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Litterless Lunch ~ Back To School With PlanetBox

PlanetBox is this year’s solution for packing healthier and litterless lunches for the family. It’s wonderful that planning your child’s lunch to include food without packaging actually promotes creativity and healthier food selections. We’ve had a blast testing our PlanetBox and here are the results from a picky mama and kids that are equally hard to please having seen many eco-alternatives for lunch time alternatives over the years.

Do I love the PlanetBox? Yes and so do my children. We are all convinced there is some magic at work because all the PlanetBox compartments don’t require lids to contain the different food items. My biggest pet peeve with stainless steel containers is when they aren’t airtight and food leaks into my kids backpack or into other food causing it to becomes inedible (strawberry juice on a sandwich for example). My school aged children love strawberries and grapes so I put the PlanetBox to the test by putting strawberries, grapes, granola bar and a sandwich all inside – just quickly plunking them all in the compartments and closing the lid. They I shook the Planetbox, twisted it upside down to simulate the movement inside a backpack, then shook it some more. We were all tickled that the water from the grapes hadn’t touched the sandwich and the strawberry juice didn’t leak onto the bread or granola bar. Also, I put chocolate chips in the small center area to make sure they didn’t move around in the box because they are so small. Everything stayed put and there were no leaks! This test was my biggie with this product and I’m very happy with the results. Here are some photos.

PlanetBox food

PlanetBox and magnets

For anyone that packs a lunch to work or school and you haven’t invested in a re-usable lunch solution – now is the time. It naturally encourages healthier meals and you’ll feel great about eliminating plastic baggies, plastic wrap, and food that comes pre-packaged in more plastic! Another very smart detail of the PlanetBox is the magnets that are included to ‘decorate’ the outside. Will the magnets eventually get lost? Of course. But if you have a child that doesn’t appreciate being one of the few in their class to have a different looking lunch system with only the stainless steel outside – the fun designs and characters that come on the PlanetBox magnets help kids feel comfortable with their peers and their traditional lunch boxes. By the time the magnets disappear at the bottom of the backpack or locker – your child will no longer care their system is different. From my son’s reaction to how cool he they thought the PlanetBox magnets are – I know he would have loved this option when he first started bringing ‘adult looking’ stainless steel lunch systems to school years ago. It’s a brilliant and inexpensive addition to the PlanetBox with several fun designs that kids love. The magnets allow your child to show their personality and there’s a spot to write their name to personalize. Here is my the other set of magnets that my boys love – sports themed!

PlanetBox litterless lunch

Another great aspect to the PlanetBox are the containers that can be purchased with the system if you’ve got kids that love yogurt, messy salads, or dips for veggies, etc. These additions can be stored within the lunchbox to keep all the pieces together – a great picture from the PlanetBox site below displays how it all fits together. My younger son would love yogurt in his lunch so I can use this system with the Big Dipper container – perfect for messy main dishes he loves – rather than a sandwich that he never eats. If you’ve purchased the carry bag with the PlanetBox there is also room in the outside pocket for the Big Dipper (and a reusable water bottle!!) and on the inside liner you can fit an icepack to keep these food items chilled throughout the day.

What I’m finding with my different ages and personalities of my four kids is that everyone needs a lunch system tailored to the food they’ll eat. For my easy to predict older son that takes fruit, veggies and a sandwich every day and enjoys every bite – I would order only the PlanetBox basic for $34.95 and be completely happy. He loved both the planet and sports themed magnets and thinks his PlanetBox is great! My younger son that likes variety with his food and would prefer salad or yogurt to a sandwich – I would need the PlanetBox Plus with the Big and Small Dipper containers for $49.95. The complete PlanetBox set includes a carry case and it’s super quality and answers the problem of parents wanting to keep their child’s lunch on ice so food doesn’t spoil in a hot backpack – so this system at $59.95 would be ideal. I like the different price points and options available from the PlanetBox and am excited to review such a well thought out product for this year’s back to school.

I’ll be writing my back-to-school series starting in July this summer because it’s helpful to order supplies early rather than waiting until September for information. For parents wanting a complete system for lunches this year, PlanetBox would be a great investment. This lunchbox has mom approval and is also kid tested and approved!

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2010 Strawberry Season – Pick and Freeze Quickly

No wonder I forget about picking Strawberries every year!  Not only are these wonderful berries only in season for two weeks out West, but this picking window is during the hectic final 2 weeks of the school year.  I’ve finally pegged this short window where the strawberries are ripe and ready so I wanted to share this reminder.  I’m hoping to get out to a local farm this weekend and take advantage of selecting my own berries this year. Not only are strawberries my kids favourite, but I’m tired of buying the chemically pumped strawberries with the bottom layer often coated in mold from the grocery. My plan is to pick as many as we can carry and freeze berries for the first time. Here are the instructions for freezing strawberries. Google your local farms and don’t miss this very short picking season for strawberries!

Freezing Strawberries:

~ Wash strawberries in cold water and remove tops (green stems/cap). Pat dry.

~ Spread strawberries to freeze in a single layer on baking sheets (cookie sheets) – making sure they’re not touching.

~ After strawberries are frozen, put them into airtight freezing containers.

Being a rookie to freezing strawberries I’m hoping to have access to these berries all year around.  If they come out mushy after being frozen..my kids will simply have to join the smoothie train for the remainder of the year. I’ll also be freezing my berries in stainless steel airtight containers rather than plastic bags. If you need a recommendation where to find great quality stainless steel containers that are suitable for freezing food without BPA concerns, click here.

If you’re not already a member of the Mommy Footprint fan page – click here to join!

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Graze Organic – Ditch Plastic Sandwich Bags Forever!

Oh I love this review. Another practical, but cute product was recently introduced to me and I’ve been testing them out for weeks with my kids.  Graze Organic is a new company from California that has put an original spin on reusable sandwich and snack bags.  They’ve created kid-friendly designs (that parents will love too) that are generous in size, made with a strong Velcro seal that should ensure food staying fresh.   My Graze Organic bags have saved me time, money, and gives me a great feeling since I’ve completely eliminated plastic wrap, plastic sandwich bags, and wax paper with getting snacks and lunch ready. These will be a staple with September quickly approaching with back-to-school lunch planning. The obvious use for the bags are for sandwiches but you can eliminate plastic bags and wrap if you start planning alternatives for cut veggies, fruit, and snacks.  The founders of Graze Organic have thought of everything with bags labeled ‘sandwich’, ‘fruit’, vegetables’, ‘snack’ and the favorite ‘surprise!’ My boys think the surprise bag is simply the best thing ever and always have high expectations when this bag is opened at lunch. Check out how fun these prints are! 

I laugh because I’m sure the founders of Graze Organic get asked on a regular basis ‘what are they lined with’?  Well folks ~ that is the point.  There is no lining because that would mean something synthetic is touching your child’s food. These bags are made from 100% organic cotton and they go a step further with printing the illustrations by hand with silk-screen using water based inks. Graze Organic has also found a way to produce their product line with a local footprint – proudly made in the USA.

This September, when your kids are going back-to-school, think about supporting and teaching them ‘litterless’ lunch habits, but also protect them from soft plastic wrap that contains PVC, plasticizers, and chemicals.  There is no longer any excuse to not reuse lunchtime containers. The co-founder Leslie, was lovely enough to walk me through the washing instructions so I can reiterate how easy caring for these bags really is. Only if the bags get really messy (jam sandwich, etc.) the bags should be turned inside out to machine wash. If there are only a few crumbs, just knock those out and machine or hand wash right-side out.  They can be thrown in with Jeans, towels, and other light weight fabrics.  Hey – even I can handle that and I appreciate another avenue to wash lunch time products since my dishwasher is always packed with stainless steel containers and water bottles. I also measured the bags before and after I washed them for the first time – almost no shrinkage which is awesome news for the roomy sandwich bags!

Also, thank you to Heather and Leslie for offering a set of 3 snack/sandwich bags for a back-to-school contest at Mommy Footprint.  They will ship the winner a set of 3 sandwich, veggie & snack or surprise bags. These reusable bags are a wonderful prize for any parent sourcing back-to-school lunch items.  Click on this link and complete the Referral Form to be entered to win. Contest closes August 28/09.

http://mommyfootprint.com/mommyfootprint-referral-form/

   

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Food Storage Without Plastic & BPA Free Ice-Cube Trays

There are a few things I’ll never go back to from the plastic world; food storage for freezing or heating food and water bottles.  I’m in love with the stainless steel alternatives over plastic and glass for food and liquid storage.  The Tickle Trunk has an amazing selection of stainless steel containers that can be even be used to freeze food!  Their selections of containers comes with a sealable lid and are easy like traditional Pyrex containers, but using stainless steel as the material in the base of the container and lid.  The sizes are small to huge so you can freeze a little leftover puree or large sized casserole.  Check out this line of food storage containers from The Tickle Trunk. All prices are in Canadian dollars and they range in 9 different sizes.  All of these 3 clip containers are made from 304 grade stainless steel and the lid has a silicone seal, making food storage air tight. You can also write on the containers with a non-permanent marker.  This range of sizes is perfect for baby food – to the largest container (26.3 cups or 6.0 L) great for sugar or flour storage.  The sizes range in 9 sizes from 1 cup (240ml) to 26.3 cups (6.0 L).

Pictures courtesy of The Tickle Trunk site:

While you are shopping at The Tickle Trunk, order your ‘hot of the press’ stainless steel ice-cube trays.  It is tough to find BPA-free ice-cube trays that you trust for freezing baby food or ice for drinks.  Most traditional plastic ice-cube trays are not coded or have the resin code 7. This highly anticipated product is on-route and will be arriving mid April 2009.

We look forward to highlighting products as they come available from The Tickle Trunk because you cannot beat their prices or different selections in varying stainless steel grades.  And these discoveries are what parent’s like – options that are safe and affordable!

Related articles:

Home-Made Baby Food & BPA Free Ice Cube Trays

Back-To-School Personalized Klean Kanteen Bottles

A ‘Green’ Way to Raise Money For Schools

Food Storage Without Plastic or BPA Concerns

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