I have long been on a quest to eliminate zip-top plastic bags from my house. They are wasteful. While I admit to rinsing out lightly used bags for reuse, for the most part the bags are used once and land straight in the trash. We have plenty of reusable plastic containers, but frankly, I’m more than a little concerned about the safety of putting our food in plastic. Waxed paper bags work in some instances, but they’re just not as tidy as zip-top bags. My kids are willing to forgo the plastic baggies, but there’s still the constant struggle to figure out how to package their lunch without compromising on their health or the environment.
When I mentioned this to my friend Jennifer Margulis who blogs for Mothering, she pointed me to PlanetBox. Made of stainless steel, the hinged lunch box opens to reveal five individual compartments of various sizes. It kind of resembles an institutional food tray (or, to date myself, one of those old fashioned TV dinners!). The raised compartments in the lid allow you to fill the bottom tray generously and still close the lid. When closed, each food is sealed into its separate compartment (keeping the sandwich from touching the fruit for finicky eaters). The one drawback to the compartments is that the space where a sandwich would fit is pretty small. The grainy bread we eat comes in slices too large to fit in there.
Slip the latched PlanetBox into an insulated carrying bag and kids are all set for a healthy, environmentally sound lunch break. The carrying bag has two pockets – one will fit a water bottle and the other has a flap that closes with velcro. Extra containers called Big and Little Dippers hold messier dishes like yogurt or pasta salad and fit neatly within the PlanetBox, as shown in the photo. And for a fun touch? Each PlanetBox comes with a set of magnets to personalize it.
The PlanetBox alone retails for $34.95. The PlanetBox Complete set comes with a Big and Little Dipper and a carrying bag for $59.95. The PlanetBox comes with a five-year warranty and its simple styling will last a kid through years of school lunches without becoming dated. Of course, you might want to switch up the magnets from year to year!
The author of several hands-on activity books for kids, Kris Bordessa has a thing for transforming perfectly good garbage into craft projects. Her book, Team Challenges: Group Activities to Build Cooperation, Communication, and Creativity, features more than 200 team building activities that have been used with youth groups, in the classroom, and even at the occasional wine party. She lives in Hawaii with her family, where she writes about her experiments in gardening, real food, and greener living for Attainable Sustainable.