I estimate (conservatively) that I have packed more than 1,600 sandwiches in Solomon and Celia’s lunchboxes since they first started full-day school and summer camp. That’s a whole lot of bread, peanut butter, turkey, and mayo, and a whole heap of sandwich bags!

There are several strategies for keeping the fillings inside those two pieces of bread through all the jostling from when the kids head out the front door in the morning until they unzip their lunchboxes in the school cafeteria. We’ve tried them all — plastic bags, foil, waxed paper, sandwich-shaped boxes, and anything else you can imagine.

The disposable wraps are popular, but bothered me to use. As a dedicated environmentalist, I felt awful about how much plastic and foil I was wasting (even though I reused and recycled as much as possible). And then I stumbled onto a solution to my sandwich and snack packing woes.  I met Maryland moms Kirsten Quigley and Cris Bourelly, the inventors of Lunchskins reusable sandwich and snack bags.

Kirsten and Cris, both lovers of the outdoors, were inspired to make reusable sandwich and snack baggies after learning that every day in the U.S., 20 million plastic sandwich baggies wind up in landfills! They created a practical and kid-appealing solution out of food-grade material that is also dishwasher safe, and as I can attest, extremely durable. Not only that, because my kids love them, our Lunchskins always manage to make it home at the end of the day. (See below for a chance to win your own set of Lunchskins.)

So what do we stuff inside our Lunchskins? In addition to crackers, cookies, grapes, orange slices, and carrots, here are a few of our favorite sandwich combinations:

• Turkey, ham, or salami, Swiss cheese and lettuce on whole wheat bread.
• Tuna, chicken, or egg salad on a bagel with cucumbers or lettuce.
• Cheddar or Muenster cheese and sliced tomatoes (put the tomato between the slices of cheese so the bread doesn’t get soggy) with a little mayonnaise or mustard.
• Fresh mozzarella and pesto or artichoke and red pepper tapenade on a baguette.
• Peanut or other nut butter with jam, sliced bananas, honey, raisins, or apples on whole wheat.

Cris and Kirsten have generously offered to send a free set of Lunchskins bags (sandwich, sub and snack size) to two lucky Kitchen Explorers readers. To be eligible to win, please leave a comment below with your child’s favorite sandwich combination. Leave your comment by Friday, May 6th at 11:59 PM PST, and we will choose a winner using Random.org by Monday, May 9th. US mailing addresses only. One entry per person. Good luck! Congratulations to Dana Stokes and Shelley! The contest is now closed. Thanks everyone.

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133 Responses to “Ending the Plastic Baggie Blues”

  1. Danielle

    Peanut butter and honey or turkey with American cheese on wheat are two favorites here!

  2. Jennifer

    Peanut butter and blackberry jelly on Goldfish bread!

  3. Erin Zackey

    Oh these would be awesome to have for Kindergarten next year! My kids are into wraps of all sorts, but definitely ham and cheddar with spinach and ranch dressing. thanks!

  4. Natali

    My son likes turkey, cheese, lettuce and mustard on wheat bread- pretty standard fair I suppose!

  5. Deanna S-D

    That would be peanut butter, peanut butter and peanut butter on soft whole wheat – she’s a purist 🙂

  6. Jenn

    As my 3yr old would say “JUST round ham “, which is kolbassa, and “orange cheese” which is marbled! LOL

  7. Andrea

    My daughter eats any sandwich combo her Dad is eating. As she wants to do everythung just like he does!

  8. Julie B.

    These are awesome! My son prefers to take his lunch so he doesn’t have to stand in the lunch line so long. I’d love to get some of these!!! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Melanie

    Currently, my son likes a peanut butter and banana sandwich

  10. Christy Aspinwall

    This is the best idea I have seen in a long time! What a great concept. My family and I could definitely use a set of these!

  11. Joyce K

    My son’s favorite is Peanut Butter (JUST PB, none of that ‘ucky’ jelly!) on Whole Wheat. I don’t know how, but he could eat that for every meal for a week and be as happy as a clam. He loves to take his lunch because ‘Bosco Sticks’ are not food and he agrees with me 🙂

    Thank you for sharing!

  12. Melanie Schueller

    My two year old loves peanut butter and banana. My daughter loves ham and ordinary pb&j. Between school snacks, snacks on-the-go, my lunch and husband’s dinner, we use an insane about of baggies and I feel guilty every time I open up another and another!!

  13. Tasha

    My son’s favorite is ham and swiss on wheat bread with spicy mustard and a touch of mayo.

  14. Karen G.

    BBQ chicken breast (deli sliced) and cheese on Gluten-Free Whole Grain Bread or Bagel is a favorite (for now at least). On a side note.. LOVE these.. Thank you for posting about them!!! We use the sandwich boxes now but they take up a lot of room in the lunch sacs so this is great!!

  15. kyla

    I bought 4 of these at the beginning of this school year and they are still going strong. Easy to clean and leak-free! They are adorably cute and I feel good about not causing so much waste. Was just thinking I need to get a few more. 🙂

  16. Jessica

    Turkey, cheese, lettuce, and cucumber on whole wheat bread or wrap. She could eat this everyday of the week and not get bored with it!

  17. kyla

    Oh, and daughter’s favorite sandwich? PBandJ! At least it’s easy.

  18. Michaela

    My son loves cheese quesadillas – mozzarella and cheddar on a whole wheat tortilla. He’s also a big fan of bagels or whole wheat bread with melted “monster” (muenster) cheese. Pretty much anything with cheese! If he eats cold cuts or salami, he doesn’t bother with bread…apparently, it gets in the way. We also use the boxes, but they are bulky.

  19. Robin

    My boys love turkey sandwiches, pb&j, and now are getting in to cheese and crackers. Love the idea of reuseable bags! Thanks.

  20. Kathy

    My son has eaten an almond butter and honey (on wheat) sandwich almost every day for 8 years! My daughter thinks waffle sandwiches are a treat (whole wheat waffles w/ pb&j).

  21. Erin

    Peanut Butter with either homemade apple butter or honey.

  22. Kirsty

    My kids love sandwiches turkey, cheese, lettuce and tomato with a smidge of mayo and mustard. They love apple slices on the side.

  23. Stephanie

    My son will be attending a new preschool next year and will be taking his lunch every day. He is so excited to help choose his lunch menu. One of his favorite ‘sandwiches’ is a tortilla filled with rice, beans, cheese, and salsa. If confined to traditional bread he prefers plain peanut butter or sunbutter.

  24. Carrie

    my daughter likes peanut butter and jelly with half white and half whole wheat bread.. cookie cutter style

  25. Laurie Z

    My fav growing up? Peanut butter, butter, and brown sugar.. so NOT healthy, but totally delicious. Now its PB only for the boys, and anything goes for my girl– she may even eat those yummy sounding combos in your blog. thanks!

  26. Dawn

    My son’s favorite sandwich is peanut butter and banana.

  27. Sara S

    Peanut butter and jelly – hold the jelly – on whole wheat! My kids aren’t much for sauces and condiments. Less is more at my house! They also like turkey pepperoni, black olives and pickles on wheat. 🙂

  28. Sandra

    Ham (very thinly sliced) with mayo and avocado on Dill Rye Bread.. YUM

  29. Bethany

    We love a good old-fashioned turkey and cheese around here 🙂

  30. Cindy Fraser

    Soybutter, banana and jelly ~ Yep, peanut allergies!

  31. Katrina

    My son loves organic, sugar-free peanut butter w/ sugar-free apple butter on Ezekiel bread.

  32. Katie

    Definitely peanut butter and honey at my house!

  33. Adrienne

    My kids love peanut butter and honey on wheat bread!

  34. Emily

    not picky…he loves the classic pb&j, but prefers strawberry jam!

  35. Karen

    My 3 year-old enjoys ham and hummus on wheat. Those luchskins look great — great idea and cute to boot!

  36. Emily K

    My son’s favorite, is plain old peanut-butter (sometimes with sprouts- yes sprouts!) I also make him grilled cheese with butternut squash- its hidden well in the melted cheese. 😉

  37. Nick

    My son likes PB&J on wheat bread; my daughter’s a big fan of tuna sandwiches or bologna with cheese and mayo.

  38. Sandra

    Plain old ham on wheat with mayo. Simple but my son’s fave!

  39. Janine Buckley

    My child is a picky eater. . .it’s cheese only for him!

  40. juliP

    peanut butter and bacon on circle bread

  41. Becca

    It’s almost always “Peanut butter jelly time!” around here.

  42. Janice

    My daughter’s favorite is egg salad and lettuce on whole wheat bread. 🙂

  43. Jennifer Harrell

    grilled cheese on 7 grain bread w/ colby jack!

  44. Sherris

    My 8 year-old want turkey & cheddar on white with pickles on the side.

  45. Sue

    peanut butter and strawberry jelly for my son and tuna fish salad for my daughter

  46. Kirsten

    For my two year old just starting preschool, I pack either a ham, turkey or cheese sandwich with cream cheese or mayo as the glue. Sturdy sandwiches are best for him at this point!

  47. Katrina

    Grilled cheese w/ tomato, lettus, and avocado.

  48. Shannon

    PB and J, but occasionally they are OK with ham 🙂

  49. Kaya

    My son loves pb & nutella on whole wheat!
    I often make a little extra for mommy 😉

  50. KimRinger

    My son absolutely loves grilled cheese sandwiches, especially with Colby Jack cheese. Of course, always on whole wheat bread!

  51. Elizabeth Navarro

    Good old classic of peanut butter and jelly on wheat bread. With any veggies and dip.

  52. Jill

    Please don’t gag- LIVERWURST & CLAUSSEN pickles! I know it’s weird- we’re German – grew up on it! Would love the baggies.

  53. Aliki Moncrief

    My 4-year old loves grilled tofurky and cheese, especially when we use a sandwich cutter to make it into a butterfly or star puzzle (a puzzle so that the crust is still part of the deal).

  54. Alicia Boarts

    My daughter’s favorite right now is bologna and cheese, or grilled cheese “in a square with the crunchy outside” as she would say.

  55. Shelley

    My daughter loves turkey, a cheesestick and avacado wrapped in a tortilla with cream cheese. Yum.

  56. Wendy G

    My son took honey on whole wheat toast this morning. Tomorrow he wants sunflower butter with honey.

  57. Jennifer Stone

    My 2 year old daughter loves pb&j. She always pulls it apart, and eats the jelly side first!

  58. Kristene

    My dd likes goat cheese and jam roll ups!

  59. Paula Jakobs

    pb & j on home made sourdough bread

  60. Jessica KW

    PB&J on wheat. Or grilled cheese (hot or cold). My boys tend to stick to the classics.

  61. Peggy Blanchard

    I would so much like to be able to report that Juliana (6) likes something incredibly healthy, but good-ole peanut butter and strawberry jam is her favorite, hands-down. Of course, it was my favorite too, and I still like it. I’m her great-grandmother (and yes, I’m raising her) and it was my favorite sandwich too. However, I am certainly raising her to be thoughtful about environmental concerns and her lunch and snack bags have bothered me–I love the idea of reuseable ones!

  62. Anne Scott

    My 3 yo daughter loves PB&J, pulled apart and licked, but no nuts allowed at preschool. So, she’ll settle for many different options but she especially likes potato rolls with turkey, havarti and cucumbers. I love the options you’ve suggested, especially the mozz/red pepper baguette! I’m going to try them out. Lunchskins sound great; we also use Reusies.

  63. christie

    My three-and-half year old loves peanut better, strawberry jelly, and cheetos (!) on wheat. He likes to pair it with milk and honey pretzels.

  64. KrisJ

    My 3 year old twins love peanut butter and fruit spread on wheat bread, also ham, cheese and salami sandwiches too.

  65. Anne

    Peanut butter & honey on Dad’s fresh artesian bread. Yum!

  66. Nicole W

    We are “pb and chocolate” girls (low sodium jif, nutella, and whole wheat bread sans crust)!

  67. Krista

    My daughter’s favorite is a plain old cheese sandwich. She’s just started eating turkey, though and I can’t wait to get some yummy, fresh garden tomatoes and lettuce on our sandwiches!

  68. Naomi Close

    My son’s favorite sandwich is sunflower butter and honey pm sprouted bread. He’ll also take ham- with nothing else on it! Starts kindergarten in the fall and I would love to do away with the sandwich tupperware box- they’re bulky, and don’t fit every kind of bread.

  69. WB

    I don’t have kids, but pack my own lunch every morning. I would love to have these bags to use instead of plastic. Peanut Butter and Jelly is still a favorite.

  70. sara

    My 5 year old daughter likes turkey or ham on whole grain with pickles only…….oh, no crust!!!!!

  71. Sarah

    Yeah, pretty much anything with peanut butter, but jelly and honey are the usually favorite to accompany!

  72. Laura MacLeod

    Vegetarian hotdog with cream cheese!

  73. Amy

    Their favorites are PB&J, but they will also eat a healthier veggie sandwich with avocado.

  74. Christina

    My 2 1/2 year old daughter loves pb&j of course, but she also LOVES my favorite sandwich… provolone cheese on sourdough bread, put under the broiler, then add tomato slices and pesto.

  75. Marla Ferguson

    peanut butter and honey yummy!

  76. Holly

    My 5-year-old’s favorite combo is turkey and cheese. I try to sneak in some spinach.

  77. Ali

    Peanut butter and jelly on Udi’s gluten free bread.

  78. Candace

    My daughter loves peanut butter and strawberry jam.

  79. Regina Elliott

    My son really likes turkey with avocado, monterey jack cheese and broccoli sprouts.

  80. Michelle Rasina

    My daughters like peanut butter and honey with goldfish pretzel crackers on whole wheat bread.

  81. Tammy Free

    My first grade son likes lunchmeat of any kind on whole wheat bread or in a wrap. Ham and salami are favorites. No condiments or cheese for him.

  82. Alyssa Kingsbury

    My oldest loves smoked ham and Swiss cheese on white bread. Mayo, mustard and lettuce too! Side it with a yougurt & fruit for desert that is her typical school lunch!

  83. Kathryn

    The current favorite at out house is roast turkey and cream cheese on whole wheat bread!

  84. Beth Geyer

    Peanut butter and banana either on whole wheat bread or spread/wrapped in a tortilla then cut sushi-style!

  85. Kathleen

    Triple decker PBJ on whole grain bread!

  86. Sharleen Schuiling

    Fresh mozzarella and pesto or artichoke and red pepper tapenade on a baguette.

    I can not wait to make these for the kids lunch
    Oh – and these skin fabalous idea!

  87. Aimee

    My daughter loves chicken and cheese or peanut butter and jelly.

  88. Sarah

    PB and Nutella is the current favorite.

  89. Michelle Ledesma

    My oldest daughter loves plain bread with roast beef, that’s it….plain. My youngest daughter adores a tuna salad sandwich. These skins are a wonderful idea! Thank you for sharing with us all.

  90. Amanda Patton

    Peanut butter and strawberry jelly or peanut butter and honey, also grilled cheese.

  91. Amanda Patton

    peanut butter and strawberry jelly, pb and honey or grilled cheese.

  92. marykate

    French bread with Camembert cheese and apples(or pears or grapes)

  93. Holly

    My daughter loves plain peanut butter and jelly on wheat bread, but she also likes peanut butter and nutella also. No lunch meat for her!

  94. Kristin G.

    we love lunchskins!! my son loves PB&J and my daughter loves “hot dog” sandwiches (hot dog bun with a banana and honey).

  95. Naomi Aylesworth

    My son’s favorite sandwich is peanut butter on potato bread.

  96. Suzy

    Peanut Butter and Jelly on Whole Wheat, of course!

  97. Kathy Ortiz

    My son loves any nitrate free lunch meat with cheese and tomatoes. Cranberry honey mustard or relish are favorite condiments! 🙂

  98. Marcia

    PB&J on whole wheat. Or if I’ve got it, he LOVES Nutella on whole wheat.

  99. Jana

    My son’s favorite sandwich is peanut butter and bananas, but he’ll eat just about anything you stick between two slices of bread.

  100. Kathy

    My two year old loves any nitrate free lunch meat with cheese, lettuce, and tomato. Relish or cranberry honey mustard are his fave condiments! 🙂

  101. Dori

    Bagel & cream cheese with strawberries!

  102. casey A

    My son loves Avocado and cream cheese sandwiches and my daughter loves cucumber, cream cheese, herbs de provence and marinated yellow bell peppers. I think they have amazing taste in sandwiches!

  103. Jennifer D

    turkey, cheese, lettuce sub w/a touch of mayo

  104. Robyn

    My son will only eat chicken salad, since he was 13-months old. Anything with a speck of peanut butter on it and he turns his nose up at it as though he is too good to eat that stuff!

  105. Kelly

    Pb&J, just like his father he would eat it for every single meal if I didn’t say no for breakfast & dinner!!!!

  106. Christine

    Wheat bread, one slice of ham, one slice of turkey, provolone cheese, and the crusts cut off. 🙂

  107. Julie

    My daughters like Maple Almond Butter or Sunbutter on toasted bread.

  108. Tracy

    My littles love cucumber and cream cheese and almond butter and homemade jam. Yum!!!!

  109. Dana stokes

    Bacon cheese and lettuce for my son.

  110. Janice

    On her sandwich, my daughter likes turkey, American cheese and THAT’S IT!! No mayo, no lettuce, no nothing. Thanks for the contest!

  111. Jeffrey

    My son is a PBJ addict. Maybe trying something new will go over better in one of these.

  112. Sarah T

    Almond butter and strawberry jam.

  113. Holly C

    Ham and cheese on sandwich thins or if I would let her take it….a fluffernutter!

  114. Jennifer Collins

    Almond butter and nutella sandwiches or ham sandwiches

  115. Marlee

    Cream cheese and olives on bagel thins

  116. Mary Baldovin

    My daughter likes yellow mustard, \white jelly\ (aka mayo), dill pickles, cheese and turkey.