Zero Waste Lunches
For the past 2 years, I've been sending my kiddos to school with a zero-waste lunch. The first year I had a few slip-ups, but last year I didn't miss a day.
The first year I bought those adorable Yumbox boxes with fancy prints and bright colours. I loved all the compartments, and they were just plain fun. After a few days, the novelty wore off, and they were more of a pain than anything. The insert needs to come out for washing, taking up twice the drying space on the mat. The compartments hold a lot of crumbs, so you have to be very thorough washing and need to make sure they are completely dry. The top is lined with a leakproof lid that individually seals each compartment separately. The claim is they are leakproof and the foods won't mix. Unfortunately, that was not my experience with them. I found they worked best for dry foods and harder vegetables like carrots.
In my opinion, they are best suited for a child that attends a half-day or nursery program.
Last year, we used two different styles from The Little Lunch Box Co. These boxes are 100% leakproof are easy to wash, store, and dry. Last year I put cotton candy on one side and water on the other and shook like crazy, not even one drop leaked over to the side with the cotton candy. I used the 3 compartment box for their lunches, and I didn't find it big enough for a full sandwich. The kids also complained that sometimes their sandwich tasted like the strawberries in the other compartment. I noticed that by the end of the year, the leak-proof top did start to smell a bit stale, likely from the gases from the fruits I was packing. I used the two-compartment containers for snacks. They worked well with yogurt, granola, and berries, keeping it all separate.
This year Morgan is going into grade 4, and he wanted something without prints or characters. Kendall has requested more salads and hot lunches. This year I bought bigger thermoses and stainless steel boxes. I'm going to keep the fruit packed separately in stainless steel in hopes they won't have any excuses for not eating it. The main lunch is a two-box system that fits a sandwich perfectly and has another spot for cheese and crackers, veggies & dip, or some popcorn ( usually on Fridays)
The first snack of the day is usually a muffin, granola bar, or banana bread. I make a simple envelope using my favourite wax wraps from Waxology and pack it at the top of the lunch bag, so it doesn't get squished. The best part is, the wrap acts as a little plate on their desk, and it catches all the crumbs.
I try to keep the lunches 80/20. 80% healthy and 20% snacky & fun. They both love fish crackers and sometimes as a treat potato chips, to keep them fresh throughout the day and not soggy I use stasher bags. Laura from The Kind Matter has a great selection.
Water bottles that work, don't leak, aren't too heavy, don't spill when they drink, are easy to wash, and easy for the kids to fill has proven to be the most challenging task. This year we are trying thermos brand. They are the lightest for what they hold (2cups) have a small spout for easy drinking, and the opening is large enough for them to fill up at the water fountain without needing help.
I love the size of this thermos for lunches, with the other ones I've had I needed to stuff the food in to make sure they had enough. Naturally, they both complained about that. This one has a handy place in the lid to keep a full-size spoon. I would love ides for what to send them for hot lunches. So far, all I’ve got is pasta.