Lunch Box Reviews

Lunch Box Reviews

Tomatoes and turkey wrap in metal lunch box [pinit] I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve tried plenty of lunch boxes and reusable lunch containers over the years. Before I share ideas about edibles to actually put in the containers, I thought we should do Lunch Box Reviews. I’ve found the lack of good, solid comparative information out there to be really disappointing. So I’m doing it myself. The Bottom Line: the LunchBots DUO above is my current pick. Easy to maintain (no darned seams = easy to clean!), super durable, safe to use, easy to open and get right down to business (my kids have, like, no time to eat in school), and just the right size for a sandwich on one side and a fruit or veg on the other with a divider to keep the fruit/veg from mushing up the sandwich. Edited to add: The lunch sacks I use are Built NY standard-size neoprene zip-top sacks. They’re insulating, not bulky but very, very roomy, machine-washable, and a LunchBots container fits easily flat on the bottom. Love them.

Now, on to the insanity.

Over the years, I’ve tried bento boxes sent directly from Japan (amazingly fast, too!), Ziploc plastic containers, Tupperware, LunchSkins, Americanized bento-style boxes, you name it. I’ve logged many hours browsing online (inconclusive!), spent way too much cash in The Container Store (mostly a bust), and tried banging my head against the wall (surprisingly helpful). Many of these containers and boxes seemed to be the answer, at least for a few minutes. The best of them worked great —right up until that dreadful moment when I had to clean them. I had come to dread everything having to do with school/work lunch, while feeling singlehandedly responsible for both saving the environment (nothing disposable!) and keeping my children from obviously certain and tragically untimely death (no BPA!). The cloth-style containers (like LunchSkins) harbor crumbs everywhere, and the multi-compartment plastic containers (like Laptop Lunches) are just too hard to clean for me. If you have any of the containers I have rejected, keep on keepin’ on! This is simply my unvarnished, unsponsored opinion based upon my personal experience.

Sandwich and chips in metal lunch tray

Generally, I really like the Lunch Bots products (I have bought them online from amazon.com and directly from lunchbots.com—I have no real preference). I really prefer the DUO (top photo) to the UNO (just above) for the simple fact that it’s nice to be able to quarantine something like chips or vegetables or fruit from the Main Event (a.k.a. the sandwich). But still, I’d take the Lunch Bots UNO over anything else I have tried. Have I mentioned how easy their products are to clean? The main thing is: The Containers Don’t Have Seams!! I need to be able to wash these babies by hand, since even with all the cooking and baking I do, I don’t run the dishwasher every day and I’m not planning to buy 10 lunch containers to last me a whole week of lunches. The fact that you can put the plastic containers in the dishwasher is almost useless to me. Which brings me to …

A plastic container filled with a sandwich and vegetables

Rubbermaid’s LunchBlox containers. They’re BPA free, reasonably priced, roomy, and easy to find at Target and other similar big box stores (and even some larger grocery stores). But they have come to represent everything that had me dreading everything to do with school lunch for my kids (and work lunch for my husband) in the first place.

Plastic containers with bread and vegetables

There are too many seams. That means there are tons of places for crumbs to hide, and drying them is like drying a food processor (and you know how I love that)—every single day. Plus, all the containers snap together to create nifty little blocks (or “blox”), but they have to line up just right or you just think they’ll hold—but they won’t. If I didn’t already have a very favorable opinion of Rubbermaid as a company (they have fab-u-lous customer service, and stand behind all of their products), I would think they were trying to drive us mad.

Again, these are my personal opinions. I purchased all of these products (and many, many more) with my own money, and wasted a ton of it in the name of the thoroughly unscientific research of which I have grown quite fond. Feel free to share your lunch box reviews in the comments, but let’s keep it light, okay? It’s just lunch!



P.S. The gluten free Ciabatta Bread in the second and third pictures above is the second recipe in Chapter 6 of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread. Nice, right? The wrap in the top photo is the Soft Gluten Free Wraps from the other day.

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Comments are closed.

  • Becky
    September 18, 2013 at 7:05 PM

    Not about lunch boxes, but is your new bread cook book going to include a recipe that could be used in a bread oven? With 3 in our house that can’t do gluten it would be a big time saver to me.

  • lysa
    September 12, 2013 at 8:57 PM

    I feel your pain with the lunch box dilemma. We use the Planetbox here. It’s awesome. We bought two 4 years ago and they’re still fabulous. There’s no lid hunting, the clean up fabulously easy and they appeal to kids of all ages, so my 8th grader still has the same box from 4th grade. Love the blog!

  • Kristen P
    September 12, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    I’ve done the same test! After losing too many lids (seriously, how hard is it to put the lid back on kids?) I researched lunchboxes that wouldn’t have that problem and came up with our favorite: GoodByn. One lid, one container, three compartments, no seams, bpa free, dishwasher safe and comes with stickers the kids can use to decorate their boxes. Oh, and it doesn’t leak either… even if the kids turn it sideways/upside down in their backpacks, spaghetti sauce stays where it’s supposed to. Oh – and they last forever. We’ve had ours going on 3 years now! We had to replace the stickers, but other than that, these lunchboxes keep on truckin’. The only thing they don’t do is insulate in any way so my boys just get room temerature food at lunch. They’ve survived thusfar. Win!

  • Holly Avondet
    September 12, 2013 at 9:23 AM

    Have you used the Lunch Bots thermal containers? We have the Rubbermaid set, I got it at BJs (a warehouse club) and we got 2 sets of the salad containers and 2 of the sets like you show above, and even though I have enough to make it through most of the week for my son, I still end up using the reusable sandwich bags because I hate cleaning them. But, I’m really not that fond of the bags, either.

    • September 12, 2013 at 11:33 AM

      Good question, Holly. I haven’t, and frankly I haven’t read such great things about them and I don’t plan to buy them. Instead, I bought and plan to thoroughly test a few Thermos brand insulated containers (a smaller size for kids, larger for my husband). So far, I really like them and will report back along with a recipe for something I like to send in them. The Rubbermaid LunchBlox are the worst to clean! I would give mine away, but it would have to be to someone I don’t really like all that much. ;)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Donia Robinson
    September 12, 2013 at 9:05 AM

    “I had come to dread everything having to do with school/work lunch,
    while feeling singlehandedly responsible for both saving the environment
    (nothing disposable!) and keeping my children from obviously certain
    and tragically untimely death (no BPA!).” — TOTALLY how I feel. I was just researching these exact items a few days ago! The LunchBots have a little cup you can buy for moist things, don’t they? Is that what you use? If I go this route, I’m going to have to buy new lunchboxes because my kids’ are all tall, not short and wide.

    Also, you don’t run your dishwasher every day?? Wowza. Most days I run mine twice! We use the 1-hour wash because our water here is very expensive.

    Thanks for posting on something very, very practical for everyone!

    • September 12, 2013 at 11:36 AM

      Yes, the LunchBots do have a little cup you can buy for a dip or something, and I have them but honestly my kids don’t have enough time at lunch to dip and still get to eat everything!
      I am going to go back and mention this in the post because I think it’s an important tidbit: This year I bought everyone a BuiltNY lunch sack. They’re made from Neoprene, fit everything without being bulky, insulate, and are machine washable. Score all around!
      Nope, I run the dishwasher about every 3 days. Lots of hand washing because otherwise I’ll fill up the bottom with the top still empty, etc. and I can’t stand to run it when it isn’t full. I have appliance issues. :)
      xoxo Nicole

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