Stuff We Like: Make Lunch Fun
The kids are heading back to school and that means back to packing school lunches. “Between what they want, what you want them to want, what’s good for the environment, and what’s within your budget, things can get complicated,” says Caroline Kaufman, MS, RD, an NYC-based nutrition consultant. Packing a nutritious, eco-friendly, and budget-friendly lunch may seem like an overwhelming task, but Kaufman assures us it’s doable. Before the morning rush begins again, read her tips on how to pack a smarter school lunch and check out the products below that will make the midday meal more fun for your little ones.
Ditch the paper bags and snag a reusable “sack” instead. Snack Sacks like this one ($25) from Dabbawalla Bags are made from a fabric that’s degradable, recyclable, and 100 percent free of toxic chemicals. Plus, they’re stain-resistant and machine washable. The super-cute graphic on this one is a clever reminder that the nutritious lunch inside is helping to fuel your little one through a full day of learning.
The Go Green Lunch Box ($32.99) is BPA-, leach-, and lead-free. Similar to a Japanese bento box, its five compartments prompt you to pack proper portions, and silicone bands ensure a leakproof seal for each section. Tuck it inside the insulated lunch bag (included; choose from several designs) to keep food fresh and your little one looking cool. Comes with an 8-ounce water bottle.
As an alternative to those neon-colored yogurt-on-the-go pouches, pour a homemade smoothie mix into Kinderville’s Little Bites Ice Pop Molds to make a squeezable lunchtime treat ($16.99). They’re just as much fun for kids to eat, and you’ll know exactly what ingredients are fueling your little one (and be able to pronounce them, too). Kaufman suggests a combination of Greek yogurt, low-fat milk, colorful berries, and honey for a touch of sweetness.
FunBites cut fruit, veggies, pitas, pancakes, grilled cheese, and more into fun, bite-sized portions even more effectively than cookie cutters, and give you a creative way to entice kids to chomp. The popper top makes for foolproof execution. Available in a cube-shaped cutter (pictured) or one that creates hearts out of 10 geometric shapes ($12.99).
A Word on BPA
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that has been used in food and beverage containers since the 1960s. Based on recent research, the National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration have warned about the possible toxic effects of BPA, especially on unborn fetuses, infants, and young children.
To be extra cautious, avoid buying containers or water bottles labeled as #7 plastic on the bottom. This number typically indicates the presence of BPA. Some metal water bottles and canned goods are lined with BPA, so double-check before purchasing.