Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kids Konserve v. Citizen Pip + a giveaway + discounts

Reviews and discounts and giveaways, oh my!

Boy oh boy have I got a lot of information and goodies for you today. In my previous Lunchbox Dilemma post, I talked about all of the options out there for eco-friendly lunch boxes. In the end, I decided just to make due with the tupperware we have, since the eco-friendly options aren't really in our budget right now.

To my happy surprise, I had a few product review offers for said lunch systems shortly thereafter. (Yeah, next time I'll whine about needing a Prius.) I really try not to be a product whore, because that's not what being green is all about, so I end up deleting a lot of "Your readers will love our $100 eye cream!" emails. But since these lunch systems will definitely be used, used and used some more, I was happy to test 'em out.

So let's get to it!

First is the Waste-Free Lunch Kit by Kids Konserve.

For $42 you get a recycled cotton sack, cloth napkin, 304 food-grade stainless steel beverage bottle, food kozy and two 304 food-grade stainless steel food containers.

The upside:
  • Mine arrived in a pre-used box with ZERO waste to throw away. Loves it!
  • The sack I received was not actually cotton, but it was made from recycled plastic bottles which I thought was cool.
  • No plastic containers!
  • The products (with one exception listed below) were all high-quality, easy to use, and work well.
The downside:
  • The "food cozy" seemed really cheap. I evidently didn't read the website closely enough and thought it was going to be cloth for some reason. It's actually plastic, albeit "recycled, FDA approved, non-toxic, non-leaching, recyclable PE plastic" that "does not contain Bisphenol-A (BPA) and is Phthalate free."
  • The products are made in China and India. The company assures me that, "We work with a variety of suppliers...many whom we have known for years and practice fair trade principals." It's always hard to know what to believe in this case, but I'd like to hope a green company like Kids Konserve is genuine in saying this.
From now until September 30th, you can get 15% off your Kids Konserve purchase by using the coupon code "green".

Next up is Citizen Pip's Soup-to-Nuts kit...

"Citizenpip is muck-free: no lead, BPA, PVC, or phthalates." That tag line should answer up front many questions we have when looking at lunch systems. They also claim to surpass FDA and CPSIA standards.

For $55, you can get the "Soup to Nuts" kit which, as it's name indicates, holds just about anything and everything you might want to send for lunch. The kit includes 1 insulated lunch bag with name tag and carabiner, 1 stainless steel water bottle, 1 stainless steel insulated food jar (like a thermos), 4 BPA-free airtight food containers, 1 stainless steel fork + spoon set, 5 100% cotton napkins.

The upside:
  • The price seems steep, but you get a lot for your money. To get this much storage in the Kids Konserve package you'd have to add their $20 thermos, additional napkins, and more food containers.
  • The containers vary in size - small for dips, yogurt, nuts, dessert, etc. up to a large size that is perfect for a sandwich.
  • I love that the thermos in included in this package. I tested it out and it keeps food hot for several hours. (You can also get the $42 package that doesn't include the thermos or utensils.)
  • They give you 5 napkins so you don't have to worry if you washed them during the week.
The downside:
  • Again, products are made in China and Taiwan.
  • The silverware, drink bottle and thermos arrived in individual plastic sleeves.
  • The food containers are plastic. They are "muck free" so I'm not worried about that aspect, I just have an aversion to purchasing plastic, even if it is recyclable plastic.
From now until September 30th, you can receive 10% off a minimum $40 purchase on Citizen Pip's website using the coupon code "greenhab10".

I'm really torn between these two kits. I think both have given us some nice, eco-friendly options.

I'm not wild about all the plastic with the Citizen Pip kit, but I do know that this is something we'll be using for years to come, so I wouldn't feel as guilty using it as I would buying something that serves a one-time purpose (like putting a gogurt tube or a pudding cup in their lunch boxes).

I love the steel food containers in the Kids Konserve package, but you don't seem to get quite as much for your money. I think it's the cheapy "food cozy" that's throwing me off there, because it really is a nice kit.

Most likely the decision will have to be a personal one based on your child's lunch needs. You can also customize your lunch box by picking and choosing which items you want, rather than purchasing a pre-made kit. And both companies have programs where schools can get a portion of proceeds for getting their students to go green.


Since this is my first year packing lunches (and for two kids no less!), I need some ideas. Leave me a comment with your lunch ideas or tips and you will be entered to win one of Citizen Pip's Square Meal Kits including lunch bag, 5 napkins, water bottle and 4 lunch containers.

(Open to US residents only, sorry. But you can still leave me your tips if you're outside the US! Also, you'll have the option to choose which bag style you prefer. Winner will be chosen at random on Friday, August 28th.)

Updated to add a few more discount coupon codes...

The website is offering 10% off if you use the code "eco10". Nubius offers PVC-free backpacks as well as products from many green suppliers like To-Go Ware and Laptop Lunches.

Laptop Lunches is offering 20% off their bento box style lunch systems using code "ideal55".

Also, some folks have asked about the washability of the Kids Konserve and Citizen Pip lunch boxes. Citizen Pip is really easy to wipe down inside because the entire top zips open. I wouldn't put it in the washing machine, but you could certainly wash it out in the sink. The Kids Konserve bag opens at the top like a sack, so it's a little harder to get to, but I have just put it under the spigot and run water directly into the bag to clean it. I turned it upside down to dry.

Hope that helps!


klj said...

I bake batches of different kinds of muffins, freeze them, and just pop one (or two) into my kids' lunch boxes in the morning. This is something we try to do together over the weekend, combining family time with a necessary chore!

Kimberdoodle said...

I make jello and pudding and put directly into individual containers to set.

Have kids help make lunches -- they are more likely to eat what you send if they helped choose and pack it.

Oh and one thing you didn't mention about those lunch boxes -- how washable are they?

Shadley said...

Eden loves salad and veggies with we do that sometimes instead of sandwiches. Or leftovers in a thermos. Little kids (elementary school aged) don't eat as much as you think they will...there's too much going on at school and not enough time. Pack things that are easy for them to open. We found out the hard way that she could not open her own milk at school, so we had to practice at home for a few days- she'd been throwing away her milk carton full of milk!

Denise said...

One Mom in my class threw the containers in the freezer with a skim of fruit juice in them and then piled the chopped up fruit on top so it would keep cold for their daughter. It also acted like an ice pack for the rest of her lunch.
I thought that was pretty clever :) Now if only the kids would stop throwing out their spoons. I save so many from the garbage in my classroom.

Jasmine said...

For the kids I nanny for, I make homemade 'lunchables'. Cut up meat and cheese and put in a container with crackers. They can eat it as they choose-making little sandwiches or eating them separately. Its a fun alternative to sandwiches, which get boring after awhile. Pack a fruit and a veggie and you're good to go!

To make sure milk stays cold enough in the thermos until lunchtime, you can freeze milk in ice cube trays and throw a couple in there with the milk each morning.

Anne said...

I bought my boys lunch bags on etsy. They are made of fabric and can be thrown in the washing machine. We love them! I've also learned that "less is more" when it comes to packing lunches--they don't have a lot of time to eat! My kids are not big sandwich eaters so we do a lot of whole wheat pasta (in thermos) with yogurt and maybe one other side item. I'm still using the plastic containers we had for the yogurt and such. I would LOVE some new eco-friendly containers!

kazhative said...

Thanks for your reviews - I just discovered the citizenpip product and it was helpful to read your impressions.
Here are a few of my tips for easy,clean, green, healthy lunches:
1. Wax paper bags. Available at almost all grocery stores, they are a great way to avoid plastic bags. I use them for items that don't need a closed lid container like simple sandwiches, pirate bootie, etc.
2. Roll-ups! Instant variety. I use the Lavash bread from Trader Joe's and cut it to size. The flat bread is much better than sandwich bread for spreads like hummus and they add some fun.
3. Soup! Which is why I'm reading about these kits. A simple easy main course for lunch.


Kimberdoodle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cb578 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cb578 said...

Love the CitizenPip set! We're using wax paper for sandwiches this year instead of plastic baggies and regular silverware that comes home every day instead of the disposable kind. Drinks are the main problem for boys LOVE the flavored water pouches and I am desperate for a replacement that doesn't leave so much waste behind!!!

RollerCoaster said...

Nothing like soup/stew/spaghetti for cold winter days along with some cheese and crackers for variety! It is a homemade lunchable! Tortillas make a nice change instead of bread as well. While not the most eco-friendly, you can heat up cheese inside a tortilla and then wrap it in aluminum foil (recyclable) to keep warm for a melty grilled cheese at lunch.

I love the Citizen Pip set even if it does have plastic. The thermos is worth it if it keeps things hot!

panamamama said...

I'm curious as to how these wash also. I have some bento boxes (small ones) that my mom got my daughter overseas. I hate how the ones I have open up and spill all over if I don't get them set just right. I make "sandwich roll ups" with a tortilla where you sprinkle with cheese for about 25 seconds, put a little turkey or chicken (or turkey pepperoni) and roll up and slice into rounds. I roll the whole thing up in waxed paper. My kids like PBJ this way too. Just came upon your blog and love it!

Erin said...

This is my first year sending my son to school (preschool). Since he is in the afternoon class he will be served lunch. So, not only am I adjusting to my little one going to school for the first time, I also have to figure out what to pack for lunch on days he doesn't want the hot lunch provided. He only has 15 minutes for lunch, so whatever I send has to be able to be eaten quickly as well as be something appealing to him. I love the idea of making our own "lunchables". I've read lots of ideas online that suggests kids love to dip their food, so sending small foods they can eat in a small amount of time and some kind of dip sounds like a good idea. I would love to have one of these reusable lunchboxes rather than buying a plastic lunchbox or sending brown bags every time.

Kellie said...

Great ideas - keep 'em coming!

Washing - The Citizen Pip box is easy to wipe clean with a rag because it the top unzips.

The Kids Konserve has the opening at the top. I've had to wash it twice already (messy boy) so I just ran the water right inside of it, swish around, use a wash cloth, then turn upside down to dry. Seems to work well.

Roxanne said...

Great reviews!! My daughter LOVES crackers, and fresh veggies (cucumbers, carrots,avocado (with a bit of lemon to keep the color) and then a small pot of hummus (I usually make this with a food processor at home). I just save containers and put the hummus in a small container. In my experience in the classroom with kids they love anything they can DIP!! :) Happy Greening!!

Kelli said...

I like to freeze fruit - especially grapes and strawberries - for lunchboxes. They are thawed out and still cold by the time lunch begins, and if not, they taste delicious frozen too!

I just got married, and we're planning on having kids soon. All of these decisions to make are overwhelming, so I'm really enjoying your blog - I think I'll be ready once I have my own children!


Marisa said...

I love this round-up of lunch box snacks:

yvonne said...

we love our laptop lunch system. and this year my daughter has been making menus for the week each sunday, which has helped a ton in getting organized each day. getting her to help decide what to have makes it far more likely that she's going to eat what we pack. in addition to the usual sandwiches, wraps, fruit, etc., we like to pack lots of dried fruits, nuts, seeds. a wide variety of snacky things seem to always go over well.