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The question of lunchboxes is one I see a lot (byproduct of being in various Facebook lunch box groups I suppose!) and since I share my kid’s plant-based lunch boxes on Instagram every day, I’m often asked what I use, how I like it, and which lunch box is the best?
So today I thought I’d share the lunch boxes I’ve collected over the years and what I go back to time and time again.
Kids Lunch Boxes
The Planetbox is the holy grail of eco-friendly lunchboxes, and they have some totally devoted fans all over the world.
Completely stainless steel, the planetbox is set out in individual compartments like a bento box, with the insulated carry bag able to be purchased separately.
They come in three sizes: the Shuttle, Rover, or Launch (we have the Rover, above), and can also be decorated with magnets (sold separately or as part of the complete kit, which also contains two leak-proof stainless steel containers).
There are also other accessories, but we only have what is in the complete kit – I actually won it in an Instagram lunchbox challenge with The Source Bulk Foods, but had been looking at purchasing one myself. I was considering waiting until Biggie was older (she’s 5) but we often use the Planetbox now that we have it.
It’s quite large and roomy, so does fit all kinds of things, although it’s not leak proof so you can’t add liquids or yogurt etc to the compartments. It does fit a full-size sandwich, and the whole closes securely. It’s also really pretty and I like it a lot! The carry case can hold extra stuff so that’s super-handy. It’s also good for an adult lunchbox if you’re looking for something like that. A decent all-rounder.
So Young Insulated Bag
The So Young Insulated Bag was the first lunchbox I bought when the girls were in day care, and we still use it to this day (it fits the Yumboxes nicely). I originally bought the Toddler backpack and lunchbox combo.
Biggie used hers up until the end of kindergarten last year, and as I said we still use the lunchbox. Smalls uses hers for kindergarten – they’ve been going strong for three years now! Never had an issue.
You can get a similar SoYoung type of lunchbox, or these original ones still come with the bag.
We also use this one for Biggie when she takes two Lunchbots lunchboxes:
I really like them all, they’ve served us well, they keep the food cool (for extra chill you’d need a freezie thing) and they’re easy to clean.
Lunchbots were my first foray into stainless steel, and I use these pretty regularly. I bought a Lunchbots Trio with three compartments for Biggie when she went to kindergarten at the start of 2015, and she used it every day that she went. I ummed and ahhed about buying the lunchbox-size Lunchbots bento when she started school this year and thought I’d play it by ear. Then I won the Planetbox and I haven’t thought of it since! A friend has it though and she says she’s been using it for years. It’s a really good size, particularly if you think these snack box sizes are too small.
This year for school I also bought the uno (one compartment) with a padded lid (top right). The two of them together are a great size.
They’re not leakproof and while the lids stay on fairly well I do also put them into an insulated bag.
I love bento-style lunchboxes, as evidenced by my many purchases in Japan! I think I just snuck under the weight limit and my suitcases were 80% stationery and bento paraphernalia and 20% clothes and food.
They’re compact, cute, easy to use, completely leak-proof and fit a fair amount of food, depending on what kind of appetite your kid has (I know they’re too small for some). The original is split into five 1/2 cup sections and one smaller section for a dip or treat.
The newer Yumbox Panino has four compartments and the larger one fits a full-sized sandwich intact. Plenty of room! I was recently gifted two of these and also two of the smaller snack size – I’d had the originals for so long it was time I got to know the new kids on the block.
It was lucky they came when they did as the clasp on my original broke a few weeks later and I’ve now replaced it with the newer containers (the inner tray is removable and you can mix and match the outer covers), although I have heard that Yumbox is pretty awesome at replacing parts.
The snack size has three compartments, a large size one that would fit a muffin or cupcake, a smaller half-size one and a pretty decent-sized dip or treat compartment. Smalls uses these at kinder quite regularly.
Which Lunch Box is the Best?
I wish I had an easy answer! It really does depend on the kid and how you want to pack lunches every day. There are totally times when I chuck a bunch of stuff in a Decor old-school lunchbox and call it a day.
- What kind of appetite your child has
- Whether they’ll be more interested in playing than eating (bento style isn’t great for grabbing something and running around the playground)
- Whether they are small and sit to have lunch or if they’re older (we’ve had a full bento drop onto the ground and as nothing is wrapped…. it didn’t end well!)
- If you want them to have something specific at recess and lunch, or if they’re free to choose what they eat and when
- If your child has mostly room-temperature or cool items or if they regularly eat stuff heated up
- What your child likes
- If your child is swayed by their peers – nothing like dropping $100 on a lunchbox that will last them a lifetime only for them to refuse to take it.
- What you’re happy to spend
- How long you want the lunchbox to last
- What everyone’s comfortable using
And go from there. If you do find you’ve bought an expensive lunchbox and it’s not working out, there are plenty of places to sell it secondhand – try eBay, Gumtree, and various school lunch box groups and pages on Facebook.
I have been interested to hear how others have fared though, I know there are some huge BentGo, Go Green and Goodbyn fans – what do you guys use? What didn’t you like? What suits your kids the best? Let’s chat!