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When do you use plastic wrap, when do you use aluminum foil?

For storing food, when do you use each type of covering? I tend to use each interchangeably when covering salads, meats, or pasta leftovers in bowls. When does it matter for what kind of food?

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  1. I use foil to cover hot things and plastic wrap to cover room temp or cold things. For leftovers in the fridge, we use rubbermaid containers. But that is mostly to keep them from becoming a disaster in my bag instead of my lunch the next day.

    1. Plastic wrap is far more capable of making an air-resistant layer of protection. A glass container wrapped with the right kind of plastic can be liquid & air tight, whether cold or in the microwave.

      Foil makes a nice vessel for reheating in a conventional oven, it can slow the loss of moisture, but is never as impenetrable as plastic.

      Some things (like baked goods) do better stored so that they can dry out a bit, but the sealing ability of plastic helps more foods remain fresh. That would include salads, meats, and pasta -- I would only wrap those in foil if I were going to reheat in a conventional oven in a short time (hours).

      I find that most plastic wrap doesn't stand up to freezer by it self, so I often end up wrapping things for the freezer with plastic wrap and then into a zip lock bag or a layer of foil.

      1. Plastic wrap for the fridge, foil for the oven.

        1. I don't use foil when there's anything acidic involved, like tomatoes, lemon, etc. I will wrap a piece of cooked meat in foil. I use plastic wrap to cover bowls and plates of food, since the seal is tighter. Most of my leftovers are in tupperware.

          2 Replies
          1. re: mojoeater

            Don't use foil for anything aggressively alkaline, either! I wrapped some tortillas in foil one night, intending to heat them in the toaster oven for breakfast, and in the morning the foil was lacy with holes and the tortillas discolored.

            I'm using pretty much only Ziplocs and disposable-but-reusable fridge containers nowadays, with waxed paper for short-term wrapping (stuff like hamburger patties), microwaving and grating cheese onto, and plastic wrap for when I want to refrigerate leftovers in the serving bowl. Foil's hardly ever used around here except for lining or covering roasting pans.

            1. re: Will Owen

              I use the non-stick foil when it is going to come into contact with food. Tomatoes ect.don't eat their way through it.

          2. if you wrap something in foil and stick in the jfood fridge its as good as dead. no see no touch theory. plastic only so everyone can see.

            if you use heat, only foil and if you use the MV then only waxed paper.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jfood

              Yep - we have the same experience.

            2. plastic wrap on cheeses, lemons, vegetables, fruits, salads....
              foil for left over chicken, meat, turkey, though plastic is okay too
              we never lose leftovers just because in foil and visible -- we open it and check it out and it definitely gets eaten
              we use baggies sometimes too
              i never use containers with lids because i am too lazey to wash them but i'll use them to send home leftovers

              1 Reply
              1. re: Bite Me

                oh no! never use plastic wrap on cheese. it needs to breathe. waxed paper is better, foil if you having nothing else (as other posters have said, there is never a tight seal with foil).

              2. i use foil for everything. plastic wrap always gets all tangled up, and i can never get it right. we just don't get along.

                1 Reply
                1. re: britterbeezer

                  I agree. I keep plastic wrap in my cabinet for that very rare occasion that I might need it, but I rarely use it. It's just so annoying to deal with.

                  Someone once told me that if you keep the roll in the freezer, it makes it easier to deal with. I never tried it, though. My freezer is too fill up with other stuff and it never seemed that important.

                2. In my kitchen:

                  Plastic wrap for covering items marinating in the fridge, or to cover guacamole in the fridge,

                  Foil for lining baking pans to ease cleanup, and for freezing some meats(although sometimes I wrap the meat in plastic wrap, and then wrap in foil for added protection from freezer burn),

                  Other wise rubbermade containers for leftovers.

                  1. I use plastic wrap for most things just because it sticks better and keeps things like rice from drying out. I prefer to use tupperware for leftovers, but for 1/2 an avocado, plastic wrap it is.
                    I use foil for wrapping up hot things to put in the fridge. I also use it for wrapping up a hot breakfast sandwich so it's still warm when I get to work.

                    1. I always use plastic wrap for storing things... foil just seems more messy because it doesn't seal to the bowl/plate. But if I want to cook something covered or wrapped, I'll use foil to cook it in.

                      1. I almost never use foil. I keep a roll around for the using for stuff like covering the edges of a pie crust.

                        I have a ton of Gladware containers, and I use them for almost all of my storage. I use plastic wrap if I need to tightly wrap something.