I've known for awhile that food stored in plastic containers has some possible health issues. I've studied up on plastic and found that the various grades of plastics are different, with #1 and #2 being the safest for food. #3 is the worst, as it contains PVC (vinyl), which is a known carcinogen. I've read this in various places. The latest one being a good, short read. It's called 'Green This!' by Deirdre Imus. She was in charge of 'greening' the Hackensack Children's Hospital here in NJ. And she has some great alternatives for home cleaning. She also said in her book that plastic #4-6 are soft plastics that can degrade into your food, so avoiding them makes sense as well.
I have always had a hard time getting plastic containers clean of oil. And if you are too tired to clean the dishes right after you eat-forget about it! And I've also noticed a funky taste when it's in plastic. Lots of little bells have gone off regarding plastic over the years.
But, I did not want to go crazy over it all either. After doing a lot of research, everything has it's own issues attached. Stainless steel is generally not 100% stainless steel and it has nickel, which is like lead, once it gets into your blood stream, it does not leave. Aluminum has been a known leacher of elements for awhile. Copper has nickel in it as well.
While I do use stainless steel pans and plastic containers that I have collected over the years, I am trying to slowly transition into using more glass for mixing, cooking, and storing our foods in. I thought at first that it would be horrible, but it's been a smooth sail so far. And I'm quite happy with where we are. Since I do most of the cooking and putting the food away, I can easily choose glass whenever I want.
I have been using Pyrex to bake most things in the oven, as well as some stoneware that I can put in the oven, broiler and toaster oven.
And Ball Glass containers have become my best friend! :) They're so easy to clean and they dry in a much shorter time then plastic-which is nice since I have only a small amount of counter space and it's completely taken when I have dishes drying. There is some question as to the safety of the lids-but most food does not touch it, and I figure it's still better then plastic. Oh, and opt for the wide mouth jars. They are so much easier to clean. And the lids are the same for both quart and half gallon.
I started brewing tea for Drew every day and you have to pour super hot water in the container. And I know that is bad on plastic. But glass is not a problem. Ball containers don't leak when the cover is on tight and they fit nicely in the refrigerator. They can be used with really hot things, and they can be used to freeze things (just be sure to leave plenty of room for it to expand and not crack). And I would not suggest you go from really hot to really cold right away-it will crack-I know that from experience-and not just once sadly enough. I've been using them for a lot of things lately-even leftovers. I have the pint, quart and half gallon ones and I use them all the time. Plus I save the glass containers from things like spaghetti sauce, pickles, etc.
And the local thrift stores have some great glass pieces cheaply priced. I picked up a really neat set of Pyrex nesting bowls. They work in the oven as well. There are 4 pieces, the largest holding maybe a gallon, and then getting smaller. We use them for mixing and serving. No tops with them and only the outside is painted (lead is a problem in older pieces sometimes). I paid a decent price for them, but felt like I had found a great little treasure! :)
I still use my plastic containers-esp for taking food out of the house. But I've found switching to mostly glass has been easier, cheaper and more fun then I expected. And MUCH classier. ;)