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Pack an eco-friendly lunch box

Elaina is a Phoenix-based freelance writer, blogger and co-founder of the Kidlee baby book app. Check out her blog, Fun Finds For Mom, for product reviews, recipes and fun activities for moms and kids.

Waste-free lunch options

Wondering if you should shell out the big bucks for a fancy new earth-friendly lunchbox or stick with the tried and true? Find out if it makes sense to invest in an eco-friendly lunchbox.

Young girl eating lunch

Advantages to packing an eco-friendly lunch

Cut your waste. According to wastefreelunches.org, an average school-age child packing a disposable lunch generates 67 pounds of waste per school year. That's a whopping 18,760 pounds of lunch waste for an average-size elementary school. Make a choice to go waste-free, and walk right by those plastic bags and single-serve lunch items the next time you're at the grocery store.

Speed up the morning routine. If you hate fumbling in the cabinets and drawers for plastic baggies or plastic containers and matching lids, you'll love how simple it is to open up a single container and fill up the compartments with lunch items.

Portion control. Lunchboxes with bento-style containers or compartments are a no-fuss way to make sure you're dishing out a predetermined amount of food. If you're on a mission to pack a healthy lunch for yourself or for your kids, decide ahead of time how many slots you're going to fill with fresh fruits, vegetables, proteins or grains.

No smooshing. Lunch containers made of stainless steel or hard plastic protect your food from being squished, unlike soft food packed in plastic bags. It's like putting a protective suit of armor on your lunch!

Cost savings. A side-by-side comparison of a typical packed lunch with a waste-free lunch on wastefreelunches.org shows a savings of $246.60 per school year per person. In some cases, the eco-friendly lunchbox costs more up front, but it will end up saving you money in the long run, as you'll no longer be paying for prepackaged items, which are considerably more expensive.

Commonsense considerations

Is your child ready? If you're thinking of a waste-free lunchbox for your child, ask yourself if he tends to lose things or if you can trust him to bring the box home every day without fail. It's always a good idea to put a name label on the lunchbox (and carrying case, if there is one) just in case.

Does your lunch match the box? Some eco-friendly lunchboxes don't handle liquid as well as others. If you pack salad dressings, yogurt, applesauce and other liquid items, make sure you get a lunchbox that doesn't leak. Read online reviews so you know what to expect.

Eco-friendly lunchbox options

When it comes to packing a waste-free lunch, options abound. Here are a few of our favorite eco-friendly lunchboxes and containers.

Watch this:

Want more healthy packed-lunch ideas? Check out this Daily Dish video!

More lunch-packing ideas

7 Tips for packing healthy kids lunches
Quick and easy tips to packing a healthy lunch
Back-to-school healthy lunches

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