Lunch Box 101…because some of you have asked.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I LOVE my job teaching, but I’d be a straight up liar if I didn’t admit that I don’t love summer vacation a bit more. It isn’t that I need a break from the work or from my amazing students….it is that I love the weeks of freedom to play, sleep, take long day trips, or do nothing at all with my boys. Late mornings, late nights, sand, salt, water…. How can you not love that?
That having been said, typically, after 9 weeks off, I am ready to go back to work. I miss my students, I miss the consistency of our schedule, I miss chatting with so many amazing coworkers/friends, and I miss using untouched summer regions of my brain.
One of the best parts about back-to-school is back-to-school shopping! I don’t go crazy over new clothes…and even if I did, my boys would most likely refuse to wear them. I get giddy about a couple of things though… new sneakers, new fall yucky weather playground (and fall family farm tour) boots, a few new super thin long and short sleeved shirts for layering, and then the gear!
I’ve also written before about how much I loathe packing lunches….however, being a bit obsessive compulsive, it has become kind of a sport for me. See here.
To pack “trash-free”, easy, and fun lunches for the boys….the right gear is essential. So, on that note, yesterday was lunch gear shopping day! Exciting, I know! Actually, that’s kind of a lie, because I did most of it online the other night and they had a big bag ready and waiting for us when we got to the Container Store. But, once there, we finished up shopping and I let the boys have some input in what else they wanted.
While I realize it is not fascinating business, believe it or not, I’ve been asked by several people what type of “stuff” I buy for lunch boxes. Many people have also mentioned that packing trash-free lunches sounds difficult, but actually, I find it much easier…and, more importantly, cheaper! One important factor to mention though is that my boys have access to a microwave to heat up left-overs for lunch…so that may make my lunches different from the norm.
So, without further adieu….this is what we bought this year. (A good tip is to bring your lunch box with you to make sure things will fit inside before you get them home). Oh my goodness, I sound crazy, don’t I?
1. Pottery Barn lunch box. Has held up extremely well, super easy to hand wash….and going into its 2nd school year. They always have sales and aren’t really much more expensive if you get them at the right time. I’m a big off-season shopper!
2. Land’s End water bottle. Not only does it fit perfectly, hold the perfect amount of water, and encourage the boys to drink more water….with several ice cubes, it also helps keep the lunches cold until lunch time. But…obviously…you can fill it with milk or juice too, depending on what you and your child prefer.
3. Skinny ice packs…I put one of the bottom each morning to help keep lunches cold and safe. I heard a report last year (somewhere) that someone had gone in and tested kids lunch boxes to see if their food was staying at the right temperature during the day (hence staying safe to be edible) and they discovered that about 90% weren’t. For whatever that is worth. I don’t usually get hung up on things like that…but, come on, warm yogurt is also just gross!
4. Awesome Frego glass and silicone containers for microwaving leftovers. Glass is safer, right? The silicone makes them easy to pull out of the microwave….and comes in fun colors to appeal to the kids. It also cushions them incase they get dropped. Pasta, quesadillas, mini hamburgers, “breakfast for lunch” like scrambled eggs or waffles, cheese steak, soup, fish, grilled cheese, popcorn shrimp or chicken….. Whatever.
5. A sandwich container for the days that I haven’t packed left overs or a “heat up” as the boys call it. Great for more than sandwiches. My boys ask for things like sushi and ham or turkey roll-ups a lot.
6. The little red “Cool It” pack on the left is for little snacks and dips. Mostly veggies and salad dressing. The second photo shows it better. Not an every day thing, but fun to pack once in a while.
7. A little 3 pack of small snack holders for things like pretzels, gold fish, cut up fruit, yogurt covered raisins, pepperoni and cheese, olives, apple sauce, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc. Pretty much, you name it, it can go in there. These are mostly for Thatcher, my older son, because he needs several snacks throughout the day. I actually pack him a smaller “snack time” bag and then a larger actual lunch box. His class has a mid-morning snack and an afternoon snack. In Finn’s class a different parent is responsible for sending in a healthy and yummy snack for the whole class to enjoy once each month. So, Finn doesn’t need me to pack extra snacks each day.
8. However, even more riveting, is that Finn typically needs some extra fuel so that little “Cereal on the Go” container is for him. My boys eat breakfast really early and get to school at 7:45 so I can get to my classroom on time. Finn will have some cereal with milk around 8:30. I put that little container in his classroom fridge so he can help himself when he gets hungry. Per his teacher’s request…not because I’m super high maintenance. Which you most likely won’t believe after reading this post….assuming anyone is still reading.
9. The clear two-sectioned container usually gets fruit on one side and something else on the other. Again, pretty much anything goes, and I use that container every day.
10. And then, there’s the Spork….which is actually a spoon, fork, and fairly dull knife all is one.
If you haven’t fallen asleep yet, congratulations on getting to the end. All kidding aside, buying larger containers of things like yogurt, apple sauce, and cottage cheese and then filling these small containers each day eliminates A LOT of trash. Eliminating things like individual cheese sticks, juice boxes, bags of chips, etc. and reusing these small containers instead goes a long way if you consider how many lunches get packed each year.
OK….I’ll hop off my soapbox. I’m not preaching….just wanted to get more information to those who have asked….and for anyone else who may be interested. Again, our school encourages this, but I also find that I save a lot of money and feel pretty good packing things this way.