Safe and waste-free school lunches

Posted August 23rd, 2011 by Jessica Haney in Food, Green, Parenting, Uncategorized

Anything that makes preparing lunch easier is a hit in our house. Two years ago, I discovered LunchBots stainless steel containers when I was shopping at ReuseIt.com (formerly Reusablebags.com). A few weeks before my son began taking lunch to preschool, I bought two of the “Pico” LunchBots — small containers divided into two sections.

They instantly became my favorite thing in the world.

Instead of scrounging around for little plastic Tupperware-like containers whose lids never seemed to fit or using a wax paper bag or a plastic bag, I just started watching our two yellow-topped containers every day and filling them up again every night.

Gone is the guesswork: for school or camp, I just fill the LunchBots with four different foods, one for each section: one protein, one cooked veggie, one fresh veggie and one fruit. Most days, lunch is last night’s leftovers. The protein/veggie sections get filled right as I’m serving up dinner the night before. The fruit/veggie Bot then gets filled after dinner (usually while one parent is prepping bedtime snack and the other is cleaning). Then we are all is set for the morning when the two Bots go (with a frozen reusable ice package) into an insulated lunch bag that is lead-free (avoid vinyl!)

These snack-sized Pico Bots have held up incredibly well. The paint isn’t perfect after two years of use, but there is no sign of rust or wear on the inside. And they clean so easily!

They did, however, become a little small for my son’s lunch as his appetite increased. So they’ve turned into our snack containers now that we’ve upgraded to using two of the  slightly larger “Duo” containers (which I bought in plain stainless steel so they would stay looking new).

On a whim, I also bought a “Trio,” which isn’t on the LunchBot website  but is still available in a combo purchase from ReuseIt.com. My son took an immediate shine to this set-up. For some reason, he loves the three sections — one long at the top and two squares. So I use this one for when his lunch is light or we’ve got a (gluten-free) sandwich in a Wrap-N-Mat to go along.

For hot foods, I’ve been happy with the temperature-keeping of our Foogo thermos, but little hands didn’t love needing to scoop. I’m hoping to warm my son up to the idea of soups more this year since they are so packed with goodness when made with my homemade broth. Maybe his fun new utensils — BPA-free sporks and bamboo spoons — will help.

I love that none of the lunch goes in the trash or is potentially leaching chemicals into the  healthy food I’ve worked hard to prepare, and which, so far, my son has gobbled up happily. We’ll see what happens when he enters public school and sees kids eating hot lunch! If he starts to balk, I aim to have him start making lunch with me.

Jessica Claire Haney blogs at Crunchy-Chewy Mama about living naturally (most of the time!).

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6 Responses to “Safe and waste-free school lunches”

  1. aimee @ smilingmama

    I feel the same way about our Laptop Lunch box that we bought 2.5 years ago and is still going strong. It has 4 containers and having those portions already set makes things SO much easier for me. My son usually gets a sandwich, veggie, fruit and then either a mini muffin (zucchini this week!) or pretzels. He always takes water, too! Plus, I KNOW we’ve saved a ton of money using it because there is absolutely NO reason to buy small containers of applesauce or fruit–they’d need to be emptied into the containers anyway. We use cloth napkins at home and also have a special set of four colorful napkins that are just for his lunchbox!