Eco-friendly Lunch Containers for Kids: A Back-to-School Round-up
|August 17, 2012||Posted by Stacy under Lunch gear|
I don’t know about you, but I’m drawn to eco-friendly lunch containers like a kid to a cupcake. I can’t get enough! I love the idea of cutting back on packaging waste. The thought of all those plastic baggies, containers and wrappers being dumped in the trash and sitting in a landfill gives me major guilt. (My inner Nature Girl talking!). As you’ve probably noticed, there are lots of reusable lunch and snack containers on the market nowadays. Even big companies like Pottery Barn have started to carry them. An indication of just how mainstream they’ve become!
Last year, I invested in a few, and now I want to add to my collection. But with so many options, where should I spend my money? Cost is a consideration (remember though: they quickly pay for themselves in all that you save from not using baggies and pre-packaged foods), but so is quality and ease of use. To meet my criteria, a product has to be sturdy, BPA-free and dishwasher safe. I also tend to favor clear containers. I’ve found that my kids like to to be able to see what’s inside. After doing some research, I’ve highlighted some of the major players here:
Thinkbaby Last fall, I bought two thinkbaby BPA Free Bento Boxes (they retail for $12.99 each–but I found them on sale for $6.99 a piece at a local grocery) for my preschool-age twins. I’m not sure who loved them more–them or me! (Even my 6.5-year-old deemed them “cool.”). They are simple for young fingers to open and close, and you can just pop them in the dishwasher. After a year of wear and tear, they are still in good shape. Thinkbaby also makes a Baby Bowl ($9.99) and a slightly larger Cereal/Soup Bowl.
LunchBots If you like the idea of having separate sections within one container to pack different foods, then LunchBots could be a good bet. Founded by a former Apple employee, there are a variety of options: The Uno ($16.99) has one section; the Duo ($17.99) and its smaller version the Pico ($14.99) have two, the Trio ($19.99) has three, and the Quad ($19.99) has four. Or, if you like the idea of clear lids (like I do), you may want to consider the Clicks Small Leak Proof Set (a better dea l at $21.95 for two small containers).
Steeltainer I just purchased one of Steeltainer’s Leak-proof Compact Snack Containers ($12..95) for my 6-year-old and tested it out today. It has a removable divider that allows you to separate the food into two compartments. It seems high quality, and my 6-year-old son was very happy with it. (In fact, now he wants another one…oy!). And of course, I like clear lid! The company also makes a Round Snack Container ($12.95) and other products.
PlanetBox Although I don’t have first-hand experience with it, this popular, all-in-one bento system with different sized compartments certainly looks cool. You’ve probably seen them featured in magazines and online. The smaller Rover System would be the right size for most kids. With the Basic package ($39.95), you get the lunchbox and a set of fun magnets for decoration. The Plus package ($49.95) comes with the lunchbox, magnets, and two additional stainless steel bowls. For $10 more, you can get the Rover Complete ($59.95), which also comes with a carrying case. This bento system is an investment, no question.
Easy Lunchboxes These compartmentalized BPA-free plastic storage containers ($13.95) come in a set of four with different colored lids. The larger section is the right size for a sandwich or leftover spaghetti, while the two smaller sections can be used for sides such as fruit and veggies. For just $7.95 more, you can add a colorful vinyl-free, insulated cooler bag. Price-wise, this product blows away the competition. Unlike the stainless steel containers, it’s both dishwasher and microwave safe. And it’s said to be very durable. The lids are slightly loose fitting to allow little fingers to pry them open, but (uh oh!) this also makes them prone to leaks and spills.
Lunchskins I first spotted (and purchased!) these super-cute reusable sandwich and snack bags in the MOMA store in New York City. Aside from being dishwasher safe, they are lead-, BPA– and phthalate-free. They really have held up well and elicit a lot of “Where did you get them?!?” comments from other mamas.
FYI: There are lots of other brands out there, including Goodbyn, ECOlunchbox, Kids Konserve, and Laptop Lunches that might be worth checking out. As mentioned earlier, Pottery Barn Kids has gotten in on the act, too, with stainless steel, bento-style and plastic containers.
If you’ve tried one of these or any other eco-friendly lunch storage product, please leave a comment and let us know how you like it!
P.S. In Part 2, I plan on covering reusable water and drink container. Stay tuned!
*Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the products mentioned above–and as much as I would have loved it, I didn’t score any free swag for writing the story, either.