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Sherri Richards, Published September 18 2013

Reusable lunch bags are sturdy and stylish

FARGO – For years I’ve been an advocate of brown-bagged lunches. Now with my daughter off to kindergarten, I’ve got another family member occasionally in need of a packed lunch.

So I was intrigued by a new line of reusable snack and sandwich bags, available online and set to be sold in major retailers this month.

RUSSBE bags come in packs of four (two sandwich and two snack-size bags) for $5.99. The thick plastic sealable bags are available in a variety of cute patterns, including fruit, floral, geometric, robot and skull designs.

Company press materials tout the environmental friendliness of the bags and cost savings compared to disposable storage bags.

The sample RUSSBE bags I tested feel sturdy and have reinforced seams. When the bottom is pulled apart, the bags can stand upright. Each has a white strip for labeling.

They’re a convenient size. I could fit more than a half cup of veggie straw snacks or at least 15 grapes in the snack-size bag. The larger bag easily held my salami and cheese sandwich. And both bags fit inside my daughter’s insulated lunch bag.

The company website says the bags are BPA-, PVC- and phthalates-free, and dishwasher safe.

I first washed the bags by hand, and let air dry, with no issues. When I washed them on the top shelf of my dishwasher, some pieces of food stayed stuck inside the bag’s bottom folds and I ended up re-washing them by hand.

I’m not sure how many uses the bags would stand, or how well the closure seal would hold up over time. But at $1.50 a bag, they seem like a good brown bag alternative.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5556