A Rant on Lunchboxes

A year and a half ago I bought a lunchbox for my son.  I spent considerable time researching to find one that fit my requirements: non-BPA plastic (if containers were plastic), a sort of bento style in that there were multiple containers that would fit well together into one lunchbox that hopefully was padded/insulated, and not too outrageously priced.  I finally settled on Litter Free’s lunch box.  It has the insulated box I was looking for, four containers that fit well together, and one water bottle that is not ginormous like so many of them.  Also, it was available at my local Co-op for $30.  That still seemed pricey to me, but I thought it would last.

Broken Zippers on Both
Broken Zippers on Both

Sadly, after less than 9 months the inside lining was tearing, the pull tabs on the zippers were breaking off, and the water bottle was so poorly designed that it always leaked.  I contacted the company and they sent me a new liner boxer and a new water bottle lid quite promptly and I was pleased with that outcome.  However, fast forward one year and here is my report: the new water bottle lid is the same as the old one and so it leaks rendering it useless.  (I had thought the old one was defective, but, no, the design was defective so it will always leak.)  One pull tab on the zipper has broken off (luckily there are two zipper pulls).  Again, the lining of the lunchbox is tearing.  Then, I see articles like this one, Scientists Condemn FDA , about how the new BPA-free plastic containers have other chemicals that are most likely just as bad as BPA, and maybe even worse.  Suffice to say, I will not buy another of these lunchboxes! I don’t blame this individual company though.

What I am tired of, and frustrated by, is the lack of government regulation to protect consumers.   Libertarians insist that we can make our own informed choices and therefore the market will weed out the bad products/companies and that government regulation stifles growth and just “gets in the way of innovation.”  But I think this is complete bulls**t.   Can consumers really test all products for safety?  No.  Are we supposed to have mini-laboratories at home?  I don’t think so.  How can I check all my meats for salmonella, E. coli, listeria, etc?  How the dickens can I study the long-term effects of endocrine disrupters on humans at home?  Perhaps they mean that consumers should research others’ research to find the answers.  But, I find it increasingly difficult to wade through all the information available to find the trustworthy answers.  Google any kind of questions like the ones above and invariably millions of hits come up.  And how do we know which ones are legit?  I wish I lived in a country that was guided by the precautionary principle: that the burden of proof regarding a product’s safety was upon the manufacturer.  Not that they could continue to market a product until there was proof that it caused harm.  What a revolutionary idea!

Seam Coming Undone
Seam Coming Undone

So, now I am back to square one.  I’d like to be able to pack my son a lunch with some variety that is not dependent on prepackaged foods (I make almost everything from scratch that goes into his lunch), utilize a reusable container so I’m not producing excess garbage, and do it without poisoning him!  One option is the Planet Lunchbox.  One family I know has them.  They are very pricey, but they are stainless steel so they ought to last.  I just gulp when I have to shell out $50 for a lunch box.  Ack.

Here is a picture of a typical lunch I prepare.  Although usually there is one less fruit or vegetable and yogurt is substituted.  The sandwich and the 2 sides are for lunch and the big box is for snack.  Included in the snack is what I like to call an Energy Ball.  My mom made up the idea for them and I’ve started making them the past few years as they are handy for when kids need some healthy fats and calories and are short on time.  I really don’t think adults need “energy bars” and all that crap unless they are athletes in training.  We aren’t that active!  Also, why we need to provide our kids with snacks all the time is beyond me.  But I’ll address those topics another day as I have lots of opinions on those subjects too!  Below is the recipe for my Energy Balls.

Schoolday  Lunch
Typical School day Lunch

Peanut Butter Energy Balls

½ c. peanut butter or other nut butter
3 T. honey, maple syrup, or agave
½ c. crushed cereal (I like shredded wheat or the dregs leftover at the bottom of a box of cereal)
30 raisins
4 dried apricots, chopped
3 dried dates, chopped
2 T. walnuts, chopped
2 T. almonds, chopped
2 T. sunflower seeds
1 oz chocolate chips (about 50)

Put everything in a bowl and stir until combined.  If using maple syrup or agave it may require more crushed cereal as they are more viscous.  Chill in fridge.  Roll into balls a little smaller than a ping pong ball.  Return to fridge until ready to eat.  It should make about 16.

Note: The nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and chocolate chips combined should equal about 1 cup if you just want to use some trail mix.

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7 thoughts on “A Rant on Lunchboxes

  1. I hear you about the lunchbox issue. What’s a mom got to do to get quality, safe products these days? I’m going to try the energy ball recipe. I think Mason would really like those!

  2. Hey Cuz – I feel ya. This is a classic case of “they don’t make ’em like they used to” isn’t it? OK, so my metal lunchbox probably had lead paint or something but only a Mack truck could destroy it. What most bums me out is crappily-made socks. Ooh, feel all warm and gooey with your expensive Smartwool socks but they’ll still run through in the heels before you know it. Grr. Did you end up with the spendiferous Planetbox? Good luck. Cuz Laura PS I’m enjoying reading your posts, even if I don’t always comment.

    1. So, I just used the new Lunchbot lunchbox today. I purchased the one with three spaces for food. It is pretty big. Luckily, it fits one of the insulated bags I already own. The lunchbox itself was pricey, $30, so I was glad I didn’t have to buy a bag for it too.

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