When you’re cooking, it’s easy to default to using aluminum foil. It’s cheap, convenient, and has a variety of uses around the house.
However, there are times when you might want to avoid using aluminum foil for the sake of your health or safety.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of these alternatives so that you can make an educated decision about whether or not to use aluminum foil in your kitchen!
It’s terrible when you reach for that cardboard box of aluminum foil and only have 6 inches left to cover a 13×9-inch pan. What do you use instead?
If you need a substitute for aluminum foil, what you use will depend on what you’re doing, but you can reach for silicone food covers and baking mats, beeswax wraps, and glass containers.
Aluminum Foil Overview
Aluminum foil is a thin sheet of aluminum, typically made from one or more thin layers of aluminum rolled into a flexible tube. It’s used in the kitchen to wrap food and keep it fresh, as well as for cooking and baking.
Aluminum foil has many benefits: it can be used to line food trays before baking, it’s an excellent conductor of heat, it doesn’t rust or tarnish over time like some other metals do, it can be recycled, and it won’t stain your hands like other materials do when you touch them after handling raw meat or fish (this is especially important if you’re going out).
However, there are also downsides: aluminum foil may contain trace amounts of lead–which could be harmful if consumed in large quantities. Some people have a sensitivity towards this substance so they should avoid using aluminum-based products altogether just in case!
It’s also wasteful. You can’t and shouldn’t reuse aluminum foil (although many still do). It’s a disposable product that makes more waste and increases your carbon footprint.
There are a few different uses for aluminum foil. Some of the most common include:
- Baking. Aluminum foil can be used to line baking pans, allowing you to bake food without worrying about it sticking to the pan or burning.
- Grilling. You can also use aluminum foil when grilling food, especially if you’re using an indoor grill or stovetop grill pan and don’t have access to an outdoor grill! This helps keep your food from sticking while cooking and adds flavor by trapping in juices as they cook down into the meat/fish/vegetables themselves (which gives them a nice caramelized flavor).
- Storage & Food Prep – When storing leftovers from last night’s dinner party or packing lunches for work tomorrow morning, aluminum foil makes things easy by keeping everything neatly contained until it’s ready for consumption again later on down the road at another time during this week or next month! Additionally, many people use aluminum wrap as part of their kitchen organization strategy because it allows them easy access whenever needed–anywhere from once per day up until several times throughout each hour depending on how busy things get around here.
What Can I Use Instead of Aluminum Foil?
There are many good substitutes for aluminum foil. Whether it’s because you ran out or have decided to decrease your carbon footprint, there are options out there that cater to the task at hand.
What you decide to use will depend on if you’re baking, storing, or grilling.
Parchment paper is a good substitute for aluminum foil. It’s non-stick and can be used for baking and grilling, but it’s not as reusable as aluminum foil because it’s hard to clean up after each use.
Parchment paper has been around since before aluminum foil, so there’s no surprise that it’s a great alternative to aluminum foil when baking.
This paper provides that non-stick surface for your baked goods even at higher temperatures. You can also wrap up foods on the short term as well.
While it’s healthier for you than aluminum foil, it’s still a once and done item. If you’re eco-friendly and trying to reduce your carbon footprint, you may want to pick something else.
Silicone Baking Sheets
Silicone baking sheets are a great alternative to aluminum foil. They’re non-stick, so there’s no need to grease them before you put your food on them (and they’ll be ready for the oven). Plus, they can go in the microwave and freezer as well as being dishwasher safe!
Silicone is flexible and can be used for more than just baking–it also makes a great lining for casserole dishes or storage containers with lids that seal tightly (like Tupperware).
These reusable sheets are environmentally friendly and serve the exact same purpose as aluminum foil without being as hazardous or wasteful.
They’re even better than aluminum foil when it comes to non-stick properties. No cooking spray is needed, period.
They’ll also give a better coverage on the bottom of your baking sheet due to their thickness and weight. Don’t worry about anything curling or wrinkling on you.
Silicone sheets aren’t designed to withstand temperatures above 484 degrees F. When exposed to temperatures higher than that, they can release dangerous chemicals. However, there are only a handful of circumstances where you’d even have to think about temperatures that high when baking.
When it comes to storage options, you have a lot more choices than say baking or grilling.
Companies have been coming up with reusable storage options for quite some time (thank you Tupperware!). It’s easy to find an alternative to aluminum foil when storing your food.
Silicone Food Covers
We’ll start off by saying make sure to only use “food-grade” silicone food covers. You need a higher-grade silicone when it comes to food storage. The low-grade silicone can leach some bad toxins into your food.
That being said, these reusable and inexpensive storage solutions are great for covering your leftovers. Not only do they cover plates and bowls, but some are designed to fit over the cut ends of fruits and vegetables to help keep them from drying out.
They stretch slightly to fit tightly and make a seal around your plates and containers, even better than aluminum foil would.
Beeswax wraps are a great alternative to aluminum foil. They’re 100% natural and biodegradable, so you don’t have to worry about toxic chemicals leaching into your food.
They’re reusable for up to one year (though they’ll last longer if you take care of them), and they’re easy to clean with just warm water and soap.
There’s no worrying about toxicity at all with these wraps made from beeswax and oils (like jojoba and coconut).
Use them to store fruits, vegetables, and even wrap up a sandwich.
When you’re done, it’s an easy wash with cold water and they’re ready to use again. Obviously, you don’t want to use hot water as it might melt the wrap.
Glass containers are non-reactive, which means they don’t react with the food or other ingredients in your dish. This makes them great for storing leftovers and reheating in the microwave or oven. They’re also dishwasher safe, so you can clean them easily without worrying about damaging them (and they’ll last longer).
Glass containers come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors–you can even find some with lids that seal tightly shut! You can use glass jars as storage containers for cereals or nuts, fill up an empty jar with ice cream scoops, use small round jars to hold spices on your countertop, or buy a bunch of different sizes at once so you always have something handy when it comes time to pack lunch boxes for workday lunches.
They’re also transparent so you can see what you stored in them and how much is left. So, as long as you’re not accident prone, or have young children bouncing around, these are a great storage alternative to aluminum foil.
While most people have this cloth in the kitchen to strain foods, it also works as an alternative for some aluminum foil uses.
Use it as a cover or store food items wrapped in it. It can be used to keep foods like avocados and mushrooms fresh and keep out moisture.
Outside of the kitchen, the backyard grill is the other common place to find that aluminum foil and one of the hardest to find alternatives for due to the high heat involved.
But don’t lose hope yet!
Cedar wraps are an excellent alternative to aluminum foil. They’re made from cedar bark and come in different shapes and sizes, so you can find one that works best for your needs.
Not only do they wrap up that food on the grill but these natural and eco-friendly alternatives add a smoky flavor to the food.
You soak the wraps in water and use them to cover your food to seal in the juices on the grill.
Look for them in the grill or barbecue aisles at your local stores. Keep in mind, these aren’t reusable, but they are compostable.
This article has discussed some of the uses of aluminum foil and suggested some alternatives. No matter why you need an aluminum alternative, you’ll have to consider the purpose when choosing an alternative.
Baking, storage, and grilling all have different options. If you feel like you can’t do without foil, then try using parchment paper or beeswax wraps instead!