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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192 comments to Product Review: Lunchboxes

  • kim

    Hi there!
    does the planetbox fit into the Land’s end lunch box? i am trying to buy the landsend, want to know if the PBox fits in your experience…any advice?
    Thanks!!!

  • Stephanie Papale

    Pottery barn kids now sells this with very cute holders and they can be personalized. Def worth checking out!!!

  • [...] reading this How To Start post from Another Lunch and this round-up and review of lunch containers from 100 Days of Real Food, I went with the EasyLunchboxes (that is an Amazon Link) which I ordered [...]

  • TJ

    I have 3 children, ages 6, 9, and 12. I’ve been using the same 4 ziploc divided containers for the past 3 school years with no warping, cracks, or leaking. I wash them in the top rack of the dishwasher most of the time but once in a while they have gone a cycle on the bottom.

  • [...] Ziplock Divided Lunch Containers. These are my favorite lunch containers because they are inexpensive, leak-proof, and easy-to-use with only one lid to open. For other lunch container options check out our recent lunchbox review post. [...]

  • Melissa

    Thank you sooooo much for posting this. I have my first rising kindergartener and she wanted her lunch box to match her book bag and I wanted to use a divided container! We are going with the LL Bean flip-top lunch box. Now to decide between plastic and stainless . . .

  • Linda

    Looking for a good lunch container for myself. I often bring soups, stews, and salads to work and no matter what I’ve tried, the soup liquid and salad dressings leak through the seals. I want something lightweight, flat, stackable/space-saving, and single-compartment, not more than a 3-cup capacity.

    Thanks for all your reviews! I’ve decided to try Ziploc, since it fits what I want, with a variety of sizes and shapes. Lock&Lock looks like a good possibility too–a coworker just recommended that to me. I’ve always generally thought that the more expensive options must be the best but with lunch containers, I haven’t found that to be true.

    • Kiran Dodeja Smith

      We love the Ziplocs! And they are such a good price point that you won’t feel badly if you decide to try something else. Enjoy!:)

  • [...] Days of Real Food} Lunch Box Product Review (neatly organized charts of lunch box types, brand and their [...]

  • Oanna

    I want a planetbox because it’s plastic-free and the environmentally responsible thing to do!!! And I just love the design. :)

  • thuy

    Kiran-what do you use to fit the Ziploc containers for your kids? I know what Lisa uses but I’m hoping to get something locally that I can pick up, not off the internet.

  • Chris

    I love the BOON lunch boxes, they are cheap a Khols. I paid $12 each after 20% and come in 2 cute designs for kids: elephant and ladybug. They seal great, no leakage and have 5 compartments, and are microwave and dishwasher safe. The only down side is they are not stackable. I have 5 of the elephant, and pack them in advance for my sons daycare. I personally use the ziploc for myself at work.
    http://www.kohls.com/product/prd-1401788/boon-trunk-snack-box.jsp

  • Chas Wilbur

    Is the Ziploc Divided Containers only available online? I couldn’t find these at my local Wal-Mart?

  • Karey

    We’ve used the Lunch Bots for a few years, and I love them for their longevity, earth-friendliness, and healthiness. My only complain about them is that the compartments are not sealed from each other – even when laying flat on a table. This means that if you cut up fruit or cucumbers for one side, the sandwich gets wet by lunch time. This has meant that we’ve had to pack two – dry and wet – or put fruit separately. This in itself poses a problem since the metal container will bruise any fruit that is in the same lunch bag. I now have plastic containers about the size of a dry-measure cup to hold uncut fruit.

    We also just added PlanetBoxes to our cadre of solutions. I like them a lot. They’re a bit more leak proof (between sections). We have all the accessories too: ice pack, bag, fork and spoon, big and little dipper. My kids love them. They are heavy, especially when you put a water bottle in the pouch.

  • Phoebesmom

    Another vote for laptop lunches. My daughter is moving into 5 years with hers. For those who complained about losing parts, they make it very easy to buy replacement pieces and they are not expensive. They also come with a stainless steel utensil set, which has its own compartment. That cuts down on lost forks in my experience. I have their thermos as well, for hot foods, and we are pleased with it too. I see my daughter using the same set (well, we have two now so one can be in the dishwasher) for her entire school career!

  • [...] Don’t the yogurt and applesauce leak into the other compartments? We actually own quite a few different lunch containers, but I do find myself reaching for our BPA-free Ziplock divided containers most often. And there [...]

  • I loved this post. Im trying to decide on the plantet box vs. the lunch bots for a kindergartener. I’d love any input. Thank you!!!

    • Kiran

      Mara – you can’t go wrong with either. The LunchBots are a great size and very durable. I use them daily for two of my kids. The PlanetBox will get LOTS of years of wear and buying it for your Kindergartener would mean you’d have it for years to come. Really – I truly love both.

      Good luck with your decision!:)
      Kiran

      • mara

        thank you, kiran, for such a fast response!

      • Nicole B

        I also love both the PlanetBox and LunchBots. I find the PlanetBox great for days you need to send a full lunch and LunchBots when you only need to send a snack. If you add a thermos to either, you have enough food to get my hungry 2nd grade son through the day!

  • Michele

    I am a huge fan of the Rubbermaid LunchBlox. It comes with a sandwich box, a rectangular box, and two small square boxes with an ice pack that snaps in the middle. It’s BPA free. They are also spill proof. You can buy extra pieces and mix and match as needed. It also clicks together in a small space that is perfect for staying upright in the lunch box. I’ve been thinking about buying more little small squares for making jello snacks ahead of time.

  • heather

    are there any other stainless steel besides lunch bot or planetbox

  • [...] Yes it will be expensive, but for the reduction in stress it is worth it. There is a really good review of the various lunchbox options at 100 Days of Real Food. We bought Planet boxes for our kids (and [...]

  • Leli

    Thanks for the reviews! After reading this post I just ordered PlanetBox sets for my twins, who will be starting pre-school. Pricey but worth it if it makes the daily lunch packing grind easier. I also love that they have a meal planning app. Figuring out healthy, fun meals to pack EVERY SINGLE DAY is the hardest part for me. The idea of filling up each compartment and-voila!-I’m done is appealing to me. Thanks again! Love 100 Days! PS We also have several LunchBots containers that we’ve used for 2+ years and have been really happy with.

  • [...] your experience with the product — we’d love to share them. For the full review, visit: http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/08/09/product-review-lunchboxes/ This entry was posted in Nutrition, Student Life on November 20, 2013 by [...]

  • barb

    I bought a Yumbox which is plastic and expensive $38. I wish I would have known about the Planetbox since it’s stainless steel.

  • Sandra

    As a preschool teacher and mom of school-ages, I found the Planetbox system difficult since items that need heating need to be removed…time consuming for a teacher heating multiple lunches. It is great for a school-ager, but the bag is big and heavy.

    Another option that I like is the Rubbermaid LunchBlox System. They are about $10.00 and I found them at Target and Safeway. We’ve had ours for two years so far. I like that items can be separated. The BPA-free containers. They are microwave- and freezer-safe; your food stays chilled with snap-in, Blue Ice inserts.
    Features: Leak-Proof Design, Food Preserver, Portable, Air Tight Seal, BPA Free
    Container Material: BPA-free
    Care and Cleaning: Microwave Safe, Freezer Safe, Dishwasher-safe
    Top Rack Only, Dishwasher-safe, Clean with Water and Mild Soap.

    For hot items I use a good-ol stainless steel thermos.

    For lunchboxes, I found the Built lunch bag. I LOVE that I can wash them and I can fit lots of stuff inside. We’ve had the same bags for three years.

  • Megan

    Can you please provide some options for lunch boxes that fit the ziplock containers in them? For kids and adults?

  • Bridget

    I purchased 3 Planet Lunch lunchboxes in September based on the reviews here, from Pottery Barn Kids. The bag lasted 2 months and Pottery Barn’s response was to offer me a 15% discount to order another $70 lunch box. Beware!!

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