Author Topic: Recs for reuseable lunch boxes/kits?  (Read 4002 times)

OmahaSteph

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Recs for reuseable lunch boxes/kits?
« on: January 11, 2016, 11:03:42 AM »
We pack lunches for two adults and two kids every weekday using Pottery Barn Kids (gifted) lunch boxes, kids' thermoses, and insulated bags and a combination of Rubbermaid Lunch Blox, repurposed lunch meat containers, glass storage containers with lids (these get heavy) plus the occasional plastic sandwich bag.

The Pottery Barn lunch bags are cute and monogrammed, but they look like hell after a year of wear and tear. Can anyone suggest alternative bags that are tough and last more than a year or two of kid torture?

Has anyone tried those reusable fabric sandwich bags? Before I make an investment, I'd love to hear some reviews ... and how easy is it for kids to accidentally throw them away? Worth it?

Thanks for your input!

Kitsune

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Re: Recs for reuseable lunch boxes/kits?
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2016, 11:14:26 AM »
Based on my experience packing lunches for my parents and younger siblings:

First, institute a 'no throwing anything out, at all, ever' rule. Yes, this means they're bringing home orange peels, but it has 2 advantages:
- You eliminate the risk of thrown-away lunch containers/thermos lids/sandwich bags, especially if they're re-usable. BIG bonus.
- You see what is uneaten at the end of the day. For example, my kid brother would throw away everything in his lunchbox. When I started unpacking the 'nothing thrown away' box, I saw that the granola bar was always in there. Because he didn't eat them. But he'd throw one away every day. ARGH. But if I hadn't asked for it to come home? He would have kept doing it. Similarly, a kid who doesn't empty his lunch box might need less food, but one who continually eats everything in there might need more. It lets you evaluate changing needs and what actually gets eaten, basically.

Secondly, I personally don't recommend any lunchbox that can't be washed and dried easily - everything spills, and it gets gross. I've had decent luck with old-style LLBean lunch boxes (especially in darker colors, so less staining). They're pricier, but they last. On the slightly less pricy side of things, Lands End has some decent ones that lasted more than 2 years (and are currently on huge sale...) . Both companies have decent warranties, and LL Bean, specifically, has a great reputation for honouring that, so if they don't last as long as you'd expect, they'll fix that for you.

NonprofitER

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Re: Recs for reuseable lunch boxes/kits?
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2016, 11:22:52 AM »
Our daughter has had two of these plastic/BPA free bento style lunchboxes in rotation for going on 4 years. 

They aren't perfect - they can be hard to open the individual compartments (or at least, they were hard for her as a toddler). But she's been using them 5 days a week for 4 years straight and they still work.  We put all the inner compartments in the dishwasher and the outer shell gets hand rinsed each day. 

They are sold on Amazon under the names Laptop Lunch and Bentology.

http://bentology.net/pages/shop-eating-by-design

jengod

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Re: Recs for reuseable lunch boxes/kits?
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2016, 12:05:16 PM »
I put the Lunchbots Trio inside my kindergartener's Superman insulated lunch box, and we use the Lunchbots Large Uno for take-out and leftovers and roadtrip meals. We also have Thermos Funtainers for warm or messy dishes like soup or pasta. All clean easily in the dishwasher and are very durable.

http://www.lunchbots.com/
http://www.amazon.com/Thermos-Ounce-Funtainer-Hello-Kitty/dp/B0017IJSSO
« Last Edit: January 11, 2016, 01:12:37 PM by jengod »

green daisy

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Re: Recs for reuseable lunch boxes/kits?
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2016, 12:42:31 PM »
My kids each have a Planetbox with the carrying case.  We really love these lunchboxes. They are on their 4th year and still going strong!  We have the Rover style.  I throw the cases in the washing machine when they get grungy. 

http://www.planetbox.com/products/planetbox-rover

They are pricey, and I think the price has gone up.  I seem to remember spending $50 on each but we use them every school day. 

JLee

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Re: Recs for reuseable lunch boxes/kits?
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2016, 12:45:03 PM »
I use GlassLock containers in a soft cooler bag.

Candace

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Re: Recs for reuseable lunch boxes/kits?
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2016, 01:16:02 PM »
Does anyone know of kits like these for grownups that are food-safe if microwaved, can go in the dishwasher, and could still carry soup without spilling? I currently bring my lunch to work in tupperware, and then put it on paper plates to microwave it to avoid outgassing. I would love to skip using the paper plates in order to avoid waste. But I need the containers to be decent to eat out of, meaning no jars, and seal tightly, and be microwavable and dishwasher-safe. Has anyone found such a thing, preferably at a reasonable price?

JLee

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Re: Recs for reuseable lunch boxes/kits?
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2016, 01:18:40 PM »
Does anyone know of kits like these for grownups that are food-safe if microwaved, can go in the dishwasher, and could still carry soup without spilling? I currently bring my lunch to work in tupperware, and then put it on paper plates to microwave it to avoid outgassing. I would love to skip using the paper plates in order to avoid waste. But I need the containers to be decent to eat out of, meaning no jars, and seal tightly, and be microwavable and dishwasher-safe. Has anyone found such a thing, preferably at a reasonable price?
GlassLock. They're the most awesome food container I have ever used.

sonjak

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Re: Recs for reuseable lunch boxes/kits?
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2016, 01:28:11 PM »
Does anyone know of kits like these for grownups that are food-safe if microwaved, can go in the dishwasher, and could still carry soup without spilling? I currently bring my lunch to work in tupperware, and then put it on paper plates to microwave it to avoid outgassing. I would love to skip using the paper plates in order to avoid waste. But I need the containers to be decent to eat out of, meaning no jars, and seal tightly, and be microwavable and dishwasher-safe. Has anyone found such a thing, preferably at a reasonable price?
GlassLock. They're the most awesome food container I have ever used.

I haven't tried GlassLock but I've been using SnapWare for about 6 mos and it's great.

Candace

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Re: Recs for reuseable lunch boxes/kits?
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2016, 01:34:44 PM »
Does anyone know of kits like these for grownups that are food-safe if microwaved, can go in the dishwasher, and could still carry soup without spilling? I currently bring my lunch to work in tupperware, and then put it on paper plates to microwave it to avoid outgassing. I would love to skip using the paper plates in order to avoid waste. But I need the containers to be decent to eat out of, meaning no jars, and seal tightly, and be microwavable and dishwasher-safe. Has anyone found such a thing, preferably at a reasonable price?
GlassLock. They're the most awesome food container I have ever used.

Thanks! I just ordered a set. I appreciate your taking the time to reply. I had looked a bunch on Amazon prior to this and hadn't come across GlassLock.

JLee

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Re: Recs for reuseable lunch boxes/kits?
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2016, 01:46:13 PM »
Does anyone know of kits like these for grownups that are food-safe if microwaved, can go in the dishwasher, and could still carry soup without spilling? I currently bring my lunch to work in tupperware, and then put it on paper plates to microwave it to avoid outgassing. I would love to skip using the paper plates in order to avoid waste. But I need the containers to be decent to eat out of, meaning no jars, and seal tightly, and be microwavable and dishwasher-safe. Has anyone found such a thing, preferably at a reasonable price?
GlassLock. They're the most awesome food container I have ever used.

Thanks! I just ordered a set. I appreciate your taking the time to reply. I had looked a bunch on Amazon prior to this and hadn't come across GlassLock.

I hadn't come across them either until very recently; I rented a room with a good friend and he/wife have a whole bunch of them. They're amazing. They had a lid break and GlassLock sent them a new one for free, so service seems to be very good as well.

CindyBS

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Re: Recs for reuseable lunch boxes/kits?
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2016, 02:57:47 PM »
Does anyone know of kits like these for grownups that are food-safe if microwaved, can go in the dishwasher, and could still carry soup without spilling? I currently bring my lunch to work in tupperware, and then put it on paper plates to microwave it to avoid outgassing. I would love to skip using the paper plates in order to avoid waste. But I need the containers to be decent to eat out of, meaning no jars, and seal tightly, and be microwavable and dishwasher-safe. Has anyone found such a thing, preferably at a reasonable price?

I think the key is to save money bringing lunches to work - not to buy more stuff.  For this kind of stuff I use a mason jar and bring a bowl or mug.  Soup gets transported in jar, poured into mug/bowl and then microwaved.  I did spring for a nice glass rectangular container with lid from IKEA for about $5.  A few of those would be much much cheaper than some of the fancy bento boxes I've seen online. 

For the kids, I use lunchboxes purchased at used kids' stuff sales, thrift stores, etc.- but I also have a son that loses things, so even if I was willing to buy a super fancy lunchbox, considering he loses at least 2/year, it is isn't worth it. 

I buy heavy duty freezer bags and then wash them out for 5-7 uses each.  I've also cut up spare cloth for old shirts and the like to make sandwich "wraps" that get washed with the laundry. I just fold them around the sandwich.  I do not sew the edges or make fancy pockets - I just make them big and when they start fraying I cut the ends off with fabric scissors.   

szmaine

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Re: Recs for reuseable lunch boxes/kits?
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2016, 06:57:32 AM »
I LOVE my Sistema microwave bowls! Has a locking lid similar to the Glassloc products. BPA free and made in New Zealand which I thought was neat. Not hot like glass and has a steam vent on the lid that must be open for microwaving.


http://www.amazon.com/Sistema-Microwave-Noodle-Bowl-31-7/dp/B009SD35IO/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1452606694&sr=8-11&keywords=sistema

lunahsol

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Re: Recs for reuseable lunch boxes/kits?
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2016, 01:15:56 PM »
I think the key is to save money bringing lunches to work - not to buy more stuff.   
 

I agree with this; however, I also have found that having the right "tools" and things that I enjoy using makes it a more enjoyable experience to make/bring my lunch and motivates me to keep doing it. 

My "kit" has evolved to include the following:
- large lunchbox cooler (ebags crew cooler)
- spork
- reusable snack and sandwich bags (itzy ritzy brand)
- 32 oz nalgene water bottle
- ceramic bowl/mug with microwave vent lid (corningware brand)
- rubbermaid "lunchblox" set
- various sized glass containers & jars with lids
- small cutting board & knife
- cloth napkin (I just use a bandana)
- salt/pepper (in old tictac containers) and bottle of hot sauce :)

I make almost all my own food from scratch and sometimes carry two full meals per day, plus snacks (that is why I need such a large "lunch bag").  I have settled on the above items after some trial and error.  It did cost some money to put together, but I am way ahead overall and am quite happy with this arrangement.

Edit:  Sorry - I do not know how to fix the formatting on this post!
« Last Edit: January 12, 2016, 02:14:13 PM by lunahsol »

skinnyindy

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Re: Recs for reuseable lunch boxes/kits?
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2016, 02:05:11 PM »
We use glass usually but just found some called ecolunchboxes.com.  Metal with silicon lid.  You can even heat on stove.

OmahaSteph

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Re: Recs for reuseable lunch boxes/kits?
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2016, 08:08:53 AM »
I've also cut up spare cloth for old shirts and the like to make sandwich "wraps" that get washed with the laundry. I just fold them around the sandwich.  I do not sew the edges or make fancy pockets - I just make them big and when they start fraying I cut the ends off with fabric scissors.

Holy crap, that's a great idea! We've been wrapping sandwiches in paper napkins and then putting them in plastic bags (DS doesn't like "wet" sandwiches). Making fabric ones seems simple and would double as upcycling.

I did spring for new Lands End lunch boxes on sale (thanks for the heads up, @Kitsune!) and will keep the crudded-up Pottery Barn ones for back-up.