As a child, one of the highlights of back to school shopping was picking out my lunch box for the year. I grew up in the late 70s and early 80s where metal lunch boxes with a matching thermos ruled the school lunchroom.
Your lunch box was a great indicator of who you were as a kid. In fact, it was more important what was on outside than what our moms packed inside. It told others where your allegiances – at least in the pop culture world – lied. I can still remember some of my favorites – Peanuts, The Bionic Woman, Happy Days, Star Wars and Donny & Marie. I do have to say that those old lunch boxes were pretty durable. They took daily beatings, droppings and slammings, but lasted the entire school year. Now I wish I had taken better care of them, because if I had any one of them in decent shape I could make a fortune selling them on eBay!
Now I am discovering lunch box — wait, they’re not even boxes anymore, now they’re “bags” — shopping is the most important part of my son’s back to school preparation. I was overwhelmed by all the different options and discovered that lunch box materials and design have come a long way since I ate in the school cafeteria.
Here’s a few things for moms to keep in mind about lunchbox function while your kids worry about who is on it:
Size – Consider the food containers, bottles and other items it will regularly contain. Also keep in mind the size of the child carrying the lunch box – make sure it’s something that they can easily carry in their hands or put into/clip onto their backpack. You might want to consider lunch boxes with two compartments which allow you to segregate sensitive food items (i.e. hot from cold, heavy to light – no squished food!).
Material – If you’re buying a fabric or cloth lunch bag, look for one made of thick material as it will be sturdier and will be better at containing liquid or food spills, preventing them from seeping out onto clothing or any other surface. Also look for fabric lunch boxes in a darker color since they will do a better job of camouflaging spills and stains over time. If your child is a picky eater and doesn’t like sandwiches, consider a bento box which feature several separated compartments. Bento boxes come in both plastic and lightweight metal options that you can put in the dishwasher.
Opening and Closing Mechanism – Look for a lunch box that is easy for your child to not only open but close. Test out clasps to ensure a tight seal If your lunch box has a zipper, make sure it has large and durable pull-tabs.
Liners – Opt for either insulated cooler bags or lunch boxes with smooth vinyl or plastic interiors since they will be easier to wipe and clean out.
My son spent close to a half-hour in the lunchbox aisle debating which one to get. He was like a kid in a candy store – so excited by all the options to choose from. It was a tough choice, but he ultimately went with a rectangular LEGO Chima one and not the oddly shaped circular Skylander bag. My boy is all set to start school, now I just have to worry about what I’ll pack him for lunch!
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