Packing Lunch in Style

by Laura on August 23, 2011

in Tools

Now that you’ve decided to pack your own lunches, let’s take a look at how you’ll pack it to get it to school.

Remember there are a lot of benefits to sending your child to school with a lunch. First, packing a lunch for your child is a sure-fire way to ensure you know exactly what they are (or aren’t) eating. Additionally, packing a lunch can save you money. Think about it. If you spend $5 a day (5 days a week) on lunch, you’ll spend over $1,200 on lunches in a year. Finally, it is a great way to save the environment . . . which is where we’ll begin.

Reduce and Reuse

When it comes to the environment, the message of Reduce and Reuse is strong. Simply by upgrading your style from a brown paper bag to something more stylish, your lunch can be gentler on the environment. According to BlueAvocado, by using a lunch box, you can avoid one brown paper bag per trip, which amounts to around 200 paper bags annually.

And, if using plastic bags for sandwiches, snacks and more, remember that plastic bags are made from oil, and it takes approximately 430,000 gallons of oil to make 100 million plastic bags. The U.S. goes through 380 billion plastic bags a year (the number includes those plastic bags from grocery store, etc.). Further, plastic bags take a thousand years to biodegrade, and in a landfill, they decompose even slower. (Think about how many you actually recycle).

A waste-free lunch is truly a money-saver. Check out the handy cost comparison between a waste-full and a waste-free lunch available from Kids Konserve.

In its fourth year, the Kids Konserve line of reusable, waste-free lunch packing is spreading the word of Reuse. Co-Founder Chance Claxton is thrilled with the response to the Kids Konserve message of REUSE. “It is remarkable to me that we have been following this passion of REUSE for three years already. We have begun to educate schools, students and families on the importance of REUSE for the future of our environment via our line of non-toxic, waste- free, lunch packing solutions, but have a long way to go. We are motivated by what we have seen and done thus far and will continue to spread the word of REUSE.”

While you’re at it, why not reduce your use of plastic utensils and choose stainless steel, or To-Go Ware’s utensil set, which is made out of bamboo. The utensils are heat and stain resistant, lightweight and long lasting. They come packaged in a RePEat utensil holders are made out of RPET (recycled PET plastic), which lets plastic reincarnate into something kinder and gentler.

To further your impact on the environment, instead of paper napkins, switch to cloth and save money as well. To minimize the impact of washing and drying cloth napkins,TreeHugger.com, recommends to: Purchase linen napkins, not cotton; Make your own napkins from fabric remnants; Set your washing machine to use cold water; Line dry your napkins. And, when you go out, consider bringing your own reusable napkin.

Finally, don’t forget, when packing lunches, stay away from single serve packages – yogurt cups, applesauce or bags of chips. Instead, buy larger portions, or bulk and pack in small containers.

Choose the Right Materials

We have all heard about the problems associated with unsafe plastics and chemicals found in everything from plastic bags to containers to drinking bottles. Be sure the packaging is safe for you including BPA free choices, glass, and food-grade, leak-proof, stainless steel, for example.

There is a growing number of lunch containers that meet the demand for safe options for kids and adults alike. For instance, the Kids Konserve is a line of waste-free lunch packing products, all made with non-leaching, non-toxic, BPA, PVC, phthalate, and lead-free materials, including the new Ocean and Sky product line.

Ensure Maximum Food Safety and Easy Transport

Keeping lunch at proper serving temperature for safe eating, hours later, can be hard to do. Traditional ice packs may keep the food chilled, but not at the proper temperature. According to a recent Reuters Health article, “more than 90 percent of the perishable items in packed lunches were kept at unsafe temperatures.”

“That means bacteria that cause food poisoning — like E. coli and Salmonella — could be multiplying quickly inside the sandwiches that kids eat,” Fawaz Almansour, a doctoral student at the University of Texas in Austin said.

The PerfectCHILL® cooling technology, available in the Perfect Sandwich from Contain This! keeps food below 40 degrees F. The cooling technology has been proven to keep the contents of your sandwich cool within the USDA guidelines of 40 degrees F for approximately 5 hours. (The leading insulated container holds food at a safe temperature for only 1 hour!) By using Perfect Sandwich, you will be worry-free about food borne illnesses that can result from improper storage.

The Perfect Sandwich is also ideal for combatting the soggy sandwich problem. By keeping the elements separate when transporting, there is no chance of soggy lunches. Then when it is lunchtime, kids can assemble it and enjoy a sandwich, prepared hours earlier, that is as fresh, cold and crisp as the moment it was made.

And, why deal with contents that have been tossed about during transport? The upright design of The Lunch Box fromOots help prevent contents from being tossed around. Equipped with its own custom containers that comfortably fit inside, you can eliminate the use of disposable plastic bags. And, the lid of the Lunchbox is shaped to keep a water bottle in place. All materials are food safe and kid-friendly, made of BPA-free and phthalate-free polypropylene plastic, and safety tested for lead.

Save Space: In Your Bag and in the Cabinet.

Kids have enough to carry in their backpacks, so why lug around a cumbersome lunch to and from school (or work). That’s why Aladdin designed to handy Collapsible Lunch Collection. This innovative approach to lunch containers features leak-proof, microwave and dishwasher safe bowls to ensure there is no mess. They then collapse down once empty to make transport home easy and less bulky.

If you struggle with lugging around containers, then storing them at home, opt for something a bit more sleek such as the BlueAvocado washable and reusable, (re)Zip snack  and lunch bags. Perfect for packing snacks or sandwiches in the lunchbox, then easily storing without added bulk once at home.

Always be Stylish!

Forget brown bags. Make a statement with personalized lunch boxes, designer prints, and eco-friendly options. Yubo lunch boxes offer alternative designs and the chance for kids to personalize their lunch boxes. Styles include cars and trucks, pirates, cupcakes, princess, and even a customized photo faceplate with your child’s favorite photos.

And, for girls young and old, the new orange and navy Poppy Print lunch boxes from BlueAvocado comes in three sizes (small, medium and large), which can be paired with OXO TOP containers and store everything from a small snack of fruit or cereal to a complete home packed lunch. PVC-free insulation keeps contents hot or cold for up to three hours within the multi-use, zippered container. When empty, the lunch box easily collapses, folds and snaps into a petite wallet-sized item for easy storage in a purse, tote or drawer.

From toddler to adults, there are designs to meet everyone’s styles and allow you to express our own personal style – inside the lunchbox and out. Check out our Lunch Buncharticle for some great recipes to send to school with your kids.

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