posted in Products
While my oldest child just started kindergarten this fall, I’ve been packing kid lunches for years. With daycare and park picnics and full days of errands I’ve become a packed lunch expert.
I really like the zero waste philosophy many schools are adopting. With zero waste, you aim to use reusable containers, silverware, and napkins in your child’s lunch box. It sounds like a pain in the neck, but once you get the hang of it it’s actually just as easy as disposable containers and it’s a money saver too.
Here are the items that make packed lunches easy to pack and waste-free too. I’ve been using all of them for at least 3 years, some for more.
1. Wildkin Lunch Box (Amazon, $12.99)
My favorite part about this lunch box is you can throw it in the washing machine. That is a huge selling point for me with little kids using these lunchboxes. I don’t know if it technically is supposed to go in the washing machine, but I’ve washed mine for 3+ years and they still look great.
2. EasyLunchboxes 3-Compartment Bento Lunch Box Containers, set of 4 (Amazon, $22)
One of these containers fits perfectly into the lunch box above. What I love is that it has compartments to hold the different parts of your lunch, but the container itself is only two pieces. With a dishwasher that’s perpetually full, I love that I can just quickly wash the container and the top and it’s done. My kids are happy too because none of their food has to touch. The price is also very reasonable considering it has four containers to a set, and many other bento style lunch boxes are far more expensive.
3. Fit & Fresh Cool Coolers, set of 4 (Amazon, $7.50)
If your child’s lunchbox is sitting in a warm place all day you might want to include an ice pack. These cool coolers are slim but stay cold all day. They fit great in the lunchbox above right on top of the easy lunchbox container.
4. Bumkins Large Snack Bag (Amazon, $4.95)
This is the perfect size snack bag for dry snacks like pretzels, popcorn, and chips. It contains a healthy sized portion, and the bags are really easy to wash. I stick them in the washing machine and then dry on low, but I have friends who simply rinse them out in their sink and call it a day. They come in many different patterns and characters so there is bound to be one your child will love.
5. Thermos Funtainer 10 oz Food Jar (Amazon, $15)
My kids would rather starve than eat a warm packed lunch, but if your kid is different this is the container for you. When you’re getting ready to pack your lunch you fill it with super hot water. After a few minutes you dump out the water and fill it with your warm food and it will stay warm all day. We also use this in the summer for cold, refreshing berries.
6. Lunchbox Napkins, set of 5 (Amazon, $12)
I know this is unconventional but hear me out. We have become a society that is so ridiculously wasteful. While we recycle, we rarely remember the “reuse and reduce” part of that lesson. Reuse obviously means reusing items, and reducing means wasting less in general. Using cloth napkins is a great way to be good to the environment without too much effort. My kids don’t use a napkin at every lunch (because they’re kids) so I can pack the same napkin a couple of days without having to wash it. They are also ridiculously cute!
So there you have it, everything you need to pack a zero waste lunch. If you are clueless on what to put inside your fancy new lunchbox containers, here is my packed lunch checklist:
1. Main item: This usually means a jelly sandwich for my oldest and full-fat Greek yogurt or turkey/cheese rollups for my younger two.
2. Fruit: Strawberries, blueberries, grapes, cantaloupe, a clementine, or a small apple are our favorite choices. I always make sure that whatever fruit we choose is fresh and tasty or my kids won’t eat it.
3. Vegetable: We only alternate sliced cucumbers, red pepper slices, or mini sweet peppers. I keep it simple and crunchy because they only have so much time for lunch.
4. Salty crunch: My kids love a salty, crunchy snack with their lunches, so I usually oblige. Their favorites are stovetop popcorn which I make in huge batches, regular old pretzels, or Goldfish.
5. Treat: When my younger two stay at preschool for lunch they leave by 2 p.m., so I don’t usually pack them a treat. But my oldest doesn’t get home until 4 p.m. most days and he loves getting a little treat in his lunch box. I will pack a cookie or one piece of candy, like a peanut butter cup. Some days I give him two because he likes to share one with whoever he sits next to that day.
What are your packed lunch tricks?