My kids started school last week, and this is their first year of attending instead of being homeschooled. That means I have to pack a lunch, and I want it to be a real food, nutrient-dense, toxin-free lunch. Free of their allergens, to boot.
In looking at the items available, I felt like I was awash in a sea of plastic. Because plastic can release endocrine disruptors when heated, that isn’t a good option for a growing child. Glass breaks. That leaves stainless steel and some carefully chosen silicone items.
The school our children attend gives the option of a child having food that needs to be heated. The lunch lady will come by and pick up your lunch earlier in the day, heat it in the microwave and have it ready for you at lunchtime, as all elementary-aged children eat at the same time. It’s a small school and they don’t have a hot lunch available, you must pack your food or purchase frozen, microwavable items there. The vast majority of the kids bring either sandwiches or leftovers from the previous night’s dinner instead of buying the junk food.
I choose a few different items based on their ability to keep food hot or cold, not expose the kids to toxins and are easy to open or manipulate by children. And I wish to avoid the microwave.
First up, we picked out several Lunchbots items. We purchased Lunchbots thermoses for each child. Each one holds two cups and will keep foods hot or cold for up to 5 hours. This will allow me to send hot or cold foods without having to worry with them being heated in the microwave. Then we also picked up some Lunchbots divided containers, cultery and leak-proof condiment cups.
We love their divided containers, but they are not leak-proof, so we needed other options. Ecolunches also carries sandwich-size containers, as well as larger, round containers that are leak-proof.
I did purchase one Monbento box and the silicone condiment cups. These boxes are great for lunches that will not need to be heated. The one box will hold enough food for both children for the meal. They are made of plastic, so I neither wish to put hot foods into these boxes nor have them heated at school.
Rounding out the options, we purchased some reusable food bags, both cloth and waterproofed, and cloth place mats. We already had some stainless steel drink bottles.
Overall, we had a good first week, including the food. I learned two things. First, their kombucha didn’t taste good after sitting in a stainless steel bottle, so I ordered some 22-ounce glass containers that are covered in silicone to see if that goes better. I’m hesitant to send glass, but they are responsible kids and they really want to be able to have kombucha every day for lunch.
Second, the stainless steel Ecolunch containers I purchased for use with foods that could leak like yogurt and applesauce are extremely difficult to open. So difficult, in fact, that it took multiple teachers to pry it open. My daughter is frustrated with it and asked that I not send it to school again, leaving me with two useless containers and no way to send her raw milk yogurt with her.
Here’s what we packed this week:
- Monday- no lunch, early release day
- Tuesday- meatloaf, sauteed squash and zucchini, yogurt
- Wednesday- chicken satay in peanut sauce over rice, peaches or apples
- Thursday- egg salad, cantaloupe, yogurt
- Friday- lemon pepper chicken, carrots, ranch dip
What containers do you use for a non-toxic lunch? What foods do you pack in them?