Best Food Storage Bag of 2020
The Ziploc Gallon Slider is the best performing food storage bags. The gallon-sized freezer bag is ideal for storing large quantities of food in the freezer or pantry. In addition to the convenience and security of the zip style closure system, what sets this bag apart is its ability to stand upright while being stored on shelves. The bottom of the bag has an expandable bottom that creates a flat and stable base that makes filling the bag convenient and then easy to store away in a space-efficient manner. This product is also one of the most consistently well-built bags we reviewed and never sprouted any leaks during our testing.
While our testers loved the ease and security offered by the slide closure, it also proved to be the bag's biggest weakness. In our drop tests, every bag we dropped blew out the zipper on the first or second drop. We also had one zipper fail on us while trying to close a bag we had filled to the absolute brim. Overall, this is a durable and leak-free bag that is user-friendly and stores well.
Ziploc Snack Bags are perfect for their intended use. These small bags fit a single serving of snack food exceptionally well, making them an ideal choice for meal preppers or school lunches. The 6 ½ in x 3 ¼ in size ensures you won't fill them with more than you intend on eating without having to bust out a scale or measuring cup. The reduced volume of the bag also makes fitting it into a lunch box easy and space-saving. The size is convenient for freezing individual servings of bullion or sauce and was the most drop resistant bag we tested, ensuring you won't have a mess if you fumble one on your way to the freezer.
The size of this bag is pretty limiting, and there is only so much you can do with such a tiny amount of space. When filling our bags with liquids or fine dry goods, we like to flip the tops of our bags inside out to create a lip that keeps the bag open — without needing a second hand to help. This product is too short to do this. When you flip it inside out, you lose almost half of the internal volume. If you're looking for a bag to quickly portion out individual servings of snack food, this sturdy bag fits the bill.
The Solimo multipack comes with both one-gallon freezer bags and 6 ½ in x 5 ⅞ in sandwich bags. These two sizes should cover the food bag needs of most households. These generic Amazon options function similarly in terms of quality, with the freezer bag being made from a slightly beefier plastic. Both passed our submersion test without issue and were significantly more drop-proof than most of the other bags we looked at.
Both the sandwich and freezer bags have fairly significant issues with quality control, and we found that just about every bag we tested came out of the box out with one or two leaky seams in the top corners. While these holes allowed liquid to escape the interior, they didn't seem to let anything in when submerged. This made them fine for storing or freezing dry goods but not ideal for storing sauces or other liquids.
The Green N Pack gallon freezer bags claim to be biodegradable but also explicitly say they are not designed to be composted. It's unclear how eco-friendly they actually are, but regardless of that, they are a high-quality product that stood up to our testing procedures quite well. It was one of the few products that had no seam leakage in any of the bags we tested. The thick plastic isn't prone to tearing and, when folded back, holds itself open for easy filling.
While the bag sealed out moisture well when it was sealed, actually sealing the top of the bag was quite challenging, especially when the bag was at full capacity or wet. Our testers had to press and squeeze to get these things closed. This also proved to be another bag you don't want to drop when it's full of liquid. Every bag we tested exploded out the bottom from one counter height fall. At the end of the day, these thick freezer bags are durable, leak-free, and at least make a small nod to sustainability.
The Lunchskins sandwich bag is a wonderful alternative to conventional single-use plastic options. While there are many reusable options on the market, the convenience of a single-use product is hard to beat, especially for kids who have a knack for losing things. While these are best for dry food items like PB and Js, the material was stout enough to deal with small amounts of moisture from things like sliced apples. The bag has a convenient closure system that is similar to a self-sealing envelope.
When it comes down to it, these bags are not waterproof and will start to melt if they get too wet. This makes their application fairly limited in that you wouldn't want to put juicy sliced fruit or extra drippy sandwiches in them. Unsealing the bag without tearing it can take a little finesse and perhaps requires more patience than the average hungry school kid has. If you plan on eating your food all at once, this isn't a problem but worth noting. Currently available in apple or shark patterns, these non-plastic bags are sure to be a hit with kids and adults alike.
The Ziploc sandwich bag is a convenient size for packing food items like sandwiches or sliced fruit. Bigger than their "snack" size bag but not over the top big for putting in a lunch box, these bags are moisture-resistant and easy to seal closed.
The quality of the bags we tested was all over the place. Some had one leaky seam, some had two, and some were entirely leak-free; it was really hit or miss. The bags did poorly across the board in our drop tests, as every bag we tested burst out the bottom on their first drop. These bags are ideally suited for packing small to medium prepared food items.
The Ziploc quart-sized freezer bags are a scaled-down version of their gallon slide closure freezer bags. While this version doesn't have a slide closure, the squeeze zip is easy to use and seals well even when wet. The offset tab on the top of the bag makes opening it easier as well. Although not the most important detail, our testers noticed that the bags in the box were packed the neatest of all the boxes we looked at. This ensured easy and no double dispensing.
This product wasn't free of manufacturing defects, and about half the bags we put through our testing process had leaky seams. These bags were yet another example of containers you shouldn't drop. All the units we tested burst on their first drop. These are nice mid-sized bags that stand up to freezing and regular use well.
The Glad quart-sized freezer bags are a budget alternative to some of the more premium options. While they weren't the highest performers in any metric, they weren't too far behind in anything either.
Our biggest gripe with this product is how difficult it was to get the zipper to fully seal. Glad advertises that the zipper turns green when it's fully sealed, but the yellow and blue sides simply need to be close together to change color. It does little to indicate if the bag is actually closed or not. Almost all of the bags we tested came with either one or two leaky top seams. This isn't ideal for long term food storage in the freezer or for storing liquids. While not the highest performing bags in our fleet, they function well enough to be worth a buy and try at their low price point.
Brown paper bags are the quintessential lunch bags for school kids and adults alike. Easier to deal with than a lunchbox, you don't have to worry about losing or cleaning a simple paper bag. Made from 100% recycled paper and fully recyclable themselves, these bags are the most sustainable option we reviewed.
Being made from paper, these bags are significantly less versatile than their plastic counterparts and will liquefy into a pulpy mess when subjected to any serious moisture. These bags, in particular, were a little small for our preference and could just barely accommodate a normal-sized sandwich. The more you pack into these little guys, the more prone they are to tearing, so having a bag with more dead space would be preferable. These paper bags are a sustainable alternative to plastic, and work best for dry food items.
Why You Should Trust Us
Buck Yedor was our lead tester on this project. His attention to detail and experience working in the professional food service industry as a cook makes him the ideal candidate for testing all things kitchen-related. Between that and bringing a sack lunch to work every day, Buck has used more than his fair share of food storage bags.
The ideal food storage bag is easy to fill, can withstand serious abuse, and, most importantly, keeps air and moisture away from the contents being stored inside. Throw in the ability to be recycled or composted, and you have a winner. After researching the most popular brands on the market, we independently purchased different types of bags and put them through the wringer to see if any lived up to our ideals.
Analysis and Test Results
At first glance, food storage bags might all seem fairly similar. In reality, their performance is all across the board. It's hard to tell just by looking at a bag how well it will function. Our systemized testing got down into the nitty-gritty of where each bag failed or flourished. We looked at each model's durability, moisture and freezer burn protection, the ease of closure, and how easy it was to fill the bags without assistance.
Our durability metric consisted of three subcategories: is it leak-proof, tear-proof, and drop-proof? To test for leaks, we filled the bags with water to capacity and then squeezed them. Throughout our testing, we came to notice that finding a batch of bags without any leaky seams was more uncommon than not. The nature and low price of all of these bags seem to give manufacturers little incentive for creating better quality control.
The Green 'N'Packwas the best performer in our squeeze test. None of the bags we tested sprung a single leak. The Ziploc Slider Freezer Bag was the runner up. While it didn't leak from any of the seams, the zipper did fail during one test. The worst offenders were both of the Solimo bags. Every bag we tested immediately leaked from one or both of the top seams.
The first thing we did to check how tearproof each bag was, was to flip the top over itself as if we were going to fill the bag. While most of the bags could do this without issue, some of them would immediately tear at the seams. All of the Ziplocs we tested were able to be turned in and out without trouble. The Solimo freezer bag tore when being flipped, and unsurprisingly, the Perfect Stix paper bag tore quite easily if you weren't careful.
Our drop testing was designed to replicate a fall from your typical counter height, about three feet. We filled each bag with water and dropped them from that height. The Solimo bags were surprisingly some of the most drop resistant, and the gallon version was easily the most drop-proof of all the freezer bags. The Ziploc snack-sized and sandwich bags were also high performers. Besides the Solimo freezer bags, all the others typically burst on their first drop.
Moisture/Freezer Burn Protection
The main advantage of using plastic for food storage is that assuming everything is functioning correctly, it is a non-permeable material that keeps its contents safe from air and moisture. To check how well each bag actually did its job, we filled each one with oatmeal and then submerged the bag for 30 mins. To our surprise, with only one exception, even the bags that came out of the box with leaky seams didn't let any moisture get to our dry oatmeal. One Solimo sandwich bag did let in a little moisture. Other than that one incident, all of the bags performed more or less the same.
We found similar results in our freezer tests. After 24 hours in the freezer, none of our frozen food showed any serious signs of freezer burn. We excluded both of the paper bags from both these tests as well.
Ease of Closure
Our third testing metric was checking to see how easy it was to actually get a bag to fully seal. We encountered slide zippers, squeeze zippers, a self-sealing adhesive strip, and a roll-top closure. The clear cut winner was the Ziploc slider freezer bag. The convenience of sliding the top open and closed without having to double-check if the bag actually sealed was ideal.
The other Ziploc bags featuring Ziploc's version of the standard squeeze zipper all worked pretty well, even when full or wet. The Glad squeeze zipper was a battle to get fully sealed. Once they were sealed, they stayed sealed, but the initial closure was a struggle, especially when wet.
Ease of Use
The final piece of our puzzle was testing how easy it was to fill each bag without needing assistance or spilling. This is largely a function of how well the bags can hold their shape when propped open. The Ziploc slider freezer bag was again our front runner.
The expandable bottom creates a stable base, and when the top is folded back on itself, the opening is large and easy to deal with. The Ziplock snack-sized bag was the most difficult to deal with. The small size makes it so you can't fold back the top, so getting liquids in without making a mess can be challenging.
Whether you're sending the bag to school with your kid or banishing it to the depths of your freezer, you need a bag that will go the distance. After testing a variety of the most popular bags sold in 2020, we set out to determine the best and worst qualities of each. We hope our systematic and scientific approach will help you determine which food storage bags are right for your household.
— Buck Yedor