This new school year has been absolute bananas so far. With schedules to adjust to and half of my appliances spontaneously combusting (ok, they didn’t actually do that), we have just been trying to keep up! Add to the craziness that me and my business partner and friend, Brandi, are working on extensive plans for a organic/natural grocery store in our town- I think possibly I may have been dangerously close to waving my white flag. Luckily, my appliances ceased their revolt against me and the casualties remained at four unless you count my spirit which diet with a few of them.  *sigh* The show must go on. 

So with all this nuttiness, now more than ever, I have relied heavily on planning for meals and especially the kiddo’s lunches. If you are a little behind, I was working on a Lunchbox series of the kids lunches and how to be able to really provide your kids with nutrient dense and delicious meals without losing your sanity (though I may be too far gone for that). 

In Lunchbox Round-up Part 1: Preparations, I talked about obviously… preparations. How to really get yourself into the mind set
and situation to be able to get things together for your family for lunches. My biggest recommendation here is to prepare foods (ie vegetables, fruits etc.) on the weekend for the week. In my family we spend a few hours on Sunday afternoon peeling, slicing and chopping things such as apples, pears, onions, sweet potato and more, to be easy to grab and cook up in a hurry. So if one morning I am running behind and have some leftover sausages for the kids, but thats about all- I can easily grab some prepared vegetables to sauté for a side really quickly. 

In Lunchbox Round-up Part 2: First Day lunch, we finally delved into some of the items that we like Zenbelly’s Plantain Wraps Plantain Wraps (LOVE!) and Elana’s Almond Pulp Crackers. The wraps are really out of this world in just about every way possible- they are flexible (no cracking), the taste is mild and they can be stored and reheated very easily. Crackers have become a staple in the house too, and with Elana’s crackers you can just about do anything with them. 

So today I will introduce one of my favorite lunch containers, the ECO Lunchbox 3-in-1. I bought these little guys about a year and a half ago ECO Lunchboxes
when I first started doing bento-style  lunches for the kids. I really wanted to have a lunchbox that I could utilize the space with various bento designs, and these really worked out perfectly. There are three components, the top section with the lid, the bottom that the top nests on and then a snack insert box that fits into the top. When we first got them, the kids and their classmates would comment on how small the containers were, the total size measuring 6″X4.5.” The kids classmates would mock them for having so little food… until they opened up the box and it was filled with deliciousness. I use them for the kids and for myself and the hubby and never ever go hungry when its packed up nicely. 

In addition to the fact that you are not using plastic bags or other disposable containers,
ECO LunchboxesECO Lunchbox is an incredibly environmentally and socially conscious company. Their boxes are BPA, lead, vinyl and plastic-free. Sandra Anne Harris, founder of ECO Lunchboxes, spent time as a humanitarian aid worker in Vietnam where she came across beautiful textiles, similar to those that she now sources for the ECO Lunchbags. These lunch bags are fair-trade and support the communities and artisans from which they came. We do not have the lunchbags, but they are quiet beautiful. 

There are a few downsides to the 3-in-1 that we have experienced over the last year or so of use. While the hinges are super sturdy, the clamps tend to loosen up with regular use and require a “rebending” to keep the box together. This only happened with one of our boxes, not the other. But after a few seconds with a plier, it was tight as it had been in the beginning. The other downside is that the containers and snack box are NOT leakproof. I personally feel that having at least one part of the set leakproof would make it perfect. ECO Lunchboxes does have a oval container and tray style container that do have sealable parts, but I still feel like having that as part of the 3-in-1 would be great. 

We use the ECO Lunchbox pretty regularly and I think they are definitely a box that is useful and practical for older kids, where some of the other containers are a little “youngish.” Additionally, my own kiddos are in fifth grade this year and have a TON of supplies and books coming home each day and the ECO Lunchboxes are compact enough to make the load a little less daunting. 

 On this day the kiddos got a tasty mix starting with fresh fruit and steamed carrots. My guy hates the crunchiness of fresh carrots (a sensory integration thing for him),  but since I have the veggies already prepped, I can steam these babies up ECO Lunchboxespretty quickly. For that same reason he doesn’t have Ants on a Log (made with organic raisins and almond butter) but has raisins and fruit leather. The fruit leather is fantastic! I had no idea really how to start doing fruit leather until I got Eat Like a Dinosaur: Recipe & Guidebook for Gluten-free Kids by The Paleo Parents where its featured.

Lastly, they have a recipe of mine that they love, Paleo Chicken Salad Muffins! I love these little guys, they are one of those items that are super easy to make ahead and freeze to pull out when you need them.   Of  course just to add a little something to it all, they are topped off with Applegate Farms ham slices cut into letters. The muffins come together really easily and are great when you have some leftover chicken or turkey hanging around. 

I am super behind getting things live here, but I will have the Back to School Giveaway for the Lunchbox Round-up Series going up tonight, finally! For the giveaway we will have a Paleo lunch pack to help you all get going on nutrient dense and tasty meals for your kiddos! So come back to win! Tomorrow we will have our next lunch and recipes that we use to make our daily lunches happen.