As summer winds to a close, back-to-school shopping is in order. And the first thing that comes to our minds when we think of back-to-school shopping is—what's for lunch?
This year, make lunchtime fun with one of these eco-friendly alternatives to the traditional brown bags of yore. They’re efficient; they reduce waste and mess, and frankly, they’re fabulous.
—By Alissa Harb
These insulated lunch backpacks by Dwell Studios for Thermos offer a hands-free lunch toting experience. As if that wasn't enough, there's a top loop included for storage—just like a regular backpack—and a front slit pocket for extra goodies. Or homework. But let us not damper the mood. These backpacks come in three fun designs to choose from, and the fabric is laminated, ensuring durability all school year long. ($32)
Purchase: Insulated Lunch Backpacks
These space-y lunch trays (available in three sizes) take the cafeteria staple to the next level with built-in compartments that hold up to 4.5 cups of food—perfect for separating sandwiches, snacks and condiments. Foods don't touch, and there's no need for additional containers. Picky eaters (and their moms) rejoice. (starting at $34.95)
Purchase: PlanetBox Lunch Packing Systems
These durable plastic lunch containers come in fun color combinations and include smaller, transparent containers for stacking neatly within the box. And the ingenious part? The elastic handle doubles as storage for plastic bottles. We want one in every color. (starting at $29.50)
Purchase: Lunch Boxes by OOTS
Here's another fabulous lunch kit that includes a handful of components that can be purchased individually for a custom set—but why mess with a beautiful thing? Each lunch kit, made mostly of recycled materials, includes a cotton sack, velcro snack wrapper, water bottle, stainless steel containers and cloth napkin—all beautifully coordinated. Our eight year old selves are green with envy. (kits starting at $29.95)
Purchase: Kids Konserve Waste-Free Lunch Kit
These stainless steel food carriers—available in three sizes—are contemporary, minimalistic, and oh, so shiny. You'll love that they're stackable, with easy snap closures (so all pieces should make it home) and dishwasher safe to boot. And the kids will love the space-age feel of this fun, non-traditional lunch box. (starting at $18.95)
Purchase: To-Go Ware Stainless Steel Carriers
Made from 100% recycled materials—including rescued plastic water bottles from landfills—these little guys are almost too adorable to be so environmentally responsible. Perfect for the younger school set, these lunch packs feature sweet animal designs, many of which are made complete with plush ears. We never knew lunch boxes needed ears, but now we're not so sure that school-age tots should ever go without. ($25)
Purchase: Eco-Friendly Lunch Packs
These totes from SoYoung are almost too charming to be true. Understated, retro-inspired prints on coated linen make for an effortless cool-kid lunch box. Accompanying straps allow your kiddos to transform their boxes into messenger bags or backpacks, and you'll love the leak-proof inserts for easy cleaning. (starting at $31.99)
Purchase: SoYoung Printed Lunch Boxes
Available in a variety of sizes and colors, this meal kit features a dishwasher-safe, collapsible silicone base, giving it the ability to expand to twice its size to accomodate hefty meals—and then collapse again to save storage space. The kit is complete with inner compartments (eliminating the need for individual containers) and the ultimate multi-purpose utensil—the spork. What’s not to love? (starting at $14.99) <br /><br /> <strong>Purchase: </strong><a href="http://astore.amazon.com/pgoarelish-20/detail/B0051XRXRO" target="_blank">SmartPlanet Eco Collapsible Meal Kit</a>
Make your kiddo feel special every day come lunchtime by orienting his or her name or initials into a personality-suiting design. Choose from a number of illustrations and color schemes to personalize the charmingly retro metal lunch box. Ever After even accepts custom requests beyond the suggested available themes. Simply ask, and you shall receive. ($24)
Purchase: Ever After Design Studio on Etsy
The ultimate lunchtime companions, Big Apple Buddies by BUILT come in a variety of "personalities," from Lafayette Ladybug to Riv Raccoon, pictured left. In addition to the high-quality insulation and durability we've come to expect from BUILT, these are about as cute as it gets, and easy to accessorize with other eco-friendly (and equally cute) products in the same line. (starting at $17)
Purchase: Big Apple Buddies by Built
As cooler temperatures settle in, look to this arsenal of warm, comforting slow cooker soup recipes.
Play up the theme—without the cheese factor. These Halloween recipes are perfect for an adults-only occasion.
Guarantee that your text tailgate party is a fan-favorite with these 16 recipes rounded up with game day in mind.
A host of scary-good Halloween treat recipes for this year's party circuit.
Quintessential fall produce and spices, simmered to perfection in these 20 fantastic slow cooker recipes for fall.
A little meal prep never hurt anybody. Trust us, folks—easy packed lunches are born the night before.
Don't settle for the same old, same old. Keep things toasty during the cooler months with these 20 comforting chili recipes.