Choosing a lunch box for the kids can be an overwhelming task with so many brands and styles to choose from. Especially when you need to consider not only the lunchbox but an insulated bag for it to fit in, how/where your children eat, how much they eat, how much time you have to devote to lunch-making and more.
Now obviously the most important factor is that the lunch box is made from materials that won’t harm your child. That’s a no-brainer. Being easy to clean has to also be up there because you’ll be doing it every, single day.
There are many wonderful products on the market now, so hopefully you find this guide helpful. You can use it to sort the good from the bad and if necessary, we have made mention of the one lunchbox that checks all the boxes for us.
What to look for:
To narrow down your list, here are the things that we believe are essential. If a lunchbox doesn’t check all these boxes, move on.
BPA-Free - The lunch box should be safe to store food inside.
Stay Fresh - A box that will seal and keep an unwrapped item fresh.
Easy to Clean - I prefer one lid for the lunch box, easy to clean and store when drying.
Sections - Separate spaces to place different foods.
Size - It’s not too big to fit into the kid’s school bag, or take up most of the space.
Perfect Portions - Sections that are big enough for the amount of food the kids will eat.
Reusable - Save the environment and your pocket, don’t use plastic zip lock bags.
Dishwasher safe - For those days I don’t have time to hand wash.
Easy to store - not too bulky to store when not in use.
Machine Washable – lunch bags can easily be washed in the washing machine.
I personally prefer lunch boxes that seal tight and keep an unwrapped food fresh, eliminating the use of plastic wrap which saves dollars and the environment. Plus many kids (like ours), prefer to graze on a variety of foods as opposed to just a sandwich and piece of fruit and so the bento style boxes and accessories are very clever at making the food fun and exciting.
How do I decide what size?
This really depends on how much your child eats. I suggest getting a lunch box larger than you think you need. As your child grows they will need to eat more. We explain this a bit more further on.
Is one lunchbox enough?
Technically, yes but realistically...? Our kids have always just used one lunch box each day and it has always been big enough to fit in all their food. However we find that sometimes it’s a bit too big for a small after school or on the way to sports snacks so we also have a smaller snackbox for this purpose. It just makes life easier.
Do I need an insulated bag?
Absolutely. Even on the coolest of days we still get the kids to pack an ice wall alongside their lunch box to keep their fruit fresh and their yoghurt safe. We use the SoYoung lunchboxes because they are a perfect fit for our Yumbox.
So which one do we use at Hugs HQ?
We use the Yumbox.
As a store, we get sent a lot of lunchboxes to try but we still send our kids to school with their Yumboxes because at the end of the day, they just work. And they have for 5 years now.
Firstly, the Yumbox checks all the boxes mentioned above – they are safe, easy to clean, they seal well, they lend themselves toward healthy eating and they last for a long time.
Secondly, they have one lid – and it’s attached. This means I know EVERYTHING is going to come home each day. That alone is worth the money.
Thirdly, Yumbox acts as an excellent storage container which keeps foods fresh for days in the fridge. This means you can safely pack lunch the night before and not be rushed!
Of course, there are other good reasons as well:
It’s lighter to carry.
It’s easier to open because the catch is bigger.
The pictures underneath the food make it easy to know what to pack, even on those tired and blurry mornings.
The Bento Style means I can pack variety of foods with loads of colour and the kids get the flexibility to choose to what they want to eat at recess or lunch.
There are only 2 components. The outside box and the inside tray. They come apart for easy cleaning but the kids don’t think of pulling them apart when they full so both parts ALWAYS come home. No need to visit lost property!!
It’s leak proof. You can put yogurt in one compartment and it won’t leak into another compartment – even if the lunch box is stood on its side in the school bag!
Each compartment holds a half cup serve of food so you can also control portion sizes too.
The inside compartment comes out for easy cleaning. It is dishwasher top shelf safe too. The outside compartment can be put in on the top shelf of the dishwasher as well. To be honest though, I just throw them in the sink when I unpack the kids bags, give them a quick wash and leave them to dry ready for tomorrow.
The other great thing about the Yumbox is that it comes in 2 sizes, with 2 configurations for each size meaning that you can really customise them for your individual kids. Plus they have the Snackbox which is an awesome mini version for after school activities and the like.
So how do I decide which one is right for me?
Yumbox Original 6 Compartment
- Smaller children - kinder and younger school years.
- Picky eaters - everything is small and visible.
- Variety - sandwich free lunches.
- Snacks - each section can hold different snacks to be eaten across the day.
- Weight conscious adults - Perfect portions packed in advance help to keep you on the right track to weight loss.
Our kids both have the original 6 compartment. We love the variety of foods that it holds and with so much choice, if they don't feel like a certain something that day, there's still enough to keep them satisfied. With Thing 1 getting older, we also throw a sandwich into his So Young lunchbox wrapped in a reusable food wrap so he always has plenty to eat.
Yumbox Panino 4 Compartment
- Adults - pack salads, wraps or leftovers for work or school.
- Older kids - Small and compact the Yumbox is perfect for high school students. Slide it straight into the school bag.
- Sandwich lovers - Kids love a sandwich, the Panino is perfect with extra space for snacks.
Yumbox Tapas 4 or 5 Compartment
The Tapas is really for bigger kids, adults or huge eaters. And whether you go for the 4 or 5 compartment really depends on the types of food and way you eat. Grazers get the 5, traditional meal types, get the 4.
There you have it. There is a lunchbox out there for you. Just make sure it is safe, easy to deal with and feed your kids they way they respond to best. Bon Appetit!