Back to School … Tips for Choosing the Right Lunchbox …

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I like my kids to start each year with a new lunchbox because I figure, after a year of crumbs and spills, it’s time for an upgrade. When they were younger, Santa used to always bring them a new lunchbox and drink bottle, but now that they’re older I simply buy a new one at the start of every year.

 

Here are the features I look for when choosing a lunchbox/lunch bag:

 

  • Size – while you don’t want it so big that it takes up too much of your child’s school bag, it does need to be big enough to hold sufficient food for the day as well as ice bricks to keep everything cold, fresh and safe to eat. Generally, as my kids have grown, I’ve found I needed bigger lunchboxes to keep up with their growing appetites.

 

  • Insulation – this is a feature worth considering particularly if you live in a climate like Queensland. Our summers can get extremely hot and insulation will help food stay cold so that it’s still safe to eat by lunchtime.

 

  • Seals well – lunchboxes/lunch bags need to close completely so that items stay fresh and any cool air remains trapped inside to keep food cold. Individual containers also need to clip firmly closed so that juices don’t leak out and spoil other food.

 

  • Flexible – I like a lunchbox/lunch bag that will hold a variety of different sized containers of all shapes and sizes depending on what I’m packing for lunch. Packing smaller portions into separate, sealable containers allows me to provide the girls with a wider variety of food.

 

  • Consider the environment – I like to have a large supply of smaller containers to fit inside a bigger lunchbox/lunch bag as this protects food from getting squashed. It also reduces my reliability on Glad Wrap, Alfoil and zip-lock bags. I definitely use all of those products but I try to keep it to a minimum not only to be mindful of the environment but to also save money.

 

  • BPA Free – BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make plastics for many years. Some research has indicated that it can leech into foods, so I always try to buy containers and drink bottles that are BPA free just to be on the safe side.

 

  • Easy to use – this is more relevant for smaller children. Make sure that any lunchboxes/lunch bags are easy to open and any zips work smoothly. Complicated openings and tight zips can be too difficult for little fingers.

 

  • Easy to clean – I always consider this when buying lunchboxes or containers. I prefer items that can go in the dishwasher but, if not, I try to buy things that are easily wiped over with a damp sponge to get rid of crumbs and spills and easy to wash and dry.

 

  • Machine Washable – If you choose a lunchbag in preference to a lunchbox, it’s definitely handy if it can be washed in the washing machine.

 

  • Easy to Store – Make sure you have adequate space in the kitchen to store lunchboxes, lunchbags, containers and any equipment or accessories you may use to prepare kids lunches. I have one basket in my pantry to store all the smaller containers. I also have a drawer set up with things like cookie cutters, silicon moulds, dividers, small serving forks and spoons and anything else I need to prepare lunches. I also have a selection of small bottles and miniature containers to hold sauces, mayo or dips. This is a great way to save money because instead of buying foods like custard, yoghurt, popcorn, sultanas, etc. in smaller prepackaged sizes, I buy the bigger version and separate into smaller serves myself.

 

 

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I’ve “road tested” just about every kind of lunchbox available and, for me, the hands down winner is the “Sachi” lunch bags which I usually purchase from Trade Secret at Burleigh Waters on the Gold Coast. I’ve seen these same lunch bags in kitchen shops but Trade Secret is usually about 30% cheaper. These lunch bags normally retail for $29.95 but I paid $19.95.

 

So what do I love about it? It looks really attractive (coming in a range of patterns and colours) and is insulated on the inside. It has a firm, solid, flat base with a sturdy, good quality zip and two strong handles that make it easy to carry. It also features a zipped compartment on the front of the bag, which is ideal for storing a serviette (to keep it dry), some plastic cutlery or a couple of dollars to spend at the tuckshop once a week. Probably its most appealing feature for me is its size, although some people may consider it too big. As anyone with a teenager will tell you, these guys eat a lot and finding a lunchbox big enough to hold it all can be quite a challenge.

 

Lunchboxes, lunchbags and containers can be found almost everywhere from stores like Kmart, Target, Howards Storage, Japanese Specialty shops, supermarkets, discount shops and even hardware stores. The only limit is your imagination. Look for quality but remember, you don’t need to spend a fortune. Make sure everything is labeled with your child’s names and try to teach the kids to be responsible with their lunchboxes and containers so that you’re not constantly replacing lost items because that can get terribly expensive.

 

 

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A word of caution when packing lunchboxes: think carefully about what you pack and consider foods like peanuts, eggs, etc. that may trigger allergies in other children. Your school will most likely have a well-published policy about what’s not allowed at your school so be sure to contact the school if you’re uncertain.

 

So tell me, what’s the number one feature you look for when choosing your child’s lunchbox?

 

 

Please Note: All items mentioned in this post were individually paid for by Sandie from Mrs Organised. All opinions are entirely my own.

 

 

Comments

  1. Great tips hun and those lunchboxes are ultra cool. Definitely it has to be able to be cleaned in our house … although the lunchbox of ours that can be cleaned, didn’t survive the two week old chicken sandwich … I just couldn’t haha xx

    • Thanks, Sonia … too funny … I’m sure there isn’t a Mum out there (me included) who hasn’t pulled old, smelly food that resembles a “science experiment gone wrong” from their kids school bag … oooooh gross!

  2. I am new to school lunch boxes this year so am open to all and any advice. This looks like a great lunch bag though. I’m concerned that the insulated bag that mine has been using might be too small for school now. Hmm.

    • I’m so happy with this lunch bag, Malinda … I’ve bought it for the last 3 years! I always buy a lunch box/bag bigger than I think I’ll need because it can fill up surprisingly quickly. My kids are also older so they have pretty big appetites. They also have a couple of days a week that they stay after school for activities and sport training and this lunch bag is big enough for them to take snacks for that as well. Good luck with whatever you choose x

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