• Search

Grocery News: Trash Free Lunch

Wrapnmat AnimatedSandwich BoxRubbermaid Juice

by Katy Killilea

Yes, you’re busy. And no, you’re not a self-righteous environmentalist freak (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But you can still pack a trash-free lunch for your child. And you might even have to if your child’s school has “trash-free” lunch days.

I know how I feel about this: EVERY day should include a trash-free lunch, and my son should eat every morsel and come home raving about how tasty it was. The reality, however, is that I’m afraid much of his food winds up in the trash. And I use more milk boxes and pre-packaged yogurts and popcorns than I’d ever admit on my application to the Green Mommies League. However, I usually try to pack a less trashy lunch.

This is what I’m glad to have on hand:

1. A reusable water bottle. There are so many choices: From Spiderman to skate-punk, and mermaids to cartoony Swiss animals (Little Siggs). It’s best to have a reusable container dedicated to your child’s drinking water so it won’t pick up other flavors. Write your child’s name on it with a Sharpie and don’t let your spouse leave it to rot under the passenger seat.

2. A reusable juice or milk container. We use the cylindrical 7-ounce bottles from Rubbermaid (I attached a picture). This is both a huge cost and trash savings! You can mix your own juice-water blend or your own chocolate milk with as much or as little syrup as you deem fit. Very satisfying for the sugar-control lunch packer in the family. I have been using the same ones for ages—they really last. Rubbermaid containers seem to be available everywhere: Target, Shaw’s, Stop & Shop. They are even available in the shape of chubby little bears. (see photo above)

3. Some way to contain and keep sandwichs fresh. If you are not ready to give up disposable bags, try the middle path: use Ziplocs when you cannot bear another thing to wash but have reusable options handy. I have already come clean as a Tupperware fetishist. (Tupperware makes the classic sandwich box, pictured.) Wrap-n-mat.com makes an oilcloth and velcro number that wraps the sandwich and opens up to a placemat. (see photo above) I do not yet own any, but a girl can dream, can’t she?

4. Lots of four-ounce containers. Again, these are available everywhere and in many iterations. I got mine from Tupperware. They don’t wear out so I never get to shop for more, natch. Four-ounce containers are perfect for yogurt (to which you can add as much or as little fruit/sugar/honey as you think your child should consume), crackers, cheese cubes, pasta, sliced fruit, cookies, popcorn, Pringles, chocolate truffles, marshmallows. Remember, you don’t have to fill them with granola or hummus and support Ralph Nader’s candidacy (although you well might!)—junk foods fit too!

More usefel ideas at Reusablebags.com, Swissknifeshop.com (free shipping on a Sigg water bottles!), and Veganlunchbox.com (I almost hope this one is a joke. Lunches too perfect to achieve.)

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • have you seen the $85 dollar tiffin from design within reach? beautiful. maybe not so good for kindergarten.

    also–the to-go ware tiffin on reusablebags.com is a good one.

    these are both metal.

    the ones from pearl river are BEAUTIFUL! such fun colors. curatorium on wickenden street has them if you like to buy in – person.

  • I’m about to order a tiffin lunch box for my children this year – check them out at pearlriver.com!!
    Claire in Seekonk

  • Given the well-established link between the most common and widely used plastics (Tupperware included) and cancer and hormone-disruption risks in children, I’d steer away from plastic containers for anything, which is hard to do. You can get stainless steel bottles for liquids, and line the tupperware with napkins to avoid exposure…
    A great place to learn about the common risks of environmental exposures to our kids is http://www.ewg.org

  • for the bento lovers–have you seen bentotv.com? the sweetest woman/girl with pigtails shows how she packs her bento box each day. it is adorable, hilarious, and the ideas are actually good!

  • Asiana is a good market on Warren Ave in East Providence. They have a lot of the items I used to buy in Chinatown in NYC when I lived there. Maybe they’ll expand (it’s tiny) if business grows-however, there are always other shoppers there when I go.
    92 Warren Ave
    East Providence, RI 02914
    (401) 438-9992

  • The bento box is great for a trash free lunch. Check out Makezine for more creative ideas for the food inside.

    I went to an Asian market years ago on Broad Street, near Apsara’s Restaurant – small. My favorite Asian Market is Super88 in the South End of Boston. Authentic, affordable, great selection.

  • Great post, Katy! My budding obsession on this topic? Behold the eco-friendly, fun, heart-stoppingly cute glory that is the bento box. We don’t seem to have a good Asian market in Providence (people of the Internet, correct me if I am wrong!) but there is a world of bento boxes and paraphernalia online. Check eBay, just make sure you set a spending limit for yourself or you may end up with more mini soy sauce bottles than you can shake a chopstick at.