With back-to-school time just around the corner, I thought it might be helpful to Simple Kids readers to re-run this post by contributor Mariah Bruehl, founder of Playful Learning, about eco-friendly lunch containers. Enjoy! ~ Kara
Every winter tends to lead to the infamous lunch-packing rut. To break the cycle this year we made a resolution to reduce our lunchtime waste. We decided to shed our plastic baggies and set out to investigate eco-friendly lunch containers. As a family, we learned a lot along the way and feel great about the choices we made for both the planet and our bodies.
Here are some tips that might be helpful as you start to navigate your green minded lunch-packing options.
When deciding which food-storage products are right for your family, the first thing to consider is the types of food you will be putting into your new reusable containers. When making choices about what to include in your child’s lunch, it is helpful to have a formula in the back of your mind.
Below is a list of the daily food essentials that we use to guide our decisions, along with a few options for each category:
- Fresh fruit: apple, orange, strawberries, blueberries
- Fresh vegetable: carrots, cucumbers, edamame, celery
- Main meal: sandwich, soup, leftovers
- Salty and crunchy: nuts, seeds, whole grain pretzels or chips
- Sweet: dried fruit, yogurt, applesauce, Fig Newmans
- Drink: water, milk
The Reusable Containers
With a clear idea of the types of food that you will be putting in your new containers, it will be easier to make selections that suit your family’s needs.
Here are a few of our tried and true favorites:
- LunchBots Stainless Steel Pico (small) – LunchBots’ Pico is a versatile container that has two small compartments that are perfect for holding two halves of a sandwich, fruits, vegetables, snacks, and desserts. I bought two for each of my children’s lunches and use them every day. I find it helpful to use one Pico to hold their fruit and vegetables and the other to hold their sweet and salty snacks. Although the lids are not leakproof, they stay closed tight and have never opened unexpectedly. The only drawback to these containers is that the paint starts to chip after repetitive use in the dishwasher—yet the convenience of their size and two sections keeps me coming back to them on a daily basis, paint chips and all.
- To-Go Ware Stainless Steel Sidekick – These small, round stainless steel containers are great for snacks on the go. They are the perfect size for small helpings of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, or pretzels. The lid seals tightly and I often put these in my bag so that I have snacks on hand when needed.
- Lunchskins Snack Bag – Lunchskins Snack Bags are simply genius and have allowed us to completely replace our plastic bags. With Velcro closures that seal tightly and keep food fresh, there is no need for the plastic alternatives. The Lunchskins bags are made out of the same food-safe material used in bakeries and are easy to clean with soap and water. We use these for lunches and for on-the-go snacks in the car. They come in really fun colors and patterns and are a big hit with the other kids in class.
- Klean Kanteen 12-oz. Stainless Steel Bottle – We have been happily using our Klean Kanteen water bottles for years now. We started off with the sippy-cup lids, transitioned into the sports tops, and now use the screw tops for lunches (the sports tops are not leakproof)—all with the same 12-oz. bottles. Klean Kanteens are dishwasher safe and nearly indestructible!
- Thermos Lava Food Jar – The Lava Food Jar is a nice compact size and is great for keeping soups and pastas warm. They seal tightly and are a breeze to clean both by hand and in the dishwasher. We have been Thermos fans for many years now and have been happy with all of their products thus far.
What we found after investing in our reusable containers is that the routine of using them on a daily basis inspired a more consistent approach to packing healthy foods. Our daughters love the fun colors and prints, and we love the empty lunch boxes that come home from school!
More Lunch Packing Inspiration:
- Waste Free Lunches ::: Waste Free Lunches.Org
- Printable Lunch Box Notes and Tags ::: AlphaMom
- Preschooler Lunches ::: Lunch in a Box Flickr group
- Lunch Gallery ::: Laptop Lunches
- Made Your Lunch ::: daily journal of creative lunch ideas for kids
What are some of your tricks of the trade when it comes to packing lunches?