School Lunches — An Update

by Katy on September 8, 2008 · 10 comments



We’re on week two of packing school lunches, and so far I’m at 100% home packed goodness. (Or good enough-ness.)

I had written last week about my attempts at packing plastics free/waste free lunches for my 10 and 12-year olds.

I was considering buying the stacking stainless steel food Indian food carriers, except for two factors:

A: The initial investment is a bit steep. ($18 for the two level set.)

B: I am part of The Compact, (buy nothing new) and hold myself to a pretty strict standard.

But then I learned that a local shop was selling the food carriers, and it’s the same shop where my sister Jessie bought me a solar powered battery charger that was still in the box! Sure enough, the price difference was actually $1 less for the food carriers. And, as the charger was a gift, I could consider this a straight swap. I was so happy with this exchange that I told the clerk to apply the one dollar difference to the next customer’s purchase. (She may of thought I was paying it forward, but really I didn’t want to deal with having a one dollar store credit at a place where I never shop.)

Granted, I have two kids and just the one food carrier, but I consider that to be a minor inconveniece. A challenge, if you will. And I sure do like me a challenge!

So tomorrow will inaugurate the new lunch system. Unfortunately, they only had the two level set. I think the three level set would be ideal. (Sandwich level, chips/crackers/dry level, fruit/veg level.) 

So here’s what my 12-year-old will bring tomorrow.

Top level: A slice of homemade pumpkin pie with a stainless steel grapefruit spoon that will function as a spork.

Lower level: A turkey sandwich on a sesame hamburger bun I found in the freezer. Also, a handful of tortilla chips. 

A red bandana is tucked through the handle, and will function as a napkin. A fancy metal water bottle scored for a quarter at a rummage sale completes the look. It will of course, be filled with lovely tap water.

I did end up putting the sandwich into a ziploc bag, as I felt it would make the chips soft and nasty otherwise.

However, my son is well trained to bring his baggies home to get washed out for re-use.

So many green living changes are kind of a pain in the tuchus to get going. It can require new supplies, and certainly requires new habits. But in the long run, it’s all so worth it. I will be able to use this set five days a week, hopefully for years. And there will be no garbage, no waste, no guilt.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

P.S. In my continuing effort to minimize even recyclable food packaging, I am stockpiling frozen homemade treats in the freezer. I have two dozen chocolate chip bran muffins and two pumpkin pies with individually frozen wedges. The trick is to not think of it as my own personal bakery. That, I don’t need.

I want to figure out homemade granola bars. My kids hate both nuts and raisins, but I’m sure I can conjure up something.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristen September 8, 2008 at 2:33 am

Let us know how the granola bar search goes. I’ve been searching for a really good one for a while now.

This one is pretty tasty, and I think you could just leave out the walnuts.

I hope the lunch container works out well, and I hope you manage to snag another one somehow. I homeschool, so the only lunch I have to pack is my husband’s, and I use an insulated bag for him.


Emily September 8, 2008 at 6:12 am

I had found an almost perfect granola bar recipe, but lost it in the moves. But it involved peanut butter as the main fat. That was the key to a granola bar that wasn’t rock hard. Good luck!


Joy September 8, 2008 at 6:54 am

I love the food containers and am awed by your dedication. I wash out my ziplock bags when I’m at home, but sadly, pitch them when I’m on the road. Thanks for the inspiration!


Kate September 8, 2008 at 9:45 am

Home-made muffins are a favourite here for lunches.

I’m interested to see how the tins work – I’m frustrated with tubs that don’t fit in the lunch kit!


CanadianKate September 8, 2008 at 12:26 pm

“(Or good enough-ness.)”

Great expression – I shall borrow it for a while in order to feel better about myself.

As I was reading your post, I wondered how you would do reconciling the Compact with that cool food carrier. I didn’t even know such a thing existed.


thenonconsumeradvocate September 8, 2008 at 3:57 pm

In response to Canadian Kate’s question about buying the food carrier, yet being part of The Compact, (buy nothing new).

I had received the solar battery charger as a gift. (I can’t force my friends and loved ones to buy me used gifts.)

By exchanging the charger for the food carrier, I now have something that can be used 5 days per week, and is 100% recyclable.

By using the food carrier, I’m no longer going to be using plastic bags, (hopefully) which is a goal for myself and my family.

I consider it more of a picking out my own gift kind of situation. I didn’t ask for the charger, so I’m okay with receiving it as a gift.

Make sense?

I am aware of some Olympic-level rationalizations here, but in my mind it’s for the greater good of the big picture.

-Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Robin September 8, 2008 at 7:29 pm

You might find it fun to experiment with making granola bars using marshmallows as the “sticky” ingredient. I have no real recipe anymore but it isn’t too difficult. I just add melted marshmallows to homemade granola.

If you want to skip a trip to the store, reduce preservatives, etc. then you can make your own marshmallows out of gelatin and honey or corn syrup (see Recipes for Self-Sufficient Living, Martineau, et. al., (c) 1984, p. 120. Out-of-print so try interlibrary-loan).


Mrs Green September 8, 2008 at 11:54 pm

Fabulous! **stands up and applauds** I love your innovative thinking on swapping the gift for something you really want and will make use of.

Is that a photo of the actual carrier you have? It looks wonderful – food is going to taste so good out of there 🙂

Well done, I feel sure another carrier will find you soon – the Universe demands it LOL!


CanadianKate September 9, 2008 at 1:17 pm

I’m sorry, I didn’t make myself clear. I meant, as I was reading your post, I was wondering to myself how you were going to manage due to the Compact. I fully understood how you did it.

As for rationalization. Yes. But I ended up doing that on the Compact when I ended up buying a printer to produce over four Christmas presents. I had meant to send the job to a printer but it was 1/3 the cost to buy a new printer and do the work at home (plus it saved 2 trips to Staples in the city.)

My theory on receiving new gifts is that any gift to me is to be cherished. And it is not my place to force others to live to my standards. I hope they’ll follow my example but I won’t force anyone. So your use of the battery charger was good. And it was still in character of the original gift, in that you replaced something that is designed to reduce stress on the environment, with something else that is environmentally friendly.


Darcy June 26, 2015 at 10:46 am

You may have discovered this book as this is quite an old post but “Power Hungry” (available at my library) had LOADS of yummy sounding energy bars- including Luna bar copies.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: