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Save Money with Green Lunch Box

Kid's lunches - they sure have come a long way from the days when I was a kid and when a meat sandwich, some cut-up carrots, a couple of homemade cookies, milk and piece of fruit were my lunch box staples.

A typical kid's lunch today contains pre-packaged foods like cheese and crackers, fruit cups and other individually portioned snacks that are not only not environmentally wise but also considerably more expensive.

Take for instance, a single-serving package of cheese or a fruit cup, both are between 30 to 50 cents more expensive per serving than if you were to purchase a block of cheese and a family-sized can of fruit cocktail.

Just think in a couple of days you could save enough money to purchase reusable containers for both the cheese and fruit cocktail after which you would continue to save if you only purchased items that were not individually packaged.

Did you know that yogurt in single-serving containers requires a third more packaging than one large container? It only takes moments to spoon yogurt into your own reusable single-serving containers.

Packing beverages in reusable plastic bottles is also an excellent idea. Just think of all the money you could save per child per school year if you packed just two snacks and a drink in reusable containers. I estimate a minimum of $200 per child or a conservative $1,000 a year for a family of five could be saved.

Consider what you could do with the money you saved - go on a family camping trip for a week or take the family to an amusement park or a downhill ski hill for the day. In a couple of year's time you may even have enough for a family road trip to Disney world.

No matter where you live landfill problems are an issue. It is evident by research studies that our current landfill problems are also climate changing problems. Consider the fossil fuels that are used to make and transport all that extra packaging and later truck it to the landfill. Not to mention, the energy and time it takes to manage all those landfill sites and all the greenhouse gases they produce.

The point is you're wasting money and contributing to your local landfill if you continue to purchase lunch items that come in single-serving packages. I know you may argue that individually packaged items save you time and with life as busy as it is you need as many breaks as you can get. True, using reusable containers will take a few extra minutes but I'm sure you'll agree that over the long term, it's worth it for both your pocketbook and the environment.

My best recommendation for a green lunch box is to assign each member of your family a cloth bag and his or her own plastic food and beverage containers that are labeled with their own name.

About the author 

Using reusable containers is only part of the lunch equation. For some creative ideas of what to pack in your kids' lunch containers visit http://www.school-lunch-ideas.com your one stop resource for healthy school lunches your kids won't trade. In addition to being co-owner of the site Sherrie Le Masurier is a busy mom and lifestyle columnist who believes in eating right. .