Whether you spend most of your day at school, college, office, or out and about, it’s important to eat healthy food. If you’re someone who carries your lunch to work or school regularly, you’ve probably realized that brown paper bags are not the most cost-effective option. Not only that, but the continuous waste they create is harmful to the environment. You need a good lunch box that can keep your food fresh, warm, and healthy for long hours.
Some food items taste best when eaten warm, making a good lunch box an essential investment that can save you a lot of money and spare the environment a lot of trash. Additionally, a good lunch box will last for a long time and protect your food from the outside elements.
When it comes to packing your lunch, having a reliable and functional lunch box can make all the difference. With so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the best one for your needs. In this lunch box buying guide, we’ll cover the top considerations to keep in mind when selecting the best lunch box for you.
Why You Should Ditch Brown Paper Bags for Eco-Friendly Lunch Boxes?
Eco-friendly lunch boxes may require an initial investment, but they are more cost-effective in the long run. Unlike brown paper bags, they are reusable and durable and can last for years with proper care.
Brown paper bags create a significant amount of waste, and their continuous use of them is detrimental to the environment. Eco-friendly lunch boxes, on the other hand, are designed to be reused and are made from materials that are sustainable and biodegradable.
Healthy and Safe
Brown paper bags are often treated with chemicals that can leach into your food, posing health risks. Eco-friendly lunch boxes are made from non-toxic materials that are safe for food storage, and some even have antibacterial properties to keep your food fresh and safe to eat.
Eco-friendly lunch boxes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials, making them versatile and suitable for different needs and preferences. You can choose from insulated lunch boxes that keep your food warm or cold, stainless steel lunch boxes that are durable and easy to clean, or even collapsible lunch boxes that are compact and easy to store.
- #1 LUNCH BOX BRAND*: Extra-large salad container features a spacious 54 oz salad bowl that fits up to 4 cups of healthy fruits and vegetables (with the compartment tray inserted) for easy portioning
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What to Look for in A Lunch Box?
Lunch Box Size
Choosing the right lunch box size is essential to ensure that your food stays fresh and secure throughout the day. Consider your portion size, container size, how you plan to carry your lunch box, and your work or school environment when selecting the right size for you. With these factors in mind, you’ll be able to choose a lunch box that’s both functional and convenient for your needs.
- Portion size: If you typically pack a large lunch, such as a sandwich, salad, and fruit, you’ll need a lunch box that’s large enough to accommodate these items. On the other hand, if you tend to pack smaller items, like snacks or a small sandwich, a smaller lunch box will work just fine. Consider the amount of food you typically pack and choose a lunch box that’s appropriate for your needs.
- Container size: Some lunch boxes come with built-in containers that are specifically designed to fit inside the lunch box, while others are more flexible and can accommodate a variety of container sizes. Be sure to measure your containers and compare them to the lunch box dimensions to ensure a good fit.
- Backpack or tote: If you’ll be carrying your lunch box in a backpack or tote, be sure to choose a size that will fit comfortably inside. Keep in mind that a larger lunch box may be too bulky or heavy to carry around all day, so choose a size that’s both functional and easy to carry.
- Work or school environment: If you have access to a refrigerator or microwave, you may not need a lunch box that’s insulated or large enough to hold an ice pack. On the other hand, if you don’t have access to these amenities, a larger lunch box with insulation may be necessary to keep your food fresh and at the right temperature.
Lunch Box Compartments
Having compartments in your lunch box can make it easier to pack and organize your food. It also helps to keep different types of food separated, so that they don’t mix together and lose their flavor.
There are different types of compartments that you can find in lunch boxes, such as:
- Single compartment: These lunch boxes have only one compartment for your food.
- Dual compartment: These lunch boxes have two compartments, which allow you to separate your main dish from your side dish.
- Bento-style: Bento lunch boxes are compartmentalized tray lunch boxes that typically originated from Japanese cuisine. They allow you to pack a variety of different food items in the same box without needing separate containers for each. The boxes are divided into sections or compartments, which makes them a popular choice for those who are mindful of portion control or who want to keep different foods separated. Bento boxes can be made from various materials, but are often made of plastic, and some come with removable trays that are dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning. They’re a convenient and eco-friendly option for packing a balanced and healthy meal.
Consider the types of food that you usually pack. If you like to pack sandwiches and snacks, a single compartment may be sufficient. However, if you like to pack a variety of foods, a dual-compartment or bento-style lunch box may be more suitable.
You should also consider the size of the compartments. Make sure that they’re large enough to fit the food that you plan to pack. Additionally, check if the compartments are leak-proof or have lids to prevent spills.
The material of your lunch box is another key consideration. Stainless steel lunch boxes are a popular choice, as they’re durable, easy to clean, and don’t contain any harmful chemicals.
Plastic lunch boxes are also common, but be sure to choose a BPA-free option to avoid any potential health risks. Fabric lunch boxes can be a great choice for kids or anyone who wants a lightweight option that’s easy to carry.
Chemical Free and Antibacterial
Look for lunch boxes that are labeled as chemical-free and antibacterial to ensure that your food stays safe and free from contaminants. Some lunch boxes also come with removable or washable liners that can help keep your lunch box clean and hygienic. Make sure to choose a lunch box that’s free from harmful chemicals and bacteria for your health and safety.
If you’re looking to keep your lunch fresh and at the right temperature, an insulated lunch box is a way to go. These lunch boxes are designed to keep your food at the desired temperature for hours, which is especially important if you’re bringing perishable items like meat or dairy. Insulated lunch boxes come in a variety of materials, including fabric, plastic, and metal, so consider which one will work best for your needs.
Ease of Cleaning
Cleaning is essential to prevent the growth of bacteria and maintain good hygiene.
If you’re someone who likes to heat up your lunch at work or school, choosing a microwave-friendly lunch box is important. Look for lunch boxes that are labeled as microwave-safe, and be sure to follow the instructions carefully to avoid any accidents. Keep in mind that some materials, like metal, aren’t microwave-friendly, so choose a lunch box that’s made from a safe and heat-resistant material.
Choosing a durable lunch box is important to ensure that it lasts for a long time and can withstand daily use.
Material: Choose a lunch box made of durable materials, such as stainless steel or hard plastic.
Construction: Look for a lunch box with sturdy construction, with no weak spots or flimsy parts.
Warranty: Check if the lunch box comes with a warranty, which can give you peace of mind and protect your investment.
Dishwasher-safe lunch boxes are convenient and easy to clean, but it’s important to follow proper cleaning and maintenance procedures to ensure that they last.
Before putting your lunch box in the dishwasher, check the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure that it’s safe to do so. Some lunch boxes may not be dishwasher safe or may require specific cleaning procedures.
When placing your lunch box in the dishwasher, use the top rack to prevent it from getting damaged or warped by the high heat and pressure in the bottom rack.
Use a mild detergent to clean your lunch box, and avoid using bleach or other harsh chemicals that can damage the lunch box or leave a residue.
Overloading the dishwasher can prevent the lunch box from getting properly cleaned, and can also cause it to get damaged by other items in the dishwasher.
Make sure that your lunch box is properly dried before storing it. You can either air dry it or use a clean towel to dry it. Regularly inspect your lunch box for any cracks, chips, or other damage that can affect its performance or safety. Replace it if necessary.
Is Stainless Steel Lunch Boxes Better Than Plastic Lunch Boxes?
Stainless steel is a safer option than plastic for lunch boxes, as it is free from harmful chemicals that can potentially leach into your food. Stainless steel is also durable, easy to clean, and can keep your food fresh for a longer time.
On the other hand, plastic lunch boxes may be more lightweight and inexpensive, but they can be prone to cracking, warping, or staining, especially when exposed to high temperatures or acidic foods. Additionally, some plastic lunch boxes may contain harmful chemicals such as BPA, phthalates, and PVC, which have been linked to various health problems.
However, stainless steel lunch boxes are not transparent to allow you to see what’s inside. And they are not ideal containers for acidic foods like tomato sauce. As low-quality stainless steel contains heavy metals like nickel and chromium, which can potentially leach into the food in acidic foods.
Except for insulated stainless steel lunch boxes, regular stainless steel containers may not have the same level of insulation as some other materials, such as plastic or glass. This means that they may not keep your food as warm or cold for as long.
Compared to plastic or some other materials, stainless steel containers can be more expensive. This may be a barrier for some people who are looking for an affordable lunch box option.
In summary, if you prioritize safety and durability, stainless steel is a better choice for lunch boxes than plastic. However, there are also high-quality plastic lunch boxes that are safe and reliable, so it ultimately depends on your personal preferences and needs.
What Size Should I Choose for the Lunch Box?
As a general guideline, a lunch box that measures around 9 inches long, 5 inches wide, and 9 inches high is suitable for an average-sized lunch. However, if you need more storage space, high-capacity lunch boxes can range in size from 12 to 16 inches long, 7 to 8 inches wide, and 10 inches high. There are also some round lunch box diameters ranging from 5 inches to 9 inches.
Ultimately, choose a lunch box size that suits your needs and is comfortable for you to carry.
How Can I Keep Food Warm in the Lunch Box Longer?
There are several ways to keep food warm in a lunch box, including:
- Invest in an insulated lunch box: An insulated lunch box is designed to trap heat and keep food at a consistent temperature for several hours. These lunch boxes usually have a thick layer of insulation to keep food warm.
- Warp hot food with foil: Wrapping hot food in aluminium foil can help retain heat and keep it warm for a longer time.
- Store the lunch box in a warm place: Fill a thermos with boiling water and let it sit for a few minutes to warm up the container. After emptying the water, immediately fill the thermos with hot food and close the lid tightly. Or place a hot water bottle or hand warmer in the lunch box can also help keep food warm. Or place the lunch box in an insulated thermal bag.
- Store hot and cold food separately: If you are packing both hot and cold items in the lunch box, it’s best to keep them in separate containers. This helps to maintain the temperature of each item and prevent them from affecting each other.
By following these tips, you can help ensure that your food stays warm and delicious until it’s time to eat.