Product Review: Lunchboxes

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This lunchbox product review is a guest post from Kiran…to learn more about Kiran check out our team page!
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I’ve had a pit in my stomach for the past few days. I know that for many moms, back to school is a time to celebrate … but for me, I love the ease of the days, the lack of schedules, and the absence of homework. Can’t summer stay just a bit longer?

Alas, before we know it, school will be back in session. It’s high time to pick out backpacks, to select school supplies and to shop for sneakers or other suitable shoes. But let’s not forget the packing of lunches. Since we’ll want to provide our kids with the tools they need to succeed, ensuring that they are equipped with real, nutritious foods tops most of our lists.

To make your job (and mine, as well!) a little bit easier, I’ve scoured the shelves to find lunchboxes … containers that will be crucial in packing for your little ones. I’ve found four that I’m fond of. All have great pluses as well as a few minuses. So without further adieu, here is my review of the latest and greatest when it comes to lunchboxes:

Lunch Box Dishwasher Safe Hot Foods? Leak-proof? # of Compartments Mom
Made?
Ziploc Divided Containers Yes Yes* Yes 3 No
PlanetBox Yes No Yes (with accessory – included) 3-5 Yes
EasyLunchboxes Yes Yes* No 3 Yes
LunchBots Base, yes
Lids, no
(unless stainless steel model)
No No, only leak proof models 1-4 Yes

*See package for details

Lunch Box
Ease of Use
(Scale of
1 – 5)
Size Price Material
Ziploc Divided Containers 4 9″ x 6″ x 2″ $5.14 for a set of 2 (Amazon.com) Food safe polypropylene plastic (#5)
PlanetBox 3.5 10 x 7.5 x 1.5″ OR 10.25 x 7.75 x 2″ $39.99 and up Food-grade Type 18/8 Stainless Steel
EasyLunchboxes 4 9.38″ x 6.1″ x 2″ $13.95 for set of 4 Food safe polypropylene plastic (#5)
LunchBots 5 6″ x 5″ x 1.75″ – additional sizes available $14.99 and up Food-grade Type 18/8 Stainless Steel


Ziploc Divided Container

History:

A member of the S. C. Johnson & Son, Inc. family, Ziploc has been a household name for years and years. A provider of storage solutions, their options don’t just include baggies and such; in recent years, they’ve added numerous options at reasonable price points that are offered in big box stores convenient to most and frequented by many.

The scoop:

Popular brand Ziploc’s take on the bento box in a more affordable, everyday product. Sold in packs of two, the BPA-Free containers consist of three compartments each and a secure fitting lid. The product claims to be freezer, microwave and dishwasher safe, though precautionary statements for use are included on the package. Please note that the containers are also disposable and are not intended to last as long as more expensive containers.

Ziploc Containers are readily available at most big-box stores (like Target and Supermarkets) as well as Amazon (online) and perfectly priced.

My take:

I’ve been a personal fan of the Ziploc Divided Containers after Lisa turned me on to them last year. I used them for both of my school-aged girls … and to be honest, I’m not sure who loved them more – me, or them. My personal loves are that there’s only one container to wash, each of the compartments have ample room and I love that each of the compartments are individually sealed and leak-proof. As you can see in my photo, I sent fruit, a sweet potato and oatmeal (my kids don’t seem to mind if foods are warm or cold – lucky for me, right?!) I’ve sent everything from yogurt to homemade applesauce, and nothing has ever leaked to the other side – because believe me, I’d hear about it. For more ideas on what to pack in these lunchboxes check out Lisa’s School Lunch Roundup post.

The negatives, in my opinion: the size of the boxes is good for serving sizes but tough to accommodate in many lunch bags. I had to specifically outfit my girls with lunch bags that would fit the product (Lisa uses Lands End soft sided lunch bags to fit both a Ziploc Divided Container and Thermos cup). If you are concerned about using plastic, this product is not for you. And finally, while the price may be right, you may end up buying a few of these which could add up to the cost of one of the stainless steel options.

Sweet potato, oatmeal and fruit in a Ziploc Divided Container


PlanetBox

History:

Caroline and Robert Miros combined their working knowledge – she, whose talents lie within children’s health education and environmental programs, and he, an engineer who has designed consumer and medical products – in creating PlanetBox. The product was designed to provide an innovate solution for making lunch packing enjoyable for kids and adults alike. Their goals: flexibility, durability to withstand years of use, and ease of cleaning. After launching in the summer of 2009, their products sold out within 3 months.

The Scoop:

PlanetBoxes are available in two different “systems”: the Rover is for those who prefer a sampling of smaller servings of food, and the Launch is for those who want larger serving sizes. Each come with a colorful magnet set, perfect for personalizing with your current interests (think rockets, flowers, texting, etc.). Add-ons include Dipper sets, which are little compartments for wet/messy foods that can be placed inside the system. A Carry Bag is also an add-on that many people are fond of as the box fits securely within it and offers room for a drink, a pocket for another snack, etc.

The Rover has five compartments and has room for two Dippers. It measures 10” x 7.5” x 1.5” and weighs 20 oz.

The Launch holds 6.5 cups of food, is larger than the Rover, and is designed to hold a 3-course meal. It also comes with a Tall Dipper, which is great for dips/dressings. It’s measurements are 10.25: x 7.75” x 2”; weight is 22 oz.

PlanetBoxes can be ordered on their website.

My Take:

Take one look at the product and it’s clear to see: The PlanetBox is the crème-de-la-crème when it comes to lunchboxes. The most unique of the bunch, the boxes are a sturdy high quality stainless which just gives a great feel. If you’re looking for a solid, unique method for sending lunches, this one’s for you. The quality and durability are obvious; this will last you for years to come, and it even comes with a one-year warranty (see package for details).

A few notes to mention: the carry bag that can be purchased along with the box offers many compartments including a pocket for additional snacks/napkins and even one for a drink. For some, the ease of including the bag is great. Other kids may want to select a different bag (with a character or one that matches their backpack) and for them this may be a turnoff. There are numerous fun colors to choose from, however, and the magnets allow you to personalize it, which still makes it fun. Don’t be turned off by the price tag; if you’re looking for a box that will last for years to come and that is completely plastic-free, this is a unique alternative with lots of bells and whistles. Please note that it is not intended for kids under 3 and it also is the heaviest of the bunch. (Note from Lisa: The smoothie pop molds do not fit in the PlanetBox.)

Yogurt, veggies, cheese & Triscuits, raw almonds/cashews and raisins and a piece of dark chocolate


EasyLunchboxes

History:

Multi-talented Kelly Lester is the owner and creator of EasyLunchboxes. A singer and actress, she added entrepreneurship to her impressive resume when she sought to send her (three) daughters to school with simple, healthy food with little to no extra packaging or ingredients.

The scoop:

The lunch container has three compartments and measures 9.38” x 6.1” x 2”. The large section fits 2.5 cups of food, the smaller ¾ cups and the smallest ½ cup. The containers are microwave, freezer and dishwasher safe and are made from BPA-free, FDA-approved, food-safe polypropylene plastic (#5). The containers are designed to fit into the EasyLunchboxes Lunch Bag (sold separately), a 9” x 6.5” x 6.5” bag that holds up to 3 containers/boxes.

The boxes are not designed to be leak proof, which is why it’s suggested that they be carried upright in the Lunch Bags, which are created to keep the boxes stable (hence not letting the foods spill into other compartments). The lids are not “super tight fitting” so they are easy to open by little hands, as noted on the website.

EasyLunchboxes can be ordered on Amazon.

My take:

In all honesty, I truly had a tough time deciphering the differences between the Ziploc boxes and the EasyLunchboxes initially. However, the differences that I came up with are that the EasyLunchboxes’ tops are sturdier and they also come in fun colors. This may be a minor detail to some, but colors can be enticing AND helpful – especially when you are packing lunches for three of your four kids (in my case). No more hoping that you get the “right one”; it’s color-coordinating at its best.

When it comes to durability, everyone uses his or her products differently. I know that I was able to use my two Ziploc boxes for a full year without having them crack or warp, but I also know others who weren’t as lucky. The EasyLunchboxes claim to have a longer durability, but also are not meant to last years. As far as the ease of opening, my kids found both the Ziploc and EasyLunchboxes to be fairly easy to open; if I had to choose one, they favored the Ziploc product but remember that they are used to them and have used them for quite some time. A negative for me personally is that the individual compartments are not sealed and I do often send wet foods (like yogurt, dips, hummus, etc.). On the flip side, I love that this is a mom-created business and always wish to support them!

Wrap, edamame and deviled eggs with an apple


LunchBots

History:

Jacqueline Linder is like many other moms: concerned for her children and looking to feed them the best, real food that she can. An ex-Apple exec, she already had years of creating innovative products under her belt. But after her kids were born, she sought healthy containers for healthy foods. Uninterested with plastic sandwich and snack baggies, she knew stainless steel was the ideal material. When she couldn’t find exactly what she wanted, she created it. What began as a company launched in a family garage has turned into a business that is changing lunches everyday.

The scoop:

LunchBots serves up the highest quality (18/8) stainless steel containers in various sizes and styles. Choose from containers that have one, two, three or four compartments. The containers are sized 6” x 5” x 1.75” and weigh 9.6 oz; a larger one-serving unit measures 7” x 5.5” x 2”. Leak-proof containers can be added on for condiments or sauces and can fit snugly within the food containers.

The material eases fears of toxins or linings coming in contact with your food, it’s 100% reusable and recyclable and the product is virtually break-free.

LunchBots can be ordered on their website, and they are offering a special offer to readers of 100 Days of Real Food: Through noon PST on August 11, take 10% off of any of the products on www.lunchbots.com with the code 100DAYS. We’re so excited to be able to offer the discount as they don’t offer coupon codes through their website, so this is a great time to take advantage of it! Please note that shipping is also free in the US and Canada.

My take:

I was introduced to LunchBots a few years ago and was recently anxious to try out their new and improved products. I love the look and feel of the containers. The lid comes on and off with ease; even my 3 ½ year-old can take it on and off. With different products with varying compartments, you can surely find one that fits your needs. I got the Duo, which has two compartments of similar sizes. I also got a Condiment Container, which is super cute and handy.

My concerns on the LunchBots: spillage and size. The Trio would probably work best for my situation (I always pack four things for my kids – three for lunch and one for a snack. It’s funny how they get programmed for this and I get interrogated when there are only three things). With that being said, even with the Trio, I still need to pack one other item. The Quad is not quite big enough for me to get it all in, but I can make it work by including a piece of fruit on the side/etc.

The LunchBots Bento Box Set is something I’d recommend, and I’d also recommend a Leak Proof Set to combat the spillage issue. I often times send hummus/yogurt/homemade applesauce in my kids’ lunches and find these to be a great option. With the add-ons available, the LunchBots are, in my opinion, a great option with a very reasonable price point. I love that they are stainless steel, they’ll last for years and are mom-made.

Nut-butter sandwich on homemade wheat bread with veggies and homemade ranch; served in a LunchBots Duo

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I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Do you pack your kids lunches each day? And what lunch boxes have been successful for you?

 

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233 comments to Product Review: Lunchboxes

  • Anne

    Sorry if this has been asked before but the ziplock containers are leak proof but the easy lunch box containers are not correct?

    We have been using the easy lunch box containers for a year and have loved them so far! I don’t ever pack leaky foods in them though! They are super sturdy and we haven’t had one crack yet :)

  • Christy

    I use some square snapware boxes we got really cheaply a few years ago. They do great in the dishwasher. Inside those I use 2-4 silicone cupcake molds as needed to fit other little foods. Not leakproof, but I don’t pack wet stuff. I have the silicone Popsicle molds for yogurt and applesauce, but they spilled all over my kids lunch boxes as their waterbottles popped the top off of them. My kids have the LLBean critter lunchboxes because they match their backpacks. One is gonna be on it’s 4th year with no problems at all. For drinks we use the 12oz. Thinksport stainless steel waterbottles and LOVE them!!

  • Rebecca

    Any thoughts on the new pottery barn all in one stainless steel lunch box. Sort of reminds me of their version of planet box…

  • Kathy S

    I love love love my daughters Planetbox I guess I’m a compartmental person because it makes it much easier for me to pack her lunches. She loves it too although the weight of it may become an issue for middle school and a heavier non rolling backpack. We’ll see. She’s had it for two yrs and it’s been great! The magnets even go through the dishwasher as daddy never takes them off before putting it in there. No hunting for containers anymore and no plastic! I recently purchased a trio large Lunchbot and love it too for lunches on the go. We had older Lands End lunch boxes laying around and I just pop my Lunchbot in one and away I go.

  • Missy

    Above it says that the Ziploc divided containers are about $5.14 for a set of two, but when I click the amazon link it comes up as $24.98 for a set of two. Where do you buy them for cheaper? That seems like a lot of money for ziploc plastic containers! This post was great, thank you!!

  • Carrie

    I purchased the 5 compartment Planetbox (Rover) for my son upon entering Kindergarten in 2012. I was looking for durability and wanted to eliminate the need for plastic baggies. So far, I love this product. It is pricey for a lunchbox but I plan for my son to use it for years to come. The carry case for the Rover provides extra storage capacity as mentioned in the review. It allows room for a snack and a pocket for a Thermos. Most recently I also purchased the 3 compartment (Launch) just to have an extra lunch bag for trips to the park since I now have a second child. The carry bag for the Launch is not as kid friendly as the zipper does not go all the way around the bag as it does for the Rover. This makes it a little harder for a child get their Planetbox out. Launch may be intended more for adults as it does have a larger storage capacity. Also, Planetbox does offer a freezer pack made of plain water that fits inside the carry case Overall, I would definitely recommend the Rover for a younger school age child.

  • For those of you who have been looking at the Ziplock containers I just recently found 2 packs at our local Target for less then $3. They have worked great for us and they seal nicely without leaking in-between compartments. I really wanted to try the Planetbox but that is an investment that may be later to come. Also I love the magnet idea to give the lunchbox some character and recently discovered Mellissa & Doug Magnets for around 3-4 dollars that you can choose from a large assortment of animal characters or numbers and letters.

  • Naomi

    Hi Lisa-
    So I purchased the Lands End soft sided lunch box upon your recommendation & I love that they monogram. Question though, you mentioned that it fits a Ziplock divided container & a Thermos cup. I have questions
    1. Are you putting the thermos on the outside? My kindergartener has a HARD time getting the Thermos into the outsize spot for it : (
    2. If you are putting the Thermos cup inside which I tried it works but, it does not if I add a hard ice brick. Even a thin one. So that leads my to question 3.
    3. Are the ice packs you have recommended that are little cubes together on a sheet, flexible enough to place them in the box with a Thermos and close it easily?

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