If you are living in a state that has recently banned single-use plastic bags, you may be in search of reusable grocery bags that can help you get your food home in one piece.
Luckily, with the demand for reusable grocery bags growing, there are so many products out there to choose from. Though, this can make it harder to decide which ones are best for you.
To help take away the guesswork, we chatted with experts and asked for their recommendations and advice on what to consider before spending your money.
The Best Reusable Grocery Bags
To help us round up this list of the best reusable grocery bags, we spoke to seven dietitians and food experts for products they love based on the following criteria:
How to Clean Reusable Grocery Bags
Much like clothing, Gabby Vaca-Flores, RDN, CLE, suggests that bacteria can accumulate on reusable grocery bags over time, making it extremely important to clean them often.
“Because bacteria can accumulate from grocery store carts, dirty surfaces and food, you should clean your reusable bags every so often,” she says. Otherwise, you may be subjecting yourself to germs that can make you sick.
"To clean reusable grocery bags properly, handwash them with warm soapy water. Then, let them completely air-dry. If your bags are made with canvas or cotton fabrics, they should be tossed in the washing machine and dryer,” she says.
If you're searching for a reusable grocery bag that's both stylish and functional, look no further. "The reusable bag that I love is the L.L. Bean Cotton Tote," says Adylia-Rhenee Gutierrez, certified integrative nutrition health coach and founder of Yhorlife Coaching.
You can customize this bag to choose the color of the detailing, the length of the straps and the size of the bag. There are eight colors to choose from, and it the bag comes in four different sizes. The straps come in regular or long, so there's one for every body type and comfort level.
"This tote is large and sturdy enough for all your groceries, and I love that it can be cleaned easily," Gutierrez says. Plus, it has a very sleek shape and look, which makes you want to use it."
Buy it: llbean.com; Price: $29.95
Box-style reusable grocery bags like these from Creative Green Life are popular choices because the shape and structure are super convenient for packing groceries, unlike many floppy reusable bags. They stand upright and stay open, allowing you to load them up without too much hassle.
These bags are large and spacious, and with three in a pack, you can easily separate your meats from your produce from your other grocery items. The handles are nice and long, so they're easy to sling over your shoulder and carry.
And according to the product description, three of these bags can hold the equivalent of 10 single-use grocery bags.
"These are my go-to bags," Vaca-Flores says. "Aside from being very spacious, I love that these stay upright so my groceries remain organized and intact. Plus, they are very easy to clean!"
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $28.99 for a 3-pack
Simple and stylish, these reusable grocery bags from Mart Store are organic and eco-friendly. The heavy-duty canvas material makes them durable yet lightweight, and the straps are nice and wide, allowing for comfortable carrying.
Unlike other reusable grocery bags, these come with six built-in bottle sleeves to prevent glass bottles from banging against each other and breaking.
"These bags are great," says Theresa Mazza, CHES. "They are made from organic cotton canvas, have nice thick straps and are the perfect medium-sized bag. The best part is, they're machine washable and they come in a three-pack at such an affordable price."
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $33.97 for a 3-pack
If you don't have much space to store large reusable grocery bags, this one from Baggu is a great choice. It's made from recycled nylon, and it folds into a 5-inch by 5-inch pouch. Not to mention, it's incredibly stylish.
"Baggu bags are one of my favorites for on-the-go grocery shopping," says Amanda Lane, RD, CDCES. "Not only do they come in several fun prints and colors, but they also fold together nicely and store compactly for those with limited space."
You can buy Baggu bags in a variety of colorful, artistic prints, or choose one of their solid color options if that's more your style.
Buy it: Baggu.com; Price: $12
Enforced with metal rivets, these reusable grocery bags from Green Bulldog are designed to support a heavy load. In fact, the company says each bag can hold up to 65 pounds.
"These grocery bags are made from eco-friendly materials, they're easy to clean and they're sturdy enough for a big hall of groceries without tipping over on the way home," says functional nutritionist and author Sue Van Raes. "Because these grocery bags have a flat bottom, they hold so much more than traditional tote-style bags. Plus, they are easy to organize, and never fall over in the car."
And when you're not using them, they fold up flat to about the size of a notebook for more convenient storage.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $22.99 for a 3-pack
Customizing reusable grocery bags with your own photos can be fun and make looking at them all the more pleasurable. With Shutterfly, you can simply upload a digital photo to the site and have it printed directly on your gorgeous cotton tote bag.
"I love making my reusable bags on Shutterfly because I like that I can put pictures on them of things I love (family, my dog, etc)," says Dana Ellis Hunnes PhD, RD. "The upfront cost is a bit high, but oftentimes, Shutterfly will have sales and free shipping over a certain amount, so I'll get them when they're cheaper."
Buy it: Shutterfly.com; Price: $16.99
If you're hunting for reusable grocery bags that you can keep in the car, in the house and anywhere else you might need them at a moment's notice, buy these bags from BeeGreen, which come in convenient packs of 10 or 12.
These bags are reinforced at the seams so they can hold about 50 pounds each, the equivalent of about three plastic grocery bags. They're also made with lightweight polyester fabric that folds down nicely for easy storage.
"These grocery bags have a high weight capacity, are machine-washable and come in multipack options with a variety of colors. You have enough for a single trip (for regular grocery shopping) or for different purposes," says Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RD. "Plus, these bags are foldable and have long straps, so you can easily carry them over your shoulder when you shop."
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $23.99 for a 10-pack
This set of bags from BagPodz comes in a small, portable pod that conveniently clips right onto your shopping cart. But though they fit into such a small container, don't be fooled. These bags are large and sturdy enough to hold all your groceries safely.
"It's like a peapod with a zipper and ten bags inside. When you're heading into the store, you can just grab the pod and go without worrying if you have enough," Bazilian says. "The pod clips onto your cart, and you can easily pull them out one at a time when it's time to pack. Overall, they are very durable and can hold up to 50 pounds of groceries."
On top of all that, these bags are water-resistant to help reduce damage from spills, and they're machine-washable.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $37.95 for a 10-pack
If you're still using the plastic produce bags at the grocery store, it may be time to switch to a more eco-friendly option. These reusable mesh grocery bags from Naturally Sensible make it a whole lot easier.
These bags are made with high-quality mesh material that allows breathability. They're also super strong, reinforced with cotton fabric hems that prevent them from tearing. They come with drawstring closure, so they cinch up securely and prevent your produce from falling out.
"Reusable mesh bags are great to use at the grocery store," says Bazilian. "They allow you to pick up produce, and then if it's weighed, eliminate the need for plastic produce bags. Even better is that they can easily be thrown in the wash, as well."
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $14.97 for a 5-pack
When you're shopping for frozen foods, an insulated reusable grocery bag like this one from PackIt comes in great handy. The insulation helps to keep your food items at their ideal temperature to reduce the risk of spoiling.
"This grocery bag has a square shape with long, sturdy handles, it's incredibly durable and it zips to close," Bazilian says.
Not only is it insulated, but it's also freezable, which comes in handy if you're taking a walk to the grocery store on a hot day. You can fold the bag flat, stick it in the freezer overnight and in the morning, the base of the bag will be fully frozen.
Keep perishable groceries like meat, dairy, and frozen foods at the bottom of the bag, and pack your other non-perishables on top.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Pricing: $22.99
To choose the best reusable grocery bags for all your needs, Vaca-Flores advises keeping these three factors in mind as you shop:
You don't want to end up in a situation where your groceries have fallen through your bags and are rolling all over the parking lot. That means durability is important when it comes to reusable grocery bags.
"A durable reusable bag will typically have a reinforced bottom to help carry heavy loads," Vaca-Flores says. "That being said, you'll want to avoid bags that feel flimsy — or are made of thin materials — as these may not hold up or last a long time."
While you certainly don't need all of your bags to be insulated, Vaca-Flores says that using one for perishable foods is a good idea.
"It can be helpful to keep at least one insulated bag in your collection for refrigerated or frozen food items," she says. To avoid the risk of cross-contamination, she suggests keeping fresh or frozen meats in an insulated bag that is separate from your other food items.
Finally, you'll want to make sure that your reusable bags hold enough to cover your usual grocery runs.
"If you aren't sure how many bags you should have on hand, a general rule of thumb is two bags per person in your household," Vaca-Flores says. This, of course, depends on the size of your bags.
Some of these bags take up more space than others when they're not in use. Make sure to read product descriptions, and if you're limited on space, choose options that are foldable or more compact for easy, convenient storage.