Monday, September 10, 2012

School Lunch--Packed Consciously at Home

                                                                                        Source: via Brittany on Pinterest

     This school year our family has decided to start packing lunch for school. While I believe our school has come a long way in offering healthier meals for our kids, and I truly appreciate the efforts of the lunch staff to provide an entire Gluten Free lunch menu for the handful of kids who suffer from Celiac Disease there, the bottom line is: my family needs to save every penny these days! School lunch is reasonably priced, but with three kids buying every day we would be spending more than if we packed our own. Not to mention, that as well as the school does with their menu...I feel even better when I know exactly what my kids are eating and where it is coming from. I like that I can control the quality of the meals I prepare for them, where it comes from, and the portions. My kids have really big healthy appetites (which would surprise you because they are itty bitties) I try to serve them fresh fruits and veggies that are local and organic more often than not. I steer clear of overly processed foods. I'm not trying to sound like a food snob here, I'm just saying this is the ideal I am striving for, this is what I want for my kids. Packing their lunches myself means I can meet my goals more fully.

     With such "high ideals" for healthy meals, it should come as no surprise to you that I am also concerned about many of the chemicals found in conventionally made food storage containers and lunch boxes out there. The good news is that many companies are jumping on the bandwagon now and either removing harmful things like BPA (to name only one) from their products or creating new products made from things like stainless steal, silicone or even cloth! If you've been following us over at Ladies Holiday then you know how much we love AgainBags reusable snack and sandwich bags. I have been coveting the LunchBots bento boxes for some time now, but my wallet keeps saying "No!" to me, boo.
*Be that as it may...if any kind soul over at LunchBots wants to send me something to try, I'd be happy to give it a whirl and tell everyone why they are worth the money!! :)

     I was absolutely delighted--only one day after deciding that I'd start packing school lunch--to literally just happen upon these nifty lunch boxes from SmartPlanetHome.  I had been wandering my local BJ's Wholesale Club while waiting for my new car tires to be mounted and BEHOLD! There they were. With great excitement I present to you, the consciously made collapsible ECO Lunch Box, made from silicone (dishwasher and microwave safe, BPA free.) The best part? On the SmartPlanetHome website these beauties cost $17.99...while I'll say I still think that is a great price in comparison with similar products out there, I probably couldn't have afforded to shell out the cash to get one for each of my three littles. BUT, at BJ's, I spent only $9.99 each! What a steal!!

     From top to bottom you will see:
  • The ECO Lunch Box comes with minimal packaging (one thin sleeve of plastic and no paper but for the label.) 
  • The ECO Lunch Box collapses to a slim, easily store-able size, but then pops open to DOUBLE it's size with lots of room for good, healthy eats. 
  • It has secure, yet easy to use, snap closure lid on all four sides.
  • Comes with a built in spoon/fork/knife (fork has a serrated edge to use as a knife--genius!)
  • A nicely sealing small silicone cup on the top outside of the lid holds condiments.
  • I packed my gluten-eater, Isaac, a PB&J on whole grain bread, strawberries, and multi grain chips, it all fit nicely.
  • My two gluten-free kiddos got a Mom-Made-Gluten-Free-Lunchable on their first day using the ECO Lunchbox. Shown above (clockwise from the top right): Sharp cheddar, Applegate Farms Turkey Slices, Driscoll's Organic Strawberries, garden fresh cucumber, and packed in the AgainBags snack bag (to keep them from getting wet next to the fruit) Food Should Taste Good brand all natural chips called "The Works."
     I was a little nervous that first day, I'll admit it. Would they have trouble opening the box or putting the lid back on properly so there wouldn't be a mess on the way home? Would their food stay fresh? Well, they didn't seem to have a problem with the lid, they loved their lunches so I assume they hadn't spoiled to the point of smelling or tasting bad. I am still in search of an insulated lunch tote that will fit these babes (won't fit in a regular 9" lunch tote) in fact, I've got my eye on this one--but all in all I am loving this product. I did notice on the SmartPlanetHome site that there are smaller sized containers (square one compartment or round with two compartments, see them here) that would likely work for most kids and fit in regular lunch totes. For my kids though, the larger size was the way to go! Another thing I might try is getting some small, non-toxic cold packs that could lie flat in the bottom of the large section to keep a tuna sandwich cold (or the like.) I'll let you know how it goes.

     In other lunch system innovations, I know Seana from the Ladies Holiday team bought a couple of the PackIt lunch totes for her kids this year and is loving them! If I can fit one of our ECO Lunch Boxes into a PackIt, then you better believe I will be hopping on that train...especially because they have a great BOGO offer right now!

     What eco friendly lunch systems have you tried? What do you like? I'd love to hear!

All packed and ready to go, 


I Gotta Try That

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