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Litterless Lunches: What Works Best?

Options for litterless lunches

Since most elementary schools are moving to “boomerang” lunches (where any remaining garbage from a lunch is “boomeranged” back home for disposal) or “litterless” lunches (where the focus is on environmental care), it’s no surprise that parents are in need of solutions that work.

But what is a solution that works?

Well, I’ve found that there are a number of factors to consider, depending on your family’s particular needs. These include:

  • Do you tend to pack foods that need to be re-heated in a microwave? In elementary school, microwaves are not usually available, while high-schoolers can use ones available in the cafeteria.
  • Do you need something that can be tossed into the dishwasher? Some products have to be hand-washed, while others are for the top rack only.
  • Do you need something that can keep foods cold? My kids don’t mind room-temperature foods, but other might be more particular. If you need cold, then you’ll need to ensure that you’ve got room for a cooler bag in your lunch kit.
  • What about plastic? If you don’t want to use plastic (which is all BPA-free by law now), you’ll want to seek out glass or stainless steel solutions.
  • What about portion sizes? For a school-aged child, smaller portions work. For the teenager in high-school, much more food is required.
  • Do you have a consistent preference for what gets put into daily lunches? Young kids tend to enjoy the same thing each day, so kits often work well. But what about a teenager who brings a salad one day, but a sandwich the next … not all kits can accommodate a full variety of food types.
  • The mention of salads brings me to liquids. If you are packing salad dressing, then you really want to be sure you have a well-sealed container. Same goes for yogurts that can really make the inside of a lunch bag stinky!
  • How much time is provided for eating? In elementary school, more time is available than in high-school, where teen tend to be rushed and need to be able to grab quick snacks from their locker between classes.
  • Last, but not least, price. Some options can very pricey and might simply be prohibitive to the family budget, while others are more do-able.

If you’re like me, all of these considerations can make you feel very indecisive! Who really wants to spend this much time thinking about lunches, right??

I agree! So I’ve done the hunting, and thinking, and debating, and pricing for you. I’ve spent literally HOURS wandering around Terra20’s litterless lunch aisles (they have the best selection in the city) and done the dirty hungry work for you.

What will follow in the coming week or so are the following:

I’d love to hear any feedback you have on this topic… what’s worked for you, and perhaps most importantly, what hasn’t work. (My pet peeve are water bottles and containers that leak! I get sooo annoyed after investing a decent amount of coin in a good water bottle only to find an inch of water at the bottom of the school bag at the end of the day).

Disclosure: Terra20 is remunerating me for the time spent to write these litterless lunch posts. I was not given any specific editorial direction nor any products, and I’m free to share my opinions–good, bad, and otherwise. 


  1. I have been very happy with using a divided lunch bag for the girls. They are on a Balanced Day, so we use bags by the same name. Canadian company, durable bags. For containers, glass is not permitted at school so we have had great success with the Lock-n-Lock (Starfrit?) type, as well as regular Rubbermaid. I use silicone muffin cups as dividers and often pack a bunch of foods for grazing (Bento style). Goodbyn containers have been wonderful, too.

    I am often given looks of horror when I say that I like packing my kids school lunches!

    • haha! I would probably be one of those people who give looks of horror, Brenda! I must admit that I get really bored fast with the whole lunch-packing chore. We’ve used the Lock style you mentioned as well. My youngest found those easiest to open. But I haven’t tried Goodbyn before — thanks for the tip! Now … tell me how you keep all these containers organized! (I’m serious. I need help with this.)

  2. I love Terra 20 for their great selection of litterless lunch options. Such cute options too for my little kindergartner! He loved getting to choose. We will go back this year again. Last year the one we picked out didn’t have space for yogurt. So I have lived and learned and now am a bit more wise for what I’m looking for!

    • Yes, I agree – Terra20 has an amazing selection! I really have spent hours looking through it all! Ah, I agree that yogurt can be tricky. If it leaks, it’s super yuck. I must admit to failing regularly on being fully litterless and often send yogurt in the individual containers.

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