Serena J. Cavanaugh :: Blog

November 12, 2009

Greener School Lunches

Mason Jars Replace Boxes, Bottles and Smelly Thermoses

So we’re all trying to live greener and healthier. Then there’s the school lunch. It offers a green-living, food-purist some serious issue.

Even before I endeavored to be green, I had a problem with the school lunch what with the difference between a 100% natural fruit drink, 100% juice and 100% fruit juice and natural flavor versus no artificial flavor. Then there was the question of high fructose corn syrup… and finally, landfills.

Landfills and the call of the green got me rethinking the brown bag lunch and all the little packages that go in it. Cafeteria food? Not too healthy, so I solved the problem by purchasing some beautiful lunch bags from Pottery Barn and all the extra reusable containers that went with them (which the nasty little capitalist sold separately). No more little plastic baggies and boxed drinks in overflowing landfills. I felt as green as a frog.

Until the thermos began to act up. It came with a fancy top that I couldn’t seem to get clean. At first, I took apart the three-part cap system and put it in the dishwasher. But that didn’t work for long. It began to smell bad. I soaked the parts in warm, soapy water. Still, the sour smell persisted and with an added soapy aftertaste. I boiled them in bleach — they melted.

Plastic water bottles? Well, all that plastic poison had me worried, so no.

Aluminum bottles? Maybe better, but what about the health risks of aluminum, which you can totally taste by the way.

What kind of material was truly sterile? Truly healthy? Truly chemical-free?

These questions got me thinking about canning peaches. Although the hundreds of peaches on my two peach trees could have been the real reason. The peaches get packed in a glass jar, sealed with metal lids and boiled for twenty minutes. It not only kills all bacteria, but it prevents fresh peaches from rotting for up to a year. Not bad.

And there was my solution: mason jars. That’s right, mason jars. They’re clean, reusable, and food-safe. Plus, they have great little lids that are leak-free. In the warm months, I fill them with ice and juice or water and it doubles as an ice pack to keep the food cold. In the winter, I fill them with warm chocolate milk or even chicken soup.

Although my miser husband — who isn’t a conservationist for the environment so much as for his bank account —  hasn’t commented on all the cash this must be saving us, I know deep down inside he’s pleased. MISER BONUS for me!

Sure, they might be a little uncool for the kids, but I hope all it does is build character. My buddy Will Shakespeare once said something about ”adversity’s sweet milk…” which tastes better when served in a clean, sterile, totally “green” mason jar.


  1. I thought this was one of the most honest articles I have read in a long time. It is true. Not everything out there is “safe” or practical, and yes, glass is the cleanest way to go. Good Luck with your lunches. Green as a frog

    Comment by rose — November 14, 2009 @ 6:56 pm

  2. Whenever I try to go “greener” I find I go back in time. All the technology in the world can’t beat the simpler, cleaner, more natural past.

    Comment by serena — November 16, 2009 @ 10:11 am

  3. what about stainless steel?

    Comment by daffy — November 19, 2009 @ 2:31 pm

  4. Very nice Serena. Your critical thinking and acute mental prowess have served you well over the years. Bravo I say, bravo.

    Comment by Rob Shreve — November 20, 2009 @ 12:27 am

  5. Daffy, stainless steel might work, but it might also have that metal taste. Ick! And I’m not sure they make stainless steel water bottles do they? It’s a thought, though.

    Comment by Serena — November 20, 2009 @ 7:54 pm

  6. thank you Rob! And thanks for visiting my blog again. I have to some more work on it and then I’ll register it at those links you gave my sis. I hope it helps.

    Comment by Serena — November 20, 2009 @ 7:55 pm

  7. I love this blog! I think you’re next blog should be about all dogs going heaven. But don’t tell Rachel — cause that would be undermining my authority.

    Comment by S.Herbst — January 28, 2010 @ 5:03 pm

  8. Dogs absolutely go to heaven. Stay tuned and I’ll be telling you all just why that is.

    Comment by serena — January 28, 2010 @ 7:35 pm

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