Thursday, August 23, 2012

Packing a Waste-Free, Plastic-Free Lunch

When I posted earlier this year about avoiding plastic food containers and packaging due to the potential leaching of harmful chemicals, a few people asked about packing school lunches.

Well, it's time to start thinking about that seemingly endless parade of school lunches, and of what to pack them in.

Last fall, I purchased a stainless steel PlanetBox for my daughter, and a year later I am still a big fan. The PlanetBox is a bento-style lunchbox with four compartments. (The company recently started selling a version with three, larger compartments). It works perfectly for us. I usually fill two of the compartments with fruits or vegetables, one with a halved hard-boiled egg and the largest one with a sandwich. I purchased a carry bag that accommodates an ice-pack, so everything stays fresh.

Her lunch is completely waste-free, there is nothing to throw away. The lunchbox is easy to clean.  I wash it by hand but it is advertised as being dishwasher-safe. My daughter likes the cute magnets that you can purchase to decorate the PlanetBox. And I love the fact that after one full year of use (including lunches for summer camp) it is still in perfect condition. The price does reflect the quality of the product; I paid $60 for the lunchbox and carry bag.

If this style of lunchbox doesn't work for you, there are still a myriad of options available. is a wonderful source of products for packing a waste-free lunch. They have a wide selection of stainless steel containers. I have several of the LunchBots containers; they are great for packing sandwiches and otherwise replacing plastic bags. Whole Foods in East Liberty is selling some To-Go Ware stainless steel food carriers that look nice and functional.

Pack reusable utensils, and a reusable water bottle or insulated bottle, and you'll be doing your part to reduce the 67 pounds of lunch waste that the average American school-aged child throws away every year.

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