Kids tested and Mom Approved Options! ;)
So, yesterday a friend asked me for lunchbox reviews! It occurred to me that this might be something that everyone is interested in right about now!
When you have to purchase 4 of everything, you really try hard to make sure you choose the most efficient items in every way! By the nature of everything x4, I work to consider convenience, space, cost, durability and of course the healthiest options for my peeps! Being a Meal Prep Momma and a freak about organization, I love my meal prep / lunchbox / ready to go lunch & mini meal containers. I have tested just about everything out there from glass & stainless to many, many, many plastic options.
In case you can't tell, as you browse this post, I am a Amazon Prime Addict! So, I have added Amazon links to the pics for all these items just in case you see something you like! ;)
I have a few sets that I use every week, for a couple of reasons! While I would LOVE to stick to glass and stainless for everything, with 4 kiddos and the sheer amount of food I prep each week, that is just not feasible! So I have my own personal rules about what I use when, where and why!
My Personal Guidelines - what, when, why?
-If something is going to need to be reheated in that container, usually a mini meal I send to work with my husband or a prepped item for dinner, those go into glass containers so they can be reheated in the microwave OR oven, in that container without worry of plastic leaching.
-If something is going to remain cold, refrigerated,lunch box or cooler those are fine to be in BPA-free plastic. Most of the concern around plastic happens when it becomes heated!
-I store most of my prepped dinner in BPA-free plastic containers with separations so that I can chop and portion out several ingredients for each recipe, making for easy additions when preparing them later in the week.
For the Kiddos
We use the Pottery Barn large lunchbox insulated bags same as the one Planetbox sells; so I use containers that fit comfortably in those!
I have been using the same ones for about 3-4 years now without having to replace! I like the size because it's not too heavy for them with the other things they end up having to take to school, they fit a lot of food, are very durable, washable and have convenient slots for ice packs, water bottle, wipes or hand sanitizer and silverware if necessary!
I wash these things every other week and they have still held up great! They have different patterns and monograms to help with the confusion and potential argument that comes with 4 littles! ;)
Because the kid's lunches stay cold and I don't have to worry about reheating, I usually use my preferred plastics for them! I have SS ones as well, but sometimes those can get heavy if they have a lot of stuff in their backpack for that day.
Planetbox - SS - last forever, leakproof containers inside but they, themselves are not. Dishwasher safe.
I LOVE the Planetboxes, but right now they are really heavy for the girls when I have them filled with enough food. I don't use the liquid proof containers in them very much bc they are kind of a pain, and personally I don't love anything with parts and pieces. But, I think that is just because it's x4. If it were just 1 or 2...it wouldn't be so bad. The little containers each have a top and bottom + a rubber leakproof piece, which always seems to disappear! I think they will be better as they get a little older just because of the weight. I love so many things about these but with 4, they do take up a lot of space in both the cabinet and the dishwasher. $$$
Sistema - BPA free, phthalate free, dishwasher safe, liquid proof, super light, tons of options, they have divided and non-divided on Amazon Prime! ;) We use these for EVERYTHING! In the pics, they are the small, square colored ones. I also love these because they are super slim and pack nicely into the cooler for the beach or car trips! Space saver for in the fridge too! $
Orgalif Bento Box - These are my favorite! - BPA free, microwave & dishwasher safe, great bento box style, 2 year guarantee and Amazon Prime (which is a huge selling feature of course). I LOVE how nicely these stack in our cabinet!!! Still light but fits a great amount of food for kid lunches!. Tucker LOVES these because all his food is separated and not touching! ;) They are very durable and have lasted over a year of In the pics they are the larger plastic ones with separations. $ I just ordered a new set of 5 to add to my current set so that I can make 2 days of lunches ahead and it was only $12.98 for a set of 5!
We also traded in all other cups and bottles for the Nalgene On the Fly water bottles! ZERO parts and pieces, straws, or suction! They lock, don't get smelly, have no place for nasty to happen like the old straw cups! Each child has their own pattern so there's zero confusion! I LOVE these! They are about $10 on Amazon and our 4 have lasted us a couple years now! $
It's not like ice packs are rocket science, but honestly when you are buying 4 of everything, you really try hard to focus on the most efficient, affordable and functional options and we really like these. They work well, have a slim design and are light weight.
Some ice packs can just take up too much of my valuable freezer space! I keep 2 sets of these on hand. They are super inexpensive at $8 for a set of 4 on Amazon!
Silicon Muffin Molds
We use the little silicon muffin molds for all kinds of things! The kids love the fun shapes and colors, and how they keep their food separate, while I like the fact that they make handy little portion containers for their lunches! I also have a set of jumbo ones that I use for egg muffins, mini quiches, quinoa mac & cheese and really any individual serving! They are safe and non stick and keep me from having to use metal non-stick cookware! Plus, the kids eat with their eyes first too, and they love the fun they add to any meal! The are super convenient, dishwasher safe, stack nicely and are inexpensive at about $8 for a set of 24!
Last but not least the Glass!
I absolutely LOVE my glass prep containers! I gifted them to myself last year for Mother's Day and use them every single day! They last forever and the convenience of being able to go straight to the oven with them is awesome! Super safe and super durable, they cost a bit more than plastics but are well worth the extra bucks!
The 18 piece set of containers was $30 on Amazon made by 1790 and the 6 piece, 2 compartment set was $30 as well, made by MealPrep!
They are freezer, microwave and oven safe up to 400F; leak proof and stack nicely in the fridge! They are also stain and odor resistant and do fantastic in the dishwasher!
They do take up a little more space than your stackables, so plan on making room if you are changing over to glass, but still love them! I would not recommend stacking, even though the manufacturer says you can, because I chipped one trying that! But highly recommend!
Ok...I know that was a little long...but I tried hard to make it worth the read! Please let me know if this helps you! And stay tuned for my upcoming update on my post on packing Kid's Lunches and some ideas on what to make and how to cut your time!