Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

No Waste Food on the Go with Reusable Sandwich & Snack Bags {REVIEW}

September 19th, 2013 · 15 Comments · Green Living, What to Buy

Reusable Snack and Sandwich Bag Review

Now that I’ve been using reusable sandwich and snack bags regularly for three years, it’s not even weird anymore.

Every so often, I see myself through someone else’s eyes as I unzip a cloth bag full of trail mix or muffins, and I wonder what they are thinking. Since I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone else with a reusable bag out and about, I’m guessing mine are the first they’ve ever seen, too.

Do they think I’m super crunchy? Super frugal? Super DIY? Do they figure I made them myself right after my underwater basket weaving class?

I don’t know, but what I DO know is that there’s no going back to plastic. The reusable bags are just too cute, too waste-reducing, too…reusable. I love that I never run out of bags, and I love that we don’t throw all that plastic away. I can pack a waste-free lunch almost 100% of the time (minus an apple core or something here and there).

Since my old 2010 reusable sandwich and snack bag review was so long ago and I’ve tried a few new brands since then, I figured it was time for an update.

Here are the brands of reusable sandwich and snacks bags that I’ve tried, many of which are found on Amazon (affiliate links below):

The Best Reusable Bags…

…have certain qualities that makes them easy to use, easy to wash, long-lasting or stand out in some other way:

  • Open fully to get crumbs and goo out of the corners
  • Easy to rinse/wipe food off the material
  • Dry quickly
  • Still look good over time
  • Retain some moisture inside (for juicy foods) and keep air outside (for dry goods and staleness prevention)
  • Open quietly and easily for church

My top two bags by far are EcoLunchGear and Itzy Ritzy. They are the only two that I’ve purchased more of as my kids have grown.

Here’s the low-down on each bag individually:

EcoLunchGear

Reusable snack and sandwich bag - eco lunch gear (2) (475x317)

This picture shows the snack and sandwich sized bags.

I love these bags mostly because they really open up alllll the way so you can every rogue crumb (wish I could say the same for carseats).

Reusable snack and sandwich bag - eco lunch gear (4) (317x475)

I also love that they’re dry in a jiffy, are made in Michigan, and the nylon insides keep some moisture in. I don’t love the humongous Velcro panel, but it’s only an aesthetic issue, and I actually think newer versions might cover it completely.

EcoLunchGear also has the neat feature of that extra Velcro strip so that you can fold over the sticky part for washing so the bags don’t stick to everything in the laundry (kind of like cloth diapers). They are priced at $10.50 and $12.50 at this time.

Itzy Ritzy

image

I still can’t pin down one of these bags when I want a photo, because they’re always in use somewhere (we have three of them).

The star feature for Itzy Ritzy is the zippered closure, which is unique among all 7 styles I own.

The zipper means that there’s no loud rrrrrrrrip! sound when you open the bag, vital for quiet places like church or meetings. It’s very easy for even young children to open (sometimes strong Velcro can be a challenge for young toddlers).

The inside is a very smooth BPA-free, PVC-free, pthalate-free plastic lining that wipes clean so easily. Sometimes I’ll put off cleaning our reusable bags out because I think it will take too long, but any Itzy Ritzy bags usually get rinsed and flipped open to dry right away. There’s just something about the material that makes food just fall right off it.

image

The inside also reverses completely while allowing the cotton exterior to remain right side out, such that both parts can dry really easily at the same time. (Others like the Snack Taxi force you to  fold the fabric part inside when flipping inside out to dry, so that stays wet and the whole deal takes twice as long to dry.)

Itzy Ritzy is big enough to hold four muffins or huge bunches of grapes, and it does very well with moist things like baby carrots and even strawberries. Current cost is $9.99 for the large size (what I use) and $12.99 for two of the mini size. Photos courtesy of ItzyRitzy.

Snack Taxi

Reusable snack and sandwich bag - Snack Taxi (2) (475x317)

Snack Taxi is probably my third favorite, if I had to put them in order. It’s held up very well over 3 years, and we rely on it a lot for larger, moist items. It was the go-to for carrots or grapes before we added Itzy Ritzy in fact.

Snack Taxi has a pretty sturdy polyurethane coated nylon interior and a large flap that folds over to close. We actually just survived an entire plum smashed flat in a backpack inside a Snack Taxi today, so it does hold in goo very well!

It turns completely inside out, although there are corners that crumbs could potentially get stuck in:

Reusable snack and sandwich bag - Snack Taxi inside (1) (475x317)

The drying is much slower than EcoLunchGear or Itzy Ritzy, and you have to remember to turn it right side out and let it have a second chance to dry. Snack Taxi runs about $8-15 currently and has two sizes.

Frugal Granola: Beeswax Coated Fabric

Reusable sandwich bag and wrap - Etsy style (475x317)

I hope there’s an Etsy seller making bags and wraps like these, because we really, really like them. Frugal Granola closed up shop soon after we got these samples, but the beeswax coating on the fabric sandwich wraps and tiny snack bags has really held up amazingly well, and this is by far the best plastic-free option, if that’s important to you.

The only downfall might be the crumb-catching corners on the bags, but they actually go inside out much more thoroughly than most because the stitching allows it to become a square when the inner seam is outside. It’s also a little more time-consuming to wash these out – instead of a quick rinse under water, I do tend to use a clean, wet dishcloth for two reasons: (a) they’re not all that fast drying when they get completely soaked and (b) it really requires a bit of abrasiveness from the cloth to get food off the beeswax coating.

If you’re a DIY kind of person, I’m guessing a Google search for beeswax coated reusable fabric bags would yield some great tutorials!

Eco Ditty

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Eco Ditty does have some really cool color-your-own bags, but you have to be committed to “no plastic at all” to really appreciate 100% organic cotton bags with no beeswax coating. Bread products or tortilla chips go stale fast, even before lunchtime if you pack in the morning, and baby carrots soak through immediately.

They’re cute and good for some things like dried fruit or chocolate chips, but you have to be aware of the breathability of fabric. They also looked old after the first washing, but haven’t really changed in 3 years since then.

Overall I don’t think I’d purchase Eco Ditty for myself, but if avoiding plastic entirely was a goal, this remains a great option. They run about $9-12 currently. Photo from Amazon.

Kids Konserve

Reusable sandwich wrap - Kids Konserve (6) (475x317)

I just have a sandwich wrap from Kids Konserve, but it’s very different from any other bag or wrap I have. It’s made of a very thin, crisp plastic. You can get an idea of how it feels in these photos demonstrating me opening the wrap:

Reusable sandwich wrap - Kids Konserve (5) (475x317)

Reusable sandwich wrap - Kids Konserve (3) (475x317)

Reusable sandwich wrap - Kids Konserve (2) (475x317)

What I DO like about this material is how easy it is to wipe clean and how fast it dries. It also takes very little space to store, which is great.

It is hard to get it to lay flat, though, so the placemat ideal would take more time to pin down than most kids have at lunch; the mat just holds its folded shape too well. And it’s a bit smaller than some wraps; I’m comparing to the Wrap-n-mat (on Amazon) which I purchased for my mom four or five years ago. She’s still using it, it’s in good shape, and it gets the job done. It runs about $8 right now, but Kids Konserve is two for about $9, so if you don’t mind it being a bit smaller, it’s a great deal.

Celadon Road

 
Reusable snack and sandwich bag - Celadon Road (7) (475x317) Reusable snack and sandwich bag - Celadon Road (8) (475x317)

Reusable snack and sandwich bag - Celadon Road (7) (475x317) Reusable snack and sandwich bag - Celadon Road (8) (475x317)

This sandwich wrap is pretty standard. I think I like it better than Kids Konserve just because it feels more durable and lays flat really well (plus my daughter went gaga over the spots). It’s shown above with two full-sized gluten-free pumpkin muffins and holds them just fine. Since we don’t do a lot of sandwiches around here, we’ve also put grapes and cherry tomatoes in it easily. The surface wipes clean very well, and the only problem might be the same with any wrap: it’s tricky for my 5yo to figure out how to wrap it up correctly.

Reusable snack and sandwich bag - Celadon Road (7) (475x317) Reusable snack and sandwich bag - Celadon Road (8) (475x317)

Reusable snack and sandwich bag - Celadon Road (4) (475x317)

Celadon Road‘s reusable bag product is one that may have looked cooler in the catalog than in reality.

I love that it’s clear – the only one I’ve seen where you have a chance of seeing the contents, something many might miss when switching from plastic sandwich bags. It’s also made by a very sustainable company, and I appreciate that, and the built-in “mat” that folds out is a nice feature.

However, it wins the prize for being the hardest to clean. The plastic (EVA, which is a PVC and BPA-free plastic) is very thick and only semi-pliable, which I appreciated at first because it feels sturdy and strong. However, it makes it difficult to flip the bags inside out to wash, and getting into the corners is almost impossible.

Reusable snack and sandwich bag - Celadon Road (10) (475x317)

The bag stained very quickly from some pumpkin muffins, demonstrating a drawback of the clear view since now it always looks kind of icky. Other bags stained too, but at least they’re hidden inside. (Itzy Ritzy does not stain easily at all, by the way.)

I was already leaning toward saying that I do not recommend this product, when in the course of taking these photos, I flipped my large 3-week-old sandwich bag inside out to demonstrate and this happened:

Reusable snack and sandwich bag - Celadon Road (1) (475x317)

It’s only a matter of time before that tears all the way down the seam and renders the bag scrap plastic. I emphatically cannot recommend this one.

One I haven’t tried: Lunchskins

Lunchskins is a very popular brand, but it just happens to be one I haven’t gotten my hands on. Shaina of Food for my Family reviewed that brand as her top favorite out of about ten different ones that she’s tried over 9 years of lunch packing, so now I’m even more curious to see what they’re like. They look like they run about 3/$25 for the snack size and $10 each for sandwich sizes.

From what I can tell, they’re made of a safe plastic and fabric. I know Shaina runs them through the dishwasher, but a lot of Amazon reviews say that’s not working for them (I found the same thing with other bags; they tend to come out dirtier than they went in, even with a good dishwasher. Easier to hand wash or toss in the laundry periodically.)

The overall rating at Amazon is great, but the top comment is pretty negative about stains, the dishwasher, and the Velcro getting food stuck in it. (I recommended Itzy Ritzy to that person!!) Now I need to get my hands on some Lunchskins and see how they measure up…

squooshi

Toddler with Squooshi in the car

Although a Squooshi isn’t a reusable bag, it is a reusable food pouch and deserves a mention here.

You can put things in a Squooshi (on Amazon) that you could never put in a bag, like oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies and applesauce. The new sip’n lid means no spills (phew!) and they’re so. darn. cute.

Check out my full review to see what you think. We tend to put leftover smoothie in them and freeze it for lunch, and my kids love them. They are harder to clean than a glass bowl with a lid, which is what I’d send frozen smoothie in otherwise, but it’s a tradeoff for style and fun.

If you get them, my recommendation is to only get the larger size and just know that they’re a treat, and use a bottle brush to wash them (rinse right away!).

Reusable snack and sandwich bags for review (4) (475x317)

If you’re curious for even more details, most of these bags are reviewed in greater depth, including things like size and materials, in my old review post.

I’ll be adding some massive reviews of over half a dozen bento-style lunch boxes, both plastic and stainless steel, tomorrow, so be sure to sign up for a free email subscription or grab my reader feed so you don’t miss it. You can also follow me on Twitter, get KS for Kindle, or see my Facebook Fan Page. EDIT: Not tomorrow anymore…we had a little insect problem this morning that took up all my writing time. Watch Sunday night for the lunch box review now!

Do you attempt to pack a waste-free or no-waste lunch?

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More Healthy / Green Lunch Packing Ideas:

Are expensive gadgets and specialty foods really worth the cost? Read these super-thorough reviews to see if the item you have your eye on passed the KS tests and truly lives up to the hype.

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Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money.  If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post to Amazon from which I will earn some commission if you make a purchase. I received most of the products in this post as review copies, but many were 3 years ago. I have purchased Itzy Ritzy and EcoLunchgear on my own as well. My opinions – obviously – are 100% my own, and no money changed hands for this post. See my full disclosure statement here.

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15 Comments so far ↓

  • Gretchen @ Desert Survivor

    Interesting to hear about all the different brands. We’ve been using Bugsella reusable bags with good results.

  • Sarah B

    I really like our Itzy Ritzy and Re-Pac bags. Our one SnackTaxi is good but stiffer so I find it harder to clean. Haven’t used the LunchSkins bag at all because of how stiff it is, so hard to clean.

  • Susan C.

    Who knew there were so many brands! Thank you for this thoughtful review. We have a reusable Tupperware for most lunches, but also use bags and wraps from Beneterre. And I love their produce bags for farmers market shopping. http://www.beneterre.com/eco-reusable-bags.php?/

  • Cathie

    Am I the only one that things these are a little pricey? I know that it would be only fair to compare to buying boxes and boxes of plastic bags, but I still can’t consider buying one bag for $10-$15.

    Cathie Reply:

    thinks these things.

    Sarah B Reply:

    I agree – they’re pricey. Which is why I bought some with a Groupon, another time with 30% off deal, and won some in a giveaway. My collection has grown slowly.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Cathie,
    They do seem like a huge chunk of change at first, and I wish I could figure out just how many baggies and therefore $ I’ve avoided, but I couldn’t even guess. Def. watch for sales, or DIY them even. I think especially once I’ve had them a few more years, they’ll be worth it – plus it’s one less thing I have to worry about running out of/putting on my list/clipping coupons etc. :) Katie

    Cathie Reply:

    That’s exactly what I was thinking – to DIY some. I have been doing Bento-style lunches for my son, mostly using Tupperware and tiny jars that I’ve saved (think jam samples.) But sometimes, I need a baggie for those cheddar bunnies. I wish I had seen that Groupon that Sarah B. mentioned! Gonna dust off my sewing machine…….

    Sarah B Reply:

    I realize they’re not bags and they’re still not cheap but deals like this are how I expand my reusable storage — https://www.livingsocial.com/cities/1-washington-d-c/deals/773806-reusable-lunch-boxes-trays?afsrc=1&id=773806-reusable-lunch-boxes-trays&utm_campaign=digest_athomedigest&utm_content=2&utm_medium=email&utm_source=blast

  • Rebecca

    WE have 12 ReUsies bags for lunches, 4 for each kid, plus we use some small tupperware for mellon and yogurt. We try to stock up when a company is changing styles or discounts last year’s fabrics. Our ReUsies cost us only $5 a bag instead of $10 because they were putting out a new version, we got the old one.

    Also like the Little Green Pouch for things like smoothies, they are bigger and hold almost a cup for older kids.

  • Rachel

    What an amazing and thorough review! I appreciate how you went through all the details. In addition to lunch skins, I think you need to try out another one out there that I helped create — neat-os!
    Check it out — http://www.neat-os.com

    neat-os were designed to remedy some of the short comings of other reusable bags. Based on your concerns I think it will meet your requirements to be in the top three of the reusable bags.

  • Christine

    For what it’s worth, the Celadon Road baggies say right on the package that they might stain, and I do not think that they are intended to be turned inside out ;-) But I definitely prefer the standard sandwich wrap for most things, and I agree-the dots are ADORABLE! I still think the baggies are a good alternative to ziploc for things like grapes, cherry tomatoes, sandwiches and pretzels. Thanks for your hard work on this review!

  • Marcy

    Try Abeego for another beeswax-infused fabric option! I have the variety pack and like them a lot, except as you mentioned cleaning is a bit tedious, and my kid tended to leave them balled up for a week before bringing them to the sink, which led to some staining and one getting mold.

    http://abeego.com/collections/all/products/flats-varietypack-beeswax-sheets-cover-dishes-wrap-cheese-wrap-produce

  • Emily

    I just wanted to share this link because we have and love these:

    http://2redhens.com/products/chevron-stripes-snack-bags

    They open fully and have a zipper on 3 sides. We just hand wash and air dry since this will be our first year of packing school lunches…

  • jayda

    No plastic is safe. Bpa free plastic is still plastic and with time, this too will be cause for concern.

Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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Squooshi reusable food pouches