Sunday, January 18, 2009

Totally Random

My sewing machine is in the shop. I am feeling a bit low (combination of missing my husband, grieving my grandma and I have a touch of the stomach bug that Hudson had earlier this week). My parents took my kids for the day. I took a nap. Had some chicken soup and now I'm bored.... so I am going to write about something that has been on my mind recently... packing my kids' lunches. (I can hear the collective, "Huh?")

I estimated that I have packed about 1600 lunches over the course of my kids' schooling. And I still have many, many years of lunches to go. (My kids are 11, 9 and 6. My daughter brings her lunch every single day. The boys 3 or 4 times a week.) I have tried to use all reusable packaging for the kids' lunches. The hardest thing for me was finding a nice leak proof drink bottle. We tried Litterless Juice Boxes made by Rubbermaid, but we had trouble with them leaking in the lunch pails. I still have a few on hand at home for the kids I babysit for or for a car trip. I'm not worried about my kids tipping them over- they are pretty much over that stage- but the boys' lunch pails get tossed into a basket at school- and sometimes end up upside down. So these just didn't live up to our needs. Then I found Foogoo straw bottles. I bought mine off of Amazon almost exactly a year ago, but then found them in Target and my grocery store Wegmans. The funny thing is that they are in the baby section. These are great. They don't leak and are pretty easy to clean. I recently saw them again at Target and they have a new design that is even easier to clean! I might get another. On their website and in stores they come in all sorts of designs, but I got all three the same plain blue so that they could be interchangeable between the kids (and I'm not a huge fan of licenced characters all over my kids stuff). They keep the kids drinks cold, are BPA free and have kept approximately 480 juice boxes or milk containers out of the landfill! (I guessed that there are about 40 weeks of school in a year. My daughter would take a juice box every day= 200 boxes per school year. My boys took one about 3.5 times per week= 140 per boy per school year.)

For their sandwiches (or wraps, or peanut-butter roll-ups, or leftover meatloaf, or whatever) we use Lock 'n Lock containers in the 15oz size (I can't find the exact one on that site, except in the 17 piece set. I bought mine individually at Wegmans.) The 15oz size is perfect for a half sandwich or a wrap made from a large burrito shell and then cut in half. (My daughter's favorite is a spinach wrap with humus, baby spinach and match-stick carrots.) I have also bought the Lock 'n Lock lunch kit and use the small containers for salad dressing and croutons (if my daughter is taking a salad) and my husband uses the large one for his sandwiches. I'm psyched to discover the divided containers on that site. I'll have to get some of those!

We also try to avoid buying individual packs of yogurt, so we buy a large container of vanilla yogurt and put it in Rubbermaid x-small containers (4oz size). Same with pudding... I'll make a box of instant pudding and put it in the Rubbermaid containers or in Gladware 4oz, stick them in the fridge and they are all ready for packing in the lunches. These are two places where we really reduce garbage!! I like the Gladware because they are so cheap and they don't leak, but the lids are harder to clean. There area lots of little crevices that trap pudding.

For fruit (sliced apples, canned peaches that are mostly drained, applesauce, grapes) and pretzels or crackers, we use Rubbermaid twist and seal cups in the 1.2 cup size. It's funny because many of the reviews on that site say that they leak, but we've never had any trouble with them leaking. They are my favorite container.
So here is a typical lunch all packed. I made my daughter's lunch bag because we couldn't find one "cool enough". It has a sleeve on the side to hold the thermos (you can see the top of it sticking out a bit) and a pockets on the inside and outside. I wish I had made it a tad bigger... on days when she brings a salad we use a lot of containers and it is just barely big enough. My boys are not handmade- theirs are from Old Navy and Arctic Zone. The Arctic Zone is a little small... it is a tight squeeze to get all the containers in there, but it has a solid easy to wipe interior that I like.

So there you have it. Are your kids school age? Do they bring their lunches? Any advice for me?


Courtney said...

No advice, Elliot is in Pre-k so for now only brings a snack. But I bought him a Laptop Lunch container this year, then left it on the hood of my car the day we interviewed at his school and drove off. Ugh. What a waste of money.

Glad to hear your review of containers. I hate buying them and then having them not work.

Sarah said...

Hi Courtney! I almost bought a laptop lunch system, but by the time saw one in real life I had already invested so much in the various conatiners I already bought. Maybe as things break down (or tops get thrown out, as they sometimes do) I will get a laptop lunch container. They look pretty cool!