I'm jumping on the bento box bandwagon for school lunches because
1) it's easy and eco-friendly lunch packing
2) it forces you to create healthy variety
3) Tripp's teacher kind of told me I had to!
Finding the perfect bento box, however, was a bit of a challenge. Below, I review 7 popular bento style lunch containers and give my opinion on the best one.
We'd been using a mix-match of reusable sandwich bags and containers all smashed into a lunch sack. I was feeling adequately eco-conscious with these products but still stressed about packing lunches in the morning. Turns out, other moms had similar swag because the teacher said lunch was just awash of opening 73 containers per hungry toddler.
No longer! You must send your child with one divided lunch container.
Sounds pretty easy, right? Bento style eco-friendly lunch boxes are all the rage right now; surely I can find one in a flash. Why, I'll just run over to whole foods, they've always got stuff like that...
Not so my friends.
In fact, whole foods sells the worst kind. One container plus lid filled with 4 or 5 other containers plus their lids such as this. Way too many pieces! Not teacher approved.
Therefore, I'm writing this post because, after an exhaustive search, I have found a good solution and feel the need to share my findings.
Sidenote: It really was exhausting. I went to 5 different stores (stupidly with kids in tow) and did a ridiculous amount of online research, extensively reading reviews and everything! I was emotionally tormented: Do I pay a million dollars for a lunch box or do I just buy something easy that will ruin the earth and cause my kids cancer? Like, ridiculous. Hence, sharing of information below.
The challenge: Find an eco-friendly, affordable single container but divided lunch box for kids.
The lunch box winner is: Lunchbots!
But let's start with why the losers suck first.
Easy Lunch Boxes: Basically this is a glorified disposable plastic container you could buy at target. It claims to be of more sturdy and better materials, but it is still made of plastic. It is not leak proof and all the reviews say that the lid tends to come off too easily in transport. It's about $14 for a set of 4, which is economical, but it seems like you'd have to replace frequently unless you hand washed, but who has time for that? Next.
Planetbox: Ok, honesty corner, this product seems awesome! It's made of great quality stainless steel and has multiple portion controlled compartments. It comes with "little dipper" containers for messier foods like applesauce, yogurt, salad dressing that fit within whole. On the negative, it is slightly heavy and a larger size so you'd need to buy their carrying bag; it won't fit in a regular kid's lunch sack. Bummer. So for the whole shebang it will cost about $60. per kid. Yikes! Yeah, I just can't do that for a 3 year old and an 18 month old. I really really wanted to, but we're on a budget here. Next.
GoGreenLunchBox: This one was looking promising. Leak proof, divided container. BPA-free plastic, but still plastic. Hmm. Ok, price? $35 for container and carrier. Yeah, nope. Next.
EcoLunchBoxes: Looks great, better on the price at $25, but too many parts. Need a single container divided box. Next.
thinkbaby: Stainless steel, leak proof, $13, sweet! but not divided. and small. boo. Next.
Steeltainer: Stainless steel, leak proof, divided, $12, woohoo! but really really small, only holds 11oz. Tripp eats like a starving gorilla. Next.
Soooo, I'd already gone a week and a half after Tripp's teacher requested the new style box and still had nothing. It was time to make a decision. I finally bit the bullet and bought the Lunchbots Trio...
It's not perfect, but it fits most of the bill. Single container, 3 compartment box, high grade stainless steel, holds 20oz of food and is yours for 20 bucks. The only major drawback is that it is not leak proof. Lunchbots does sell leak proof containers, but they are not divided. Are you making one soon, Lunchbots?! I'd buy it in a heartbeat, fyi.
In the meantime, I feel pretty good about this decision/purchase. Here are the lunches for tomorrow:
Yes, they are different. Because Scarlett only eats cheese. Scarlett won't even touch the clementines, and Tripp won't eat the carrots or cucumbers, but I'm working on offering them healthy options...
Perhaps from time to time I will share my lunch creations and ideas with you. They won't be anything fantastic, but they will be practical as I try to give my picky kids healthier and less processed meals.
Whether lunch pics make it on the blog or not, I promise you one thing, my lunches will never have a happy face cut out of cheese and grapes and lemongrass roots. I mean, they are cute and all, but c'mon! What kid's lunch stays like that by the time they get to school? And what mom has time to cookie-cut all that crap out? Not I. Waste of time I say. There is no way those raisin dinosaur eyes and pine nut saw-teeth stay put unless your 4 year old carries her lunch box like its a silver platter at downton abbey...but, I digress.
So, are you going to jump on the bento bandwagon too? Will you give Lunchbots a shot? What are you sending your kids with this year? Let me know! (unless you found something better and cheaper in which case I am mad at you for not telling me sooner! but tell me anyway!)
In Austin, I bought my Lunchbots at Whole Earth Provisions, but they are also available online at Lunchbots.com with free shipping nationwide.
**as much as I wish I received free swag from this blog. I don't. These views are entirely my own and not promoted by any brand or product**