As a lunch box aficionado and…ahem…collector, I am regularly asked to recommend a lunch box to friends, family and readers. While I would love to have a quick, easy answer to give people, I actually have a very hard time answering this question because there are so many variables that determine which box is the best option for any given kid (or adult). How old is the child? What’s her appetite like? Are you only packing lunch or do you need to include food for snack breaks too? Are you OK with plastic or do you prefer to avoid it? What’s the budget? Do you hate managing lots of pieces? I could go on and on…
I decided what was needed was a handy dandy chart that showed all these different variables side by side, so parents could make their own informed decision easily. I knew I couldn’t include all of the dozens of lunch and bento boxes in my collection, so I needed to narrow it down a bit. Here are the criteria I settled on for the boxes I included in my chart:
- Each one is easy to purchase online or from retail stores. I love my imported bento boxes, but I know not everyone has access to those.
- Each one is divided into 3 or more sections. Many children are not interested in different foods touching and many parents are not interested in dealing with silicone cups and decorative baran.
- My kids and I like them. There is not a single stinker in this bunch. I’ve only included boxes that I reach for repeatedly and that my kids like. These boxes have all been used dozens — if not hundreds — of times and are all still in great shape.
Ready? Here we go!
|PlanetBox Rover Complete
|Price||$13.95 for a set of 4 boxes||$23.99||$19.99||$59.99 (bag included)||$29.99||$28.00|
|Color||2 color options available — Classic and Brights||12 color combinations||Stainless; lids also available in blue or red||Stainless; decorative magnets included||6 color options||Green or Pink|
|Dimensions||9.38 x 6.1 x 2 inches||9 x 7 x 2.25 inches||6 x 5 x 1.75 inches||10 × 7.5 × 1.5 inches||9.8 x 6.9 x 3.5 inches||8 x 6 x 2 inches|
|Volume||3 3/4 cups||4 1/3 cups||3 cups||4 1/2 cups||3 3/4 cups||2 1/2 cups|
|Materials||BPA-free plastic||BPA-free plastic||Food grade stainless steel||Food grade stainless steel||BPA-free plastic||BPA-free plastic|
|Number of Compartments||3; 1 large, 2 small||5; 2 large, 2 medium, 1 small||3; 1 long, 2 squarish||7; 1 large, 3 medium, 1 tiny in tray; 1 large, 1 small lidded containers||3; 1 large, 2 small||6; 5 medium, 1 small|
|Configurable||No||Yes — inner containers can be rearranged or removed.||No||Sort of — lidded containers can be added or removed||Yes — inner containers can be rearranged or removed||No|
|Leakproof||No — lids are designed to be easy for young children to remove||Sort of — three lidded containers are leakproof, the rest is not||No – lid is tight-fitting but not water tight||Sort of — lidded containers are leakproof, tray is not||Yes — lidded inner containers are leakproof||Yes|
|Cleaning||Dishwasher safe||Dishwasher safe, top rack only||Dishwasher safe||Dishwasher safe||Dishwasher safe, top rack only||Inner tray is dishwasher safe, top rack only; hand-washing the outer box is recommended to protect the seal|
|Number of Pieces||2||8||2||5||12||2|
|Easy to Open||Yes||Can be tricky for preschoolers, older kids have no trouble||Can be tricky for preschoolers to open||Tray is easy to open, lidded containers are not||Outer box is easy to open, but if child opens the wrong side it can get messy||Yes|
|Cuteness||Low cuteness factor — 4 different lid colors add appeal for kids||Low cuteness factor — multiple color options allow for playful or sophisticated choices||Low cuteness factor — colored lids add appeal for kids, stainless looks cool for older kids/adults||High cuteness factor — magnet sets are fun and at least one should appeal to your child||Very high cuteness factor — the intechangable face plates are adorable||Medium — the outside of the box is plain, but the inside features cute food pictures|
|Bag||Available separately for $7.95, machine washable, 7 color choices||Available separately in 6 bag/sleeve styles and multiple colors. Prices range from $12.99 – $27.99||Felt bag available separately for $20.99; easily fits inside standard lunch bags||Bag included in choice of 7 colors||The outer container functions as a “lunch bag” and includes an ice pack, so no extra bag is needed.||Yumbox does not sell bags, so one must be purchased from an alternate source.|
|Accessories||Set of 8 Mini Dippers (small lidded containers that fit inside the box) available separately||Set of 4 Bento Buddies (extra inner boxes) available separately, including an extra large box that can be swapped for the 2 large boxes||Small leak-proof condiment cups, flatware, extra lids available separately||Extra magnets and small inner containers available separately||Extra face plates, medium sized inner containers and a strap on drink holder are available separately||No accessories are offered at this time|
|See this box packed with food||EasyLunchboxes gallery||Laptop Lunches gallery||LunchBots gallery||PlanetBox gallery||Yubo gallery||Yumbox gallery|
|Notes||This no-frills box is a sturdy and economical choice. Great for adults and kids of all ages!||The Laptop Lunches box is a work horse (we love ours), but if you’re prone to losing things the multiple pieces can be a pain to keep track of.||Though this box looks small, it easily holds enough food for elementary school kids.||It’s the priciest option in this round-up, but the PlanetBox Rover is our family’s all-around favorite lunch box.||The super cute Yubo is a good choice for preschoolers and young elementary aged kids, but keep in mind that it is a large box.||Yumbox is small, fun and easily managed by a preschooler. It may not hold enough food for older children.|
|Full Review||Read my full EasyLunchboxes review||Read my full Laptop Lunches review||Read my full LunchBots Trio review||Read my full PlanetBox Rover review||Read my full Yubo review||Read my full Yumbox review|
|Purchase link*||Purchase EasyLunchboxes||Purchase Laptop Lunches||Purchase LunchBots||Purchase PlanetBox||Purchase Yubo||Purchase Yumbox|
A few more notes:
Durability: All of these boxes are durable. I haven’t had any problems with the plastic warping, cracking, or breaking and the stainless steel boxes look practically new after a full year of use.
Ice packs: With the exception of the Yubo, none of these boxes or their bags comes with an ice pack. I highly recommend that you invest in several ice packs to place inside your lunch bag, along with the lunch box to keep the food at a safe temperature until you or your child sits down to eat.
Did I miss something? Do you have a question about these boxes that I didn’t answer? Please leave it in the comments below and I’ll do my best to find the answer.
Have you got your lunch boxes all lined up for the new school year? Which boxes will you be using?
* Disclosure: Though this post contains affiliate links, I have not been compensated in any way for writing this post or pulling this information together.
|Are you looking for more ideas for packed lunches! My book, Everyday Bento: 50 Cute and Yummy Lunches to Go is packed with ideas for fun, delicious lunches. With 50 brand new bento box lunches and step-by-step photo tutorials showing how to make them it will provide you with loads of inspiration when it’s time to pack lunch. Order today from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Powell’s.|