Friday, March 29, 2013

Gear Review: Easy Lunchboxes

Welcome to the first in what will hopefully become a series of lunchbox product reviews! As a teacher, I see my students coming in with food packed in all sorts of contraptions, from grubby paper towel to fancy metal tins (the Lunchbots line, which I have been using, is quite popular!) I have found that for myself as a teacher, a good lunch system is key. Often, I have a lunchtime duty and therefore limited time to eat. I don't want to be spending that time dealing with fussy containers! We also have limited fridge space in the staff area, so I have to be mindful of co-workers.

One of my favourite lunch sets is the Easy Lunchbox. It comes in a pack of 4 with optional lunch coolers available. I like that it has three compartments, so I can pack multiple foods and only have two pieces to wash. I like that it is microwave-safe, although it does mean you have to remove any fruit side dishes first, which can be a bother. I like that they are inexpensive and easy to pack and use. I also like that for excursions, you can fit more than one box in the cooler bag.

There are a few annoyances, however. Firstly, unless you pack only dry foods, it must be carried upright---the compartments are not watertight. I have had no problems packing crackers and fruit in side by side compartments, but my less careful boyfriend asked me to stop packing canned fruit in his because his sandwich got wet a few times. As well, this makes it kind of bulky. I have trouble fitting the full cooler inside my backpack for easy carrying on the bus.

Also, I find myself growing increasingly wary of plastic these days. These boxes say they are BPA and pthalate-free, which is great. But I am trying to reduce my environment footprint and to reduce the potential toxins coming into my home, and I am really trying to minimize the plastic. I do seem to keep coming back to these because they are quite convenient, but I the plastic does make me a little bit nervous these days, especially for stuff I plan to eat warm or heated.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Lunch: Passover Soup & Sides

I will be eating soup all week for Passover. I didn't love the prepared soup I bought for this when I tried it today, but it's what I bought, so I am going with it. I am going to try bulking it up a little with some cubed potato tomorrow.

Anyway, packed in my Lunchbots Trio, I have some grapes, Tam Tam crackers and a few potato chips for a treat, all kosher for Passover. Bon appetit, I guess. I am not a huge Passover fan so I will probably have more treat things in my lunch this week to make up for it.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Lunch: Soup & Sides

Back to school tomorrow following March break! Packed this Lunchbots Duo to accompany a thermos of soup. For lunch, I have grapes and pretzels in the left half. For afternoon snack, apple-flavour soy nuts and strawberries.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lunch: Mini Bagels

Testing out my new single-compartment Lunchbots! Almost two mini bagels with soy cheese slices, veggie chips and strawberries. I have found mini loaf pans to be extremely attractive and usable dividers in many lunch containers. They fit just fine in my new lunchbot, but I didn't quite have enough room for both of the mini bagels.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lunch: Gyoza and Snacks

More leftovers from the health food store! In today's lunch, veggie gyoza, grapes and apple chips. Yum!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Lunch: Mini Samosas

I am on March break, but I still need lunches! I packed this to take with me to the coffee shop for an afternoon of reading. In my Lunchbots Duo:

- 2 mini samosas
- a sliced apple
- a handful of brown sugar soy nuts for desert

The samosas were a frozen product we got on a recent trip to the health food store. They were okay, and cooked nicely in the microwave, but I am not sure I'd get it again.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Lunch: Half Sandwich and Snacks

I made this soy cheese on sunflower rye sandwich for breakfast and wasn't hungry enough to finish it. So I put the rest into a Lunchbots container with some sides and snacks: knock-off goldfish crackers shaped like sharks, carrot sticks, grapes and sunflower seeds.

Welcome to this blog!

Welcome! I'm a teacher at a K-3 elementary school and an avid follower of lunch-packing blogs. It's not just the kids who have to pack and eat school lunches---it's the teachers too! I started this blog to provide a glimpse into the school lunch-packing dialogue from this other side.

I am fortunate that my school participates in a healthy lunch program. Students can bring lunches from home, or they can sign up for a hot lunch program that features organic, local fruits, vegetables, grains and meats. A typical school lunch might be whole-wheat pasta with bolognese sauce, banana, carrot wheels and peas. As a teacher, I can purchase these lunches at a discount if I wish.

More often, I pack my own lunches and snacks. I have the same challenges my students do in finding efficient ways to pack everything compactly into a lunchbox. Our school is also trying to reduce waste and both staff and students are encouraged to pack their meals and snacks in reusable containers. I have quite a collection of these and I will be posting some reviews periodically.

That said, packing as a teacher is different from packing as a kid. On the plus, I do have access to a fridge and a microwave. However, I also have a bigger appetite and must try to pack adult meals without drowning in 100 containers to wash! And I also, unlike them, have to watch my weight! I try and keep my meals to 400 calories or less and my snacks to about 150.

What will you see on this blog? You'll see my packed lunches, and maybe some school ones. I might share lunches from my fellow staff from time to time. And  hope to review some of the products that make lunch-packing easier for both adults and kids!

So without further ado, bon appetit!