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. :)
from bottom to top: Goodbyn, Laptop Lunches, EasyLunchboxes, "4 square" Lock & Lock box, Sassy Box, medium "generic" bento box, small "generic" bento box.
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:
In my guesstimation, I would say the EasyLunchboxes and the Laptop Lunches are very comparable in size.
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.
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.
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:
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. :)
This picture shows a Sassy box (with inner containers removed) next to an open two-tier bento 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. ;-)
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 & tigers & bears, oh my!")
("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:
** 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!