Sunday, November 24, 2013

How I Send Real Food When My Kids Are on the Go

If you've been wondering about our bodacious lunchboxes seen in my previous post, I'm here to tell you all about them. Perhaps you too have had difficulty finding a SAFE way to send lunch for your kiddos, what with all the scary plastic chemicals that leach and off-gas on and around your food. Yuck! Well, after much searching and REsearching last year, I finally ended up with what I think just may be the best lunchbox ever: the PlanetBox.


There are three styles. We have the PlanetBox Rover, because my children like a little bit of everything in their lunch meal. This Bento box style is right up their alley. (See how they love Muffin Tin Meals here and here and here.) The Rover has several dividers, like a real lunch tray, which gives me more options for sending a variety of food...withOUT having to send fourteen little plastic baggies per child! I love that they can be personalized with cool magnet sets that go on the outside of the tray. I love the durable carrying bags, which come in several colors. AND I love that the trays can go right in the dishwasher!! No fuss.

Now, they are NOT cheap. Especially when you are buying for multiple children.  :ahem:  However, they are durable and will last much, much longer than the boxes you might buy at Wal-Mart. I fully intend to see my grandchildren toting these suckers around one day. Your child won't grow out of them, either. These are easily sophisticated enough to be carried by adults! Which means I guess I'm going to have to stop carrying my metal Strawberry Shortcake box with the ruby red handle and the matching thermos...(dates me, doesn't it?)




The only qualm I have with PlanetBox is that sometimes the magnets can get tedious, as they need to be removed before washing in the dishwasher. If it were one giant magnetic sheet, that would be one thing, but there are four magnets...per box. And four times four being sixteen means I'm peeling a lot of magnets off...and then putting them back on again. I did eventually learn to require the children to remove their own magnets and put away their own bags each day, so it's not a deal breaker. Besides, the kids love the magnets. They each chose their favorite set and have taken care of them pretty well. Magnet sets come separately, so not only could you opt out and avoid the hassle altogether, but you can also purchase replacement sets if need be.


Other features of the PlanetBox we love:
1) They are stainless steel. Read: no chemical-laden food.
2) There are optional mini containers with lids (seen below), which fit inside the trays. These allow you to send wet/gloppy foods, OR they can be packed into the front pocket of the carry bag for an EXTRA dry snack for heavy eaters. The Big Dipper and the Rover Dipper both fit our Rover lunchboxes.


By the way, for extra little snacks that need to be more handy (like popcorn or a sandwich), we use LunchSkins reusable velcro baggies, pictured above. Love them.

3) There is an elasticized loop to hold a utensil inside the carrybag. We use bamboo sporks purchased at Paperless Kitchen, although they no longer seem to carry the two-packs I purchased. Still, a nice little company. In fact, I was their very first customer!


4) The extra pocket with velcro flap holds an extra snack or a note from Mommy. We often use the pocket to hold a bag of popcorn.
5) There is a mesh pouch for a water bottle. We use Klean Kanteen kids' sport bottles. They fit perfectly.
6) There's an interior pouch that holds an icepack (see above). You could make your own or use a favorite (if it fits). We use the ones PlanetBox sells. They work great, although they don't stay frozen quite as long as some of the thicker ice packs. But they last plenty long for a typically-scheduled lunch, especially if you make lunches the night before and refrigerate them, as I did.
7) Besides the built-in handle (seen below), each bag comes with a removable adjustable strap that is long enough to wear criss-cross style.


Below are several of our school lunches.

Menu:
rice crackers with homemade guacamole
hard-boiled egg
carrot and squash sticks with homemade Caesar
sushi
Gouda cheese
miniature gluten-free cookie


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Menu:
mozzarella cheese stick
nitrate/nitrite-free smoked sausage
homemade "trail" mix: sweet potato bites, raisins, goji berries, pistachios
cherry tomatoes and salad olives
bagel spread with "grass-fed" butter
a dash of Real Salt for tomato-dipping



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Menu:
homemade grain-free bar made with coconut and soaked nuts and seeds
cottage cheese with chopped olives (eaten with a bamboo spork)
roasted asparagus (they'll eat it cold!)
slice of turkey
blackberries and strawberries


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Menu:
homemade soaked granola (nut, fruit, and seed-free because of my "texture-issues" child)
banana rolled in freshly-ground flax seed
grapes
red peppers and cucumbers
yogurt (in the container)
one giant soaked walnut


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Menu:
banana rolled in freshly-ground flax seed
cherry tomatoes
cheese stick
celery with peanut butter
popcorn popped in coconut oil


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Menu:
red potatoes topped with marinara
nitrate/nitrite-free smoked sausage (almost all gone here)
steamed broccoli
halved plum
gluten-free cookie


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Menu:
carrot sticks
homemade kale krisps
Babybel cheese
homemade soaked granola
buttered slice of sourdough bread
to-go unsweetened applesauce
mini chocolate chips (soy free!)


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Menu:
hummus with veggies (zucchini, red pepper, carrots, cucumber)
blue corn chips
peaches
Brookie (packed in the front pouch)


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Menu:
carrot sticks
kale krisps
slice nitrate/nitrite-free bacon
homemade, MUCH healthier sweet potato pie with coconut crust


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I just have to insert a little brag right about here. One of the male teachers at the school made a point to come to my window one day in the pick-up line JUST to tell me that he has never, ever seen a kindergartener (Gabriel) eat such healthy, atypical foods--and happily at that! I must say, I did pop a few buttons over that. (And it wasn't because of too much sweet potato pie!) In fact, all three of the children regularly had teachers who would look for them in the cafeteria and ask what they had to eat today. I guess we kept them guessing.


Menu:
hard-boiled egg
raw cheddar cheese
cherry tomatoes
apple slices with peanut butter
homemade whole wheat pancake


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Menu:
butterleaf lettuce wrap (taco meat with tomatoes, etc. inside)
strawberries
steamed broccoli
plantain chips
yogurt


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Menu:
cream cheese, bacon, and red pepper pinwheels on spinach tortilla
organic blue corn chips and salsa
strawberries
dark chocolate square


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Menu:
  applesauce
steamed broccoli
nitrate/nitrite-free pepperoni
raw cheddar cheese
cherry tomatoes
plantain chips
gluten-free cookie


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Menu:
popcorn
asparagus
grapes
"fancy" eggs (I don't call them deviled eggs)


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Menu:
cherry tomatoes
grapes
kiwi
spinach tortilla with cream cheese and smoked salmon
homemade "trail" mix: sourdough pretzels, soaked pumpkin seeds, and currants
mini soy-free chocolate chips


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Fun Themed Lunch Menu:

1/2 cutie with a sourdough pretzel "stem"
soaked and dehydrated pumpkin seeds
raw carrots carved into pumpkins
peanut butter/honey sandwich with raisin facial features
and...
I'm ashamed to admit it...but I let them have candy corn!


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I prep lunches (and most things) via an assembly line method. The boxes are stacked and ready to go into individual carry bags (the kids' job). When the boxes are open, they will nest for easy storage.

Menu:
pistachios
avocado rolls with soy sauce in the closed container
Babybel cheese
two mini Brookies
fruit salad


 Check 'em out. A PlanetBox would make a great Christmas gift.

1 comment:

  1. OK, if I buy my own lunchbox will you pack it for me? I really should save this page to give myself ideas about healthy lunches for myself. Because you know that eating a variety of things (in small portions) will make me think I've eaten a ton of food. Also, our office is moving in January & I'm not sure what the break room situation will be. I might not want to be using the microwave as often (although I do have a mini fridge which makes my life much easier).

    ReplyDelete

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