I’ve been making school lunches for a decade now and over the years have tried many different lunch boxes, including Tupperware, Nude Food Movers and Decor. I’m writing this post because I get a lot of questions about the lunch boxes I use for my kids.
I had varying degrees of success with the other lunch boxes:
Tupperware Sandwich Keepers (you can see an example featured in an older lunch box post) – they were good for when my kids were very young but they don’t hold enough food now and I found it hard to fine a good sized insulation bag. Plus washing them out was a bit of a pain.
Nude Food Movers - a good concept but they didn’t last long before they broke (I think my kids are pretty hard on lunch boxes) and again, washing them out was a real pain; I found it very hard to clean them properly actually.
The Decor lunch boxes I’ve used before are really sturdy, but I found it hard to pack the food well and needed to use a lot of zip lock bags and glad wrap.
Then I discovered Bento Laptop Lunch Boxes and I’ve been using them for the past 2 years. I purchased them from Lunch Boxes With Love. I love them and I’ll show you why (plus explain some of the stuff I don’t really like).
Bento Laptop Lunch Box Review
I look at the boxes in three layers. You need to buy the insulated case separately, but the lunch box and all the inside boxes/cutlery come together.
1. Insulated case
You need the outer case for this lunch box to work well. I use an ice pack inside to keep the food fresh, especially because I sometimes put leftover meat in the lunch box and other perishables like egg and yoghurt. For lunch box safety tips from a Dietitian, read this post: Lunch Box Packing Tips.
2. Laptop lunch box
The lunch box is a simple rectangle shape and acts as a lid for the lid-less containers on the inside.
3. Bento Buddies – inside the lunch box
The lunch box comes with 1 large spill proof container with a lid, a small spill-proof container with lid, a tiny spill-proof container with a lid (for sauce and dip) and two other lid-less containers (1 large & one small).
I mix and match the containers depending on what food I have for the kids that day (plus I find that my circle Tupperware containers fit perfectly too). For example, in the lunch box below, I used all lid-less containers because there are no liquids.
In this lunch box
What I like
- The lunch box and Bento Buddies are sturdy (I’ve had ours for 2 years and counting) – I needed to replace the insulated cases after about a year because the zip broke.
- It helps me to bring balance and variety to the lunch box
- Saves me time when I pack the lunch boxes
- Keeps food fresh
- Keeps food from getting squashed in the lunch box
- Looks cute & fun – these things are important
- It can fit a small whole apple
- Easy for kids to open and use
- Makes litter-less lunch boxes are a breeze
- Easy to clean (there are a lot of pieces but because the Bento Buddies are a simple rectangle shape, they are easy to clean).
- Dishwasher safe
- Nice size to fit on a child’s lap
What I don’t like
- There are a lot of pieces which means more bits to clean. Plus, when I first purchased them, I had to make sure the kids put the cases back in the lunch box rather than throwing the small containers in their bag. They do this now all the time so it’s not an issue any more.
- Although the lunch box seals easily, it’s not a really strong seal. This is good in a way because it’s simple for kids to open but I wouldn’t use the lunch box without the insulated case. Because of the insulated case, we absolutely never have problems with the lunch box opening, so it’s not really an issue, but I’m just being frank here.
- Expense: they are more expensive than many of your regular lunch boxes (I paid $30 for the lunch box & $30 for the insulated case) so it’s a bit of an outlay at the beginning.
They are, by far, the best lunch boxes I’ve used for my kids over the years. The big reason for me is this: they make it easy & quick for me to pack, litter-less healthy lunch boxes with a variety of food. I would go as far to say that these lunch boxes have changed the way I do food in the lunch box (in this post I use a week of left overs dinners in the lunch box).
Road Test (from my daughter)
I decided one day, to ask my daughter (in grade 8) to take a picture on her iPad at lunchtime so I could see how the lunch travelled. And there you have it: beautiful.
* This was the lunch box on Valentine’s Day and so I put a chocolate brownie in as a special treat.
It’s become a bit of family joke, but sometimes when the kids come home from school, I say, “Do your afternoon jobs or I won’t feed you.”
The production line that is day-after-day school lunch boxes for four kids means I need a good system going, so as soon as the children walk in the door, part of their afternoon jobs is they need to get the lunch box out of their bag and put it on the bench. Then BEFORE I GO TO BED (don’t leave it to the morning, Kelly, it doesn’t work) I wash the lunch boxes and have them in the drying rack ready for the morning.
In the morning, I grab the lunch boxes with containers, spread them on the bench in a line and fill. I have a general rule of how I pack the lunch boxes
- Bakery item (I bake this food in batches and then freeze a couple of week’s worth at a time).
- Lunch – pizza, pasta, sandwich, quiche, cold meat & salad etc. – again, some of this food is frozen too, so I can just grab it from the freezer of a morning and put it directly in the lunch box (it thaws just right in time for lunch)
- Something extra if needed – depending on the size of everything I sometimes put in crackers, cheese, fruit balls, yoghurt and little fillers like that if I think the kids need a little extra food.
I used to dislike making school lunches so much. So, so much. And yet, now I have great tools to work with — that suit what’s important to me — and a good system, you know what? I don’t really notice the chore so much anymore. Most days, I get up and just smash it out like a pro. *Fist Pump*