Safe School Lunches

It seems I’m taking an unplanned blogging break.  We are less than two weeks out from the start of kindergarten and I’m trying to get ready for all that entails.  Who knew that finding the proper school supplies would require all of my brain power AND trips to 4 different stores.  It seriously shouldn’t be that hard.

Now I’m trying to figure out what the best options are for packed school lunches.  I’m not so much worried as to what food I’ll be packing, I’m more concerned with what containers I’ll be using to hold the food and how I can keep the food at safe temperatures.

I read this article about the 99% of packed lunches that are not at the proper temperature:

Strollerderby,Brown Bagging it Could Be Making Your Kid’s Sick 

I have had a few courses in Food Microbiology throughout my undergrad and graduate work, so keeping food the proper temperatures is more than just a common concern for me.  I’m kinda known as the control freak who insists that leftovers be placed in the fridge IMMEDIATELY after the meal.  It drives my extended family batty.  My husband and kids don’t know any different.  :)

Then I consider all the BPA and PVC and Lead-leaking issues of plastics and many traditional school lunch boxes, and I have to worry about more than just keeping the food the proper temperature.  Now I have to keep the food sufficiently chilled and sufficiently toxin-free.  Uffda.

Plus there is the whole environmental impact of plastic sandwich bags, wrappers and such.  Bang head against wall now.

My little girl picked out a lunchbox at Target that says it’s ‘Ultra Safe, pvc free and lead and phthalate safe.’ It also looks like a dog, which was the main selling point for her.

I’m trying to talk her into this one instead:

Kid’s Konserve

I may compromise and just buy the containers:

Kids Konserve Trio

I also like this Crocodile Creek lunch box, but, alas, it does not have a puppy on the front.  Whole Foods carries this line, as well as Amazon.

In my searching I’ve also come across this site/product and it seems intriguing:

Pack It

The entire lunchbox is frozen, eliminating the need for an added ice pack.  Still, no puppy design available…

What do you think?  Any of my mama readers have a product that you love?  



25 thoughts on “Safe School Lunches

  1. You are reading my mind right now. I’m going through the same thing. I’m bookmarking lunch boxes that I think they might like and we’re voting this weekend. James starts Kindergarten this year, too. I’m sorta freaking out. And with three kids this year, the lists are actually rather ridiculous. I’m looking forward to some back to school lunch ideas from bloggers so I don’t get in ruts with my kids’ lunches!

  2. no great products, although I like the bag you can freeze. I have one that loves to take sushi so always looking for a cold option.

    Just wait until she comes home and says “the school makes the best mashed potatoes”, which of course probably
    contain potatoes…….

    • I love that you send sushi! :)

      And yes, I think the school lunches will look enticing, sadly. I also hear that they school can’t refuse the kids ice cream/snacks, so I’m already talking to A about not buying ‘treats’ unless I say so. We’ll see how that goes….

  3. Same thing here! 2 weeks left, I just bought 2 lunch boxes that are PVC/BPA free and I still have to buy snack bags too. I may go with the containers you have here on your blog since they are PVC and BPA free. I have the sandwich containers from wal-mart (not PVC free im sure since they did not indicate that) I fell under pressure from my kiddos saying they “have” to have this one. I’ll change it out shortly, im sure it won’t last too long.
    Seriously want to bang my head against the wall too when it comes to all the research and time trying to find the right product.
    Wait until your child comes home and says that “people make fun of my food.” That started in 2nd grade for us…ugh!
    Good luck with all the back to school prep!

    • Oh, I am sure she will come home wanting to do what everyone else is doing by day two. She is quite a follower, despite my best efforts. The school seems to serve a decent amount of Tex-Mex foods (nachos, burritos, enchiladas, etc) which she doesn’t like, so I’m hoping that will work to my advantage. She doesn’t like heavily seasoned or salted foods, so I may be able to keep her on my packed foods. My little guy, however, loves that kind of food, so I anticipate him really wanting school lunches. At least I have a couple of years.

  4. Well, I don’t have kids but I do take my lunch everyday to grad school & don’t have access to a fridge so I have some tips. I definitely recommend an insulated lunch box and ice pack(s) depending on how much of the food needs to stay cold. I find if I pack the night before and put everything in the fridge that helps it stay cold longer (obviously adding the ice pack in the morning). I really don’t recommend reusable cloth snack bags- at least, I haven’t found any that work. I’ve purchased some off etsy and when I’ve used them, they just make the food inside soggy. Soggy crackers, cereal, etc.=yuck! Fruits and veggies are the only thing I can put in them that works, but mine aren’t lined so they get a little damp. Trail mix is also okay in reusable bags, but they do get sticky so either have enough for the week or be prepared to wash them everyday.

    • I’ve heard that about the re-usable bags. I’m hoping to find a container that I can re-use. I definitely agree about letting the food be cold when you leave the house. It gives a much bigger buffer when it comes to reaching unsafe temperatures.

  5. Been thinking about this lately, too. My favorite is the PlanetBox (, but at $60 per set, I’m having a hard time thinking about buying 2 of these. We have a laptop lunchbox ( that worked really well last year for my daughter. I’m trying to get away from plastic, but they sure are cheaper than the planetboxes and the laptop lunches are BPA and PVC free. Let us know what you end up with!!

    • Oooh – I hadn’t heard of PlanetBox – those look really cool. But, yes, $60 is kinda spendy. Someone on facebook recommended Laptop Lunches, I’ve been perusing that site today too.

      As a teacher – did you ever witness kids making fun of other kid’s lunches or lunchboxes? I’m worried that if I get something too unusual, A will be really self conscious. She likes to fit in and, sadly, the ‘norm’ is character boxes full of crappy foods. I don’t want to force my cause on her (which is really a whole other blog post), but I want her to find a balance between healthy and not standing out.

  6. I love all the cute bags! I have a fridge in my office, so I don’t get to buy these fun things. But, I read that article last week and I have to say , my immediate thought was “i took a lunch in a brown bag that wasn’t insulated and I’m not dead.

    Not sure.

  7. We just got our lunchboxes from Lands End – they arrived last week – I got the lunchbox, thermos and water bottles. I’m the opposite of you – I worry about WHAT to pack in the lunches! My only creative idea last year was ‘kid sushi’ (ww tortillas rolled up with cucumber, avocado, cream cheese and cut to look like sushi). My girl liked it for about two weeks then wouldn’t eat it. I also have a hard time with the “no peanut butter” rule.

    I saw on your kids lunches that you make ww tortillas with cheese inside – do you heat them up before you pack them? Do you pack them cold or hot? My kids my like those but I’m not sure how to prepare them so they will be good four hours later!

    I’d LOVE a post on things you plan to pack in lunches – I need all of the ideas I can get!!!

  8. just bought the a crocodile creek one from whole foods (with dinosaurs on the front and a matching stegosaurus sandwich container) for my daughter.excited to use it!
    question: what kinds of meals do you plan on packing?

  9. Hi Michelle,

    Thomas was at the YMCA camp this summer and I ordered the Pack-It lunch bag for him, thinking his lunch bag would stay nice and cold inside (waiting for him). Little did I know, Thomas spent his entire day outside. And so did the lunch bag. It might not be quite as hot
    in PA as in your area but it was still in the 90s most of the summer.
    Thomas told me his lunch was still cool when he ate it, after about
    5 hours out of the fridge/outdoors. The commercial states it keeps cool for 10 hours, which I believe if the lunch bag is kept indoors.
    I used it on our drive up north and once we reached home (after about
    9 hours), it was still cool (not cold). The only flaw, it is a little
    heavy for a 5-year-old once frozen. But if it keeps the food safe, I am all for it.

    They were running a promotion Buy 1/ Get 1 free so this is what got. When I actually received the lunch bag, I saw they had much cuter designs than plain. Oh well. Make sure you check all of the models before you order. I thought they were pricey but I now think they are totally worth it.

    Hope this helps!

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