The Wonders of the Common Baggie.

The common baggie … one of a cruiser’s best friends.  We use heavyweight freezer baggies for everything.  And we don’t bother with the fancy zipper variety – for whatever reason, I found they leaked, plus when we stored spare parts inside the zipper variety, they got rusty – I can only assume a leak can go two ways, if liquid can get out, salt air can get in.  Others seem to feel differently, but, I’ll stick with the regular seal.

We repackage everything in heavy duty freezer baggies – I should buy stock in the company.  But what company?  I find that the weight of the baggie is more important than the brand name on the box.   I swear they used to print the weight on the outside of the box, but now it seems there’s just the dimensions, so maybe I’m crazy.  Whenever I’m confronted with different brands, I always try a box before I buy mass quantities.  I have actually bought baggies that literally ripped out while I was putting stuff in them.  My current favorite are the Great Value Freezer Bags – they’re sturdy and less expensive than the “name” brands.  While we were cruising Central America, I’d always try the store brand before buying in quantity.

Leftovers packaged in baggies don’t take up nearly as much room in my pit of a fridge as plastic containers.  The baggies flex to fill up whatever nook and cranny is available.  Make sure you have freezer baggies that don’t leak before trying this with anything containing liquid!  I also use baggies to marinade meat and veggies for the same reasons.

Remove Food From Original Packaging

Remove Food From Original Packaging

Food packaging is a waste.  Especially if I’m trying to fit stuff in my little vertical slit of a freezer!  Remove the original packaging and redo everything in freezer baggies.  This will allow you to cram more stuff into small tight spaces in your refrigerator or freezer, as well as keep freezer burn at bay.

The first couple of years we took all kinds of prepackaged foodstuffs back to the boat – things like specialty dips and even rice-a-roni.  I’m not sure what I was thinking, although some of the dips were well received at happy hour.  I always discarded the boxes, put the contents in a quart size freezer baggie along with a cutout from the box showing what it was and the instructions.  Packaged like this, I could fit dozens more baggies of stuff in my food storage locker than if I would have left them in the individual boxes.

Cereal will not stay fresh long in the tropics in it’s original container.  Somehow the humidity seems to leech right through even the plastic packaging inside the box.  And when shopping in 3rd world countries, we’d never bring the box aboard anyway.   We discard the box and put the inside bag of cereal into a 2 gallon freezer baggie.  These days cereal for immediate consumption gets put in a Rubbermaid plastic storage container.  But when we’re leaving to go cruising, a variety of cereal can be challenging to find outside major provisioning centers (i.e. if you don’t want stale generic corn flakes you could be out of luck!).   We’ll stock enough boxes for however many weeks we’ll be gone – this can be quite a volume of storage when we leave for any length of time – even the baggies take more space than you would imagine.  They usually live on my shelf for clothes in what used to be the second hanging lazarette.  Good thing a cruiser’s wardrobe is minimal since we each have a big drawer, a little drawer and a shelf for our clothes!

We have many other functional uses for baggies other than food storage.  David uses them to store all the marinized spare parts for the diesel, plus anytime he opens a tube of anything and doesn’t finish it, he’ll store it in a baggie.  Alot of cruisers like vacuum bagging spare parts and even food, maybe it’s better and maybe it’s not.  For what we do, the heavy duty freezer bags have functioned just fine.

I always carry an extra baggie or two in the bottom of my backpack.  I use them as quickie dry bags for camera equipment, cell phones, anything that might get damp if a stray rain shower pops up when we’re out.  Obviously, I have real dry bags that I use if I’m expecting serious water, but just for running around town or a quick hike starting in sunshine, the freezer baggies have always kept my stuff “dry enough”.

David Changing the Oil

David Changing the Oil

One (and only one) time, he tried to change our oil using 2 gallon freezer baggies — we watched them do it at LaCeiba (Honduras) Shipyard and given that there’s no space under our diesel to fit anything to drain the oil into, the baggies seemed a neat trick.  Unfortunately it didn’t work out so well for him and the resulting fiasco was by far the biggest fiasco in the history of Winterlude.  We’re still paying for it years later.

So do you have other uses aboard for freezer baggies?  Leave a comment and share with the rest of us!    Cheers!   Jan


  1. SuacySailoress says:

    I keep dozens of the things under the sink…. if the crew bring ANY packaged food on board, it gets taken out of package and put in ziploc bag… ever since someone put a box in our fridge and it stuck fast to the side!

    • Oooh, good idea! We lost our space under the sink when we installed the watermaker. I mourn the loss of space, but love the watermaker! Baggies are in a side drawer, close at hand!

  2. I’ve found the best bags are the Hefty brand. Ziplock seems to have a lot of holes in them so I don’t trust them. I try and stock up before I leave the US. I’ve reused my hefty bags for various things on board and they are great.

    • Hi Velma! We’ve found a lot of good brands over the years … and various countries, but we’ve also found lots of bad brands! The trick is to buy ONE box and try them before stocking up. You’re right though, Hefty is usually reliable … if you can find them. Cheers! Jan

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