I’ve written two posts before about this, but one was in 2008 and the other was in 2012, so it seemed like time for a new one (especially since school is about to start).
So. Here are my 9 favorite lunch-packing items (and I’d love to hear what you’d pick to round out the list).
1. An insulated lunch bag
I don’t think this needs to be anything fancy or expensive. Mr. FG’s current one is a Target buy, and he’s been using it every weekday for over four years now.
I like these because they help keep food cold and also provide some protection for the food inside (unlike, say, a paper bag.)
2. A reusable water bottle
It is plastic, but it comes with built-in filtration, which is handy, and it’s a lot lighter than Klean Kanteens, which could be helpful if you’re packing for a smaller kid.
3. Rigid reusable ice packs
These blue ice packs have served us well, lasting for years before they spring a leak or start to fall apart.
You just need to remember to throw them in the freezer every night when you unpack your lunch!
4. Metal silverware
I know there are utensils especially manufactured for use in lunches, but I just send silverware from our kitchen drawer.
If you are terrified a family member will throw your silverware in the trash, visit the silverware basket at your Goodwill and pick up mismatched utensils there. You won’t care if those get lost, and even if it’s not awesome silverware, it’s still going to be way easier to use than the disposable plastic stuff.
(Silverware is a classic example of how a non-disposable life is often more luxurious.)
5. Pyrex glass containers
Because these are heavy, they’re best for a lunch that doesn’t need to be hauled very far. I use them in Mr. FG’s lunch almost every day, since he just has to carry his lunch from the parking lot into the building.
Pyrex is my favorite because the lids last longer than other brands I’ve tried. I use the 1-cup and 2-cup containers the most, but I also find the flat, rectangular one to be great for packing salads (which need some space for tossing with dressing).
If you don’t own Pyrex already, I’d recommend this $24 set, which has lots of great lunch-packing sizes, plus a few that are good for home fridge storage.
These are a super alternative to Pyrex for lunches that need to be lighter. If you’re packing a sandwich with a round bun, the 16 oz. container is perfect (and it’ll protect the sandwich from being smushed!).
And the smaller ones work well for snacks and produce.
I’d never have heard of these, but I got two in my Mighty Fix this past year, and they’re one of my favorite fix items to date.
(I don’t recommend stainless steel for fridge storage, because you can’t see what’s inside. But for lunches, stainless steel is awesome.)
I first got these in an Earth Day box I ordered, and I’ve loved them ever since. They’re not leakproof, but they’re lightweight and completely plastic-free.
I use them for fruits, veggies, and nuts (not liquids, as they don’t seal tight enough.)
I read Amazon reviews complaining of rusting, peeling, and stuck lids, but I’ve had mine for over 5 years now, and I haven’t had a single problem with them.
These little guys are great for sauces, dressings, a pat of butter, M&Ms and any other thing you need to send in tiny quantities.
The lid has a silicone ring, which makes them leakproof. I use ’em pretty much every single day!
Lunchskins are a great lightweight no-plastic way to pack sandwiches and snacks.
They’re dishwasher safe, waterproof, and especially great for packing square sandwiches (it’s hard to find a container that works for sandwiches, as most containers are round.)
While these non-disposable products can save you money over time, there’s definitely a little sticker shock when you first purchase them. If you can’t swing buying a bunch of reusable items, buy just one thing at a time until you’ve got enough.
Now, my list happened to contain 9 items, but I think 10 would be more lovely. So, what would you add to this list? Help other readers find out about a great product you love.
This post contains affiliate links, which help keep the lights on around here. However, I bought these products with my own money, and I also pay for my Mighty Fix, so my enthusiasm for these items is legit.