The lovely Melinda writes:
I enjoyed your post on nut-free lunches, and I have a concern that is sort of a tangent to that one. I’ve recently become aware of my un”green” lifestyle and am trying to make some changes. I started thinking about the little baggies that I pack everything in for lunch and did some quick math: if every one of the 900 kids at our school threw away three baggies with every lunch, the school trash would have 13,000 baggies per week. Over the course of a year, that would be nearly half a million baggies! In my family of four kids, we’re tossing at least 2,000 of those suckers a year just by ourselves.
Have you got any great ideas for something similar: small, reusable, cute, hard to throw away? The Ziploc and Gladware containers seem too big and I want something that fits together neatly.
Thanks in advance for the pretty thoughts coming from your pretty brain.
Melinda’s email made me hang my head in shame. Hi, my name is Mir, and I… I… I am a snack-size-Ziploc-aholic.
Melinda’s right, though, so I got to thinking.
As she’s already pointed out, the ideal solution is something like the aforementioned Laptop Lunch kit, although it’s not only expensive, it means washing out all of those itty-bitty containers every single night. I’m not sure I want to go that far.
Here’s a few ideas:
DIY Bento. All of the Laptop Lunch and fancy-schmancy (read: expensive) nested food containers are riffs on the idea of the traditional Japanese Bento Box. And while I love the concept, I’ve yet to find anything that’s all cutesy fitting together like that which doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. You can buy larger containers (Ziploc or Gladware or whatever) and fit smaller ones inside, sure. Will it be perfect? No. Will it be adorable? Probably not. Will your kid live? I’m thinking yes. (Okay, one more suggestion: This Fit & Fresh Lunch on the Go set is only $10, and if you spend $39 you get $10 off, so you could get 4 of ’em for $30. Not too bad.)
Container sizes change. I’ve seen quite a few smaller containers in the “new” reusable container lines, actually. I have small bowls I use to pack the kids yogurt, in both 4 and 8 ounces sizes. So they’re not impossible to find. Plus, my very favorite tiny adorable container is the Smidget, which is a round condiment container made by Tupperware. They may be discontinued, but they used to be part of the hostess gift package. They’re pretty easy to find on eBay. I use ours to pack dipping ketchup or ranch dressing.
Coffee filters. Coffee filters—plain ol’ basket ones—come in large and small sizes and are biodegradable and great for cradling foods that need to be kept somewhat contained but not hermetically sealed. Obviously you’re not going to be packing yogurt in them (um, ewwww), but they’re great for bunches of grapes or a couple of cookies.
Wrap-n-Mats. I’ve been waffling on these for a while, but I think Melinda’s mail was the push I needed to to ahead and order a set of Wrap-n-Mats. I love the concept, and it’s sort of a solution halfway between a coffee filter and a plastic container with a lid, I think.
Go for broke. I was planning to show you this as an example of my ultimate dream solution, and lo and behold, it’s available on the 4-for-3 special! It’s still ridiculously expensive, but I’m just sayin’. Should you win the lottery, I declare you must run out and buy a Zojirushi Mr. Bento Stainless-Steel lined Lunch Jar, the Cadillac of Bento solutions. (Want justification? You said you have 4 kids. Do the 4-for-3 and never buy another lunch container. Heh.)
Readers? What other suggestions do you have?