anything, whether it be cookies, strawberries, or slices of cheese, is to choose the right container. The two most popular options are freezer bags and storage bags, and today I’ll help you learn everything there is to know about zip food bags.
The Basics: What’s the Difference Between Freezer and Storage Bags?
You’d be surprised by how many people confuse regular storage bags for freezer bags. They look fairly similar; they are made from nearly identical materials, and in most cases, both types of bags feature a zippered enclosure, so it’s easy to see why making a clear distinction between the two isn’t so easy.
They are, however, different in nearly all respects. From durability, reusability, and affordability to the thickness of the material they’re made of and their top-seal features, the freezer bags and your average storage bags are dissimilar on nearly all fronts.
What are Freezer Bags?
Freezer bags are rectangular storage containers typically made of highly sturdy but flexible plastic material, such as high-grade polyethylene.
As opposed to standard storage bags, bags made for freezer food storage are not only durable but also very thick. This means that they are far more reliable for long-term freezing, especially for foods that can spend up to 1-2 years in the freezer.
The sturdy, thick material freezer bags are manufactured of is also more rip- and tear-proof than regular plastic. The main reason why you should consider using freezer bags over standard storage bags is that they offer a far more secure sealing closure system.
Most manufacturers of freezer bags pay extra attention to implementing sealing mechanisms that prevent even the smallest particles from entering or exiting the container, meaning that your food will be as safe from freezer burn as possible.
Made of thick, exceptionally sturdy plastic materials
Superb top-sealing feature preventing freezer burn and spillage
Best choice for freezing food for longer periods
Can be used for freezing liquids and solid foods
More expensive than standard storage bags
Difficult to wash by hand
Slightly inferior availability due to the requirements for special materials
What are Storage Bags?
Storage bags are very similar to freezer bags in terms of design and aesthetics. They are rectangular bags that normally have a simple sealing system. Storage bags are usually made of low-end plastic or silicone but they can rarely (if ever) come close to the sturdiness freezer bags boast.
With a relatively simple top-sealing mechanism, standard storage bags have a minimal impact against freezer burn. They are, however, doing a good job at preventing spillage, but since they’re usually made of flimsy materials, storage bags can easily become ruptured by pointy objects in your freezer (e.g. if you are storing meat as-is, or by sharp icicles).
If you’re wondering “can I use regular Ziploc bags in the freezer?”, you certainly could, but I wouldn’t advise it. Freezer bags do a better job in every field, but having a pack of regular storage bags can save you when your supply of freezer bags runs out.
Readily available in most markets and stores
Very cheap; bundles are often offered at even lower prices compared to standalone packs
Good when used as a backup
Ideally used for short-term freezing
Barely protects the food against freezer burn
Inadequate for freezing liquid or mushy foods
Comparison: Differences Between Ziploc Freezer Bags and Storage Bags
For a quick overview of what has been discussed in today’s “freezer bag vs storage bag” article, take a look at the table below:
|Low because it is difficult to hand wash
|Thick to Extra-thick
|Poor to Medium
|Fairly easy to wash, dries pretty quickly
|Decent at best
Can You Use Freezer Bags for Storage?
Yes, you can use freezer bags for storage. In fact, using freezer bags for storage can be advantageous in certain situations, since they are generally thicker and more durable than regular storage bags. This makes them less prone to punctures and leaks, providing better protection for the items stored inside.
Additionally, the strong seal on freezer bags helps to keep air out, which can help maintain the freshness of the food or other items stored in them.
However, keep in mind that freezer bags might be more expensive than regular storage bags. If you don’t need the extra protection provided by freezer bags, it might be more cost-effective to use regular storage bags for your non-freezing needs.
Best Freezer Bags and Storage Bags for Various Use Cases
Even when you know precisely what to look for when searching for freezer and storage bags, the sheer number of available products you’ll find on Amazon, Walmart, e-Bay and similar marketplaces can be intimidating.
To ensure you’re not wasting hours of your time searching for quality bags, I’ll review a few products I use daily.
Best Freezer bag for Meat: Ziploc Gallon Food Storage Freezer Bags
Meat is full of moisture content, most of which you couldn’t get out before freezing no matter how hard you tried. That’s why you’ll need a high-quality freezer bag, and Ziploc’s Gallon Food Storage Freezer Bags are among the best the contemporary market has to offer.
Extra large in size, featuring a double zipper closure, Ziploc’s patented Grip ‘n Seal tech, and BPA-free construction, these bags will ensure your meat is as safe as possible in your freezer. Additionally, this package contains 120 extra-large bags, so your supply should last long enough for you to never need to use standard storage bags for your food-freezing needs.
You can find more details about the different alternatives in our review of the best freezer bags for meat.
Best Freezer bag for Vegetables: Greenzla Reusable Gallon Bags
Similar to meat, vegetables also have a lot of moisture in them and are ideally frozen in dedicated freezer bags. Greenzla’s special freezer bags are both airtight and leak-resistant, and I must say I’ve been satisfied with how they’ve been serving me so far.
Even though freezer bags are usually difficult to wash, Greenzla’s bags are dishwasher-safe. One of the main reasons I love this brand’s freezer bags is that they are made from advanced, high-quality, food-safe PEVA material, which is a unique blend of silicone, plastic, polyvinyl chloride and polyethylene vinyl acetate.
In simpler words, they’re much sturdier and safer than traditional plastic and silicone.
Best Storage Bags for Vegetables and Fruits (without Plastic):
This cotton storage bag has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from customers, who appreciate its effectiveness in keeping produce fresh for extended periods. The bags work especially well when dampened with water and placed in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer or on a shelf, maintaining freshness for a variety of produce such as celery, carrots, mushrooms, and more. These bags are a great eco-friendly alternative to plastic, as they can be easily washed and reused.
However, some noted that the bags may not be as effective for certain products, like leaf lettuce. Washing the bags can cause them to become wrinkled, but this can be resolved with quick ironing. Additionally, some users have found that certain stains may not come out easily after washing.
Overall, these cotton storage bags are a popular choice for their ability to keep produce fresh, their eco-friendliness, and their versatility. They come in various sizes to accommodate different products, and their reusable nature contributes to long-term savings. Despite a few minor drawbacks, these bags are highly recommended for those seeking an alternative to plastic storage options.
This might also be interesting for you: Can You Freeze Steamed Vegetables?
Other Frequently Asked Questions about Freezer Containers
Understanding the differences between freezer and storage bags can be a bit confusing, especially because both types are literally “storage” bags. There’s a good reason why these terms deserve special places in the chef’s dictionary, and if you have any other doubts about their differences or similarities, let me answer some of the most popular questions about them.
Can I Freeze Chicken in a Ziploc bag?
On its own, no, since regular Ziploc bags can’t protect against freezer burn. If you’re out of freezer bags and need to freeze chicken soon, wrap the dish with strong aluminum foil and then in the Ziploc bag before putting it in the freezer.
Are Silicone Freezer Bags as Good as Polyethylene Ones?
When it comes to freezing food, silicone and polyethylene bags offer a similar level of reliability and durability.
How Large Should my Freezer Bags Be?
The dimensions of the freezer or storage bag should always exceed the dimensions of the food meant to be frozen to avoid unnecessary compression (which can cause a change in texture and even accelerate the spoiling process by moving moisture in food to a different area). When in doubt, buy larger freezer bags.
Freezer Bag or Storage Bag: What Should You Use?
I will always recommend using freezer bags for freezing food and storage bags for food transport or temporary storage in the fridge.
My reasoning is very simple; a high-quality pack of 100+ freezer bags costs under $30 while storage bags are even cheaper. The only reason why you’d use a storage bag for freezing (or vice versa) is when you run out of your supply.