Food For Thought
Operation Back-to-School Lunchbox Readiness
By: Leanne Ely
I know I’m going to get a dirty look or two from y’all for bringing this up, but it really isn’t too soon to start thinking about getting the kids ready to go back to school.
With two children of my own, I am fully aware of how expensive it can be to do all of that shopping for supplies in the week or two leading up to the first day back, so I’m recommending that you start getting ready now so it doesn’t seem quite as hard on your bank account.
Operation Lunchbox Readiness
Times have changed since my kids were grade-school aged, that’s for sure. Back then, your options in lunch boxes were either to brown paper bag it, or use one of those hard plastic lunchboxes that had a matching thermos inside. That isn’t the case anymore!
Nowadays, we have many options for our kids’ school lunch carrier. Here, I’ll share some of my favorite choices.
Compartmentalized stainless steel. If you do some Googling, you’ll find stainless-steel containers in all shapes and sizes. These are wonderful for school lunches because they’re easy to clean, they look cool and they are free of BPA and other toxins.
Bento boxes. If you can’t find stainless-steel containers, look for BPA-free bento boxes. Bento-style lunch boxes generally contain covered and non-covered compartments for food storage. They come in many fun colors and children tend to enjoy eating from them. You can find plastic and stainless-steel bento boxes online.
Must-have lunchbox accessories
Once you’ve chosen your container, it’s time to accessorize!
Reusable baggies. I love the planet, so I’m going to recommend you look for reusable cloth sandwich bags. If you search for them on Etsy, you’ll find an endless variety of colors and styles. Besides being a more environmentally friendly option in food storage, these little cloth baggies are adorable AND toxin-free. Look for a vendor using organic cotton and be sure they will hold up to multiple washings. Better yet, if you have the ability to sew straight lines, consider making your own baggies! All you need is some cotton fabric and a little velcro.
Insulated container. You can find adorable insulated containers for keeping hot foods hot during the school day. Thermos is the brand most people are familiar with, but don’t buy on simply name alone. Buy a container that is the right shape for your child to use (for younger children, you should buy a short and stout container for littler hands to reach into), and make sure it will fit in your actual lunchbox.
Ice packs. We have talked about lunchbox food safety before and I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep cold foods cold. Buy lots of ice packs and use at least two or three each day when foods need to be kept cold.
Stainless-steel water bottle. I am so happy that stainless-steel water bottles are so easy to come by. I feel they are a much safer option than plastic and when filled with water, they’re a much healthier option than juice boxes! They also tend to stay cool for quite a long time.
Cloth napkins. Save a tree or two and keep your child supplied with cloth napkins for the school year. Not only are they a more environmentally friendly option than paper towels, but if you can actually train your kids to use them over their sleeve, you might save on stain remover!
So, those are the basics. Start shopping for those lunchbox essentials now and you won’t have to worry about it again until it’s time to decide what to pack in the box. That’s a post for another day!
PS–We know back to school time is busy, so how nice would it be to have a delicious, healthy and homemade meal just waiting for you to pull out of your freezer when you need it? The new and improved Freezer Meal Club can help you do just that! Learn more here!