I don’t know what it is. Every year when September starts to roll around, I suddenly feel the urge to dash out and buy a pack of loose leaf paper and a pencil box.
It’s the pencil box that makes me giggle. You know the kind—it has a pair of scissors that won’t cut dirt but a compass with a point so sharp you can kill a horse. Add to that a protractor for all that geometry homework assigned in kindergarten and you’re starting the school year off right.
Back-to-school always means shopping for supplies. And most importantly, some of those supplies will go in your child’s lunch box.
Now there’s a can of worms. If you give your child a homemade lunch, too often your child is throwing away excess waste with plastic bags and tin foil. If you allow your child the hot lunch from the cafeteria, you’re dealing with a sticky issue about the actual nutrition your child receives. Those lunches consist of processed foods with way too much sodium and high fructose corn syrup, which only adds to our juvenile diabetes and obesity rates. School lunches are not so easy.
For those parents who do make their child’s lunch, here are a few options for the school year:
- Lunch Skins. These little beauties first came to my attention from Analiese Paik at Fairfield Green Food Guide. They are the brain-child of 3GreenMoms. According to their web site, they are made of “a thick cotton fabric that is coated with a food-safe, moisture-proof polyurethane liner.” The fabric is manufactured in Germany by a family-owned company and meets the safety standards of both the EU and the U.S.
- Laptop Lunches. Conjuring thoughts of dinner at a Japanese restaurant, the bento box layout makes lunch fun. The containers can accommodate both dry and wet foods with dip containers for sauces and salad dressings. Made in the U.S., they fit most lunch box sizes and are dishwasher and microwave safe.
- Acme Lunch bags. These bags are insulated with a Velcro closure at the top that folds over like a paper lunch sack. They are made of recycled plastic bottles and can carry your kid’s lunch or two bottles of wine, if you like. (Note to self: The wine is for after school. For the adults, I mean. Although my grandmother always used to say a shot of bourbon worked wonders. I’m not sure if she meant for the kids or for her.)
- Munchler Bags. These fun little zoo animals were designed by Stephen Savage, an award-winning children’s book illustrator. They are made from polypropylene, lead-tested, and food-safe. The bags unzip into a handy placemat. They are insulated to keep foods and beverages cool and have handles perfectly sized for little hands.
- There’s always the tried and true paper bag. They are biodegradable, that’s for sure. But if you’re as creative as one dad is, you can create your own Lunch Bag Art. This particular dad even draws on the bananas. Who knew fruit could be an artistic medium?
Whatever you decide to do with your kids’ lunch, it poses a dilemma every school year. What your kids eat, how much or how little, as well as the quality of the food and how it’s stored can give even the most even-tempered parent a panic attack.
But there are options that make school lunches not so daunting. Just remember to pack them the night before. It makes the first thing in the morning less of a hassle—even if you do have a cool lunch box.
Photos courtesy of Lunch Skins, Laptop Lunches, ReusableBags.com, BuiltNY, and Lunch Bag Art.