Reusable Snack Bags for Kids: What to Look For and Which Ones to Try
Have you ditched the plastic baggies for your kids' lunchboxes yet? Here's how to make the switch to resusable snack bags and which bags to try.
You may have been thinking about making your home plastic-free for a while now, but making the big move to get rid of an entire family of products can be tough. Try taking it in baby steps instead, starting with replacing those handy plastic snack baggies with ones that are reusable.
Carmen Ripley Wilson, a retired naturopathic family physician and current owner of the Portland, Oregon-based kids' consignment store Beanstalk Children's Resale, shares that she loves using and recommending reusable snack bags for a couple of reasons.
"First, reusing something over and over means we aren't purchasing new plastic bags, which creates a larger carbon footprint, nor are we throwing something out after just one use. Second, plastics are made of many substrates that may be unhealthy, including, but not limited to, phthalates, lead, BPA and PVCs. It's essential that we minimize exposure to these chemicals to our children." Removing plastic from the home means you eliminate the chance that other people, like the nanny or the grandparents when they come to visit, accidentally expose your children to unnecessary chemicals.
Sari Davidson, the founder and CEO of parenting essentials shop BooginHead and creator of Pack'Ems reusable food pouches, shares the reasons why she invented a line of reusable snack bags. "I wanted to create an item that was dishwasher safe and easy for my kids to open and close on their own. My kids love that they stand up on their own, making them super easy to eat out of."
Here are seven other important features to look for when shopping for reusable bags:
- Consider the Closure
Not only do you want a closure that is easy for your children to open and close on their own, but think ahead to the way that you'll be cleaning your snack bags, too. If you're throwing them in the washing machine, Velcro closures are less likely to last as long as a snap or zipper.
- Size Matters
Most reusable snack bags come in various sizes. When you're starting your collection, stock up on a few different sizes to find the size you use most. When in doubt, size up, since a little extra room for oddly shaped pieces of fruit is better than squishing them into a snack bag that's too small.
- Pick a Print
Many snack bags come in fun patterns and prints, and your kids will have fun picking out bags that they love. If you have more than one child at home, have each of them pick a signature pattern or color for their snack bags so that you know exactly whose bags are missing at the end of the day and who didn't eat their veggies at school.
- Clean Them Up
Don't fool yourself when you make the switch from disposable plastic baggies to reusable snack bags -- clean up is going to take longer. Take into account how you'll need to clean the bags you choose -- are they the kind that you can simply rinse out at the end of the day and hang to dry to be used the next morning? Do they need to be machine washed? Is throwing them in the dishwasher an option?
- Plastic vs. Cloth
Possibly the biggest decision you'll make when you choose your reusable snack bags is the type of material they're made out of. For most families, having a combination of different types of snack bags will work best -- cloth bags can be used for dry snacks, like crackers, and don't necessarily need to be cleaned between each use. Bags that are made from plastic can be wiped out or cleaned with soap and water between uses.
- Look Inside
Don't forget to look inside of your snack bags before you buy. Some bags are lined with a different material than they are made of on the outside and some are even reversible, letting you pack either dry or wet snacks.
- Think Outside of the Bag
Many snacks aren't so standard in size. Be sure to consider reusable snack pouches for liquid-like snacks such as applesauce and yogurt, if those are your kids' favorites.
Snack Bags to Try
- Made of laminated cotton, SAV-UR-SNAC! Reusable Snack Bags are a smart choice for keeping foods fresh in your kid's lunch box because they won't let bread get stale or apple slices make things soggy.
- The Pack'Ems snack bags from Davidson's shop are cool because they stand on their own, which kids will love when they're sitting at a packed lunch table at school.
- The Velcro closure on LunchSkins Snack Bags makes them easy for younger children to open and close on their own.
- Available in dozens of patterns, you'll find your kids using these zipper-closure Snack Happens Reusable Snack and Everything Bags for more than just snacks! They do double-duty for toys and craft supplies, as well.
Need something to put in these snack bags? Check out 10 Healthy Snacks For Kids That Don't Taste Healthy for ideas.
Katie Kavulla is a lifestyle writer and a mom of three who lives in the Pacific Northwest, where plastic bags are banned in grocery stores and where resuable products are a must-have.