We have been researching stainless steel lunchboxes for a while now. It's been years since we had plastic wrap in the house, and I'm looking for a long term eco friendly option that's not plastic. Cheapy plastic containers don't seem to last long, and even Tupperware I'm steering away from... so I figure over the length of time my children will be in school, the stainless ones will more than pay for themselves.
It's the usual -
cheap and easy short term, costly for the pocket and the environment long term VS a little more upfront now, for long term $ and eco benefits.
So far we have one Buffalo, and some of these. Really happy with those. The Buffalo is Jake's lunchbox, and the circle ones we use for camping for tea/coffee/sugar as they fit neatly inside the 'billy' - and held up brilliantly on off-road 4wd tracks. We just need something a little bigger for school lunches (there are other lovely stainless boxes out there but they're all smaller again or not tall enough) and were hoping for some sort of divider so we can separate out the 'wet' from the 'keeping dry' - cut watermelon and a sandwich for example. I don't use cling wrap and would really prefer to not have to put sandwiches or wraps into Glad Bake or similar, inside a lunchbox.
One option was to use two Buffalo or a Buffalo and a small round. I am going to make zippered wet bags to hold the containers and the cold pack in. That's the plan for now. We've been slowly selling off our Tupperware lunch stuff to put aside some money for stainless. While Tupperware does recycle it's returned plastic, and I am a Tupperware fan from way back, stainless lunchboxes are where we're headed. For one thing, while there are ways to remove the 'funky-left-in-the-bag-lunch smell' from Tupperware, it's still way easier with stainless.
Clearly being stainless, it's not plastic - YAY! There's lots of reasons this is good and just one of them is it means that especially when camping, it's easier to clean - less water and less detergent because any oils or butter etc just come right off the stainless whereas they tend to 'attach' to plastic, especially plastic plates that have had knives and forks used on them. We do scrape and wipe the dishes down first to leave less mess to wash, but when you have to cart all your own water, I really notice the difference in how much water it takes to properly wash plastic vs stainless. Apply that at home and it works too - less water to wash.
I've been looking at PlanetBox and Happy Tiffin's 'lunch boxy' options. There's lots of really good things I like about the PlanetBox and I've read some great reviews. Even if I make my own bag and do without the dippers, shipping could be the obstacle ... unless a bunch of us parents order together! So at this stage that's still ongoing research. Like stainless steel drink bottles, they're a little exxy upfront but long term, I think they'd pay for themselves. So please if you have a PlanetBox or Happy Tiffin in the 'oval office' or 'square meal' type, I'd appreciate it if you could drop me a line and let me know what you think of them :)
What about when the 'fruit don't fit'?
The one thing that no stainless container I've found can do, is hold a whole apple. What I used to do when the older two were smaller, is do 'cinnamon apples'. I'd completely forgotten about it until recently and now it's back in demand! Simply cut the apple, sprinkle the cut sides with cinnamon and there you go. No visible browning, tastes great AND fits into a small space than a whole apple. Downside of that is once it's cut it needs to be eaten otherwise it goes to the chooks, whereas a whole apple uneaten can be rinsed and put back in the fridge but at least you can fit it IN the lunchbox in the first place :)
From another Mum re bananas, what she did was take the whole banana, cut it into three or four rounds with the skin on... slit down one side of the skin if you like. This means that while the ends may brown slightly (usually they don't brown as much as a fully peeled banana) the rest is still perfectly fine kept in it's skin and peeled just before it's eaten.
eta I've been chatting stainless with other Mums and so far we have an order for 12 PlanetBoxes on paper, and counting. We're putting aside a little bit each week (I'm selling off my Tupperware to get me there) and planning to order in Term Two. Planet Box have said they offer 10% discount for every ten PlanetBoxes ordered, and can fit 10 PlanetBoxes per shipping bag/box. So if you wanted to do a bulk order, your best value would be per 10. If that makes sense. Once we know how many, I'll check in with them for a postage quote and we'll go from there.