Saturday, June 19, 2010

tools of the trade, part 2: boxes

I am continuing my little series on "tools of the trade" with the most important part of a bento and waste-free lunch - the box!

Click here to read "tools of the trade, part 1: picks". :)

There are so many different styles and sizes of boxes and waste-free lunch containers available, sometimes it can be confusing deciding on which one to get (assuming you are not crazy-obsessed like I am and get them all! Ha!) I also understand from my own experience that is can be difficult to gauge the size of containers by looking at pictures. My goal with this post is to show different containers together so you can get a better handle on the sizes of the bento boxes and hopefully be able to get a perspective on what might work for you. I'll also pipe in with some of my pros and cons for various boxes. :)
how the boxes stack up!
from bottom to top: Goodbyn, Laptop Lunches, EasyLunchboxes, "4 square" Lock & Lock box, Sassy Box, medium "generic" bento box, small "generic" bento box.

side view of various boxes
small and medium "generic" bento boxes on left, two-tier bento box and Sassy box on right, sandwich case in front.

The best way to determine your box/container needs is to consider the types of foods you or your child will eat for packed meals and the quantity/amount of food that will be eaten.

I will start with the three biggest containers I use, the Goodbyn, Laptop Lunches, and EasyLunchboxes:
Goodbyn, Laptop Lunches, EasyLunchbox - stacked up

In my guesstimation, I would say the EasyLunchboxes and the Laptop Lunches are very comparable in size.
open LL vs. ELB
The biggest difference (to me) between the Laptop Lunches and the EasyLunchboxes is the layout.
The standard Laptop Lunches box comes with two medium boxes, two small boxes and a tiny box for dips, all housed in a hinged outer box.
The EasyLunchboxes comes with one large compartment and two smaller compartments (one is a little larger than the other) all in a one piece bottom, with one lid.

If you are keeping track that makes 6 pieces for one Laptop Lunches system (actually, 8, if you count the dip box lid and a lid for one of the medium inner boxes); and for Easy Lunchboxes the total number of pieces per lunch set is two (just the box and a lid).
Notice in my photo of the Laptop Lunches that there are two teal colored boxes...that's because I couldn't find the magenta one that should have taken one of those teal box spaces. Also notice I have only the dip lid shown and not the actual dip box...again, because I couldn't find it when I was snapping these photos! I have Laptop Lunches pieces coming out my ears and it gets to be a bit of a mess!
The obvious perk of EasyLunchboxes is that they are easy. It is as streamlined of a lunch system as you will find.
Laptop Lunches is obviously more cumbersome in the *pieces* category, however, sometimes being able to lift out one component of the packed meal can be convenient - I often will take out one box of food from the Laptop Lunches to offer as a snack before we are ready to have lunch, for example.

One more thing to consider regarding the Laptop Lunches vs. the EasyLunchboxes is how much storage space they may take in your kitchen. The EasyLunchboxes can nest together, making them more compact for storage. This photo shows 6 (six!) EasyLunchboxes next to 3 Laptop Lunches.
6 EasyLunchboxes vs. 3 Laptop Lunches

I find the EasyLunchboxes wonderful for packing a "regular" lunch in. To me a regular lunch is a sandwich and a few side items.
** You can see my gallery (past posts) of lunches packed in EasyLunchboxes by clicking here.

You can pack a "regular" lunch in a Laptop Lunches too, but it will take a little bit more creativity to get it to fit. I can fit a whole sandwich in it, but I need to cut it into smaller pieces or make sandwich rolls (what I usually call "sandwich sushi") and work on the arrangement to get it in there.
** You can see my gallery (past posts) of Laptop Lunches by clicking here!. :)

The largest box I have is the Goodbyn. This guy is huge. Although I haven't gone so far as to make a scientific comparison, I would hazard to guess that the Goodbyn has double the capacity of the Laptop Lunches and the EasyLunchboxes.
inside the Goodbyn
Here you can see the square section at the bottom could hold a small box from a Laptop Lunches box, plus a dip container with room to spare...while the "head" compartment could hold a whole two-tier bento box! The little water bottle (included with each Goodbyn) can hold 8oz.

Another view, this shows the head section containing one large box from the Laptop Lunches with room to spare:
LL boxes inside Goodbyn

The Goodbyn could easily hold a whole sandwich (square "body" section), two whole pieces of fruit, such as an apple and a banana (in the "head" crescent shaped section), crunchies in the two narrow side sections, the beverage bottle and a treat in the tiny area next to the bottle! Hope you bring your appetite! ;-)
** You can see my gallery (past posts) of lunches packed in the Goodbyn right here. :)

Moving on...
This picture shows a Sassy box (with inner containers removed) next to an open two-tier bento box.
two-tier vs. Sassy Box
I think these two are pretty comparable in size, with obviously different layouts.
The two-tier box is fun and cute...it also consists of six pieces! (the two trays for food, a middle lid layer, a top lid and then the clear lid removes to store utensils in, plus a bento belt!).
The Sassy box is really practical and only two pieces (unless you choose to use the inner containers). Sassy box is dishwasher safe, two-tier bento box is not.

Here the Sassy box is compared to my beloved "4 square" Lock & Lock box. I think the capacity is pretty close here, again though, obviously very different layouts. This Lock & Lock box is comprised of six pieces, but happily, they are all dishwasher safe. ;-)
4 square Lock & Lock box vs. Sassy box

You can easily fit a whole sandwich into less than half of the Sassy Box (and Lock & Lock box, too!) by cutting it in half and stacking the halves (as seen in these pics:
lions, and tigers, and bears - oh my!
("lions & tigers & bears, oh my!")

here fishy, fishy, fishy
("something fishy is going on")

While I don't use the 4 square Lock & Lock boxes for a "regular" lunch all that often (I prefer to use them for "a little of this and a little of that" type lunches), you can do the same sandwich arrangement in those, too:
puzzle lock & lock
("puzzle bento")

** You can see my gallery (past posts) of Sassy box lunches by clicking here.

** You can see my gallery (past posts) of Lock & Lock bento box lunches by clicking here!

If you have any questions about bento boxes PLEASE ask in the comments! I'm very happy (eager, even!) to chat about it. :) Despite this post taking foreverrrr for me to prepare and write up (I started a month ago!!), I still feel like I've only scraped the surface on the topic. I will probably be revisiting the topic of boxes soon!


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69 comments:

joscelyne cutchens said... [Reply to comment]

I'm wondering which of these are BPA free? and are they dishwasher safe or do you hand wash all?

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Hello Joscelyne! Excellent question!
I can say that EasyLunchboxes, Goodbyn and Laptop Lunches are all BPA free.
I remember the last set of Lock & Lock boxes I ordered had stickers attached that said "BPA free" on them, and in looking a little further I have found this:
http://bit.ly/LockAndLock

And while I don't know how authoritative this source is, from what I have been able to gather the Sassy set is always free of all the yucky crud. It's listed here for Sassy products that are BPA, PVC and Phthalate Free.
http://www.squidoo.com/safersassybabyproducts

I do not have any safety information for any of the "authentic" bento box items. I believe the ones that are made in Japan have higher quality levels than the ones made in China, but I really just can't say for sure.

EasyLunchboxes, the inner boxes of Laptop Lunches, the Goodbyn, Sassy box and Lock & Lock boxes are all dishwasher safe! The outer hinged box for the Laptop Lunches is not and I think (think!) that you should avoid washing the lids to the inner boxes to prevent warping.

I do handwash boxes frequently because with six people in my family my dishwasher fills up FAST! Sometimes a quick handwash for a crumby box is more efficient for me than loading it in the dishwasher. :)

Wendy said... [Reply to comment]

Awesome post, Melissa! I can tell it was a lot of work!

Lyndsey said... [Reply to comment]

Very informative post, thanks! It's nice that there are so many sizes available for any of your lunch needs, but like you I can get carried away!

Susan B. said... [Reply to comment]

excellent post! thank you for taking the time to write it. I love seeing all the boxes stacked next to each other. my collection is very small (I think I only have 4 cheapy/generic boxes) and appreciate your post as I will be looking to grow my collection. now I just have to go back and read about "picks." :)

Amber said... [Reply to comment]

excellent info - thanks so much for sharing!

Sandy said... [Reply to comment]

Melissa,

Thank you very much for doing this.. Very helpful information. I'm about to start my collection and I was wondering if you could tell me if all of them are "leak free"

beingzaraandzidan said... [Reply to comment]

hey nice blog, thanx for the great ideas & i am ur newest follower.
Pls do visit me & i hope u follow back too
http://www.beingzaraandzidan.blogspot.com/

Rachel said... [Reply to comment]

This is such a great post, and since I started reading your blog I have been wondering what kind of boxes I should get, so thank you for the information!

I do have a couple questions--do your kids take these to school in something like a lunch bag, and do you have any suggestions for keeping the food at a good temperature? Thank you so much!

Raji P. said... [Reply to comment]

Awesome - now - we want to see where and how you store it all LOL! You almost need a separate lunch-making room for your supplies. :)

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Thanks, everyone! :)

Sandy - regarding being "leak-free"...
**EasyLunchboxes are not - if you use a small piece of something like press n' seal or wax paper they will be pretty darn leak-free if you keep the box upright (don't carry on the side).
** Laptop Lunches are not leak-free, except that one of the bigger inner boxes comes with a lid making it leak-free (just like tupperware) and the little dip box comes with a leak-free lid too.
** Lock & Lock are totally leak-free - nothing sealed inside that box will seep out, BUT the boxes themselves are not sealed off from one another. If you have applesauce in one box it will leak into the other squares unless you use a barrier like Press n' Seal over it.
** Sassy comes with inner boxes with lids but I don't consider them leak-free. I have packed yogurt in them with fine success, but that is with the lunch being kept upright, not on the side, and the yogurt was thick. I'd not want to risk packing anything really watery in there like applesauce.
** Every section of the Goodbyn is totally leak-free from all other sections. The lid is a pain to snap on and off because each area is fully sealed from the others. You could have applesauce in one, salsa in another and crackers in the middle and as long as you have the lid on right everything will stay where it belongs.

Rachel - my kids do carry these in insulated lunchbags. The ones they use allow the lunches to be carried upright, not tilted on the side, so that helps keep everything in place. With an icepack (or two) everything stays at a nice temperature. My 8 year-old son is especially picky about the temps of food, and he stays satisfied 99% of the time. ;-)
I'm going to have a post on lunchbags soon! :)

Raji- I DO need a seperate room for supplies! I'm constantly trying to reorganize my cabinets and drawers to make more space for this stuff.

Rachel said... [Reply to comment]

Thank you! I can't wait to see the post on lunch bags! :)

Sandy said... [Reply to comment]

Melissa.. thank you very much for explaining this, can't wait to see your post on lunch bags so I know which boxes could be stored upright without tilting them. This will help me decide on which set to get first.. =)

KLS said... [Reply to comment]

I'm eagerly awaiting your post on lunchbags! I got the Laptop Lunchbox for my daughter's lunch, but have had a hard time packing her normal staples like cheese and yogurt. I resorted to using the ice pack inserts from Fit 'n Fresh containers on one side and abandoning one of the bigger box sections, but it's not ideal at ALL.

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

KLS - Oh no! Is the problem you are having that you can't keep the contents cold enough? What sort of lunchbag are you using now?

care-in said... [Reply to comment]

thanks for this post...looking forward to the next one.

Cristy said... [Reply to comment]

What's your preferred box for kid lunches? Do your kids have a preference? I am looking to start waste-free lunches this coming school year and am just a little overwhelmed at all my options. I LOVE your blog. My favorite part is the pictures of how you place things in each box. Great ideas and super fun looking.

Danielle said... [Reply to comment]

Thanks for this! I just got a goodbyn for my son, and it is SOOO much bigger than I pictured. The thing is HUGE. Actually too big for a kid I think..but I like your pics of a smaller box in the byn. had not thought of that! I found the spots really deep, so if I set many different things in the bottom of one section, it would be all mixed up and bounced around.

Sandra said... [Reply to comment]

You, ma'am, are a rock star!

I have a Laptop Lunches, medium bento box, Sassy Box, 4-square Lock & Lock, and Wonder Bread sandwich case. I blame the last three on you and your blog! :)

I was skeptical of the EasyLunchboxes but after seeing them side-by-side with a Laptop Lunches, I am totally ordering them. I love our Laptop Lunches for my husband's work lunches, but the loss of counter space and dozen pieces do drive me nuts!

Sandy said... [Reply to comment]

Melissa,

I'm pretty sure I'm going to order my first box, the 4 square lock & lock. I came across this and wanted to see if you thought it was a good deal.

http://www.qvc.com/qic/qvcapp.aspx/view.2/app.detail/params.item.K27778.cc.027.cm_scid.crt/walk.yah.0000

Cher said... [Reply to comment]

My EasyLunchboxes were delivered yesterday and I was so excited to finally get started. I ordered the lunch bag and it fits the box perfectly. I was so glad that you did this post on boxes because now I have a frame of reference on how big the boxes are compared to each other. Your blog is wonderful!

frosty said... [Reply to comment]

Awesome Post!!! I loved seeing your lunches in the catagories of the boxes. It helps me to be inspired to make similar lunches if/when I order different boxes. I can tell that must have been alot of work so good to know it is appreciated.

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Sandy - I've looked up that QVC link a couple times (at varying levels of alertness, LOL) and I just can't really figure out what is included in the set. ???

From the picture it looks like there are 5 smaller containers and one big carrying container/case - but reading the description it seems to say something different (only listing 5 pieces total, including one that is "33.8 cups" which has to be the big carry case box). So I'm a little puzzled at what is actually included with that set - but, I do think it is probably a very good deal! I've been really happy with all my Lock & Lock containers...and I have a lot of them! :)

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Christy - it's hard for me to pick a preferred box because it really depends on what I'm going to be packing in it and HOW I'm going to be packing it.
If I'm packing a *cute* lunch (more bento-style, packed in a compact fashion) then I really like the Sassy box. It's a nice size for a child's bento.
If I'm packing a lunch *fast* and just needing to get food in a box as quick as I can then I use the EasyLunchboxes. With the EasyLunchboxes there is more space, so you don't need to fuss with getting things arranged *just so* to get food to fit...when I'm rushing out of the house and need to grab food to-go for the kids I usually grab the EasyLunchboxes. They also seem to be easy for my kids to hold on to in the car because of the "lip" around the edge of the box, and the way the box has seperate sections on the bottom they can get a good grip on it while it's in their lap (and we do eat in our car a lot as most places are a bit of a drive from where we live).

As far as my kids having a preference...both my 8yo son and my 3yo daughter LOVE the new frog and panda bento boxes I got from Amazon a while ago. Those are probably their favorites. My son also thinks the Goodbyn is totally cool (and all his friends love it when he took that one to school!).

collinsmom said... [Reply to comment]

I've just come across your blog last night and I love it! Thanks for sharing your thoughts about all the different bento boxes. We are going to start sending lunches to school this fall for the first time and I've really been interested in these bento type lunches. This post really helped me figure out what type of bento box I think I will need to get. Thanks!

Meadow Walk said... [Reply to comment]

Came here from Wendolonia Facebook page. I don't have kids and I bought one Laptop Lunchbox for me and I LOOOOVE it. I am not a big sandwich eater if I'm packing though. I love that I can microwave a bigger container while I eat a cold item in a smaller container, that I can take a smaller container out to have a snack mid morning without my whole lunch being in front of me.

Kristyn Gish said... [Reply to comment]

Very informative! Is there a type that you feel is more leakproof than the others? I seem to have messy lunches and would hate to have them spill all over the place :( I personally go for things that are cute and pretty, but sometimes they aren't made very well. Would love to know if some of the boxes are BPA and phthalate free, but when things aren't made in the USA you never can tell.

Laura (The Bookie Bunch) said... [Reply to comment]

I have the PBK lunch box (Classic Lunch Bag: 8" wide x 4" deep x 9" high) and was wondering what bento would fit right in it. Thanks so much, love your site and ideas.

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Kristyn- Laptop Lunches, EasyLunchboxes, Goodbyn and Sassy boxes and Lock & Lock are all "safe" as far as I can tell. The other boxes I really have no idea. I think a good rule of thumb for most of the "authentic" bento boxes is that the Made in Japan boxes are better than the Made in China items.

As far as *leakproof*...if you are meaning keeping one compartment from leaking into other compartments within the box the Goodbyn is totally leakproof, for sure! Nothing strays from where it belongs if you have the lid on correctly.

Laura- my oldest son had a classic PBK lunch box his Kindergarten year! :) The "four square" Lock & Lock box fits well in there with room to spare for a drink container. The Sassy Box would fit too. Of course, both of these will end up on one end, since the lunchbox carries the lunch sideways. So the contents of the bento box may get jumbled up a little. With some practice and trial & error you'll find what works for you! :)

Pine Tree Home said... [Reply to comment]

I've been a follower for some time, just because I think these lunches are the cutest. I have no kids of my own, but I think I want those Easy Lunch Boxes for the time I spend on the road for work. I am going to order me some up. I am always getting that low blood sugar hit cause I don't have time to sit down for lunch. These would be great. Not bulky, just enough food to keep the hunger pains away. Thanks for your great site and honest advice.

Sarah said... [Reply to comment]

I'm going nuts spending 3 days worth of naptimes stalking your blogs - your site really is just lovely! I'm wondering if you know where you could find the Sassy box in stores - I'm in the city in north Texas and have seen Sassy products at Target or Babies R Us but would love to know if you've seen them somewhere on the shelf to save me a trip. Thanks for all your hard work & for sharing it w/ us!

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Hey Sarah! I ocassionally see Sassy boxes at the Target I go to. It seems they will have them for a few weeks and then they will be gone for awhile and then they will come back. I don't know what's up with that! They'd be in the baby/toddler area where sippy cups and stuff are sold.
My very first Sassy box was bought at BabiesRUs - that was about 4 years ago. I'm not sure if they still have them or not. I try to avoid the place like the plague. ;-)

I hope you can find one. It's a really practical little box. :)

hmgarver421 said... [Reply to comment]

Hi Melissa! I just found you today, I have been researching bento box lunches (for my hubby) for a couple of days now. I really think the Goodbyn would be perfect for him, but I am curious what lunch box will work for this? Also you mention the ice pack blanket?? What is that? Is it reusable? Thanks for all of your detailed blogging, it is awesome!

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Hello hmgarver! The Goodbyn is a really good choice for adults. It is nice and big and though the lid can be tricky, it is not too tricky for grown-ups. ;-)

And ice blanet is reusable. It's a series of tiny gel packs that are all connected together, but you can cut them apart to fit the size space you need to fill. Here's a link to them on Amazon so you can see what I'm talking about. :) -- http://tiny.cc/t3l5z

I hope that helps! Thanks for reading!

Melanie O said... [Reply to comment]

Thanks for the great information! My kids have only 20 min to eat their lunches at school. Do you think the more complicated ones with lots of lids & compartments may hinder them "timewise"? Or, encourage them to eat because of the cuteness factor?

Michelene said... [Reply to comment]

I'm in! I love the idea and I have been watching you from Mariah for a long time. Now, time to purchase some boxes. What I really love is the cut outs. Such fun to open lunch and have a quirky shape. Great job girl!

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Melanie O - it probably depends on the kid!!

I know my son would likely be hindered because he is more busy talking than eating in the cafeteria. He needs as few obstacles and barriers in his was as possible because he just can't be bothered to deal with it.

My daughter on the other hand is a very motivated eater and a couple lids wouldn't stop her from chowing down (as long as she was able to open them). She'd probably get a kick out of the "cuteness factor" and really enjoy it.

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Michelene - thank you! :)

Jenny said... [Reply to comment]

Melissa,
Hello. I just found you today. Love the info! Thank you. Do you know if any of the bento boxes would work well in the Land's End lunch boxes..the classic one to be exact? Also if I purchase the easy lunch boxes is there usually room to pack other things around it like a drink, small yogurt, etc? Can you recommend any small plastic, bpa free containers that I could carry along with the easy lunch box to house seeds/nuts or items that may not be suitable to leaking? Thanks in advance!
Jen

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Hi Jenny! Is it the "Classic ClassMate" Land's End lunchbox?
I actually have one of those (LOL). I just tried it and yes, the EasyLunchbox does easily fit in it. There is maybe 1.5" of space along one side.

Depending on the yogurt cup size, it might fit. A yogurt tube would certainly fit easily, and some of those short squat little round yogurt cups would (I'm thinking of the YoPlus ones, cups are like 1" high and 3" round)... I'm sure a small reusable container like a little round Lock & Lock would as well. I don't know about a drink. I'm sure a CapriSun would fit (pains me to write that! LOL), or a narrow juice box.

I'd be happy to snap a pic of the open lunchbox for you with the EasyLunchbox inside and email it to you - if you want me to do that just contact me at anotherlunch@gmail.com. :)

Tupperware sells teeny tiny cups called smidgets that would fit in the EasyLunchbox. They are really tiny though, more suited for dips, they only hold about a tablespoon. They also sell another tiny container the size and shape of a shot glass and those do NOT fit.

Carson said... [Reply to comment]

Have you looked at or tried the Dr. Sears Nibble boxes? I do like to pack cottage cheese and fruit, applesauce and yogurt for my kids so something that doesn't leak is important to me (we have the sassy boxes and so far, they just leak into the larger compartment, which is annoying but at least contained.)

Jemma said... [Reply to comment]

Melissa
I'm trying to find some of the ice blankets. Is there anywhere else that you've found them other than amazon? Does it matter if they are the blue color that you use? I've found some on amazon that are cryopak brand but are clear. It does say they are non-toxic though but I thought maybe they don't freeze as cold or something.
http://www.amazon.com/Flexible-Ice-Blanket-8-75-16-5/dp/B000SOLNSQ/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&s=hpc&qid=1283960161&sr=8-18
Ideas?

Indiana in B'more said... [Reply to comment]

hi there - thanks for the information! i've read that the goodbyn has some leaking problems - both from the water bottle and the box compartments. do you have any experience with that? thanks!

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Hey Indiana! I have also heard there were a lot of leaking water bottle problems, but I have not had that problem with the two Goodbyns I have. We've used them quite a bit for nearly a year and put the bottles through the dishwasher and they've never leaked!

As for the compartments, if they are sealed completely they will not leak. It is entirely possible to THINK you have a section sealed and it not be... the lid is pretty tricky and takes a heavy hand to get on properly. The only leaking I've experienced is when it goes from the cafeteria back to our home - my boys don't get it all closed up correctly and whatever is leftover in it tends to ooze back out. ;-)

OneWildMango said... [Reply to comment]

I was at the grocery store today and I found that Ziploc makes a container VERY similar to the easylunchboxes container. It also has the same 3 compartments - comes in a 2 pack for under $3. Just thought I would let people know in case anyone is having a hard time finding things, like me!

mighty acorns said... [Reply to comment]

My kids have tupperware lunchboxes which are bento style with 4 compartments. they have these leak prove ridges too so you can put 'wet' things in one of the spaces without leaks (although i haven't been brave enough to put yoghurt straight in there!). They're fairly pricey but I agree, no wrappers no waste is terrific. in fact where I live most of the preschools and schools have a no-plastic-wrap rule so these are perfect.

Danielle Broadbooks said... [Reply to comment]

Wow, I'm new to this. I came across your blog via Pinterest (I love the little internet journeys that site takes me on). I knew about the existence of bento boxes, but didn't realize how super cute, healthy and fun they can be! I have a 7 month old daughter so obviously, I'm a little bit of an eager beaver! But I wanted to ask you if you had to just buy one box for a toddler/preschooler which would you buy?

Thrift Store Mama said... [Reply to comment]

Unfortunately, I've already purchased my lunchboxes for the year. It looks like the double tier bento might fit upright in one of the lunchboxes that would keep a regular bento on it's side. Did you find that to be true ?

Kimberly said... [Reply to comment]

Hi Melissa!
What a great post!! I can't remember how I found you....lol ....I think through a post on EasyLunchboxes. Anyways, I had been looking on the Goodbyn website and noticed they have a smaller box. Do you have experience with that size and if so do you think you could get enough "lunch" items in it or would it be better for a snack box?? I have a 2nd grader and a preschooler and was just concerned about the size of the larger Goodbyn. Thanks!

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

I don't have the new smaller Goodbyn - but I've seen one in person. It looks like a nice size for a child's lunch, the regular Goodbyn is really quite huge, probably way too big for most preschoolers. In my opinion, anyway. :)

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Thrift Store Mama - that could probably work. Your kiddo would just need to remember to not lay the lunchbox down flat to open, otherwise the bento would go sideways. :)

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Hey Kimberly - people often ask me what ONE box I would buy if I could have only one and that is SUCH a hard question for me to answer! But I can say that for a preschooler a smallish box usually is a good choice. When my daughter was in preschool with a lunchtime she used the Sassy Box almost exclusively. The four square Lock & Lock is another nice size for a young age. Hope that helps! :)

suthernjen said... [Reply to comment]

Great information. I'm wondering if there are any good stainless steel options? I read recently that even BPA Free is not the best. Thanks. Looking for two second graders.

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Hi suthernjen! Two stainless options I use regularly are the Planetbox and Lunchbots. You can find both on my blog -- check this link for those lunches:
http://www.anotherlunch.com/search/label/stainless%20steel

Hope that helps! :)

suthernjen said... [Reply to comment]

Thank you!!

Mama Bee said... [Reply to comment]

So I just stumbled onto you site and I love the ideas for lunchtime fun. My question is that my son has two separate snack times and a main lunch time at his preschool/daycare. So I need a box that has separate, closed containers. I tend to get a messy lunch bag back even now as I pack things in small Tupperware containers. Any suggestions?

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Hi Mama Bee! Are you looking to put all three lunch needs (two snacks, one lunch) into a single container? That has individual sealed sections? Hmm. The newer Laptop Lunches box comes with four inner containers and two of them can have lids. Another option that I think might suit your needs is the OOTS. I don't have one, but it comes with several lidded containers and might work for you! Check this: http://amzn.to/uzYYIZ

Allyson said... [Reply to comment]

Hi there!
Thank you so much for all the wonderful information!! I was wondering if you'd tell me what a great choice would be for an adult. I love the ease of the Easy Lunchboxes (less "stuff" to keep up with), however you can't use liquidy things in it. I really love the Laptop Lunches, because each container has its own lid, therefore, less spillage.
HELP!! Which one should I get?!
Thanks so much!
Allyson

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Hey Allyson! You are right, you can't put liquidy things in EasyLunchboxes - that is a drawback. Laptop Lunches do have lids for the inner containers, that is an asset. And if you get the "bento buddies" extra set of inner containers, then you have the option of having one big space along with two smaller dishes for more variety (that would give it a layout similar to EasyLunchboxes). The drawback to LL is having to keep up with all those pieces and it has a higher price -- but if that versatility works in your lunch-packing favor, then it might be worth it to you!
Another option that might work for you is a nice Lock & Lock set - always leak free and there are some sets that might work for you nicely. Check here: http://bit.ly/vNReup The ones listed as "mens lunch set" would be close in capacity to the EasyLunchboxes and LL. :)

Allyson said... [Reply to comment]

Thanks for the reply! I think I'll be putting one of the Lock & Lock sets on my Christmas wish list! :)

Bettina said... [Reply to comment]

I just found your blog - AWESOME! I've been packing bento-ish lunches for a while with just regular plastic containers in a regular bag. I'd love to get the kids (and myself) a good bento box. Since you wrote this before you got a planetbox - I'm wondering how it compares - especially to the laptop lunches system.

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Great question, Bettina! I think the PlanetBox and Laptop Lunches are *comparable* in size, though because the Laptop Lunches are deeper, they have the capability to hold more if you packed it really full. I think PlanetBox would edge out the Laptop Lunches in ease-of-use simply because there aren't so many pieces to keep up with. All those inner dishes for the LL can really fill up the top rack of the dishwasher!

Lindsey said... [Reply to comment]

LOVE this post! Thanks so much! Ive often wondered these thing!

Mrs Gina Marie Taylor said... [Reply to comment]

I am so glad I found your blog! I have been wanting to get bento boxes for my son when he starts school (he is only 19 months now so it will be awhile lol)but didn't know where to start! But your page shows me how on the go snacks and lunches are great and easy!

Also thank you for showing the different types of boxes. Money is a bit tight for us and you have shown me that the cheaper boxes work just as well!

Thank you! :)

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

I am not sure if this has already been answered but where can I find the Sassy boxes? (in pics 8, the teal one, pic 10 the pink one) I am not coming up with anything on the Sassy website and have googled everything I can think of :( Any help is appreciated :)

Elissa said... [Reply to comment]

I have been reading your blog for a while and love, love, love how creative you are (while remaining totally practical, too). I have been using the lock'n'lock four square for a while with my toddlers, and I love it for snacks and nibbles.

My oldest is about to start kindergarten at a school where they have 2 "nutritional breaks" rather than lunch plus recess snacks. The 2 tiered bentos really appeal to me because it makes it easy to pack (and unpack, for her) 2 mini meals without worrying (as much) about her highgrading or trying to self-regulate. But do you have any advice or suggestions?

Thank you!!!

Gotta Make The Cupcakes said... [Reply to comment]

Hi I am new to your site. I am a first time mom of a 22 month old boy Gabriel. He will be starting daycare on the 27th and I was wondering what box you would suggest to house a cold item and something that will need to be reheated?
I love all your lunch ideas and look forward to experimenting with Gabriel's lunches :)
I also have a blog at www.gottamakethecupcakes.com if you want to swing by and check it out :)

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Elissa, that's a good question, and I think it would really depend on what works for your daughter. I'm still working on this now with Paige, who just began Kindergarten. Her snack comes after lunch. She's not good at self-regulating, even when her snack food is separate from her lunch food and just sharing the big lunchbox carrier - she still dips into her snack alongside her lunch bento and then at snack doesn't know what to eat. Then on her days she snubs her packed snack, preferring to finish off whatever lunch she didn't eat in the cafeteria. I guess I don't need to worry about it much, as long as she's eating her fill and being content with the amount of food she's consuming, then my work is done!

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Anonymous (#65) - Sassy boxes can sometimes be found at Babies R Us, that is where I got my very first one. My next three Sassy boxes came from Amazon. Hope that helps!

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