Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

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

Veggies in Reusable Bag for Lunch

Hi, I’m Katie, and I’m a reusable snack bag junkie.

It’s true.

Now that I’ve been using reusable sandwich and snack bags regularly for over a decade, it’s not even weird anymore…to me.

Every so often, I see myself through someone else’s eyes as I unzip a cloth bag full of trail mix or perhaps allergy-free pumpkin muffins, and I wonder what they are thinking. Reusable bags, in general, are much more mainstream than when I started using them (love that!!), so it may not be the first time someone has seen a reusable sandwich bag, but they’re still a pretty rare beast out in the wild.

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).

It cracks me up when I’m pulling a reusable produce bag out of my purse at the Farmer’s Market (or a regular produce bag that I choose to reuse), because 75% of the time, the vendor tries to offer me a bag, like I’m making a concession to try to use my own. Reducing waste is still a bit avant garde!

When I first ventured into the world of reusable snack bags, I was deadly curious, but I wasn’t sure where to start. I think I’ve told you before that I’m the type of person who always asks for two flavors of ice cream on one cone, so figuring out what kind of reusable bag would work best for our family was a hazardous question for my sanity.

Testing multiple different brands and styles is so very right up my alley. Don’t you agree?

You know at one point I had them all lined up on my couch, taking notes on the differences in construction and materials used.

And of course I used half a bag of leftover white bread from my husband’s camping trip to test a fake “sandwich” in each one on the table overnight, along with the poor control subject sitting out in the open air. (Can you think of a better use for white bread?)

My husband was kind enough to help me determine the relative staleness of pretzels stored overnight in the snack bags vs. a fresh pretzel and one that languished on the tabletop, unprotected.

I’ve washed them by hand, in the dishwasher, and with the laundry, and if there were other options for getting them clean, I’d have tried those, too.

We packed lunches in them, too, and my kids gave their opinions.

The results were as varied as the bags.

And now I’m going to peer pressure you a bit (a lot) into using reusable bags for your own family. Our whole family has tested out enough different ones that I’m confident I can honestly recommend the BEST style and brand of reusable snack and sandwich bag for your family, kids or adults.

Here are the brands of reusable sandwich and snacks bags that I’ve reviewed:

(many of which are found on Amazon, affiliate links below)

Are those “in no particular order?” No, they are not. 😉 It’s quite particular…

Chopped snack vegetables in reusable sandwich and snack bags.

The Best Reusable Bags for Lunch and Snacks…

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

  • No hidden traps: Opens fully to get crumbs and goo out of the corners
  • Ease of Cleaning: Easy to rinse/wipe food off the material
  • Quick Drying
  • Longevity: Still looks good over time
  • The Seal: Retains some moisture inside (for juicy foods) and keep air outside (for dry goods and staleness prevention)
  • Shhhh! Opens quietly and easily for church

My top 3 bags by far are 2 Red Hens, Itzy Ritzy, and EcoBagIt.

They are the ones we default to most often (and we use bags a LOT with three kids in school full time), and also the only brands that I’ve purchased more of as my kids have grown. There used to be a close runner-up on the list, but sadly I had to take Lunchskins off my Recommended List completely (see below for more).

The Healthy Lunch Box - packed with lunch ideas to go!
 

Packing healthy lunches when you’re short on time and out of bread is mind-boggling. Is there such a thing as a lunch without a sandwich? Is it possible for it to be healthy too?

The Healthy Lunch Box: Sandwich-free Secrets to Packing a Real Food Lunch is loaded with strategies to streamline your packing process, stock your pantry with emergency backups for your backups, and send healthy, delicious food in the lunch box, no matter how old your eater is. Read more and start packing healthier, processed-free lunches today.

Here’s the low-down on each bag individually, in order of how well we like them:

EcoBagIt by Green City Living: Most Durable Reusable Snack Bag Ever!

durable reusable bags from EcoBagIt with mini plums inside

These reusable snack and sandwich bags from Green City Living were a newer addition to our household, they quickly became the ones we reach for most often!

The surface is unlike any other material we have experimenting with yet, and it is so shiny and tough, I feel like it will literally last forever. (Update: We’ve had some of these since 2016 and they still look exactly like the day they arrived!)

The designs are so bright and cheerful, and it’s actually fun that the inside is different than the outside.

Wiping these out is a breeze, and even when my kids forget something inside for too long and it gets a little gooey, there has never been any discoloration or a degradation of the surface. Wiping a rag across this stuff almost feels like it’s cleaning itself!

The bags are made of cotton covered with polyurethane, which I had to research a little bit. It sounds like food grade polyurethane doesn’t have any known problems, and since most reusable bags are made with some sort of plastic or synthetic material, I don’t think this is any worse than any others. (Note that you can get or make organic cotton covered in beeswax, which would be the most natural and non-reactive possible, but more difficult on upkeep.)

You’ll notice that these bags do have velcro, which is on my list as not as desirable, but for kids at school, velcro is no big deal. And this velcro is TIGHT! So as long as you don’t need bags for a quiet place, this brand is a huge contender. AND in 2019 I got the most fun email – the creator of the brand listened to my feedback and actually created a new line with zippers!! 

The zippered bags have super wide bases and can actually stand up to be filled, plus they’re double walled for extra air protection from things getting stale and easy to turn inside-out to clean and dry. Totally new favorites!

The only other potential downfall is that the snack bag is quite tiny, the smallest I’ve ever seen. It’s great for a snack serving of trail mix or something very nutrient-dense, but it wouldn’t really fit a serving of chips, crackers, or anything that takes up a decent amount of space. The sandwich size bags are plenty roomy and very convenient for snacks.

Find lots of styles on Amazon or check Green City Living.

Itzy Ritzy: One of the Best Reusable Sandwich Bags out There

Itzy Ritzy reusable bag for lunch best ever

The star feature for Itzy Ritzy is the zippered closure, which (was) unique among all the styles I own (until many others got wise and followed suit!).

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.

The Best Reusable Sandwich and Snack Bags {REVIEW}

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. Bottom photo courtesy of ItzyRitzy.

I can’t believe I don’t have more photos of this brand, but I think I know why: they’re always in use. We have three of them, one for each kid, and they’re constantly in a backpack, lunchbox, or (ahem) desk. They’re a clear favorite in our house!

2 Red Hens: A Favorite Reusable Snack Bag for Kids and Toddlers

2 Red Hens reusable snack bag one of the best options for kids lunches

shown with some lovely homemade blueberry fruit rolls

We didn’t get to try 2 Red Hens until we already had years of experience with other reusable lunch bags, but it vaulted itself quickly and decisively into the top choices for KS! They literally check all the boxes of “must-have qualities,” and then some.

These 2 Red Hens bags are truly amazing – they use zippers, which means you can have them in church for little ones. (Imagine the problem Velcro bags cause in quiet places like that – rrrrrrrrrrip!!!!) They are very wipe-clean-able, which not all bags do nearly as well.

They literally have zero corner issues because they unzip on THREE sides and open up all the way flat. That’s the best part – no crumbs or gooeyness in the corners that you can’t get out (although there are some extra flaps around the seams that take a few additional seconds to wipe sometimes, on very messy foods).

cherry tomatoes on flat reusable snack bag from 2 Red Hens

I was telling someone on my team about these great new bags, and she mentioned that her toddler would love that, but she’d unzip all 3 sides and end up with her snack all over the floor. But the moms who designed them are too smart for your toddlers, too – there’s a really tight snap stopping the zipper after it opens just one side. So no accidental toddler snack explosions.

They are very sturdy, made of non-toxic plastic, and still looked brand new after 3 years of use. They dry super fast because there’s nothing thick or fabric going on.

2 Red Hens BEST reusable sandwich and snack bags ever

Plus? They’re so. so. cute. Best designs I’ve seen if you want to look posh at lunchtime!

They come in large and small sizes (sold as a 2-pack from what I can tell) and 5 patterns currently. The only note I’d give you is just to cut the massive tag (on the inside) out the moment yours arrive.

You can’t find 2 Red Hens on Amazon anymore. They’re sold by the manufacturer here.

Etee: Fabulous for lettuce and veggies

I’ve been asked many times over the years about larger-sized reusable bags. When I had a chance to review the beeswax bags from Etee I had to try them! We’ve used the bags for over a year quite regularly and discovered some definite pros and cons.

First, we love them because it’s so easy to say, “the leftover veggies go in the teal bag and the lettuce in the green bag.” That way everyone knows what to reuse day after day. In our family, we tend to be a bit lazy about zipping plastic zipper bags just perfectly when it’s something we use a lot. So it’s totally fine that you can just sort of “smash and roll” the top of the Etee bags to close them well enough that nothing spills. We find that for vegetables and lettuce the bags are just great at keeping everything fresh and crisp.

The website shows sandwiches and crunchy snacks like pretzels in the sandwich bags but in my previous experience with beeswax wraps, they really aren’t made for that kind of crunchy thing long-term. Even after one overnight, things tend to start to get stale or dried out. That’s why I never even tried crunchy snacks in a beeswax bag.

The few aspects I don’t love about these beeswax bags are that you can’t see what’s inside. So just like an opaque leftovers container, sometimes food may get lost in the fridge. That’s why I like having a rhythm of veggies in teal, cut lettuce in green.

Etee reusable beeswax bags. Love them for veggies and lettuce!

I have a little bit of trouble washing these wax bags well because you’re not supposed to use hot water, and I don’t know about you but I just feel like everything gets cleaner if I use hot. So I have to retrain myself to be more gentle. I probably don’t wash my bags enough no matter what I’m using for veggies and lettuce because it’s a constant revolving door of something being in the bags. That means I may end up with strange little spots inside the beeswax fabric and I just cross my fingers and hope that those aren’t harmful at all.

If you’re looking for a large-sized reusable bag for vegetables, or perhaps biscuits or sliced bread that wouldn’t be open to the air, Etee is a great option that I would definitely recommend. They’re well made, brightly colored, and last a really long time!

Did you know that essential oils have a shelf life?

Katie here, popping in to tell you that those essential oils that have been sitting in your cabinet for a couple years and are still half full may have expired. Read more about what I learned when researching this topic, and you can even have the handy printable I made to help me remember how long which oils last.

EcoLunchGear: Great Local, Organic Choice for No Waste Lunches

Ecolunchgear is another product that has demonstrated its worth with the test of time. Not only do the bags continue to look awesome ever after 5-6 years of use, but we grab them. Out of all the bags we have, these are certainly stand-bys.

Reusable snack and sandwich bag ecolunchgear opens all the way

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 car seats).

Reusable snack and sandwich bag ecolunchgear opens all the way up

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).

These were off the market for a while, and then I was thrilled when they came back, but (sigh) it looks like they don’t exist anymore, again. If you can find a similar shape out there on Etsy or a local shop, grab some!

Snack Taxi: A Reusable Bag that Holds in Gooey Kid Messes

Reusable snack and sandwich bag Snack Taxi is a great option

Snack Taxi is very close to the top recommended section. It’s held up very well over 8 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, and I still tend to grab these for the roominess.

Snack Taxi has a pretty sturdy polyurethane coated nylon interior and a large flap that folds over to close. We have actually survived an entire plum smashed flat in a backpack inside a Snack Taxi, 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 corners

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.

As of February 2018, SnackTAXI has closed its doors, so sad, but I still think it’s valuable to leave the review because it can help you look for other, similarly made quality products and get an idea of the pitfalls of inner corners.

Full Circle Gallon-Sized Reusable Storage Bags

Full Circle reusable storage bag

I saw this cool brand of reusable bags as I was making a Grove order, where I usually get things like recycled toilet paper, natural razors, and some other personal care and cleaning products around the house. I thought I would add it to my order and test it out.

There are some incredibly nice features of this large reusable storage bag:

  • Flat bottom so the bag can stand up, very rare to see
  • Extremely thick and durable material
  • Very easy to wipe clean
  • Actually waterproof, one of the first or only reusable bags that can boast holding liquids in without any leakage
reusable storage bag standing up filled with raw veggies

As you can see in the picture, we tend to use this for raw veggies again, rotating it with the Lunchskins brand. It would work great for any sort of cut up veggies or salad greens, and you might even be able to store freezer meals in this.

I would still be a little hesitant to put raw meat in it, just because of the difficulty of washing and sterilizing every seam, but with some squirts of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar, it might be okay even for raw meat.

The only drawback is that the zipper, while sturdy, is quite difficult to get zipped in the first place. Once zipped, it will stay there, but it takes some finesse.

Find Full Circle on Amazon, where you’ll see many sizes. I can only guess that the benefits and deficits of the style will remain the same, although the sandwich size doesn’t stand up. New customers at Grove always get a free package of goodies, worth checking there too!

Kids Konserve Reusable Sandwich Wraps

reusable sandwich wrap - Kids Konserve

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
Reusable sandwich wrap Kids Konserve
Reusable sandwich wrap Kids Konserve

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 idea 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 years ago. She’s still using it, it’s in good shape, and it gets the job done. Kids Konserve generally runs less money than the Wrap-N-Mat, so if you don’t mind it being a bit smaller, it’s a great deal.

Frugal Granola: Truly Plastic-Free Beeswax Coated Fabric Snack Bags

Reusable sandwich bag and wrap - fabric with beeswax

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!

Lunchskins: Great Reusable Bag, Until…

Lunchskins reusable sandwich bag was great until longevity kicked in

Lunchskins are a very basic shape, Velcro-closure reusable bag that comes in both snack and sandwich sizes. They work well and do the job, but strangely I can’t think of any star features or any major complaints to report.

  • Lunchskins do turn inside out fine
  • They are easy to wipe clean (BUT do stain on the inside and outside easily)
  • They do dry quickly
  • They can handle slightly wet/moist foods without passing the moisture through the fabric
  • They are bpa-free, phthalate-free – food-safe polyurethane
Reusable Lunch Supplies from Mighty Nest

(shown above with other lunch gear from Mighty Nest)

My colleague Shaina of Food for my Family reviewed Lunchskins as her top choice after 9 years of lunch packing experience and 10 brands of bags. She runs them through the dishwasher, but I always find that to be more trouble than it’s worth, because the bags sometimes come out looking dirtier than they went in and you still have to air dry them.

I used to place them in 4th out of all the ones I’ve tried…but then this happened after only two years of use:

Lunchskins reusable bags flaking apart after a few years of use

It might be easier to see in this photo:

Lunchskins reusable bags flaking apart after a few years of use plus polyurethane

The plastic coating on the inside is starting to flake off quite seriously, and we had to take them out of commission because I didn’t want little pieces of polyurethane getting in my kids’ food and mouths.

So disappointing! It is happening to both of the bags we have, and this was only after two years of ownership. We don’t really wash them much at all in the laundry, I would guess only 2-4 times total. They were great bags and easy to use and ones we grabbed often, but I really can’t recommend them if they won’t last longer than a few years. 🙁 My daughter uses these in her play kitchen now.

Lunchskins zippered bag wtih cherry tomatoes

UPDATE: Lunchskins has updated their styles as of 2017 and 2018, and of course I love that they have a new zippered kind (above). The zipper moves great and I don’t see it being a longevity problem. Because of the flaking I experienced with the older versions, I can’t quite promote them to “recommended” yet but they’re making strides.

This huge gallon size storage bag is also a new addition, and we just love it for our daily raw vegetables. I like to prep cut veggies ahead of time for dinner, and then whenever there are leftovers those always go back in the same bag.

reusable snack bag with food

The only issue has been that little spots of black show up inside the bag. They do not come off with any amount of scrubbing, so I can only guess that it’s a bit of mold or mildew that has become part of the fabric. Yes, sometimes we use and reuse and reuse the bag too many times without washing well in between, and sometimes things get forgotten in the produce drawer.

Dangerous? Benign? I can’t be sure, but it’s not my favorite feature!

The large bags have a lot of potential for storage though, and the zipper is the best part by far, putting this bag high up above other gallon-sized that we have tried. If you want to store bread or crunchy things, however, too much air will get through the bag.

It also won’t hold liquids, so I would never recommend using these for something like freezer cooking or raw meat. All of those juices will leak right through the bottom corners.

But for cut up vegetables, salad greens, or fruits that need refrigeration, this is a very viable option to reduce waste.

neat-os: Uh oh…

Neat Os reusable zippered bags

We’ve had a selection of neat-os bags (currently unavailable) for at least a year now, and they have some great features (and one huge problem).

  • Neat-os bags come in large sizes too (pictured), which is so cool, because they’re the only reusable bag I know of that gets as big as a gallon zippered bag (and bigger!).
  • You can see through the bag without opening it, which is one advantage over just about every reusable snack bag we tested here.
  • I loved using the bags for cut raw vegetables in my salad drawer and other large items in the fridge.
  • They’re made of non-leaching plastic and made in the US.
  • Like other reusable bags, they are not air-tight – so no good for bread products or crunchy snacks overnight.
  • They zip – my favorite!
Neat Os reusable zippered bags
  • They turn inside out and are not difficult to clean and dry, and they don’t seem to stain easily, but there is a small risk of crumb-in-the-corner syndrome, because the corner is sharp, unlike Itzy Ritzy’s rounded corners.
  • The large bags are touted for freezer cooking, but I wouldn’t dare. They don’t hold liquid at all. That doesn’t impact the sandwich size as much, but I would hate to freeze and thaw anything in them – juices everywhere. Same goes for freezing meat – I’d never do it.
  • Neat-os have a see-through window stripe in the center so you know what’s in the bag. A very cool feature, BUT…
  • The seam where the transparent plastic meets the rest of the bag doesn’t hold up. Both of my larger sizes got a lot of use, but before 6 months had passed both had holes in them. 🙁 I can’t justify the price for that amount of time, such a disappointment.
  • Note: The smaller sandwich-size bag has held up fine over 3-4 years now without a tear.

Here’s just a bit more about the product from the neat-os FAQs, for your information:

“neat-os are made of FDA certified food-safe materials. All materials have been certified as bisphenol-A (BPA)-free, phthalate-free, PVC-free, and lead free. The fabric is a cotton canvas that was designed for chefs and is coated in food safe plastic, that can withstand high temperatures and is non-abrasive, making it easy to clean lots of different ways.”

 

They are washable by hand or dishwasher or washing machine…

Eco Ditty: A Truly Plastic-Free Reusable Sandwich Bag – but Never for Sandwiches!

The Best Reusable Sandwich and Snack Bags {REVIEW}

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. So that means you should never pack a sandwich in this sandwich bag…ironic, right?

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 gotten worse after that).

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. Photo from Amazon.

Bonus points for including washing instructions on the tag.

Celadon Road Wrap: Just Fine

Celadon Road sandwich wrap with two muffins

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.

Celadon Road sandwich wrap with two muffins

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.

Celadon Road Reusable Bag: Clear but Clearly No Good

The Best Reusable Sandwich and Snack bags -- What works and what does not after many years of trying over half a dozen different brands

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.

The Best Reusable Sandwich and Snack bags -- What works and what does not after many years of trying over half a dozen different brands

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

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 tearing

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.

Squooshi: Reusable Food Pouch

Toddler with Squooshi reusable food pouch 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 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!).

Squooshi Failed at Bags…

reusable snack and sandwich bag with panda print

Super cute, but…

…in the time that we have tested these bags, the company has wisely removed them from production.

The zipper is so flimsy that even my children said, “Wow, Mom, this doesn’t seem like it will last.”

And they were right.

After about three uses, a note came home from daycare that the zipper had come off in my three year old’s hand.

poorly made reusable bag zippered closure

If you happen to find another brand with this sort of slider zip closure, I would run far away!

How to Care for/Wash Your Reusable Snack and Sandwich Bags

Perhaps the easiest complaint anyone can make about reusable bags is the hassle of cleaning them. Yes, anytime you reduce your waste, unless you can stop using something altogether, you’ll end up with more dishes or more laundry. It’s part of being green.

One does need to balance the drive for less trash with the question: at what point are you going to use more water/energy to keep the items clean than you will save in landfill space? With plastic bags, particularly keeping in mind the energy and raw materials used and pollution created to manufacture new plastic, I’m guessing you come out well ahead with reusables.

If you machine wash the reusable bags, make sure they’re not only open, but inside out, and the crumbs have been brushed away. I tried just tapping the crumbs out of an upside down bag, then washing it with the Velcro closed, since Velcro tends to grab other fabrics in the wash and can cause problems. No good.

Don’t use the dishwasher. Both times I tried this the bags came out grubbier than they went in, because food particles from other dishes would stick to them and not get washed off. Don’t blame my dishwasher, either; it does a fabulous job, and I have sung its praises before.

If you don’t have a load of laundry that needs to be done, I would recommend just washing the bags with your dinner dishes in the sink and hanging them to dry. After all, how many of us wash Ziploc bags to reuse them, anyway? These guys are a lot easier to get totally dry, and they’re made for reuse.

Either hang to dry from a clip or prop open by setting them upside down over kitchen utensils in the dish dry rack. They also dry acceptably laying flat on a laundry rack, but I found that turning them inside out, then right side out again after 12 hours or so speeds the process along.

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

For more reusable lunch container reviews, be sure to check out my bento box review as well!!

Bento Style Lunch Box Review

More Healthy / Green Lunch Packing Ideas:

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post. I received most of the products in this post as review copies, but many were 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.

Save

42 thoughts on “No Waste Food on the Go with Reusable Sandwich and Snack Bags {REVIEW}”

  1. I’d love if you could review the Stasher bags, or provide any guidance on reusable bags for the freezer. I’m considering buying them to keep all our smoothie fruits organized in the freezer, but the cost seems so high compared to disposable bags. Thanks for all the guidance!

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Marivi, If you’re just using them for storing frozen fruit, any silicone bags can go in the freezer. Storing things that might leak like meats or soup is the really difficult thing to find non-plastic storage for. I know, they are pretty pricy. If I were trying to build a stash of reusable bags, I’d slowly build up my collection by buying one every few months until I have enough. This is an item where it will take a while for it to pay off and start saving you money. I’ll mention to Katie that there’s a request for the Stasher bags to be reviewed. 🙂

  2. super appreciate your time to put together a review. I’ve decided to get the itzy ritzy ones based on your review, thank you!

  3. Pedro Seromenho

    Seems a new serious industry in the making with some snack bags going for more than backpacks.. And can see many ending up in the rubbish dump very easily.

    For me…
    Sandwich wrapped in a napkin/kitchen towel/bamboo towel to contain any crumbs/butter/ham/etc. Napkin/towel can be used as a napkin and later re-used/washed.
    Double wrapped in a small thin cotton wrapper cloth which doubles as a small table cloth if needed. This layer won’t need much care usually unless you need it to mop spills.
    All in a regular ziplock bag which can be washed/re-used as required. Can be left with air in for cushioning or out as required.

    Cost: really cheap. No zips to break. Parts easily re-used/replaceable/recyclable.

    Function: Still minimalist. The 3 layers can end up being used separately for mishaps.

    1. I haven’t thrown one away in 10 years, although the few that started to flake turned into supplies for my daughter’s toy kitchen or bags for little toys instead of food. I do wash and reuse zippered bags, but believe me, these are going to last much longer before going into the landfill. Although your idea is a great one for people who use cloth napkins and want to be super frugal! Thanks, Katie

  4. Hi, thanks for all the great info. I would be interested in the country of origin for the different brands. I do not like to use products made in China for storing food. Are any of these made in the U.S.A. or any countries other than China?

    1. Hi Janet, This is a great question and good goal for your family! I know for sure that Ecobagit is made in the US, because I’m working with them on a special promo right now. See here to save: http://kitchenstewardship.com/ks-bonuses I am pretty sure Itzy Ritzy and 2 Red hens are too, but I’d have to recommend you check their websites to be certain. Thanks! Katie

      1. Hi Katie,

        I’ve been scouring the web just for a company that does eco friendly reusable freezer bags made in USA or not a country like China that doesn’t respect child labor laws. Can you please help? My boss is very socially conscious about this stuff. Thanks.

        1. The EcoBagIt! Zip bags are freezer friendly and are made In the US by people receiving a living wage—unless I make them—I still haven’t learned how to pay myself.

          1. Thanks for the response!

            https://cedarrapids.shopwhereilive.com/product/ecobagit-zip-reusable-snack-bags/

            These? There are no other freezer bags made in the U.S.? You sure they’re freezable.

    2. These reviews were so helpful. I’m trying to up my environmentally friendly game by using more reusable bags. With 2 teenage boys in school who must bring their lunches everyday because of food restrictions, I can go through a lot of bags. This article will give me a good place to start to grow my collection.Thanks!

  5. What about the zip top style silicone bags? Like Stasher or Blue Avocado? They look like they would seal well for liquids or popcorn …

  6. Hi Katie, thanks for this post, reusable bags isn’t something I have got around to yet, even though we have reduced most other plastic products. Are any of these suitable for freezer cooking? We freeze a lot of soups each month, and don’t have the storage space to put them in glass dishes. Thanks!

    1. Hi Alissa,
      The neat-o’s are big enough and would be great BUT I really don’t trust them to not get holes in them. Soup would be not so good! 🙁 I don’t think you’re going to find anything 100% watertight enough for soup in the freezer, sorry. Plus it would still have plastic touching your food anyway if it’s watertight, even reusable, you know? Bummer!

      1. We freeze things like that in silicon loaf pans, then pop them out & store frozen blocks. Then you can take them out frozen and thaw in a sauce pan- ready to heat over the stove. We also portion some out with jumbo muffin cups & have the option of thawing small portions at a time. (Works great as long as you’re ok with silicone ?)

  7. We just got some planet-wise zipper bags – clear ones. They make the corners angled so things don’t get stuck, but we don’t flip them inside out to clean. Not much use yet but we like them so far!

  8. Do you have any recommendations for bags to hold a whole loaf of bread in and also what to use for freezer? I struggle to find plastic free alternatives for those. In freezer I mostly store some prepade things like cooked beans, extra muffins for snacks etc.

    1. Hi Marta,
      Freezing is such a tough one! I totally still use zippered bags for beans and muffins. Sometimes I’ll do beans in reused glass peanut butter jars or sour cream tubs (still plastic but at least reusable) but the flat bags take up so much less space. I really can’t think of a good, flat alternative! For homemade bread, again I still do use plastic bags and just tap out the crumbs or wash them to reuse. I don’t worry as much about plastic touching dry things as I do wet – there is hardly any real contact for leaching to take place IMO. If you bake bread a lot and would like a plastic-free alternative, Life Without Plastic sells stainless steel, airtight boxes – they’re super pricey but would work for bread and may be worth it if you make enough bread. They’re great quality and the lids stay on very well (we only use the little cups but it’s all made the same way). Scroll down here to see various sizes: https://www.lifewithoutplastic.com/store/eating/bentos-and-boxes/airtight-watertight-containers.html?acc=a1d0c6e83f027327d8461063f4ac58a6

      Edit on that – when I went to look up the stainless steel box, I noticed they have a HUGE food “wrap” that is cotton coated in beeswax and should work for bread:
      https://www.lifewithoutplastic.com/store/plastic-free-food-wrap-by-abeego-giant-flats.html?acc=a1d0c6e83f027327d8461063f4ac58a6

      Maybe one of those will help! 🙂 Katie

  9. We’ve used a couple of those brands, but right now my favorites are from ChicoBag, they have a small velcro tab after the top folds over and i think they hold wet-ish foods well. You can fit a large sandwich in them, or fold it down to the second velcro tab for snack size. The price isn’t too bad, I think $11-12 for a pack of 3? I like the idea of how easily the Itzy Ritzy cleans, as well as the one that opens on 3 sides, it’s like a portable placemat! 🙂

  10. Thanks so much for the thorough reviews. Have you tried Bumkins reusable bags? I’m wondering if they’re as awesome as their bibs (which I love because they’re effective and easy to clean). I’m also wondering how safe/non-toxic the material is since now I would be using it for food storage. Their website says they’re “lead free, PVC free, BPA free, phthalates free, vinyl free, and lab tested food safe” … but I don’t know if that covers everything. 🙂

    1. MM,
      I haven’t tried them but I also love the bibs! My neighbor picked up some of that brand on clearance and had only good things to say though – I think the “free of” list covers pretty much everything you can avoid while still using plastic of some sort 🙂 Katie

      1. Thanks! I think I’ll try the Bumkins and the Itzy Ritzy… and maybe the 3 Red Hens. The Bumkins seem to be about half the price of the others, so I’ll be thrilled if they work out. Thanks again for your in-depth reviews! Very helpful!

  11. I might have missed this part but can someone direct me to a good bag for dried goods. I pack my own lunch the night before work and I have noticed my Boom chicka Pop popcorn seems stale the next day. I have only tried Good Lunch snack bags which Velcro. Maybe a zipper would be better. Please advise!

    1. Hey Anna Kate,
      The zipper might be better – but I have yet to find a reusable bag that is super reliable for crunchy things. Overnight might be okay, but for popcorn you might be better off with a stainless steel bowl or something. This is the one we use for yogurt but about 2 sizes up would be perfect for a serving of popcorn: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/LWP8cm (they last FOREVER so it looks like a lot of $ but after 10 years it will be nothing) You could also use a zipper but stick the bag into a bowl with a lid on your counter overnight, and then it would be airtight at least until you left the house.

      Good luck! Katie

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

  13. 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…

  14. 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

  15. 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!

  16. 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 — 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

      1. 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.

    1. 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

      1. 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…….

        1. I realize they’re not bags and they’re still not cheap but deals like this are how I expand my reusable storage

  19. 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?/

  20. 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.

  21. Gretchen @ Desert Survivor

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

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]