The Pitfalls of Thin Paper Plates
If you prefer paper plates without a basket or support, you'll need to invest in thicker products with more support and liquid resistance.
While thin paper plates can be supported on baskets built to size, many of these baskets have metal supports woven in and are not appropriate for the microwave.
Can you microwave paper bowls? Unfortunately, you may not find the answer to this in time to save you the hassle of mopping out your microwave. Many thin paper plates and bowls can flatten in the microwave, resulting in a wet, sloppy mess.
Additionally, per food experts at The Sneaky Kitchen, paper plates are often treated for moisture resistance with waxy chemicals that may leach into your food and should never be used in the microwave.
Consider A Middle Way
Are paper plates microwave safe with regard to fire? Many brands of paper plates claim they're safe in the microwave but don't offer a maximum cooking time or recommended cooking intensity.
However, it does seem wise to only use paper plates for warming foods and actually cooking foods in lidded glass containers for efficiency and overall tidiness.
Moving From Freezer to Microwave
Many paper plates offer separate compartments and are great for cookouts and buffets. Your salad and baked beans will be more enjoyable if they can't mingle. But can you use these paper trays to freeze leftovers and warm them up later?
Yes, you can in the short term. However, you'll need to carefully consider the following points:
- Don't freeze anything with eggs or a heavy cream sauce. Eggs will seep water and cream sauces separate.
- If you're freezing anything with vegetables such as a stew, be prepared for a texture change when the food is heated and ready to eat.
- When freezing cooked items containing vegetables, be aware that the water inside the vegetables will damage the cellular walls once the food is frozen solid. As the food thaws, this water may seep out. You may need to spoon away excess water as the product begins to thaw, or stir it into the stew or soup if appropriate to the texture.
- This is a short term storage fix. A paper plate covered with plastic wrap or bundled into a freezer bag will not be airtight and can lead to freezer burn if left in the freezer for too long. If you find a mystery tray, toss it. Per food storage experts with Budget Bytes, you'll never save enough eating leftovers to cover the cost of food poisoning.
Convenience And The Environment
There are paper products that will break down quickly and even some that you can compost yourself. However, unless you have several compost bins, the 60 day breakdown of compressed fiber paper plates may slow down your soil-building process.
If you decide on paper plates as a temporary fix during a busy or to save on clean-up after a large gathering, the investment will be small as will the impact of the waste on the environment.
However, if paper plates get used daily because the dishwasher is broken or because you don't want to bother with washing plates and bowls, be aware that this choice may be contributing quite a bit to your local landfills.
Paper plates are an incredibly cheap way to feed lots of people with little cleanup. For a bit more money, you can find themed paper plates to match a party decor. From solid colors to cartoon characters, there are paper plates available to fit well into any celebration.
No matter what style you get, microwave your paper plates with care. Use them only to warm up foods, rather than cooking, and keep an eye on bowls while they heat to make sure they're not collapsing and leaving you with a mess to clean up.