07 June 2012

159/366 school lunch containers

School is out for us next week, but for some odd reason, I'm choosing today to share our school lunch containers. It's so you can be ultra-prepared for next fall, right? Right. I'm just excited because I've finally figured out a good solution for us, because I've been searching for a very long time.

We used to use plastic reusable containers. I felt good that they were reusable, but I'd cringe every time I pulled that cloudy plastic from the dishwasher. I wanted something stainless steel or glass—but thick glass, for safety—and something that would fit in our recently purchased lunch bags with our old-but-still-perfectly-usable water bottles. Oh, and something that would hold half a sandwich and fruit/veggies separately, with a lid easy for kids to open and close. That was a tall order to fill.

The idea for using canning jars came to me almost a year ago. The wide mouth half pint jars were almost exactly the same size as the plastic containers we were using. But the two piece metal lids were both a pain to store and clean and unsafe for little fingers. So when I discovered these one-piece plastic screw on lids, I had what I needed to make the canning jars work.
I bought a few and we tested them out. They were the right size for us, and fit all my criteria. They also had a bonus point—they'd work in the classroom microwaves so I could send leftovers for variety. (The kids have been instructed that the lids do not go in the microwave!) 

I wasn't too worried about them breaking, because the glass is sturdy and thick. But two in the same lunch bag would clink together on the walk to school, and I worried that the repeated agitation would be rough on the glass. So I looked through the entire kitchen for ideas. I measured the containers and found they were the same size as the wells in my jumbo muffin tin. Off to Amazon I went in search of jumbo silicone muffin cups. I found them right away, and as soon as they arrived, I tested them out. They worked just as I had hoped.
 They protect the glass from bumping, make a non-slip gripper for the kids, and protect the containers in case of falls. 
The perfect solution.
This system should work for as long as the kids need just half a sandwich and some fruit for lunch. Should be a few more years—but by then, they'll have outgrown the lunch bags and the water bottles, so we'll need a new system anyway. And I can reuse the jars for home food storage, or—gasp—canning.

What kind of lunch system do you use?
What do you love about it?


Grandpa Bill said...

Let me be the first old fossil to recommend re-using ziptop bags for lunch. They can be washed out and used again, paying special attention to the seals. While admiring your assemblage of pieces (the plastic tops came from your uncle's Christmas pickles), little appetites will soon outgrow them. The little sprouts will have growth spurts that MUST be fed!

Cathy said...

That's a good looking lunch box. I'm not sure I could ever put that much thought into lunch. Good thing I have at least another year to figure it out. How's school lunch where you are?

Anonymous said...

i like the way your packed. very neat indeed.

Amy said...

I love this idea! Thanks for sharing...we will be using it next year. And I shared on pinterest.

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