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HomeHealth & BehaviorHealth & Nutrition

Cool green lunch tools

Pack a healthier school lunch with 11 favorite kid-, planet- and parent-friendly picks.

By Sarah Henry

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Laptop Lunches bento boxes

Putting a snappy modern twist on traditional Japanese lunch boxes, these vibrantly colored bento boxes are outfitted with multisized containers that fit snugly in a compact and totable lunch box ($32.99 - $39.99). The set also includes a dip container (we like filling them with hummus or ranch dressing for veggie-dipping) and all-stainless utensils, plus a recipe book for kid-friendly, easy lunch ideas. The totes come in a variety of colors and have a built-in Velcro pouch for an ice pack ($1.99), a front expandable pocket for additional items, and a zippered side pouch. All this and Laptop Lunches are eco-friendly, too: All products are lead-, phthalate-, BPA-, and PVC-free. Other products, such as extra “Bento Buddies” ($14.99) are sold separately.

Looking for these at local stores? Check here for retailers in your area.

Photo credit: anastaz1a

Sarah Henry is a Bay Area-based freelance food writer and the voice behind the blog Lettuce Eat Kale.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

06/13/2012:
"Wow guys, way to dump on a school system trying to give you way to make your kids lunch interesting. No, I won't be buying those laptop lunch boxes, but I will be going to the dollar store and fabricating my own. Always looking for ways to get my guys to eat their veggies and leafy greens. "
08/23/2011:
"I love our planet lunch box. The best part is that when my daughter opens it, she sees everything right away, instead of having to open a bunch of containers, many of which used to come back full because she never opened them. It's also very durable and the magnets mean that they can grow up with your kid. It's not as cheap as a paper bag, but on the other hand, it lasts for years and you don't have to throw a single thing away. "
08/23/2011:
"I was excited to read the article about the great ideas for school lunches. I was disappointed to find that it was a collection of overpriced, gimmicky, "green" lunch boxes. We are in a recession, and don't need new, improved ways to separate us from more of our money! "
08/22/2011:
"These are great picks! You can save on packaging waste & shipping costs by picking most of them up in one spot- reuseit.com "
08/22/2011:
"I am commenting more on the picture that accompanies the article rather than article. I am shocked and horrified that GreatSchools would put a picture on its front page of a lunchbox with a can of soda in it! I can accept the chocolate chip cookie, altho that's not really a healthy snack to be giving your kid to school. But a can of soda?! Come on! You can do better than that picture! "
08/22/2011:
"I am a big fan of being green especially when its easy and cheaper. I have been using a soft lunch box that has built in ice packs so you just wipe it out and stick it in the freezer they cost $11 at Fred Meyer. I then use those little Tupperware containers you buy by the plastic baggies that are reusable but cheap so when they get lost or broken its less than $1 lost. You buy them in sets of 3 or 4 depending on the brand and can get them on sale for about $2 a pack. For those of us that cant afford $35-$45 sets that will be lost and probably stolen on a regular basis, this is a good alternative. "
08/22/2011:
"With all due respect to the concerned moms that "invented" these containers but do they really have to cost up to $100 a pop - which is the case w/ some of the offers in this article if you want cooling and containers or a complete set and not just the lunchbox and the whole point was to avoid the bags and wraps right? My daughter's starting 5th grade this fall & I've never bought paper bags or used tin foil or wax paper! We use a sandwich sized snap lock box (also PBA and lead free!) if she takes only a sandwich and different box w/ several compartments if she takes snacks along as well. For dips or salad dressing (yes, she takes salads to school), we use small plastic containers w/ well sealing lids and for the lettuce a bigger container. As for drinks we usually use am aluminum children's bottle which fits perfectly along w/ any of the food containers onto a standard size insulated lunchbox which I've recently replaced w/ one that is frozen entirely to avoid the extra ice pack. Lets face it: most moms can't afford to spend that much - or even half that, especially if they have more than one child. And then you have the issue of the child bringing everything back and not throw it out like he/she is used to doing for years which we all know is not a child's strong suit and at the end if the school year that can get very expensive - and there go all good intentions! I guess my point is a more eco friendly way should start with the behavior i.e. teach your child to bring whatever he/she uses back home & poss. even reuse them after thorough cleaning - which you have to do w/ the new ones anyway - then move on to special containers and utensils. "
08/18/2011:
"Kids Konserve Waste Free Lunch Boxes .. great idea, but for $45.00 each and I have five kids, that's wayyy over my green budget. "
08/30/2010:
"As a veteran mom, I can't with good conscience recommend spending ANYTHING on lunch box/bags. My daughter's school is strewn with beautiful (obviously expensive) lunch boxes and if it weren't for some of the kids having unique names and my personally walking the boxes back to the owner, they'd stay there for months. There's nothing wrong with the plain brown bag, taking a couple of Sharpie markers to it and creating a work of art. Even a non-artist mom like me figured out how to draw some of her favorite characters (Mo Willems of the Pigeon books even shows you how to draw that pesky pigeon). Or a heart, rainbow, a car, a tree, you name it. These bags became so popular, my daughter was quizzed by the kindergarten teacher aide and every day made to feel extremely special. Since I was helping with their art program, I was able to sketch their monthly art project quickly on the bag, so she had bags with Frieda Kahlo, Van Gogh, Faith Ringgold, etc. on them, too. Another re-usable idea is to save the bags from vacation souvenirs--Disneyland, etc. The smaller bags are the perfect size. This gives your child a quick reminder of their fun time long after the summer vacation is over. Certain favorite restaurant bags are popular to reuse as well--Starbucks & Cheesecake Factory are real popular with my daughter because of their size and handles. Some of these bags last weeks, and with rotation, last the entire school year. My daughter is most looking forward this year (4th grade) to using the simple bag that came with a Subway meal she picnicked on back in June. It's great in a very controlled environment (like preschool), but parents of elementary school parents beware--don't spend money on something they're going to lose in the first week of school and you'll both be devastated."
08/27/2010:
"Laptop Lunches are great, too! Find them at www.laptoplunches.com"
08/26/2010:
"We love the reusable and nontoxic containers from LUNCHVILLE.COM. They have stainless steel drink bottles and food cases, fabric sandwich and snack bags, and beautifully designed lunch bags for children and adults. "
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