The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
December 3, 2009

PlanetBox Stainless Steel Lunch Kit


Planet Box lunch boxLast month, Fake Plastic Fish reader Alanna sent me a link to a very cool new stainless steel lunch option.  PlanetBox, a company created just this year, has designed a lunch box that is airtight and has compartments for all the different foods you might want to pack.  And unlike Bentology/Laptop Lunches, which I have never promoted because they are made from plastic, the PlanetBox container is plastic-free. (Disclosure: You can support My Plastic-Free Life financially by purchasing via the Amazon link in this post.)


I asked the owner, Caroline Miros (who happens to also live in the Bay Area) about the materials in the lunch box, and here is what she told me:

  • Our PlanetBox lunch box is made out of high quality stainless steel – no plastic.
  • Each PlanetBox comes with a set of magnets that are made out of synthetic rubber, but not PVC (the standard for thin flexible magnets).  We had to look long and hard for a supplier that did not use PVC, and found one in Asia that sold to the European Markets (with their smarter, tougher standards.)  So the magnets are still plastic, but at least not PVC. If someone requested to not have the magnets with their PlanetBox, we would gladly comply.
  • Our Big and Little Dipper containers have a small silicone rubber seal on top, in order to make it more liquid tight.  We tried lots of different options to try to not use silicone for this, but ultimately had to in order to get it to hold liquid.
  • Our Carry Bag is made out of 100% recycled material made from plastic bottles, as well as polyurethane.  Again, this isn’t a perfect solution, but it is durable and washes well, which we felt was important for a children’s lunch bag.  And of course it’s certified free of toxic materials like lead and bpa/phalates.

I appreciated Caroline’s candid answers to my questions, so I asked her to tell me a little about her inspiration for designing PlanetBox:

As a mom who has been packing lunches for over 8 years, I’ve been frustrated by the ever changing news about what plastics are considered “safe.” First PVC was bad, then Polystyrene. Then the bad news of #7 Polycarbonate plastics came. Which plastic was going to go toxic next?

I started to look for good alternatives for packing my kid’s lunch. I found that glass is great for home, but my daughter’s pre-school politely asked me to stop packing glass containers after one dropped on the floor and created quite a hazard – who can blame them? I turned my attention to metal containers – buying up anything I could get my hands on in this country, over the internet, or through my husband’s travels around the world. I amassed quite a collection! But none of these containers really worked well for my kids – they were either too big, too awkward, or weren’t good for little hands to open and close.

That’s why I teamed up with my product designer husband and created PlanetBox. In addition to being safer than plastic, PlanetBox also functions better – the metal latch is easier to open and close than tupperware lids, and stainless steel even cleans better than plastic. Why not skip the problems with plastic and pack lunch in a PlanetBox?

In addition to the health concerns associated with plastics, the creators of PlanetBox are also concerned about issues of waste and pollution from disposable products.  From the Why PlanetBox section of their web site:

While many people are used to the “convenience” of using single-use plastic baggies and containers, all that convenience can make 90 pounds of garbage per year, per kid!

All that garbage ends up in our oceans and landfills and contributes to more global warming gases, which threaten our children’s future.

Most plastic food containers claim to be recyclable even though they are made of resins that are not readily recyclable at your curbside. Your PlanetBox is truly 100% recyclable. We’re so committed we’ll even recycle it for you after years of good use!

I feel like this is a company that “gets it.”

What is your favorite tip for making it easier to buy food in bulk (therefore minimizing plastic packaging)?

Here is her personal tip:

A few years ago, I bought organic cotton reusable bags to buy food from the bulk bins, but I had a hard time remembering to use them, until I labeled each with a permanent marker with what foods went in each bag (ie, oatmeal, brown rice, white rice, etc…). Once I did this I found it was much easier for me to make use of them).

Have you purchased food from bulk bins?  What is your tip for making bulk purchasing a stress-free experience?  And if you haven’t done it yet, please let us know why and what would need to change for you to be able to do it.  If you have no bulk food stores in your area, please let us know that too.


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100 Comments on "PlanetBox Stainless Steel Lunch Kit"

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The subject is too interesting, thanks for sharing

Thanks to your recommendation, I ordered a Planetbox for my 4-year-old. I requested on the webform that they not use extra plastic to package it. I got my wish! The item came plain (in its carrying case) in the priority mail cardboard box. My son hasn’t used it yet, but it looks like it will be a great product for us.

I’m so glad to hear that the Planetbox will work out for you. Usually I don’t review products that I haven’t tried myself. But since I don’t have kids, I didn’t see a reason for her to ship it to my house just so I could ship it to someone else. So I’m glad to hear it arrived as it should and will work out.

I am looking for stainless steel canisters with stainless steel lids. Does anyone know where these would available online or a store?

My 10yo son sometimes reads stuff over my shoulder–and since he saw your pictures of the Graze bags, he started making me check your blog every hour (which seems a bit obsessive even for your lovely blog) to see if we won. Then when he saw the Planet box, he got even more excited. Since my son is homeschooled, the food carriers would mostly be for “Papa” to take to work–but since son has been so excited about them, I may have to order one of them for a Hanukkah present for him!

I’ve been feeling guilty about buying bulk (which I do) because I basically use plastic containers to store and carry the food. Because of this I’ve been saving up glass jars in order to keep the food in the fridge, but haven’t solved the transportation problem, but I do think that maybe making my own cloth bags as suggested here will help. The lunchbox looks cool, but unfortunately for work I have to go with a pyrex contain with what I believe is a silicone lid since I tend to take leftovers to reheat. Making cloth bags to carry my… Read more »

I think the most important part of shopping in bulk for me is having a place to put it. I invested in some STRONG shelves, since bulk food can be heavy, and I store it all in glass half-gallon jars. What a disaster it would be if all my precious food came crashing down and got mixed up with broken glass!

I save my glass juice bottles and put my bulk items in them.  Each is labelled with a similar label, so they look really nice in the pantry.  Whenever one gets low, I simply make a note of it, and get more @ our bulk section next time I’m at the grocery.  As my glass bottle collection increases, so does the amount of bulk items I can buy.

I have gotten in the habit of purchasing bulk at the local foods market using the same bags each time. I really like the idea of using mason jars though – and I have so many of them!

Carnival of the Green #205 « Pragmatic Environmentalism

[…] And Beth Terry at Fake Plastic Fish gives away Planet Box stainless steel lunch containers. […]

I love, love, love this lunch box!

We don’t do a lot of bulk buying because there are only 3 of us and we don’t have a ton of storage space, BUT we do use reusable bags when we go to the farmers market or grocery store.

it is kind of a pain, but i usually take our home containers for the bulk items to the store, tare the weight and fill them on site. a lot of people at my coop bring cardboard boxes of all their various containers, to help carry them if you are buying a lot of items.

I went to buy nuts for holiday baking at a bulk barn store on saturday. I brought my own plastic bags to reuse because I know they won’t weigh containers there. I was told at the cash not to do that again, their stores do not allow for customers to reuse bags. I think that I could probably get away with reusing their own plastic bags but that would bring an entire new set of plastic bags into the house. We buy a lot of our flour in bulk and we reuse the same plastic bags over and over, dumping… Read more »

Oh, I buy spices in bulk. I have nice spice jars (from the Spice House in Chicago), and I just bring them back to get refilled. This keeps my spices looking all uniform and pretty, and keeps some trash out of the landfill!

by the way, Planetbox is awesome. Wish I was a kid going to school. I am trying to think of kids that I want to get this for Christmas. Thank you for being so smart and following through on an idea Caroline.

I buy the old polyester scarves in thrift stores that ladies no longer wear on their curls. They tend to be colorful yet see through and mesh like. Fold them in have and sew up the sides. Add a draw string at the top. Now I have recycled, kept plastic out of a land fill and have something to talk to people at the store about. I don’t have bulk so I use these to replace the produce bags at the store. Also, you can wash and rinse right in the bag when you get home, hang to dry.
Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship

Buying in bulk is easiest through a co-op – I love that my 25-lb bag of oats was packaged in paper, not plastic! Although a lot of the other bags are plastic, at least there are fewer of them, and I do my darndest to reuse them.

I reuse gallon ziploc bags and write the bulk code on the bag. I transfer them to glass jars at home. I have the bulk codes on them for the next time i shop. Those lunchboxes look like the answer to my lunch issues. Kids would love to eat from them.

I like to take a string bag instead of a canvas bag to pack all the “bulky” bags in, as it expands and expands at the checkout. I also buy produce for canning in bulk at local farms and orchards. These folks usually have “seconds” or “drops” in bushel baskets or crates for a very good price, and they are happy to help heave the basket into the car. So think beyond oatmeal and rice for bulk purchasing!

I have found that whole foods makes it super easy to buy in bulk. However, here in NJ bulk hasn’t caught on like it has in Cali. Our options are extremely limited. The best solution I have found is to keep muslin bags in my car so I don’t have to remember to bring them with me when I shop.

I have a GREAT coop in my town. They really love when people bring their own bag/ containers and even give a discount for this! I have some home made bags that I picked up from a stall at our farmer’s market two summers ago. I use jars that can’t be re-purposed for canning to hold my bulk items and just write on the jar what the contents are and when they were purchased.

I’m so excited! This is exactly what I’ve been waiting for! I kept saying how much I wished Laptop Lunches (which is what I send with my kids every day) would make a stainless steel version. I spent hours and hours and hours searching the web for something comparable (because I love the LL system) that came in stainless. Oh, I really really really want to win this one!

I use cloth bags for things like pasta, but mostly I reuse jars, especially large apple sauce jars. I then store the food in them. (I always feel that I can’t store the food in the bags because they get stale or soft.) Berkeley Bowl (large grocery store in Berkeley) and the Berkeley Natural Grocery will pre-weigh containers, which is nice. For some reason, though, they won’t pre-weigh for the olive bar, so I’ve been buying jars. It’s too bad because they’re mainly for my son, so we can’t always finish them before they go bad. I tried sending his… Read more »

We just moved to a rural area with no bulk option for 50 miles…but in two weeks our new buying club will receive its first shipment! One member offered to sew bags with some cloth she already has on hand. I would re-use the plastic bags at our old co-op for bulk, but they would only last a few trips. Getting totally rid of plastic bags is my 2010 resolution.

What a fantastic product! I hope to be returning to grad school next autumn and I’d love to have this to take for lunches. I have washable reusable cloth bags that I take to the bulk bins. When I get home, I transfer my purchases to repurposed glass jars. All grains, nuts, and flours (almost everything except legumes, really) then go into the refrigerator to extend their shelf life and protect against infestation.

My friend and I sewed up some cotton muslin produce/bulk bags. I bring them with me whenever I go shopping. There are few places to buy bulk food right now, and I can’t really afford to buy the foods they offer (a small natural food store selling organics, and Whole Foods), so I try instead to buy things packaged in paper/paperboard.

I have a few repurposed plastic containers that I reuse over and over. I take them with me to the grocery store, fill them with bulk food items, and immediately move the food to mason jars or other non-plastic storage when I get home. Then I just wash the plastic container and put it back in my reusable grocery bags which I keep in my car. (That way, I am never without both reusable bags and bulk food storage.)

We used to buy from bulk food bins often when we lived in Washington state. The store we purchased from gave a discount for bringing your own bags, so we had motivation to remember them.

However, we haven’t found a bulk food store in Western KY (other than Sam’s Club).

Tip: Plan out a place where you’re going to store your purchase before you go to the store.

I have amassed quite a collection of glass storage (pyrex-like ones, and also canisters), and I always divide my bulk stuff up once I get home, unless they’re freezable. In that case, I always do the “flash freezing” method, and freeze them on a cookie sheet and then dump them in a storage container in the freezer, so I can take them out individually at my leisure. Easy-peasy!

Know how to store things! I had issues with buying oils and nut butters in bulk, and then forgetting to refrigerate them. Of course, they then went rancid and I really didn’t save any resources at all. My husband I and also like to keep bulk nuts and oilier grains chilled so they keep longer.

This is a great little invention by the way! Even if I don’t win I fully intend to buy one when I have a few spare pennies lying around. =P

The stores in my rural area don’t have bulk bins, so instead of buying in bulk I buy things with glass or paper packaging, even though this usually means buying less of it at one time and paying more. Your boxes look wicked cool!

I am very new to “going green” so I honestly don’t have any tips for buying in bulk. My only tip would be to read great blogs like Fake Plastic Fish to get tips. I find that I am often not even aware of things that I do that have a negative effect so I am trying to become aware of those things.

I would love to win the PlanetBox for my daughter! Her favorite t-shirt right now says “Be kind to my Planet” It would be perfect for her.

I try to keep both bulk bags and other non-plastic storage containers in my car. Since I get most of my daily food from farmers markets I rarely plan trips to the grocery store but instead end up going if I happen to be passing by. So this way I have containers with me when I happen to think to stop at the store.

Unfortunately the area I live isn’t very bulk food friendly. What I do try to do is minimize the amount of plastic packaging a I buy. I don’t get individually wrapped stuff anymore and if there’s a non-plastic version I try to get it.

I live with my parents so I don’t necessarily have the biggest voice when shopping. My mom got the message though when I held up the individually wrapped chicken breast she bought and declared them “MASS OF PLASTIC WASTE”.

These are super cool! I pack lunch for work one day a week, and I use my home glassware for transport. Though I have kids, they are homeschooled so school lunches aren’t an issue. On field trip or class days, we use our regular house goods and a cooler I’ve had for a long time.

My favorite local store carries bulk but doesn’t have scales to tare my own containers. I use mason jars in assorted sizes for storage.

A the regular grocery store – I buy my fruits and vegis without using the plastic bag they provide – strait into the cart for me – and then home into reuseable containers

I cannot purchase groceries from bulk bins due to my son’s food allergies. Cross contamination from items that contain nuts, dairy, etc. is literally life threatening to him. In order for us (and the many other families affected by food allergies, most of whom shop in natural food stores to find specialty products) bulk items would need to be dispensed from sealed packages from the manufacturer, which could not have the usual scoops stuck into them. I would love to see this.

My family just moved recently, and when I noticed that I had ran out of honey in our ancient bear-shaped container, I also noticed a sign for a local honey farm not even a mile away. They filled my larger jar, so not only am I getting a better price for buying bulk, I’m buying local! I wish I had more options like that around here, but in the middle of nowhere the grocery stores aren’t that fancy.

Stacy @ Moderate Means

No bulk around here…at least not that I’ve found. I buy unpackaged fresh fruits and veggies from farmer markets but just so bag-less. Instead, I’ll share my cafeteria trick :) I usually pack my lunch but I keep a tiffin and silverware at the office. When I end up buying, I take it with me and can use the containers for hot food or the salad bar.

I don’t do much bulk buying, but when I do, I use muslin bags that I sewed a sleeve on with a plastic insert so I can stick the label in showing the price/code (like you have for id cards). I repurposed the plastic from something else and it doesn’t actually touch the food, so I’m okay with it, but it isn’t necessary. I also store all my food in glass jars in the pantry. I love the way all the jars look lined up.

My tip actually came from a friend of mine: when washing cloth produce bags, turn them inside out.  That way, anything clinging to the sides and bottom (like rice bits for flecks of walnut) will come out in the wash.

The lunch box looks really cool!

I have reused plastic bags from bulk bins before; now I use reusable bags, tho’ I am ashamed to say they are nylon & thus not plastic-free. I have mesh bags that I use for produce (or I could use them for, say, unshelled nuts). I could try cotton bags I suppose! Sometimes when I go to a store w/bulk bins that I’ve not shopped in before I get a little paranoid that I’ll look like a shoplifter, what w/digging in my bag to get out the reusable bags & then filling them up & them not looking anything like… Read more »

I miss buying in bulk! We don’t have this option in my neighborhood. When I lived in a small college town, I was part of a food coop and loved being able to do this. I just reused containers and it was easy. Happy bulk shopping!

Wow! this looks so cool for lunches!!! I hope I win so I can try it. To make it easier for me to buy in bulk? I save glass jars from food that I eat and use plastic Chinese takeout containers for storing the food.  I bring the containers to the store. I write the tare on the bottom of the container using a Sharpie.  I only need to weigh it once!  The container can go through the dishwasher and the tare stays on it (at least for glass).  For things that I purchase a lot and keep on hand,… Read more »
This looks awesome! I don’t have a bulk food option, and our farmer’s market shuts down at the end of summer, so it’s hard sometimes to avoid the plastic! Sometimes I will end up buying things in plastic like yogurts and milk that are marked down because I know that at least if I buy them, the containers will be reused/recycled properly. If I didn’t, when the “sell by” date has passed, they would just be thrown in the landfill full of wasted food. I know it means that I am eating some food/drink out of plastic, but at least… Read more »
Since becoming a member of Fake Plastic Fish, I have been changing over from about 50% use of plastic (I’ve always hated the temporary life of plastic) to completely eliminating plastic from my life. I recently bought some scrap cotton fabric at a thrift store, and a mending/hemming sewing machine (it’s small and has about 5 different stitches). I’m making my own bags! It’s new for me to shop without plastic bags, but bulk has always been my first choice. It’s cheaper, and I’m also very frugal. Hopefully my use of cloth will educate and not irritate here in my… Read more »

Well, there aren’t any bulk stores in my town, but once my fiance and I move to a house, our plan is to build our food stores month-by-month. We’ll buy a different kind of bean, grain, flour, or other staple every month (along with non-plastic bins to hold them) until we have a respectable pantry full of stored foods that will last us in case of an emergency (losing a job, natural disaster, etc).

While no store around me sells in bulk (yet!), I would definitely whip up a few organic cotton bags to put purchased bulk products in.

I adore the PlanetBox! How lovely! I have a stainless steel adoration thing going! At my coop during the last recession that almost killed us c 1995, we started to pack the more costly bulk items like organically grown nuts in plastic bags in the store because the bulk bins kept getting moths and the foods needed to be sold at cost or thrown away. We also bag freezer items like perogis, berries, peas, corn and beans. I do remember fondly the days of the galvanized garbage cans filled with goodies like demerara sugar – I LOVED scraping the bottom… Read more »

The best way to get yourself to buy bulk is to write a list of the things you need as they get used up and bring it to the store with you. Make the bulk section your 1st visit so that you are not tempted with the convienence of the packaged products!

I try not to use the plastic ties with the bags whenever I’m buying food.

My biggest obstacle to using reusable bags for bulk (and produce) is having them with me. The best tip I can offer is to transfer your bulk purchases to storage containers as soon as you get home (I use thoroughly-cleaned spaghetti sauce jars) and then get those bulk bags back in the trunk of the car (or wherever you keep your shopping stuff if you use alternative transportation). Over the years, a few times I’ve ended up using a plastic bag and twist tie from the store, and then I make an effort to reuse that bag (and twist tie!)… Read more »

I have to have two sets of bags—-one set is in my purse for when I run to the store. The other set is at home in the kitchen. When I fill up the first set at the store and bring them home—as I am putting them away in the cupboards, I put the “home” set (2nd) set in my purse so that I have a set with me at all times and I don’t have to try to remember to bring my bags! If I make it as fool-proof as possible—I can’t help but succeed!

~Just Ducky

Beth- YOU inspired me to use bulk…. the biggest tipping point was investing in “lioli”, mesh  and solid cotton bags. In order to remember them- when we go grocery shopping I have all my bags in one drawer- I grab them all and shove them in my purse. I love that my produce/grain bags fit nicely in my purse along with my small fold-up grocery bags. The biggest motivator though- was your accounts Beth on how you use bulk bins. I had never bought bulk rice until I read your blog and decided- (after I had bought the solid bags… Read more »

I absolutely love this lunch box! I am into BYOB ie bring your own bottle when I need to buy in bulk. Actually coffee cans probably would be a great idea for buying spices in bulk.

That is a cool looking lunch box!

I try to take reusable containers to the store with me when I shop. Our local food co-op is very good about letting us do this. I haven’t tried it at the grocery store.

I wish I had seen the stainless steel lunch kit prior to buying my kids’ laptop lunch boxes a few months ago to cut down on plastic bag & paper lunch bag use.

I love the PlanetBox product and interview! There is only one grocery store in our town that sells in bulk, and it has a very limited selection. The first time I tried it, I brought my own cloth bags and asked the cashier about subtracting the tare weight. The store provides plastic bags and the scales are set for that weight only. I was referred up the chain to several managers about subtracting the tare weight from my own cloth bags and was finally told they would do it only if I contacted a senior manager every time I made… Read more »

I just put my ecobags (cotton produce bags) in my reusable grocery bags and keep them in my car, so I always have them when I need them. However, my tip is that I bought the ecobags in bulk in both large and small sizes and I’ve been using them instead of wrapping paper for birthday and christmas presents. so I’m passing on the good idea and not wasting paper.

I used to live near a small organic market so I would occassionally buy quinoa or beans in bulk from there. Since I’ve moved, I haven’t gone out of my way to look for a store that sells in bulk. Everyone’s comments here have motivated me to get on top of that. I love the mason jar idea, and I just made my first two reusable produce bags, so I could make more to use for items like beans, rice, etc.

I like to divide my bulk purchases into individual servings as soon as I get home.  That way, I can freeze what I need, store what i need, and it’s all ready to go.  If I don’t do it that way, I try to keep a serving size container/scoop handy so that we never serve ourselves too much or too little (this coming from a couple who likes yogurt but doesn’t ever want more than those individual cup sizes at a time). I would love to purchase more things in bulk, but I don’t because I’m sensitive to both gluten… Read more »
though I live in a small college town, I’m so thankful for the bulk bins at my locally-run grocery store. they don’t have absolutely every dried good in bulk, but I can get most of the staples. I have organic cotton bags I bring with me every week. But I don’t use them for everything–I did bring home bulk coffee beans in their free plastic bag on purpose one time, but now I bring this with me every time I need to buy coffee! Also, I don’t have smaller bags for spices and tea, so just like the coffee I… Read more »

I have been trying to figure out the best way to eliminate the bags for bulk items. Right now, I am just reusing the bags that I used the first time. I reuse the twisty ties with the Code and description as well, so oats go back in the same bag for instance. Also, I tie the bag up when not in use so dust and whatever else isn’t getting in either. It isn’t ideal.

I plan on buying or making some cloth bags soon though. I only recently went bulk. I wish there were more items available as well.

Sigh, my little town does not have much in the way of bulk items for purchase!!  What they do have available, I usually put in my cloth sacks.  I have made some produce bags out of muslin and old t-shirts that I use for my shopping as well.

I live in a super small rural town, and don’t have a place to buy bulk foods. So we go to the next town over, about a 2 hour drive, and buy things at the resturant supply store in large amounts. It is the best we can do for where we live.

I do use bulk bins…sort of. I have two problems, though: 1. My store doesn’t weigh the container empty, so I can’t bring anything I’d actually use at home, like glass jars. 2. While I’m not afraid of kiddie germs getting in the bins like some people, I am afraid of the crumbs at the bottom falling through the weave in my reusable bags and making a mess in my shopping bag/car/countertop. I am, in fact, certifiable on this point. So I am reduced to reusing my ziplock bags, which is not quite the giant eco-friendly step forward I want… Read more »
I got some reusable bags off of etsy that are different colors so I know red is for flour and green is my oatmeal bag. When I get home I transfer it all to my jars and put the bags back in my shopping cart. I don’t drive and have difficulty carrying heavy things (shoulder injury) so I found a wheeled cart with a pocket–all the bulk bags go in there ready for the next trip. Unfortunately, my closest store with bulk bins just stopped carrying bulk pasta (what were they thinking!) so I’ve had to buy some in box… Read more »
Very cool product. I currently cart my foods in pyrex, in constant fear that two will smash together in my big reusable bag and result in a mess and loss of containers. I’ve been reluctant to make the switch to metal because… I don’t like when my food touches either :D I basically do the same things everyone else does to make bulk shopping easier/greener – use mason jars and reusable bags/containers, plan ahead, etc. But the thing that has made me more able to use the bulk section isn’t really a what, but a when. There’s only one store… Read more »

I buy a lot of stuff in bulk. I think the biggest thing is getting into the habit. I never forget my bags when I go to the grocery store anymore, because it’s part of my routine. I visit the bulk section first, and buy what I can there. If you consciously do it for a few weeks, it just becomes habit and you don’t even think twice about it anymore.

We use half gallon glass canning jars and load them into a small crate we carry to the Co-op. Our crate fits into the shopping carts perfectly, and carrying is a cinch. When the jars are empty or close to, we set them aside for our next trip. The beauty of this system is that there’s no refilling once you get home, and they look beautiful on a shelf, seen thru the clear glass. If we’ve forgotten our containers, we use the ones that others have brought to the Co-op for reuse. Awesome lunch box! I love how much sushi… Read more »

I purchase lots of things from the bulk bins.  I’ve found it a lot easier since I’ve started having clearly labeled glass jars at home to put the bulk items in, so they don’t languish in the kitchen and get mixed up.  :)

Oh my goodness Beth! That lunch box is EXACTLY what I’ve been looking for. If I don’t win, I think I might have to buy one! My favorite tip is kind of like yours…but not quite. I didn’t want to write on my bags, because I don’t use them for the same thing each time. When I get my bulk items home, I dump them in glass jars, so that I always have empty-reusable bags if I need to pick up bulk items. I was starting to feel pretty guilty about using re-useable bags, but continuing to use those little… Read more »

What is your favorite tip for making it easier to buy food in bulk (therefore minimizing plastic packaging)?
I love buying in bulk, but I often get frustrated in myself because of all those plastic bags I have to get! I save those plastic bags and after they’re rinsed and dried, I tuck them into my canvas shopping totes so that I always have them with me at the grocery store!

Wow! Thanks for this, I am coveting one as I write. I hope I win it! We have some containers now, but one container with lots of compartments would be perfect for my 3.5 yr old. As for tips, I actually just figured somethign out the other day that so far is working. We are placing the plastic bags that are bulk bin-able (clear, no holes, etc.) inside another bag which hangs from a clothespin in the wall of the kitchen. When I go shopping I just grab the whole bag and select a bag for each item at the… Read more »
Hi Beth I just went to Rainbow a few days ago and stocked up on spices. I just use spice jars that I purchased in a regular grocery store. When they are empty I replenish them from bulk bins. I regularly save jelly jars and peanut butter jars- labels can be removed with a good soaking and some elbow grease- and these jars can be used for bulk spices like mustard seed-(to make my own homemade honey mustard) and others. All of these jars can be weighed before you stock up- so you only pay for the spices you are… Read more »

Question about the boxes. Do the compartments seal tight when the box is sealed? For example, if you were to put a ranch dipping sauce or applesauce in one of the smaller compartments would it leak into the other compartments when the box was closed and being tossed around in your kid’s backpack?

I shop at a bulk bin store for some dry goods but generally use plastic bags. I have jars I’d like to use but have so far been too timid to ask the shop clerk how to work that. The plan is to at last ask when I go refill my spice rack.

I love your blog! As a new mom (Laurel was born Nov. 6), it seems ever more urgent that I find ways to safely store and heat food. We are lucky enough to live across the street from a great food co-op with a bulk foods section. We used too many plastic bags until we bought a case of glass canning jars in various sizes, now I just pack up the jars when they are empty and refill them in the bulk aisles. We just have to make sure that each jar is clearly labeled with it’s “empty weight” so… Read more »
My favorite method for buying in bulk doesn’t exist, as NOWHERE in the area is there a place to do it. I propose we make bulk bins a supermarket staple, because so many people would like the chance to and could benefit from it. When I’m IN an area with one, though, I tend to fill up whatever containers I can find, which are usually tupperware, because without a prevalence of bulk bins, I can’t justify buying and having cloth bags shipped. Maybe I will make them on my own if I can find some organic cotton, but in this… Read more »
Ooh! Love the PlanetBoxes. Thanks for posting about them. I use mesh drawstring bags for largish/dry items like pasta, nuts and pretzels. For things like flour or oatmeal, I’m currently re-using the grocery store plastic bags (although am looking into cloth alternatives for when these wear out). My supermarket uses tags to indicate the product code, so I re-use these as well. In addition to the code number, I wrote in pencil the capacity of each corresponding home storage container so I know exactly how much I can purchase to fit in my existing jars and boxes. My coffee and… Read more »
Wow–these lunch boxes are super cool.  Bulk foods are not available in my area (the local health-food store breaks-down and re-packages all of its bulk purchases–in plastic); except herbs/spices.  I try to remember to bring and re-use my baggies/twist-ties for those, but I don’t always remember–just today bough baking powder and didn’t have my baggies :-(.  I do, however, buy most of my bulk-type items (eg. macaroni, spaghetti, flour, rice, etc.) through my co-op (buying club).  Some things like flour and rice come in paper bags, so they’re plastic-free, but others, like the noodles, are in big plastic bags inside… Read more »

I don’t buy from bulk bins because my local grocery stores do not have them. There is one specialty store in my neighbourhood that has bulk bins but it’s limited hours of operation make it difficult for me to shop there.

I have the cloth all picked out and cut up to make bags for this, I’m so close. My handmade Christmas is getting in the way (as I am doing the handmaking!). Honestly the thing that has helped me most was taking some time initially to farmiliarize myself with everything, where the different types of items are, what certain things look like, etc. In the begining it was easier to find stuff in the aisles because I knew just where to look. Now when I go in I know just where to look in the bulk aisle too (provided they… Read more »
My favorite tip for bulk foods…hmmm…well I do not buy from them for 2 reasons. One is sanitary. I have seen too many little kids put their hands in there. And 2 keeping kosher makes my purchasing decisions difficult at times, and these foods are not usually kosher with a correct heckshur (certifiying agency). But my favorite tip…well I think carrying glass jars would become cumbersome. Muslim bags would be a better choice for me. I have produce bags that I love and I would think that something without holes would be great. Thanks for the opportunity to win one.… Read more »

I would love to regularly purchase in bulk… but the nearest store is a co-op 30 miles away. I do try to by products (like flour) in bulk at the Farmers’ Market in the summer, but those items are usually pre-packaged.

If I could buy more in bulk, I would use the many plastic and glass containers I have stored up that we currently use for leftovers, packing lunches, etc. I love the bag idea as well, and saw some cute ones on Etsy… the seller was offering hand-stitched labels to add to each (flour, beans, etc.)


We don’t have a store in our small town that sells in bulk. Well, unless  you count Vitamin Cottage that sells their “bulk” items prepackaged in plastic bags. How they consider that “bulk” is beyond me…haha.

When we head down the mountain to the big city I try to hit Sunflower Market and get what I need in my mason jars.

Our co-op sells liquid and powder laundry soap, shampoo, body soap, dish soap and conditioner in bulk. We bring in a container, have them weigh it first to get the tare weight, then fill it up, label, and take it to the checkout. Certain bulk items cannot be put in containers from home because of health department regulations, but if you use the co-op’s glass jars for things like peanut butter, vanilla, and oil, you can bring them in so the co-op can sterilize them and put them back out for use, then you don’t have to pay for the… Read more »
I’m a big fan of the mason jar method. It does force me to think about what I need and how much to get before leaving the house, but that’s not really a bad thing. My co-op has a scale near the bulk bins so you can get a tare weight for your containers, which is really nice. I finally came to this stellar practice after the frustration of once again realizing that I had bought amounts of dry goods that didn’t quite fit into anything I own. This fall, one of our Farmer’s Market vendors did dried beans for… Read more »

Find a store locally that has bulk bins and go to a farmers’ market for the rest. If you can do that, the rest is easy. Unfortunately, those things aren’t available everywhere :(

I’m lucky, though, that we have access to both here — plus we have a co-op planned locally, too. The grocery store I shop at will even let you bring your own containers. They weigh them before hand so you don’t pay more :)

Having more reusable cloth bags for bulk than I thought I needed was key for me. I now keep a few in my canvas grocery bags, so that I don’t forget to bring them with me. Also I realized I can bring various sized canning jars, and the nice folk at my local Whole Foods are happy to weigh and mark the tare weight for me. Perfect for things like olives from the wet bulk area. I’ve had more and more people asking me where I got my bulk bags from, which is nice. I also use them when buying… Read more »

Sadly, we don’t have bulk bins in my small town. The nearest bulk bins are 120 miles away from me. We don’t really have access to many of the things I’d like to have. Bulk bins scare me in a way, given that you don’t know who’s hands have been in them and the sanitary practices of said individuals, mainly children with grubby mits, but that’s beside the point.

I have purchased from bulk bins in the past, but that was back when I was young and eating junk food almost exclusively.:)

My best tip for shopping our bulk aisles is to make sure I have my 2 year old in the shopping cart and not walking around on the floor, as he wants to stick his grubby little mitts into every container for his free sample!

I’m just getting started buying in bulk so I am excited to read all the tips. My grocery store asks that the code number be written on the twist tie closure of the plastic bag. I wrote the product name and code number so that I can reuse the plastic bags until I come up with a better way.

I use old spaghetti sauce mason jars with their original metal lids. Since that is what I keep bulk grains etc. in at home anyway, there is no transfer mess later. The grains never run out at the same time, so it isn’t like I have to cart several to the store at once. :)

I too find the cotton produce/bulk bag to be my favorite item when I go to the grocery store. I had trouble thinking of a way to label each bag with the bin number each time I used them that wasn’t permanent, since I wanted to use the bags for different kinds of items. Finally I found that by attaching a small clothes pin, I can cut small squares out of junk mail (like envelopes) to write the numbers on. And if I use pencil, I can erase and reuse the tags many times. I usually keep a stash of… Read more »

I haven’t ventured into that arena yet. I’m still stuck in the buying things at Trader Joe’s and putting them in our cloth bags for the kids’ lunches stage – but every little bit helps.
I live in the LA area and need to research where to get things in bulk. What an exciting project.
Love the PlanetBox – thanks for the info. Glad I opened my email today =)

You have a knack for finding the most amazing things!

What worked for me is when we sewed up our own produce bags out of really cool sheets we found at the thrift store.  Now we’re eager to show them off!  (I sewed a little piece of ribbon into the side seam and wrote with a permanent marker what the tare weight was.)

We use labeled mason jars to store our bulk foods in…when they’re empty, we take them back and fill them up!

I usually buy in bulk from a buying club and so we split the items and I take my own container and tare it before filling. If I am at the store, I do have some lightweight bags I can use for bulk items. I am trying to cut down plastic use, but with 4 kids it isn’t easy. I currently use Laptop lunchboxes and I do hate the plastic but love the design, so I would love to win one of the stainless Planetboxes!!

Lisa Imerman

Lrimerman at comcast dot net