thrift kitchen

Thrift Kitchen: Packing those Lunches

Brown bagging it can save you a ton of money + help you eat better. It’s a two for one deal you just can’t beat with pre-packaged or eating out meals.

Since brown bagging it as a kid there have been many great break-throughs in the lunch box department.

laptoplunchbox

I bought my first bento box 3 years ago from Laptop Lunches. It’s a great lunch box system that helps to check your portions, make sure you diversify your food types, has a little compartment for silverware (spoon and fork included), and comes with a little thermos for soups and other hot foods. The little containers come in two sizes (2 small, 2 medium) and the medium one comes with a lid. The lid is tight, but leaks.

bentobox02

I used it pretty regularly one semester in school, then off and on for three more semesters, and just recently started using it again.  So about 4 months of regular use? And it broke.

I really like this one, but since I’ve started washing in the dishwasher the box has come apart.  The lid broke off when I was closing it the other morning and then the containers with the lids doesn’t fit any more. And even though I love the little container, it’s a pain to wash out.

bentobox03

Then the other issue I have is that it’s hard to carry with me. The latch has never worked and it’s so not leak proof. Or even leak resistant. I always wrapped it in a grocery bag before putting it in my book bag. So it’s good fun “lunch” lunches: sandwiches, fruits, salads, rice, veggies that don’t have sauce. But is no good for “dinner” lunches. Which is mostly what I pack since I like to eat my leftovers for lunch the next day.

I had been using this the laptop lunchbox for about 2 weeks straight when it broke and so now I’m looking for a replacement. I thought about getting another one, but the leaking and the warpage and the bad latch issue. So I’ve decided to look elsewhere. Oh, I do still have and use the thermos though. It’s pretty good.

mrbento

Mr. Bento Lunch Jar was the first lunch system I gave serious consideration to. I has four containers that fit into a thermos. Comes with a metal spork (which so takes me back to high school lunches) and a cover to keep it clean. And it all fits nicely into a carrying case, draw string bag. Nice. It’s about $40 depending where you get it + shipping. It’s probably my favorite, but it’s out of my price range. I was thinking about saving up for it, but started looking around and found some other great options.

planetbox

This little number is called the PlanetBox and comes with a little and big dipper -containers that fit inside the PlantBox if you want to carry some soup (big dipper) or sauce (little dipper). I think it’s really fun, but it’s just not what I’m looking for and the price puts it way out of my range. So fun though!

munchgear

Then, looking around more, I hit my real break-through with Citizenpip MunchGear. It’s not so much that it’s awesome and cute and well designed (which it is), it’s the containers.

You can buy them on their on for $12. I’m a crafty lady. I can make my own box in the fashion of the Lunchopolis upright one. Just a little flat bottom tote would be great – something that holds the containers upright and fits them well.

lunchopolis

Enter the Lunchopolis Lunch Box. I really like that the handle is on the top vs the side so when you carry it everything stays upright, less chance of spilling. It comes with a nice variety of container sizes(large, medium, and 2 small), plus a matching bottle. And there is room to add in a fruit or a yogurt, which is awesome.

The plastic containers are dishwasher and microwave safe + lead and bpa free (always good). And it’s only $30 + shipping. That’s definitely more in my budget, I figure I’ll make that back in a year of packing lunches no problem.

I think if I were to buy one of these lunch boxes I would get the Lunchopolis one because it’s lower cost + I already have the thermos and silverware from my bento box, if starting from scratch I would consider the Munch Gear more. Plus I do not have a water bottle and those run around $5-10 for the bpa free kind so that makes it a better price point that buying the  munch gear containers + a water bottle.

And I told Jason this. And he said “what’s wrong with our tupperware?” And I was like “but but but” and then thought, hmm, I should take another look at what (duh) I already have on hand before I charge out to buy something.

So I looked around and found the perfect “set” and next Friday I’ll give you the pattern for the tote I made for it. I’m going to go ahead and get a water bottle, so my at end cost is $8 instead of $20 – $30 including shipping.  And i like this water bottle more than the little one in the Lunchopolis. I’m still compelled to buy the Lunchopolis… so making a really awesome tote is necessary to keep that impulse at bay. It has to be washable, fun, have a sturdy bottom, at least one pocket, and the perfect size for my dishes.

On average, every American school-age child throws out 67 pounds of juice boxes, water bottles, aluminum foil and plastic
sandwich bags per year. With 25 million children carrying lunch to school daily, that means 3.5 billion pounds of lunchbox
garbage are created in America every year.

9 thoughts on “Thrift Kitchen: Packing those Lunches

  1. I’ve found if you use Glad’s press and seal on the laptop lunches containers you should be good with crumbs from crumbly things and if you put them loosely on the liquid items and then put on the lids you’ll be less likely to experience a spill. While I agree this is neither eco or time friendly in the long run. It’s wallet friendly for me at the moment.

  2. Thanks for your thoughts and research, I’m looking into getting some bento style gear in the future, especially as my daughter grows up and haven’t had a chance to do the leg work yet! This gives me a head start, and some feedback in one!

  3. Thanks for posting pictures of all your finds. I love those things; they’re so cute. I also feel a little compelled to buy them. But I never need to bring my lunch anywhere since I work from home… but maybe my little son will, right? But he’s not even 2…

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