Sunday, April 24, 2011

More containerization - stainless steel edition

I haven't blogged about the stainless steel containers I use yet because I have just so much to say about them that I wasn't sure where to start.  But I have to start somewhere.   Here are a few things in my rotation for lunch and home use.  I'm not someone who completely shies away from plastic, as we all know it's everywhere and there is no avoiding it.  I just wanted to try to find a way to avoid using it when I could, particularly when it came to food storage, and so I started using the following sets.  I actually don't think any one of them is the perfect solution but they are a great start.

The three compartment stainless steel lunch container I used to make this lunch is the trio from Lunchbots:

Pros: The entire thing is made of stainless steel, absolutely no plastic.  That is pretty cool.  It also allows me to keep foods separate (this encourages me to get creative with the size of food I pack).  Fairly easy to clean.

Cons: The container looks like it is cheaply made.  The first time I opened it, I noticed that one of the interior steel "separators" is bent.  This doesn't really effect the storing of food but it's poor quality control and it just irks me.  Every time I use it I try in vain to straighten it.  Also, the inside edges seem slightly unfinished.  I don't think Juju is going to cut herself on them but they just don't feel smooth.  Something about this set makes me think the factory does not pay a lot of attention to detail.  It also makes me think these containers were originally for another use and were just repurposed for school lunch containers without much thought to how toddlers and kids work.  Also I am not sure these are 100% leak proof.

Another set I use a lot and featured in this meal are this trio of stainless steel Kids Konserve containers:

I bought mine at Whole Foods for $26 which I thought was really expensive but I have to say, I like these containers a lot.

Pros: Very high quality.  Someone clearly thought about these when they were designed.  Three sizes which allow me to back various foods, portion sizes, etc.  When not in use the three bowls nest inside one another which make for easy storage and, because they are sold that way, means they weren't sold with a lot of wasteful packaging.  Very good for liquids, so far totally leak proof for us.

Cons: The colors.  I know that they now sell these in more colors but the standard set of three still comes in puke green, rusty old orange, and kind of cool neon green.  I wish they had more fun with the lids.  Also, the lids are made of plastic but since they usually don't touch the food, I am not too concerned.  My other problem with these bowls is that they are great for food storage, but when it comes to eating from them at the lunchtable, the size just isn't right.  I wish they were more like bowls you would eat from with a more round bottom and shallower walls.  I think it's hard for Juju to work a fork or spoon in these.

I don't have any recent photos of Juju's lunch using the Thinkbaby set but it's also part of our rotation.  We have this orange set:

Pros: The bowls are the kind of bowls you would normally eat out of but they also have lids for storing and transporting.  Juju loves the mug and when she drinks from it she likes to announce "this is my coffee."  Fun, kid friendly colors.  Definitely high design.  Made for babies which means you can transport your baby food in the appropriate size containers.  Washes very well.

Cons: The surfaces of all of the containers and mug are stainless steel but they do use plastic on the outside of everything.  This is either for insulation or for looks.  Either way it's a lot of plastic, even though it doesn't touch the food.  The lids for the bowls are also plastic and slightly flimsy but still functional.  The fork and spoon are made completely of plastic.  Designed for babies so the containers are a tad small for everyday use once your child grows up.

At home I try to use stainless steel plates and bowls but I don't have too many.  I use the Thinkbaby bowls above and I also have the Lunchbots Children's Stainless Steel Dish set:

Pros: First of all, I really like that this set exists at all.  I looked around and there are so few options for home feeding in stainless steel so bravo to Lunchbots for offering one.  This one is definitely made of higher quality than the lunch container above.  They are clearly using a different vendor for these and I wish they would move everything over to this factory.  The bowl is a great size and happens to be the same size as one of the Thinkbaby bowls so I can use the lid from that one for this one if I want since this set comes with no lids.  The mug is also a great size and shape for kids.  These are very easy to clean.

Cons: I do not like the shape of plate.  It seems like it can't decide if it is a bowl or a plate so it ends up being sort of like a shallow soup bowl and you can't fit much food on it.  I wish they just gave me a normal plate.  No lid for the bowl means you can't store food in this set unless you also have the Thinkbaby set.  Price.  I paid $19.99 for one set.  I wish I could find a set that would give me 4 bowls and 4 plates and 2 mugs for around $50 - $60.  That would be ideal.  I realize stainless steel costs more but I can't believe it's really this cost prohibitive.

I also use a set of stainless steel food prep bowls with lids I got at Target for around $5.  It came with three small bowls with three plastic lids.  The bowls are small so they are great for dips, sauces, or small amounts of food.  They are very easy to clean and fit nicely in nooks and crannies of a lunch box when it's otherwise stuffed with the above containers.

That's pretty much all I use around here in the stainless steel variety but I'll check my drawer later to make sure I'm not missing anything.  And, I have a few more stainless steel recommendations and things on my wish list which I'll post about soon.  I will also post about the ceramic and glass we use around here too. 

1 comment:

  1. Have you checked out this site, Jamie?
    They are great for ethical sourcing too!

    I agree that plastic is unavoidable, but we also try not to store/serve food on plastic. Plus, have have found that stainless steel plates are much sturdier during the toddler tossing phase :).

    Love your blog Jamie!!!