Healthy and Creative Packed Lunches!

Friday, August 13, 2010

{Photo Credit: Wendolonia}

My son is beginning Montessori Preschool next week. 
I am both sad and excited for him at the same time.  I'm going to miss him, and it will be weird not being with him to experience things, but it is only for 2 days a week, so I guess I can handle it! :)

I was looking around for good lunch box ideas, and came across some great websites that I wanted to share with you, in case you were thinking about this as well.  I will have to pack him a snack and a lunch everyday, so I need a roomy option that can also incude an ice pack as well, as he loves yogurt, milk, cream cheese, and fruits I'm hoping to keep on the chilled side.

Have you heard of a bento box?  It is like a lunch box with several small, individual portion-sized containers or divided sections for food.  There are some neat options for bento-style lunch boxes, including this site which I love: Laptop Lunches.  Here, for a reasonable price, you can purchase an American-style bento boxes designed to help you pack nutritious, eco-friendly lunches for school, work, and travel.  Best of all they are recyclable, dishwasher-safe, and contain NO phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), or lead.
You could also just purchase an insulated lunch bag and some small plastic lidded containers for the same concept. 

If you go the lunch bag route, here is a great article by Good Housekeeping where they tested 26 lunch boxes based on their ability to keep food at the recommended 40 degrees or lower for two hours or longer, as well as their usability and kid-friendliness.
The top 4 performers in the study are shown below.

According to a Consumer Reports article in 2007, the Center for Environmental Health, a nonprofit environmental organization, found lead in the polyvinylchloride (PVC, or "vinyl") plastic of several lunch-box samples it tested.  I'm not sure if this has been corrected in all the lunch boxes by now, or if some companies continue to use the lead, but the concern is mainly with PVC/vinyl or vinyl-lined lunch boxes and bags.  A simple alternative is to purchase a lunch box/bag that is labeled "Lead Free", or does not contain vinyl materials.  Target was sued by CEH and the company has since said that all children's lunch boxes and utensils in Target's own brands are now PVC-free, and that in some products it will use phthalate-free PVC.
Wal-Mart also stopped selling PVC lunch boxes and baby bibs in 2007 over concerns that those products may contain lead. It is just something to keep in mind and to read labels when you are shopping. FAQ's about this study can be found here and here.

This newscast from 2006 explains the problem in more detail.  This isn't exactly new news, but it was the first time I'd heard about it, so I thought I'd pass it on in case you hadn't head about it either.

For some great (and awe-inspiring) ideas on filling up your child's lunchbox, visit Wendolonia!  I mean, really, I have no idea how she comes up with so many creative ideas.  She even cut her child's name into his tofu with cookie cutters. 
How cool is that?

{Photo Credit: Wendolonia}

If you have any favorite lunch box/bag suggestions, or packed lunch recipies, I'd love to hear them!


Jessie said...

We bento!!! I packed things like this for my daughter her first Montessori year, and I needed more ideas for the coming year. Thank you!! This is great, and very beautiful.

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