With both my girls in middle school now (how’d that happen??) there were some strong opinions about what kind of lunch boxes (and bags) they’d be using this year. I’ve been sharing some photos on Instagram and Facebook and getting questions, so I thought I’d dedicate an entire post to our new supplies.
Our New Lunch Boxes and Bags
Both girls requested the pictured cube style boxes that they’ve seen some others using. As you can see with the packed lunch pictures below, they fold open to three different compartments. They are made by Sistema (not a sponsor), can be found at Amazon, Walmart, or Target, and come in different colors.
They also both begged me for Vera Bradley lunch bags (luckily we have an outlet nearby, but they are also available on Amazon). This is another one that’s “trending” at their middle school right now and clearly geared more toward girls (sorry to the boy moms reading this!). Even though these are not my personal favorites, as I’ll explain below, middle school has enough challenges as it is so I did not fight them on getting this new gear. You can see our other lunch box favorites on this lunch box review post from the archives.
Pros and Cons
One thing I like about their new lunch boxes, aside from the fact that using them makes my girls happy, is the capacity seems to be bigger than some of our other boxes and therefore more on point for hungry middle school athletes. They asked for the matching little side cups (pictured), and since they fold up into cubes I can easily fit both containers into their lunch bags on the days they really have a big appetite. Or I can cram in something else (like a bag of popcorn) along with the main lunch box.
The lid is attached to these boxes (the big compartment ends up being upside down when you fold it up) so I suppose it’s helpful that you can’t lose or misplace the lid, although it does take up a little more room in the dishwasher as a result. I also like that they come in different colors so I no longer have to put sticky notes on the packed lunches in the fridge (like I did with Ziploc containers) so the girls know whose is whose. A minor detail, but sometimes one less thing to do can make a difference … not to mention it’s less wasteful without the sticky notes!
What I don’t like about the lunch boxes is that they are not leak-proof. This is again why we bought the side containers, which are leak-proof and what we’ll use for yogurt or sauce or juicy watermelon (as pictured below). In regard to the lunch bag, I don’t like that there is not a drink holder on the side, but my kids told me they can just put their water cups in the side pocket of their backpack and bring those to lunch (and refill them throughout the day as needed).
I will also add that I like how, since these are their lunch boxes of choice (for the moment), they are more willing to help me pack their lunch in these containers. They have been helping more, at least so far (only a week and a half into the new school year) … let’s hope it lasts. I did tell them I would only buy these things if they promised to help with their lunches more than last year. :)
What We’ve Been Packing
For those not on social media, or for anyone who would like to see these ideas in one place, this is what we’ve been packing in the new lunch boxes so far this school year!
- BLTs on Whole-Wheat
- Leftover taco meat/veggies/beans
- Corn tortilla (in foil)
- Sour cream
- Cabbage, cilantro and other veggies to go on top
- Cheese melted in a whole-wheat tortilla
- 2 whole-wheat cinnamon graham crackers
- Sliced bell peppers
- Bag of popcorn on the side
- A thrown together corn/tomato/black bean salad (made with leftover corn on the cob)
- Pasta Salad with Red Pepper Pesto (coming to the blog soon)
- Cheese stick
- Organic pepperoni
- Apples and cantaloupe
- Hummus, cheese and lettuce sandwich
- Banana and PB
- Popcorn and roasted pumpkin seed mix
- Hummus/cheese/tomato/lettuce wrap
- Avocado (she squirted a little lime juice on it)
- Grapes (I guess 4 was enough 🤣)
- Leftover Chicken Satay and Coconut Rice (both served cold)
What lunch boxes and bags have you been using this school year?
54 thoughts on “Our New Lunch Boxes and Bags”
I bought two of this an a yard sales isi bought 2 and there a new with everything show me new but it is missing the latch to close the box:
How I can buy the LATCH PINK PURPLE ? Please
You would probably need to contact Sistema directly to see if they could send you a replacement latch. – Nicole
Thank you Nicole!
Thanks Lisa for all your practical advise over the years! Can you please give more details on the leak-proof side containers? How big are they?
Hi Carolina, you can find all the details for the side containers here: https://amzn.to/338PgF0
Where do you find the organic pepperoni?
Do you have any suggestions for ice packs?? I’m overwhelmed!
I first saw these boxes in a school fund raiser and have 2 of them. Don’t think they are the same brand because they don’t fasten the same. I’m not crazy about them for what Lisa mentions – not leak proof. However, since my daughter loves them, I have found that I can put a piece of Press ‘n’ Seal over the fruit (or anything else that might cause moisture) to keep it from leaking. Works great! Got this idea after my son complained that his sandwich bread was a little soggy. :)
Great tip! – Nicole
what is your coconut rice recipe? Looks yummy!
It’s from Lisa’s 100 Days of Real Food On a Budget cookbook. – Nicole
Is the taco meat and melted cheese sandwhich meant to be cold? My middle schooler and high schooler are plain janes when it comes to lunch. I rarely get them to try different things.
Yes, my kids eat all sorts of stuff cold in their school lunch (that’s normally served warm).
We have used these for years! I use 2 reusable cupcake liners in one of the small sections if I want to break it up even more.
I’ve started doing that too – works great!
Hi, I bought these this school year too. Found them at Home Goods at a great price. My boys are in third and fifth grades. We’ve been using Planetbox stainless containers and while I love that they are stainless, I find I’m packing more little things because of all of the spaces in the Planetbox container which may not be necessary. This container is much easier. A simple but filling lunch and my boys love it.
I agree – more filling! I saw them at Old Navy the other day also.
Do these cubes fit in the lunch bags from Land’s end?
Yes, they do!
Where do you find 100% Whole Wheat Graham Crackers? Or do you make them?
These are actually not 100%, but they are more than 50% (a compromise). Annie’s brand from Earth Fare.
Too much plastic in use. Love your lunch idea photos though!
We have stainless steel options as well, but these are the boxes they prefer right now. Just choosing my battles with them at this stage in life! :)
Do the girls complain about the food being scattered around by the time they tote their lunch to school in their backpacks?
No complaints of that and it’s usually all eaten by the time they get home.
When it comes to cooler bags, my favorite are the Arctic Zone expandable lunchboxes from Costco (available in my area now, but who knows how long they’ll be around). The ice packs for those are the BEST. I leave my house at 7:15 in the morning and when I leave work after 5pm, the ice packs are still cold (though not completely frozen). Plus, the lunchbox comes with a convertible bento container set that can be used in different configurations.
The cooler bag is large enough to (snugly) fit two Laptop Lunches/Bentology lunchboxes with a little wiggle room for snacks (like an Rx Bar) which means it’s perfect for days I need to pack both lunch AND dinner. I might be a little more particular about dinner options since by 6-7pm, the ice pack is pretty much melted, but a PB&J, berries, and sugar snap peas don’t need to be kept ice cold, right?
Thanks for the tips – sounds like a big bag!
I love these posts! I have twin girls who are in elementary school and your girls being close in age gives a fun look into the future. I bought the yogurt pots to try for my daughter who loves peach yogurt and I might get the cube to try too (we are using the lands end lunch bags and easy lunch boxes and holy leakage for yogurt in those!)
I am so glad it’s helpful! :)
I’d really like to see what these lunches look like when your daughters open them. They are beautiful when they are just packed, but having loose sour cream leads me to believe that there would be quite a mess when they are opened.
This isn’t a criticism. I love your page and what you promote. I’m just another mom, packing lunches wondering how you keep a liquid-like substance from getting all over the place.
They would be mortified if I showed up at lunch time at the middle school to snap a picture, but here’s one I took when they were in elementary school: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/school-lunch-life-cycle/
So whatever you put in the box that ends up upside-down when you close it gets all over the underside of the lid?
That’s right! It gets tossed all around in their backpack on the way to school anyway, so it’s really not anything out of the ordinary for us.
We have one of those lunch boxes, and I like it a lot. Our local World Market sells them.
Thanks! Love these lunch ideas and cute lunch bags! Question: for the hot foods, do you reheat before packing? Or they eat them cold? I’m afraid one of my kids will not eat it unless it’s reasonably warm by lunch time. Plus I’ve heard concerns about food safety when food is left out above a certain temp. for that long. Too bad they aren’t offered a good way to reheat food. :(
I only send hot foods in a thermos. Everything else is cold (and sent in an insulated lunch bag with ice packs).
Your lunches look amazing!!! My kids don’t like me serving “healthy” foods. To them, it has no taste and looks different from the other kids. I give up. They pretty much just eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Well, PB&J can be healthy with whole-wheat bread, 1-ingredient peanut butter, and jam without refined sugar :)
Where did you find those bags of popcorn? My daughter loves them and I haven’t seen them in individual bags before!
We have had these for years. For my sandwish eating kid they work well for my kid of multiple little items, not so well. This year my samdwich kid said – no more. He doesn’t like it because he has to wash, dry and put it away because I don’t like it taking up way too much room in the dishwasher. So he is going back to smaller containers for a while. My parents saw them and had to have them for themselves for their outings that they bring lunch. (Amazon/Target)
I bought these last year, because of the capacity and ease of use, but they were destroyed in no time. Having said that, my boys are really rough with their belongings and throw their backpack around all the time. So this might not be a problem for you.
Well, it’s a good thing it’s not a big investment!
You should check out Okidoki’s new lunchsacks and boxes. Made from recycled billboards with a pocket inside for an ice pack. Awesome, waterproof, indestructable amd green
Interesting – thanks for sharing!
Do the “crunchy” items aka popcorn, etc. stay crunchy? I pack lunches the night before and wonder if items will keep their crunch.
No complaints so far. Probably not as good as our boxes with leak-proof compartments, but good enough to eat. :)
I love the Sistema boxes! We bought ours for preschool snacks 4 years ago, and it has lasted all this time! It was a good investment considering it is not as expensive as other brands I’ve seen. We have also had good luck with the lunch bags that Costco sells.
The Arctic Zone expandable lunchbags? Those are the BEST! I have yet to find an ice pack that works as well as the ones in those bags- and I’ve tried everything.
Yes, that was it! I wrote the comment while the kids were in school with the lunch boxes. :)
I just got these boxes for my first grader purely for the fact that it’s all one piece and there’s no lid to lose!!! (Her middle school cousins had them too that we saw in use on a family trip this summer, which helped) We lost so many lids last year, it was driving me crazy.
We love the Sistema boxes! I found ours at Marshall’s four years ago..no, five years ago (she’s a fourth grader now!) and they’ve been going strong ever since.
Good to know they last!