February 18, 2010

brown bagging / bento

one of the things i've been thinking about lately is how to pack food economically and safely and in a more environmentally friendly way. it's no secret that packing a lunch is a great way to make sure you know what you are eating and to save money. with my little girl it's also becoming increasingly important to have snacks available at all times ! [nothing like being able to pull out a healthy cracker when she signs eat in line at the drugstore].

i'm trying to avoid using plastic bags of any kind - even ones like evolve - ziplock's "environmentally friendly" bags. i do use recycled content kitchen trash bags - which i feel guilty enough about.

anyway - above is a wrap-n-mat which you can use to wrap a sandwich or snack.

granted, you could make one of these yourself [i was thinking maybe oilcloth would be a good thing to try it out of - double sided] - but i spied these in a store and couldn't resist the ease of purchasing them. i do like how they disclose that some of their product is made in china, and that they have versions that are made in the USA. they also use a plastic for the lining that is BPA, lead, and phthalate free. [more info here ]

they work really well - keep leaky peanut butter and jelly from getting on anything else and are easy to clean up. they also double as a place mat - which can come in handy. if i end up actually trying to make any i'll try and post a tutorial.

i also really like boon's snackballs. they are stylish, hold a lot for their size, and double as a distraction toy with the little if need be.

my husband and i are also just a little bit into japanese bento boxes. we've collected quite a few and my husband actually uses them quite often to take leftovers to work. i wonder if i'll be able to make great bentos for my daughter when she goes to school [i have a few years to practice]. if you just want to be inspired by bentos - try just bento . or if you want all the gear - lunch in a box has a great online store list .

anyone out there have any great brown bagging tips?? [minus the brown bag of course]


jesse.anne.o said...

I also use a Wrap n Mat and some smaller snack containers (mine are Sanrio). I was thinking about making larger DIY Wrap n Mat styles but I am worried about not buying the right food-grade liner for the inside.

I carry stuff in a "Bag of Bags"

My friend uses a scarf like a furoshiki but I haven't been able to master that and I like that this affords some waterproofing in case things leak.

I have a bunch of tiered plastic bentos, which you can see here:

...but now I mainly use the lunch bowls from Happy Tiffin:

...or Ball jars:

...and a 16oz Thermos Stainless King for soups and things like that:

Hope that helps! I will probably repost this link to my blog later today.

Unni Strand said...

What happened to the good old metal lunch box?

Hayley said...

Great post Lisa! I have been dealing with the same dilemma- my toddler loves to eat snacks from bags- and at daycare they use paper cups- which she now prefers.
I pack her lunch in the Thinkbaby set: http://www.thinkbabybottles.com/BPAFree_Feeding_Set.htm which is awesome. But still resort to plastic bags for snacks. I have also used the wax bags- but they don't close well enough to toss in your bag. And my child will refuse food if she cannot visually approve it first- so the clear plastic bags work well. I too would love an alternative to the ziploc bag- something ecofriendly, easy to clean, closes securely and cheap if lost. Anything?

Anonymous said...

We don't use pre-packaged food for the children's lunches, nor do we use plastic bags. They take everything in reusable (clear) plastic containers and bring home banana peels etc to put in our compost bin. In addition to these steps we take to have litterless lunches, I designed a "Grab 'n' Go placemat" which has pockets for proper silverware/cutlery and a cloth napkin. They simply roll them up and put them in their lunch bags. They love taking responsibility for this and the other children love them too. The mats keep their food off the table and eliminate the need for disposable cutlery and paper towels.

Rachel said...

I've been using a bandana for my sandwiches for a while and it works nicely!

Tracy said...

great post lisa! my school-age girls loooove their bento boxes - and their laptop lunch sets. anything with little containers seems to score big points with the elementary school crowd. when they were in daycare, i would use glass jars that allowed the teachers to warm up their meals in a crockpot of warm water.

Lisa Sharp said...

My husband is a school teacher and keeps snacks in his classroom but I do send a Klean Kanteen and a lunchbot with him each day.

When I need a lunch out a I have a few eco lunch bags and either take a lunchbot or another stainless steel container. I have lots of cloth napkins and that kind of thing.

Mama Urchin said...

Snacks like crackers or pretzels work well in a little calico bag with a velcro closure. My first grader uses a goodbyn lunch box and we love it. Fun, easy to clean, and totally recyclable when we're done with it.

lisa s said...

loving all these tips... thanks guys!