Several things stuck in my head this summer as we were preparing for the start of school.
Zero trash vs. single serve ease
Keeping strawberries and sandwiches from squishing is soft lunch saks
Cloth vs. Paper napkins
Plastic vs. Metal vs. Fabric containers
Blue goo cooling paks vs. ????
There are many mind boggling choices available to parents now who opt for making lunches for their children. Having the summer to think about these things, we bought several new products to test out over the summer to see which would make it into Em and Ro's backpacks. The following things made it and I'll tell you why they've made it, not only easier, but more economical.
#1- Goodbyn Classic Lunch Boxes. These are giant fun compartmental containers that Em and Ro each customized with the included nifty stickers. I love them for their ease of use, washing and recycling and the fact that they do not have the BPAs and phthalates that many parents are becoming more aware of and avoiding. (Google on BPAs Google on phthalates) And, they each come with an 8 ounce bottle for drinks... so much better for the environment than throwaway juice boxes! The initial purchase is a bit, but buying juice in large containers is cheaper... and no more sandwich baggies chucked in the trash bin... yay environment!
#2- Flexible and cut-able ice paks. Made with saline water, these ice packs are made to fit anywhere you need them. There are many companies that are now making these non-toxic, non-goo chilling options for all different uses. You can purchase them at Target and online at various places. (See photo below, I cut one 4x10 cube pak up into 10 strips to use in tight spaces wherever I need them.) Just one 4x10 cube pak comes in at a reasonable $4.00
#3- Cloth napkins. I know... this one may be harder for many who do not sew or craft but I found it silly that we use cloth napkins at home for our meals but was purchasing paper napkins for their lunches. See the little tree/sheep fabric in the Goodbyn, that's a kid-sized napkin. I made sets for each of my kids that can be used either in their lunches or at home. Yes, I do have to check to make sure they are in their lunch boxes when they come home, but Em and Ro are already used to using cloth, so the transition will, I hope, not be difficult.
#4- For keeping drinks cool, I bought a 3-pak of water bottle shaped ice cube trays. If our pediatrician and dentist had their ways, Em and Ro would only be drinking milk and water, not fruit juice. At home, we always water down our juice to cut the sugar intake anyway, so adding ice cubes to their lunch drinks is another continuation of what we do at home. 3 of these trays were $4.00 at Bed, Bath & Beyond
So there we go! We tested out everything over the summer on our supplemental homeschool field trips so that Em and Ro could get used to using the new items. The lunch boxes passed the falling off the car roof test (while full!) and the being sat on test, so I think we're good to go.
Now, on to keeping what goes inside their lunches interesting. But that's a topic that needs its' own blog posting I think!
What products could you not live without? Please feel free to share your ideas!