1. This post is amazing! (And not just the Cool Mom Picks shoutout)

    I’m so bookmarking this and making those granola bars.

  2. Love this post! I have been making an outline about this very thing, along with lots of lunch ideas for my blog. I may just link to you once it is completed! My son is too lunch for a lunch box since he is just starting preschool, but we use this type of thing when we do picnics(just bigger).

  3. After your ditch the disposables challenge, I always carry my cloth napkin, a real fork or spoon, and glass containers for my leftovers to lunch. The only problem is that I begin to accumulate forks in my school bag and then wonder why I have no forks at home :)

    When we go back to school, I’ll be eating my favorite macoun apples for breakfast and one for lunch, probably one for a snack, too. I love them because there’s no package required :)

  4. My kid’s “school” sends home all uneaten food (in the stainless steel containers they provide) so that we can gauge how much was eaten! LOVE that.

    It’s also a good indicator as to when items are a hit or not.

    Great post, Amy!

  5. Hmm, I don’t make school lunches anymore, but I still eat lunch and yoghurt and all the other good things.
    Thanks Amy.

  6. Thanks for the link and all the info!! I don’t have kids but I do pack a lunch for my hubby so glad for all the ideas. :)

  7. So very helpful as I try to get my act together for back to school.

    You’ve addressed so many of my values: nutrition, ease, earth-sense.

    Thanks! Definitely worth a Stumble.

  8. Crunchy,
    Your ideas are over the top as I prepare my little ones for back to school. I am going to make the granola bars as soon as I get the ingredients from Vitamin Cottage today. I love being able to access you blog and find the ingredients right there for me….I can’t thank you enough. What ever happened to the good ol’ days when mama when cut you an apple and send you off to school with some peanut butter to dip it in? Is it that hard to put some peanut butter in a little tupperware container and slices of apple? We find a new use for almost every container in my house. The other day my boy brought home a water bottle his dadda bought him from the store and as he was about to put it in recycling, I said, “hold up” mama can use that to put in your lunch box boy! My point is that we all can make the world greener if we just put some thought into it and try. You’re the best, Crunchy! I can’t wait to use some of these ideas!

  9. This is just what I needed to get off on the right foot for our first time packing “lunches” – really it’s just a snack for his 2 hour school day.

    Either way you inspire me to be less wasteful and see “convenient” has a price even when it has “Organic” plastered all over it.

  10. Amy, you are such a good mom and so smart and environmentally conscious. As a retired teacher who saw a lot of food wasted, thrown in the gabage and not even touched, you are giving great advice. I am very proud and Ava and Julian are so lucky. Great post!

  11. You’re right; some companies out there claim that their products are “green.” When in reality, they’re not only bad for the environment, they’re also bad for us.

    I love granola bars! But now that you mention that some of the ones available in the market are not so good for us, I’m having doubts if I should still buy them… :(

  12. A Word To The Wise 4 All Moms!
    I have listened to doctors, teachers, counselors as well as social workers dish out advice about our children and some of it is well taken, but all must be critically perused and evaluated by us, were the mommies! Who could possible know our children better than we do?
    Some children have adverse reactions to sugar and some do not, however experts would like to paint all children with the same broad brush. Teenagers having problems in school is a good example. The first direction the experts seem to like to pursue is Attention Deficit. However a wise individual would first pursue the basics such as: Are their marital problems in the home or some type of alcohol or drug abuse? Is the child fighting thru Identity issues such as sexuality? These are just a few of the possibilities that could be causing children problems and us Mommies and Daddy’s need to make sure everything is being addressed before we push it off on a medical condition. I’m not saying we don’t look at everything; however it seems we live in a society that loves to turn directly to medication to solve a problem! Just watch the evening news and I’m sure you will see what I mean. The drug companies are now pursuing us directly to get us to ask our doctors for their drugs! The government likes to preach “Just Say No to Drugs”, and then they pitch them at every opportunity!
    My 16 year old was being tortured by mean girls via email and was heartbroken. She was having some acne issues as we all did but they were extremely mean to her in nature. It was not easy but I found a site that carries Cyber Bully Alerts warning the children to STOP sending these emails as they are being watched and logged and will be prosecuted. We all know what this kind of meanness can lead to with teen suicides and all. I found the cards at hate cards dot net and they did the trick! The torture stopped for Sarah and that was good enough for me. We need to find ways to overcome and adapt to protect our kids.
    We can care for runny noses and chapped bottoms, but we must look out for our babies through high school and educate them to think for themselves until they learn too!
    At Home Mom in MN

  13. My friends and I were wondering where you put the ice pack in the laptop lunch? Is there space somewhere?

  14. Thanks for including my recipe for cinnamon cherry granola bars in your post!

  15. For desk workers: don’t forget to take a container with you when you go to the food carts for lunch!

  16. Those are great tips and will work for kids as well as adults. I’d eat that lunch any day at work. Even as an adult, I still like a PB and J on whole wheat bread – it’s comfort food!

  17. Great ideas and perfect timing. I love the granola bar recipes and I’m going to have to try that!

    On a related note, I talked Alexander into the big tub of Stonyfield Farm vanilla yogurt today after I told him it was a “greener” choice than the individual cups. Baby steps, right?

  18. Another great idea is to include your kids in the process. Having them participate in the choices makes them want to eat it!! Makes them proud!!

  19. This brought back a lot of memories… of last year when I was tired of fast food. I started carrying my lunches and soon the whole office wanted to know “what’s for lunch” each day. It was SO much easier than going out to eat.

  20. Ooooh – thanks for the granola bar recipes. I’m always looking for new ideas.

  21. Amy,

    great resources! I have a motley selection of stainless steel containers, Tupperware and sandwich wraps that is starting to look rageed- great new resources!

  22. Great suggestions. I’m always crunched for time with being in school and back to work full time that I do depend on the prepacked items sometimes. I think the best thing I can do is cut down on the use of these. Perhaps instead of using them everyday try to only use them once or twice a week. Reducing our waste is always a great step in the right direction.

  23. Thank you for this post!

    I’m trying to compile lunch ideas at my website – and you’ve done a great job of finding some good ones.

  24. Here is some ideas from Lisa Benatar from our forum forum.uptous.com

    “Sure—once you get into the habit of packing garbage-free lunches, it’s pretty easy. Here are some tips:

    – The least-expensive re-usable package for sandwiches is regular zip-lock bags. We have a plastic bag “tree” in our kitchen next to our dish-drying rack. We bought this wooden gadget http://www.greenfeet.com/itemdesc.asp?kw=Plastic-Bag-Dryer&ic=6005-04087-0000&eq=&gclid=CKORj72ZnJwCFRFMagodJA9Fcw but I’ve always thought that it would be a fun project to try to make with the kids, even give as gifts! We just wash our bags thoroughly like you would any plate or cup, rinse well and hang out to dry. Eventually the bags do wear out and you can recycle them with other thin-film plastic bags
    – Another, perhaps more fun, way to eliminate the sandwich wrap garbage from your lunches is “wrap n’ mats.” They are like mini-placemats that are fabric on one side, plastic on the other. They fold up around the sandwich and Velcro shut. They can be wiped clean easily. And another perk: the wrap-n’-mat serves as a little platcemat to eat off of! There are a variety of sources for these handy mats. Try googling “wrap n mat” and shop for the best price. They run about $7 each when you buy at least 4 and account for shipping. It’s another item that looks easy to make, but sometimes even with the best of intentions we just don’t get around to it!
    – Some people are concerned about food being in contact with plastic. (I don’t have a problem with this, unless it’s going into the microwave). For those who are concerned about plastic, there is a plastic-free alternative to the wrap n’ mat, made by a company called Abeego. The product is hand-made, and therefore much pricier (about $18 per wrap). http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=6088523
    – Pack cut-up fruit or veggies in small plastic containers that can be washed.
    – Buy snack items that are not individually wrapped, like crackers, cheese, peanut-butter pretzels. Again, I’ve looked up recipes for granola bars that can be made at home: http://www.joyfulabode.com/2008/04/11/homemade-granola-bar-recipe-no-high-fructose-corn-syrup-in-these-bars/You may have some recipe for a healthy cookie or bar that you could make and freeze or store for lunches. Replacing dried fruit with tiny chocolate chips in these recipes usually makes them pretty popular…
    – Use cloth napkins instead of paper. We have a separate tall basket for used cloth napkins and dish towels in our kitchen, so they all get washed together once a week, easier to fold and put away quickly. If your kids barely use their napkins (but you still feel compelled to provide them with one), use a Sharpie or fabric marker to put each child’s initial on their own napkin to cut down on laundry.
    – Wash and re-use plastic utensils (or use any re-usable utensils).
    – Get a stainless steel thermos—it really adds to the variety you can pack for your kids’ lunches, too. http://shopthermos.com/detail/TMS+2330P
    – This one is obvious at this point: use a re-usable water bottle.

    All of this probably translates to more time on somebody’s part, washing out the re-usable containers and cloth napkins. But if you integrate it into your normal routine it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. And when you consider all of the packaging you are avoiding adding to land-fills, you may think it’s worth the effort. By the way: you can try getting your kids to wash out their own lunches right when they get home (or whenever works best)—let me know how that goes!”

  25. Fantastic ideas! As an addition for lunch box container, you might want to have a unique style that suits your personality, that you can store up to four dishes but can carry easily anywhere you go. Then you may go to Happy Tiffin site and see it yourselves.

  26. Fantastic ideas! As an addition for lunch box container, you might want to have a unique style that suits your

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