The Tiffin Tin

What\’s in your lunchbox?

Brown Bag Lunch

with 2 comments

One of my favorite lunch containers is a vertical bento box called a Ms. Bento. Possibly its appeal lies in its utter foreignness. And the way it so perfectly houses food. One of my older sons has one of these. It’s not a Ms. Bento, but is quite like it, a bit smaller and appropriate for a kid, a nice plain stainless steel. He, like me, loves the orderliness of this kind of lunch and he likes the vertical bento box thermos.

Unlike me, he is not enamored of foreignness. At least not when other people — his peers, I mean — are looking on. (When his peers aren’t looking, and doing what kids do, namely laughing at anything different, he’s an early lover of all things different. Ethiopian food, dark hot chocolate, new flavors. Nothing throws him.)

And so, it was a huge sadness to me when he said he’d rather have his lunch in a brown bag. A plain brown bag? Something less foreign I couldn’t imagine. I was sad for exactly 24 hours.

Until I got to thinking about the charm of American lunch bags. I remember a French friend once told me how much she loved paper grocery bags. For her, they delivered exactly the same charm of foreignness that the little string bag she’d brought from France gave to me. My plan? I’m going to pretend like I’ve never seen a brown bag before, and pack it the way a Japanese mother would.

Here’s how.

  • First, let’s tackle the brown bag. There are two problems with brown paper bags. One — they are thin and tend to collapse if anything spills. When you’re ten, you spill a lot of things. Second — they don’t have a handle and they’re a pain to carry. Third — they’re never big enough. The answer to each of these is in the type of kraft paper bag you get in stores sometimes. It’s very much like a brown lunch bag except it has a handle and it’s a little sturdier. You can buy them a lot of places online. And if you want to decorate them, you can use a huge stamp, one that says _________’s Lunch. And then you can write in our kid’s name.
  • Another possibility for the lunch bag that doesn’t require recycling bags, is this canvas bag.
  • Second, you still need some kind of cooling system. Built-in is best, but in a pinch you can just thrown in an ice pack. I found something really neat when I started looking around for something to put inside the brown bag. It’s here. It’s expensive, though, so for a while I’m just going to stick with the ice pack. Now, I’ve got to go order those lunch bags.

Written by bloglily

June 25, 2006 at 10:23 am

2 Responses

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  1. Kids Konserve has come out with a canvas bag for lunch. The reusable waste-free lunch/snack kit comes with stainless steel containers, stainless steel water bottle, food kozy, and napkin. They also sell tifins and thermos. Great patterns to choose from.


    December 7, 2008 at 10:34 pm

  2. Wow! Christy, I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you, but the blog’s been a little tired lately. Anyway, thanks for the link. I love the look of these. xo


    February 7, 2009 at 4:53 pm

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