Essential Gear For a Healthy Waste-Free Lunch

07.18.12 Essential Gear For a Healthy Waste-Free Lunch

 

Packing a school lunch takes determination: there's the time to plan, the preparation, and the worried thought of, "I hope they like eating this" that makes the routine feel like...well, just a routine. 

What makes it all worth it though, day in and day out, is knowing our children are getting a nutritious meal. And knowing they'll feel prepared to learn in school and feel energized for tackling the rest of the afternoon activities. It sure does matter.

To build a healthy, waste-free lunch, there are two essential components: good food and the right gear.  We've spent countless hours researching the best healthy waste-free lunch gear and wanted to share our learning. 

First the basics.  Every piece of waste-free lunch gear must be:

  • Safe - Contains no concerning chemicals, such as BPA, PVC, and lead, which can leach into foods.
  • Functional - Easy to open, convenient to use (leakproof, insulated, dishwasher safe, etc).
  • Waste-Free - Reduces the growing piles of disposable, single use products each year.
  • Durable - Built to last, ultimately saving us money over time.
  • Fun! - Looks great, inspiring kids to eat a bit more, also making the lunch-packing process a little more bearable.

We also recommend avoiding plastic as much as possible.  That isn't always possible (plastic is often in lids or tops).  When that is the case, ensure it's one of the safer plastics.

We won't carry a product that doesn't meet the criteria above and recommend that you look for products with the same standards.

 

ESSENTIAL #1: PACK FOOD IN REUSABLE STAINLESS STEEL CONTAINERS

Reusable stainless container designs include bento boxes, insulated options (to keep food hot or cold) and/or leakproof options. Using reusable containers allows you to buy food in bulk thereby saving money and ensuring the food will arrive in great shape. 

What to look for:

  • Safe Materials: 304 grade (also known as 18/8 or 18/10) stainless steel.  It is BPA, PVC and lead free, rust-resistant, and a food-grade material that's safe and will last.
  • Waste free: Single-use, disposable or low quality plastic containers are more likely to leach chemicals into food and also contribute to growing mounds of plastic in landfills.

 

Click here to view all of our reusable lunch containers.

 

 

ESSENTIAL #2: REPLACE ZIPLOCS WITH REUSABLE SNACK AND SANDWICH BAGS

 

Reusable snack and sandwich bags are the perfect alternative to ziplocs.  Choose from styles that unfold into a placemat and ones that have a pouch.  They're easily cleaned and can be used for years.

What to look for:

  • Safe Materials: Look for a cotton base with a liner made from a food safe material like nylon. 
  • Waste-Free: The average family uses 500 disposable sandwich bags a year. So even the simple switch to a single reusable snack bag makes a significant impact. 
Click here to see all of our reusable sandwich bags

 

ESSENTIAL #3: USE A REUSABLE BEVERAGE BOTTLE

Water bottles are packed in lunchboxes and often sit on desks. Keeping a water bottle handy teaches the healthy habits of hydrating often and reducing the amount of packaging thrown away.

What to look for:

  • Safe Materials- 304 grade stainless steel or glass with a silicone protective sleeve. 
  • Waste-Free - Disposable beverage bottles, boxes and pouches are costly and wasteful.  Bottled water produces up to 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year and up to 47 million gallons of oil per year to produce.
Click here to view all of our reusable beverage bottles.



ESSENTIAL #4:  PACK FOOD IN AN INSULATED LUNCHBOX

It's fun to carry a personal lunchbox! An insulated lunchbox makes lunch even better by keeping foods fresh. This can really set the mood for a great, fun and appetizing lunch. 

What to look for:

  • Safe Materials - Avoid BPA, PVC, Phthalates and Lead in your lunchbox.  Both PVC and lead are of particular concern. 
  • Waste Free - Keep brown paper bags out of the landfills!
Click here to view all of our lunchboxes.


ESSENTIAL #5:  PACK REUSABLE UTENSILS

Eating off a fork or spoon from home or a reusable bamboo utensil just tastes better!

What to look for:
  • Safe Materials - Pack a stainless steel fork or spoon from home or invest in a set of reusable bamboo utensils (bamboo is durable, non-porous and naturally antibacterial). Avoid plastic utensils as they're often made with styrene, a chemical prone to leach into hot foods and those with a high fat content. 
  • Waste FreeEvery year, Americans throw away enough forks, knives and spoons to circle the equator 300 times!

 

Click here to view reusable utensils.

A bonus tip:  Pick up a sweat free ice pack.  This little guy keeps your food cold until lunchtime!

If you follow this guide, your school lunch will be in great shape and your kids will love it! With selections of these 5 types of products, you are ready to send your kid to school with a healthy waste-free lunch!

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