Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Can We Get Excited About Packing School Lunches? Maybe… {GIVEAWAY-NOW CLOSED} $100 Value

August 15th, 2014 · 18 Comments · What to Buy

Lunch packing supplies from Mighty Nest

“I wish school was starting tomorrow!”

This is from the girl who is absolutely loving every second of playing with her neighborhood friends, who spent the first month of kindergarten last fall wishing she was at home with Mommy (and many days throughout the year afterward), who has no real love for academics or school.

Q: What caused the magical transformation?

A: A lunch box.

Who knew simple lunch supplies could have such an effect on a child?!

My daughter packed a lunch all last year, but a few weeks ago she got to do some online shopping with me at Mighty Nest to upgrade our already-awesome lunch supplies a little bit, including picking out her own Pack-It, the lunchbox her big brother used (and adored) all last year.

I picked one up locally (Meijer, for West Michigan folks), coughing up the $20 rather than a buck at a garage sale, my previous lunchbox habit, in the great hopes that it would be as cool as I expected it to be – and it has not disappointed!

Pack It Lunch Box

The Pack-It is a normal looking, average-sized lunchbox with one very special super power: the entire thing IS an ice pack! It folds up into a very manageable, small size, and you freeze the whole lunchbox. I get to skip the ice pack juggling process on both ends of the lunch packing game, I never have lunchboxes languishing on my counter (because it’s the child’s job to put it in the freezer after school), and it keeps food COLD. I feel totally safe keeping leftover, uneaten food for the next day, even after 9 hours in the lunchbox, because it still feels like a refrigerator in there.

The only drawback, in all honesty, is that it’s SO cold I can’t pack frozen smoothies and expect them to thaw by lunchtime. They’re still ice. But I’m okay with that little inconvenience – I love our Pack-Its and am so glad to have one for each child this year! It makes me almost – almost! – wish for school and nightly lunch packing to begin, too.

The Perfect Lunchtime Supplies Up For Grabs

Perfect lunch supplies

I worked with Mighty Nest to personally create this lunch package for one lucky reader. It’s truly the perfect foundation to help you pack a healthy, varied lunch, every day for a year and never get bored.

Mamas, you might even get a little excited about school and packing a real food lunch!

Roast Chicken and Rice Pudding lunch fb

Check out the goods (winner chooses patterns for each):

These aren’t exactly the ones in my photo because I was adding to some favorites I already own, but trust me – it’s a super well-rounded and comprehensive package, and you’ll be able to pack hot and cold real food lunches and (maybe even) enjoy it!

Super important note that a reader who uses these supplies reminded me about: “When you buy these containers, they literally can last a lifetime!! In our made-to-break consumer culture, it’s easy to view purchases as temporary…” And it’s true. It seems crazy at first glance to spend this much on ONE set of lunch supplies, but you know that plastic ones will maybe last a few years or less (Our large Ziploc container, retailing for $3-4, lasted less than 30 uses before the lid cracked in the care of my most careful child…). I figure if I buy a $20 items that lasts for all 12 years of school, that’s a pittance per year, and I’m happy to invest in it. So don’t let the prices scare you too much before doing some math on how many lunches and years you have left to pack…

Here are some notes from the Kimball house on each item:

Quad Lunchbot

imageMy favorite bento box of all those I reviewed!

We’ve had the quad for at least three years now and it gets used the MOST of all the containers cluttering my cupboard. I just love the four squares – it gives me a structure for packing that literally makes it easier to get the job done – and it’s been the perfect size (plus a yogurt on the side) for my kids from kindergarten through third grade.

My son started wanting more food last year (3rd grade), so we upgraded to the much larger new size of Lunchbot found here. He is as excited to try it out as his sister is about the Pack-It!

Be sure to read my bento lunch box reviews for photos of lunches and more on why we love our Lunchbot. Note: I highly recommend the stainless lid only, as it can go through the dishwasher while the painted ones don’t fare so well. Also, the paint will flake off over time, which is annoying stuck to the lunchbox insides and makes it look old even when structurally it’s holding up fantastically. The stainless lid is AWESOME!

Insulated Food Jar

imageWe’ve used this “food jar” – it’s a thermos, plain and simple – for at least a year now and it’s a very good one. It keeps food just the right temp by lunchtime (I always recommend heating on the stove, not in the microwave, for the best lasting heat, by the way).

This thermos is narrower than many others, which means little hands have a chance of opening it by themselves instead of having to raise their hand for help and waste some of their precious eating time just waiting. It’s not dishwasher safe, but thermoses just aren’t going to be. It is easy to clean and store.

Leakproof Rounds

imageIf you’re packing in a stainless steel bento box, you’ll want an extra container for liquidy things like homemade yogurt, applesauce, or juicy fruits. This fits the bill perfectly and comes in a 2-pack so you have lot of options for filling.

They are also easy enough to open for small hands (have you had your kids practice at home with whatever containers you’re using? An important but often forgotten part of back-to-school prep!) AND dishwasher safe, a super nice surprise for me. We’ve only had them for a week or so, but I anticipate enjoying them greatly this year!

Lunch Skins Reusable Bags

Lunch SkinsI’ve been trying to get my hands on a sample of this brand for about four years and finally have some in hand. Smile Lunch Skins close with Velcro (very tightly! I don’t think this adhesive is going to play out quickly) and have a very easily wipe-off-able (BPA-free) interior.

For cleaning, they turn all the way inside out (with a little effort) so you can get the corner crumbs that can be the plague of reusable bags. You’ll love not having to grab plastic baggies every day for snack time!

Stainless Steel Water Bottles

imageWayyyyy back about eight years ago, Klean Kanteen water bottles were our family’s very first eco-friendly step. We’ve all had ours ever since – that’s longevity! Kanteen has improved the caps a great deal, and I love these sport caps for little ones. The size is just right for packing water (’cause that’s all you need!!) in the lunchbox.

I had to add a “Funtainer” as an option though in case you prefer something insulated for milk, love imagethe straws instead of a sport cap, or really like the idea of being able to cover the drink opening for cleanliness. We’ve had a few of these for about two years, and as long as your toddler doesn’t throw the entire thing to the ground from up in your arms, all the moving parts work just great over time. (The button pops the lid open, revealing the straw.) Even our broken one actually still closes, it just doesn’t have hinges.

For those of you putting together your own lunch package (i.e. if you’re not the lucky winner), this “What fits?” lunch box packing page is uber helpful, thanks to Mighty Nest. Check it out!

More Good News: $$$ for your School!

It seems that schools are always doing fundraisers: sub sales, bakes sales, pizzas, suckers, fancy chocolates, and often other things you don’t want to eat or don’t need in your home.

When you’re shopping at Mighty Nest, you can fundraise for your school without all the drama of a fundraiser!

Their back-to-school campaign is called “Let’s Do Lunch,” and you’re going to love it:

At MightyNest, equipping your kids for healthy lunch also supports your school. We’ve carefully curated the best selection of reusable lunch gear and water bottles that all meet our rigorous criteria for safety and practicality. So shopping at MightyNest for back to school literally gives back to your school.

With your purchase of better goods for lunch and home, MightyNest donates 15% to your local school. A typical lunch gear order donates more than $10 to the supporter’s school. MightyNest’s goal is to raise $1,000,000 for schools this school year.

On top of the awesome prize package today, your school can also win $1000 in the “Let’s Do Lunch Challenge.” They’ll be drawing 3 (three) $1000 winning schools from all of the entries through August 31st. The more entries you and others at your school earn, the better the chance of winning.

Visit MightyNest for more ways to earn entries!!!

When you join the Let’s Do Lunch campaign by entering this giveaway, you can also earn points for your school by taking pledges, which are awesome even if they didn’t have that benefit.

I’ve of course taken all the reusable lunch supply pledges myself, like saving plastic baggies with reusable bags, using bento lunch boxes and fighting back against plastic water bottle waste.

CLICK HERE to see them all and join the waste-free-lunch revolution!!

Let us know in the comments which pledges you take AND which ones feel like a big challenge, and other KSers and myself can give tips and encourage. Go, KS community, go!

Last Week’s Winner

The winner of last week’s WellFuture giveaway for probiotics or Vaccishield is Stacy (laramee_@…..). Congrats! Please email Katy at [email protected] by the end of Sunday, August 17th. If you’re not Stacy, you can still tap into the power of probiotics for your littlest ones using the coupon code KITCHENSTEWARDSHIP for 20% off anything right HERE.

Let’s Get on with the Prize: Enter Here!

Use the widget below to enter for the $100 lunch packing prize from MightyNest – it’s the only way to enter, just a few clicks = simple!

In order to win you must use the widget above. Remember, comments here DO NOT COUNT.

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: I received products for my review at no charge, which of course did not affect my opinion in the least. Giveaways are paid advertising and a great thing for my readers. See my full advertising disclosure here.

Official rules and small print stuff: 1) No purchase necessary to win 2) must be 13 or older to enter and have a mailing address within the sponsor’s boundaries (see above) 3) only one survey entry per person 4) odds of winning depend on number of entries 5) employees of Kitchen Stewardship, LLC or sponsoring company not eligible for participation 6) contest sponsored by MightyNest. 7) prizes must be accepted as is and are not redeemable for cash 8 ) Kitchen Stewardship, LLC and sponsoring company are not liable for any injury or damage to persons and/or things as a result of the acceptance of the prize offered. 9) This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook

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18 Comments so far ↓

  • Connie

    Looking forward to my son packing his lunches in all this safe and cool equipment!! Thanks!!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Good luck, hope you win! ;) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Erin

    How much can you fit in this lunchbox?
    I see you have the thermos, lunch skins, Bento box, water bottle, etc featured, but how many of these items can fit into the lunchbox?
    I’d like to buy the Pack-It but my biggest concern is always capacity.
    Thanks!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Erin,
    That’s such a good question; sorry I didn’t think to address this in the post. We typically pack a Lunchbot, a single yogurt, and a water bottle every day with room to spare. Easily could fit another single cup container or a bag or two! Hope that helps – also this neat feature on MightyNest’s site will show what containers fit into what lunchboxes: http://bit.ly/1pfVz1a

    Hope that helps! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    One more thought – you wouldn’t want to put a hot thermos in with a frozen pack-it, so you’d either plan ahead and NOT freeze it that day and include other room temp type things as sides or have an alternate lunchbox. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Michelle

    I just want to say that through the years I’ve acquired several of the products listed for my children’s lunches and they are all wonderful! I only took my oldest to piddle through some plastic pack in kindergarten for me to realize WHAT A WASTE on many levels. Having hot thermos’, klean kanteens, the lunchskins and lunchbots are the way to go!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Yay! Thanks for chiming in, Michelle, I love hearing that others have had the same experience as me. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Bethany W

    We absolutely love our Lunch Bots — both the square containers and the rounds.

    Just a friendly thought — when you buy these containers, they literally can last a lifetime!! In our made-to-break consumer culture, it’s easy to view purchases as temporary. We had purchased an orange-lid kit for our daughter. 4 years later it’s still going strong! In hindsight, I wish I had picked a different color lid that matched our families “assigned” colors. Live and learn. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Lutitia via Facebook

    Awesome! Hoping to win. Love these lunch boxes!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Karen via Facebook

    Great! I am comparing all of the brands today. It’s so hard to choose!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • via Facebook

    If you have any Qs on the ones I own Karen, I’m happy to help. I hate shopping online and *wondering* how they’ll really be, so trying all these products is a really fun (although sometimes stressful) part of my job. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • James Lori via Facebook

    this would be awesome as a nanny I pack a lunch and the containers I have now just don’t cut it!!! Would love these ones!!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Diana via Facebook

    Just received plantbox for my son and excited to pack healthier lunches

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Christine via Facebook

    the extra entries options are all invalid for some reason

    [Reply to this comment]

  • via Facebook

    Uh oh Christine MamatoTwo…we don’t administrate the widget, but I’ll email the sponsor and see what I can do to get that fixed…thanks for the heads up!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Maille via Facebook

    Booo, States only.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • via Facebook

    Christine MamatoTwo – Hi – thank you for pointing out the issue. There was an issue with the image being shared to facebook, and it is now fixed. Could you let us know if you are still having troubles earning bonus entries? Thanks so much!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jill

    How do you keep hot items hot??? Any options besides a thermos? We currently have a thermos brand lunch box with two compartments so I can pack hot items in one side and cold in the other. It works but my son hates eating things like meatballs or chicken out if a thermos. I would love a recommendation on a bowl type insulated container and some hot packs! I would use those in one compartment and a water bottle and fruit with I’ve packs in the other compartment (ideally). Just haven’t found the right fit yet.

    [Reply to this comment]

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Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle - ends 9/15!
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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