You know the expression “when it rains it pours”? Well it seems to be pouring at my house lately. Since the first day of back to school it feels like it’s been one thing after the other, including the loss of my beloved laptop for a whole week to the repair shop. And so, when life hands you lemons…make lunch, right?
Speaking of lunch, how’s that been going for you? All settled into a September routine by now?
I totally have some tasty recipes to share, but I wanted to take a moment to discuss healthy lunch box containers first. Long gone are the days of the peanut butter and honey on soggy brown bread, wrapped in plastic and packed in a brown paper bag (fond memories of my youth, such simple times back then). There are so many great reusable containers out there nowadays, where do you start? Below is a list of my favourite eco-friendly and safe lunch containers. Please feel free to share yours!
1) Water bottle. Water is the most important drink and if you don’t send any other beverage, that’s just fine – but please always include water in your child’s lunch. No need to send disposable plastic bottles, there are such a wide variety of reusable water bottles available it’s almost hard to choose (just make sure to wash them well). Personally I like a glass bottle, but there’s no way one would survive with either of my children! I send them packing with an insulated stainless steel bottle each day. What to look for: food grade stainless steel, and BPA free lids. Preferable something easy to wash.
Klean Kanteen makes a great water bottle with a good reputation – next time I’m water bottle shopping this is top of my list.
2) Juice or milk container. If you choose to send juice (100% fruit or vegetable juice, preferably diluted with water) or milk, along with lunch – use a reusable juice box. Over time it should cost you less to buy regular-sized juice or milk and then pour your own. There’s no waste: whatever doesn’t get finished comes home for later and there’s no drinking box to throw away.
Rubbermaid makes an affordable litterless drink box that is free of BPA and doesn’t leak. Make sure to invest in some pipe cleaners to keep the flip up straw clean.
3) Insulated food containers. A thermos of warm soup or stew is such a wonderful thing to take for lunch on a cool, rainy day. Just like a big hug from home! I have two insulated containers that I use often and get great results from.
The first is a Thermos® Foogo® vacuum insulated food jar (a wide-mouthed thermos). It’s made from safe materials, keeps the food warm and is easy for little hands to open. Everything from soup to spaghetti to stew goes in here.
The second is a double walled stainless steel container by ONYX. It’s made with food grade stainless steel and keeps warm foods warm or cool foods cool. This is what I use to send quesadillas, home made pizza, scrambled egg and cheese wraps – pretty much anything that needs to stay warm but won’t fit in the thermos.
4) Sandwich container. Before I got this container I would wrap sandwiches in waxed paper and then things would fall apart from there. If there were any leftovers they would be a mess in the lunch box.
The lunchbots container is fantastic, it fits a sandwich just right! Also great for putting cheese and crackers or cut up veggies or fruits etc. I use paper muffin liners to separate foods when necessary.
5) The “all-in-one”. Most days I find the ease of using a container that holds a whole meal to be the most convenient.
Easy Lunchboxes are totally the way to go. Definitely our most used container in the house – they are made from a sturdy, food-safe (BPA-free) plastic and are easy to pack and easy to open. My husband likes taking them to work too!
Another great all-in-one container that I use is Onyx’s stainless steel divided container. This is great for the lunch eater that likes a selection of finger foods to graze on (my daughter).
6) Snack containers. To be honest, I don’t love the reusable snack containers that I have right now. I find that the plastic ones we’re using are okay, but they don’t really hold enough snack.
Luckily I found the Upcycle Maven who makes reusable cloth snack bags. I’m quite excited to try them, and at $5 for 3 of them, why not order some yourself?
To ensure none of your favourite lunch containers get lost, it’s not a bad idea to label everything with personalized Mabel’s Labels!
No matter what containers you use, always send them in an insulated lunch bag or box, with an ice pack to keep food at a safe temperature until lunchtime. When buying a lunch box, look for something that is free of lead, phthalates and BPA and that you can easily throw in the washing machine or spot wash. If your kids are anything like mine, those lunch boxes can get pretty smelly pretty quickly!
Do you have a favourite healthy lunch box container that I missed, or do you already use and love one of these? Do share!