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So, after posting a few weeks back about favorite reusable lunch containers and posing the question to all about the preferred options, I have finally circled back with my decision for this year. I ended up buying these separate items and not one large lunch container, because my daughter already had a lunch bag, and I wanted to be sure the items fit. Plus, the expense can get pretty hefty if you aren’t ready to commit. Here are our choices for this year:
(*Please note, I have included a link to each brand, as each does such an excellent job explaining their benefits and eco-friendly factors in great detail.)
I love the idea of reusable cloth food bags, for chips and other dry snacks or even some fresh fruits and veggies. My challenge with these are twofold: 1) I don’t like having to wash them every day to avoid smell and taste (not to mention food safety) crossover and; 2) The bags are often lined with a waterproof inner liner that seems to make crunchy foods soft and even can add an odd taste to the food.
Instead of reusable cloths, I decided on the compostable, paper snack and sandwich bags from If You Care . While they aren’t technically reusable, my daughter brings them home, and we just add them to the compost (they are biodegradable). I will say sometimes we can get a few uses out of them if the contents weren’t messy. They also don’t contain chlorine, which along with certain plastics, raise some health concerns.
Someone actually said they used the bags to pop popcorn without a boatload of chemicals. I haven’t tried that, but find it cool there are so many different uses. Another person mentioned they love these bags because toasted bread or sandwiches (think panini) stays crisp, rather than condensing in a plastic baggy.
Food Storage Containers
Food grade stainless steel is one of the best choices available for food storage. The downside is that it can be really expensive. Yet, for me, it’s worth it. After some research, between price point and other factors (such as ease of use and container leakage issues), I settled on UKonserve or Kids Konserve and have been really pleased so far. My daughter has no issues getting the lid on and off, or any leaking from juicy foods. So far, we have tried applesauce as well as other fresh fruits and veggies that carry some excess water from washing. No problems. They are top rack dishwasher safe, although I’m sure hand washing is a little more gentle on them. We bought the three circles, all different sizes, which work perfectly.
For our beverage container, I have been getting the Thermos brand for a while now.* The straw is still plastic, which I try to avoid. Because the funds were already spent on new lunch food containers I decided to opt for the drink containers we had in the cabinet. I have been pleased with Thermos overall. Replacement straws are available and all parts are dishwasher (top rack) safe. There are other stainless steel containers, such as Kleen Kanteen (has a silicone spout), that also has a great reputation. Lifefactory makes glass bottles that are protected in a silicone sleeve and a silicone cap, if you go outside the stainless steel category. All can be great options. You just have to know the road you want to take, between the cash you want to spend and how your kids will use them.
I hope this helps in any current or future lunch packing decisions!
*UPDATE Augst 2016 - I really have enjoyed Lifefactory water bottles. Reason being, there are no straws. The smaller bottles are glass, but wrapped in silicone to protect and limit the fragility of the bottle. They are incredibly easy to clean, putting right in the dishwasher. Plus, as my kids get older, they need (and want) more water and the Lifefactory bottles help meet this requirement
For a direct link to Amazon from my site to these products, check out the Products page or (even more) directly below:
Lifefactory glass bottles with silicone sleeve
KidsKonserve stainless steel nesting trio
If You Care compostable brown sandwich bags