I love all things IKEA.
I have even loved IKEA’s super-durable kid tableware.
They are BPA-free and quite the right size for kid hands. They are inexpensive and have held up to daily dishwasher use.
But I’ve come to hate looking at them everyday. Are my kids eating or playing with bath toys? You have never seen a morsel of food photographed on their IKEA plates because no food looks remotely appetizing on brightly colored plastic. Maybe that’s why they hardly eat anything these days?
I love my kids to use real ceramic dishes and they often do, but unbreakable plastic just makes so much sense for quick meals, snacks, picnics and play-dates.
In March, I thought I solved the problem and I couldn’t wait to share it with you. My friends, I nearly steered you SO wrong. I found an adorable set of modern plastic plates from Target (the set on the left) and bought a whole set for $30.
I loved how they looked on my counter, in my kitchen drawer, even in my dishwasher. I used them proudly for a playdate, enjoying a few immediate compliments. One mom asked if they could go in the microwave. I shrugged. Out of habit, except when I’m in a real rush, I don’t microwave plastic.
It didn’t much matter to me if my Target plates were microwave safe, but I checked later out of curiosity. Made of Melamine. Melamine always sounds so nice and smooth to me, like my sister’s name Melanie. And the prints on melamine are usually so cute and sweet. They are everywhere – from Pottery Barn Kids to Anthropologie. When they are used correctly, melamine plates are probably not terribly toxic to our children, but most do contain formaldehyde, which at any level, I do not wish to serve to my children several times a day. You can read more about melamine at Healthy Child.
I had saved my sales receipt, but the Target associate was less than thrilled to return the plates without their original stickers (they had been in use for a week or so), and she was not moved by my discussion on melamine. I definitely have a strike in my file there. At least I won’t be the first in my family to be banned from returning things to Target (that was Melanie).
It’s taken me six months to find a proper alternative, and I found it in my local, smartly-stocked-for suburban-Main-Street but no frills hardware shop.
Made by Now Designs, the Ecologie dinnerware is made from a plastic-like material made of crushed bamboo and rice husks. It is advertised as food safe, containing no harmful chemicals. They are top-rack dishwasher safe and not intended for microwave use. Unlike other similar collections, these have a smooth matte finish that I like.
We’ve used a handful of plates and bowls for a month and they have shown no signs of wear, though I found this FAQ on the company’s website:
Your catalog says that Ecologie dinnerware is biodegradable. Will it biodegrade while I use it?
No. Ecologie Dinnereware is made from bamboo fiber and rice husks, a waste by-product of rice harvesting. It will only biodegrade under certain conditions: in a landfill, exposed to water, air, earth and bacteria. It will not biodegrade in your cupboards or in your dishwasher. It should last for years. That said, it is not an appropriate substitute for everyday ceramic dinnerware. The material does scratch if you use a serrated knife and it will show wear and tear if used every day. It is best suited to occasional use, especially outdoor dining.
The plates come in a variety of colors, including, a natural color (not pictured) and are available at Amazon.com.
Last week’s sweet potato quesadilla. Almost appetizing.
What do you use for kid-friendly or outdoor dining at your house?
Looking for a kid-friendly snack?
Don’t miss Love U Madly’s Baked Pumpkin Donut Holes which my family is currently devouring.