Given that we make lunch bags for a business, I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that all of us are pretty serious about lunch around here. We are an office of lunch packers, and with our tight quarters we all eat lunch at our desks. We frequently share lunch ideas and recipes, many of which can be found on our Pinterest board here.
Just as important as our lunches though, are the containers we put them in. Since my own son started school, I have been fanatical about finding the perfect bento-style lunch container for him. I don’t know whether it was the years I spent traveling in Asia or just my interest in food presentation, but as long as I can remember I have carried my lunch in some type of tiffin or bento box instead of the classic (and less sustainable) sandwich baggie or plastic container. The increasing popularity of bento-style containers in recent years has made sourcing these containers so much easier for our family, but finding the ones that work well is a definite challenge.
Over the last few years, my family has amassed quite a stash of lunch containers. The following is a brief review of ones that we have tried over the years.
LunchBots - ranges from $18-24.
Hands down, we love LunchBots both for kids and adults, which is why we decided to offer them as an option here at Dabbawalla Bags. The sizes and choices are perfect, the containers are dishwasher safe and they are easy to open. However, the regular stainless steel Lunchbots are NOT leak proof, plus I have noticed when I put something like grapes and pretzels together in the same container, the pretzels will get a bit soft from the moisture. Still, for carrying a sandwich or trio of snacks for lunch and road trips, they are terrific and used just about daily in our house. We love that they are stainless, and stack perfectly inside a Dabbawalla lunch bag.
Hydroflask food flask
Winter is damp and cold in Seattle, and a cup of soup just hits the spot. Years ago we discovered HydroFlask, then a small company in Oregon, who makes a terrific line of insulated beverage containers. Around our office, there is one on every desk. For a hot lunch, we have been loyal fans of their insulated food flask. At $24.00, it’s a bit of an investment, but mine is going on 3 years now, and still keeps food as hot as it did the day I purchased it. Soup packed at 7 am is still hot at noon. And my 10-year-old loves it – he is able to easily work the lid and loves having a hot lunch as a break from the monotony of sandwiches. We have tried the less expensive Thermos Stainless container as well, which works fine but does not seem to keep food as hot, and the plastic lid eventually started cracking.
For preschoolers or young elementary children, we found the Yumbox’s pre-portioned illustrated trays were a big hit. When my son was in kindergarten one of his friends brought a Lunchables every single day and my son begged for one. After checking out the options at our local Target store, I simply refused as they all looked so unhealthy and full of processed food. I bought the Yumbox instead, which can provide the same fun assortment of food with more healthy options. The Yumbox’s great advantage is they are totally leakproof and the lid design prevents food from spilling into neighboring compartments when the box is turned on its side. Their 6-compartment box is definitely too small for anyone much beyond the age of kindergarten, but their newer, 4-compartment box offers more volume for sandwich, salads, and sides. The price, which ranges from $28-$30 is high, and we so wish they were not made of plastic, but otherwise the Yumbox is a good option for those looking for an all-in-one solution for a cold lunch.
Amazing Box Solutions Bento Style Food Container - $20.00
When I found this container on Amazon, I was optimistic, particularly since the volume is suited more for an adult and we loved its’ horizontal styling. I wanted to love this container, but the design is flawed. The container features a stainless inside container and although food was kept relatively warm through lunch, neither my son nor husband can manage to open the container without spilling the contents everywhere. It is a very tight fitting lid, which no doubt is why the contents stay warm, however the tab on top that is meant to remove the lid does not work very well and it is pretty hard to open it without someone else keeping it steady. For adults, I would say this is a definite maybe if you are careful when prying open this lid; for kids, we simply cannot recommend it.