With the growing move towards litterless school lunches, it seems like there are a zillion lunch containers and lunch boxes on the market to help kids store and tote their midday meal. But, while many of these items are fun and practical, cleaning them is a giant pain, as most are hand-wash only.
Which is why I went on a hunt to find the best dishwasher-safe or machine washable lunch products. One of my biggest pet peeves is that so many of these reusable containers are hand-wash only, and that’s just not gonna happen in our house. With these items, we’re not only saving the environment, we’re saving time, too.
I’ve included both high and low options for each of the five items every kid needs for a zero-waste lunch, so you’re sure to find something to fit your family’s budget.
Sistema Snack Attack Duo-To-Go – $13.99
This is probably the most-used item in my son’s lunch box, and for good reason. The main compartment is the perfect size for holding a sandwich, wrap, or salad, and there are still two smaller compartments for sides or snacks. The buckles were easy enough for him to open on his own when he started in JK at age 3, and it’s BPA-free for added peace of mind.
Best suited for younger kids, this bento box features a leak-proof design and contains five separate compartments for storing a variety of delicious eats for your little one. It is both microwave- and dishwasher-safe, in case your child has access to a microwave at school. Plus, it comes with a 2-year warranty.
The moms in the packed lunch ideas Facebook group I’m a part of raved about this cutlery set for being easy to use, easy to store, and easy to clean. Add in the fact that it comes with a lifetime warranty, the only reason you’d need to replace it is if your child lost it. And and this price point, that wouldn’t be a huge problem, either.
Industrial Revolution Spork – $7.99
Rather than sending separate tools for each food item, this spork is a smart, all-in-one mealtime solution. It is specially designed with tiny diners in mind, and comes in a set of three for the inevitable days your child will come home from school without it.
Reusable water bottle
Drink in the Box – from $14.99
Practically every other kid at my son’s school brings these reusable juice boxes for lunch. It boasts a nearly indestructible design, is free of phthalates and BPA, and is leak-proof. While it is a bit on the pricey side, the manufacturer claims it should last for 3-5 years.
This has been the only water bottle our family has used when out and about for years. It’s leakproof, durable, and easy to use one-handed. Plus, it’s made with BPA-free materials and carries a 1-year warranty. If your family has a Costco membership, they sometimes have these in the warehouse at a ridiculously affordable price.
Fuel Soup on the Go Container – $14.49
This leak-resistant thermal food storage container holds a generous 16-ounces, and features a separate top compartment for storing crackers, bread, or other items. The moms I spoke to found it kept food warmer than other comparable brands, and loved that it came with a lifetime warranty.
This stainless steel food jar keeps food warm for up to 5 hours, and cold for up to 9—perfect for a day at school or summer camp. The rubber grips make it easy for tiny hands to hold and open, while the wide mouth is easy to fill and eat from.
While not dishwasher-safe, SoYoung’s lunch bags come with a variety of fun and whimsical prints on the front, and include a leak-proof liner for quick and easy cleanups. It also includes a removable shoulder strap for carrying, and is free of PVC, phthalates, lead, and BPA.
Keep Leaf Insulated Lunch Bag – $21.95
This insulated lunch bag is available in a multitude of cute prints, and is made from 100% organic cotton—so it can be easily spot-cleaned or hand washed. The top handle is easy for little hands to grab and carry, and the velcro closure is simple to open.
We love the size of this lunch bag! It’s perfet for storing lots of containers inside its fully insulated interior—and also fits bento boxes perfectly. Plus, it’s easy-peasy to wipe clean, has a large front pocket for extra snacks or treats and comes in three different colours.
Funkins Cloth Napkins – from $8.95
These adorable cloth napkins and placemats are great for cleaning up the inevitable spills your child is bound to have while eating, and are soft on their delicate skin. They have been lovingly handmade in North America, and include a hand-sewn label so you can write your child’s name on them. Plus, they can be popped into the washing machine!
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