4 Alternatives to Plastic Sandwich Baggies

It’s school lunch packing season! (Not to be confused with summer camp lunch packing season, or snack packing for the car season). As school ramps up again, moms everywhere go into the school year with plenty of bagged lunch goals: healthy, easy, edible (as determined by picky child palates). And increasingly, also, green, as in environmentally friendly and light on the trash factor.

One easy way to cut down on bagged lunch waste is by swapping plastic baggies for reusable containers. Here are four great options to help you quit your Ziploc addiction.

Rubbermaid LunchBlox

Available in four sizes—sandwich, entree, sides, and snack—these BPA-free plastic containers can be snapped together and stacked  in various configurations to fit the space you have. Ice pack modules that snap-attach can be purchased separately.

Price: $1.99-$7.99 per piece

Clean and Use Factor: Easy. They’re dishwasher safe, microwave, and freezer safe.

Best used for: Sandwiches and dry snacks. Reviewers report that liquids leak.

Reusable Sandwich Bags

We can’t possibly name all the brands producing reusable snack and sandwich bags these days, there are so many now! A search on Amazon turned up 15 options. Among the top rated are the very cute, machine-washable ones from Bumkin and Itzy Ritzy, and Planet Wise’s dishwasher-safe options.

Price: They range from $4.99 for one snack-size bag  to $16.99 for set of two or more large bags.

Clean and Use Factor: Relatively easy. With their zip or Velcro closure, there’s no concern about small hands being able to open them. Some brands state their bags can go in the dishwasher or even washing machine, but many users turn them inside out and rinse them clean. Although that’s easy enough, it is one more thing for a busy mom to do.

Best Used for: Fresh fruit, sandwiches, and dry snacks (they aren’t completely leakproof).

Bento Boxes

If opening, closing, and cleaning all those individual bags and containers drives you (or your kids) crazy, consider going the Bento box route. The divided compartments keep foods separate, but there’s only one container to keep track of.

Price: Starts at $12.95

Clean and Use Factor: Bento boxes are easy to clean and many are dishwasher safe. Because they are just one piece, they can be challenging to fit into some lunch boxes. You might be better off buying a Bento box lunch kit, which includes the food containers and outside carrying case.

Best Used for: Anything but liquids.

Stainless Steel Lunch Containers

Moms weary of plastic have switched to glass storage containers for home use, but heavy and breakable things aren’t lunchbox friendly. Enter stainless steel containers, which are lightweight and don’t discolor or stain. A quick search of Amazon shows individual snack and sandwich containers, or Bento-box style options—this one even screws together into a little lunch pail!

Price: Starting at $13 per container

Clean and Use Factor: BPA and toxin-free stainless steel is dishwasher safe. The lids from some containers can be difficult for little kids to open so read the reviews before you buy.

Best Used for: Messier snacks like potato chips or hummus, because the stainless steel won’t stain or absorb flavors.

What about you, what’s your preference when it comes to packing school lunches? Do you go reusable or disposable, or some mix of the two?