Wondering what lunch box food storage containers are the best for sending to school with your kids? Here are a few of our favorites from PlanetBox, Kids Konserve, LunchSkins, and more.
Let’s discuss the basics behind school lunch: The storage basics. Everyone always wants to go over the things that go in the containers like the ABCs of School Lunch Ideas and How to Pack Freezer Smoothies, but I’ve found that having a good set of quality containers on hand is sometimes one of the larger hurdles when trying to fill the lunch sack in the morning. Does it leak? Will it break? Can my kid open it? Is it safe? How long will it last? There are many factors to consider when determining what will hold the food to nourish your child.
Below are a few of my favorites. We sometimes use other containers, which I’m sure you’ve noticed, but that doesn’t mean they are our favorites. The ones here are just the best of the best. All that’s missing is my excessive mason jar use, but you already know about that.
PlanetBox systems are the Cadillac of school lunch. Their all-in-one approach makes packing lunch easy and fuss-free. While I’d held off on getting one because of the investment for four kids, the complete system really covers all the bases. Plus, the compartmentalized presentation mimics the hot lunch line at many schools, making kids feel like they are getting a similar eating experience as their peers.
The stainless steel container snaps easily with clasps that are fit for small fingers, and the entire box slides directly into the bag. With a variety of styles to choose from, you can customize the lunch experience depending on how you prefer to pack. They also come with smaller satellite containers for liquids or items that might otherwise leak, and there are several designs that grow with your child by using replaceable magnets on the front rather than designs destined to be disused as your child matures.
The PlanetBox systems are available in three styles: Launch, Rover, and Shuttle. Launch offers the largest compartments and sleekest bag styles, which makes it great for larger servings of individual items. The Rover gives several small compartments that are great for kids who like a lot of variety in their lunch. The Shuttle is a smaller, snack size unit, which makes it a wonderful choice for pairing with other products and thermal containers.
PlanetBox systems are available direct on the PlanetBox website, or you can find them via Amazon or via limited retailers.
When lunchskins contacted me to see if they could send me a few sets of their bags I told them no, not because I didn’t want to try their product, but because I already had. I’ve used lunchskins for a few years now, adopting early on. You may have noticed their repeated appearance in the school lunch photos. Of all the reusable lunch bags on the market, they became a quick and easy favorite for their versatility.
The bag design makes them easy to fill and seal without risk of the contents tumbling out on the walk or ride from home to school. They are also easy to clean, either by hand, in the dishwasher, or even in the washing machine. Finally, even after near daily use and several trips through the dishwasher, even my original bags which are over four years old have stood the test of time, performing just as well as any recent purchases.
I use these mainly for dry good items like pretzels, popcorn, vegetable sticks, granola bars, trail mixes, and the like. They can stain from melted chocolate or other sticky substances, but my experience has been that a trip through the washer works to get them clean. My favorite sizes are the sandwich bags and the snack bags, and all the bags are free of BPA, lead, and phthalates.
You can pick up lunchskins direct through the lunchskins website, at Target sold in 2-count coordinating packs, on Amazon, or in a retail location near you.
Kids Konserve Stainless Steel Containers
I have a kindergartner this year, and when I was thinking about school lunch containers that I could send with him, I reached out to Kids Konserve to ask them about their stainless steel line. While I love our other stainless steel containers, which you’ll see below, I’ve sometimes had a difficult time getting the lids to come off smoothly. They have a tendency to get stuck to the point where I even ask my husband to open them. If I can’t open them, my kindergartner is definitely not going to be able to open them.
The flexible, BPA-free lids on the containers make them easy even for the smallest of fingers to manage, allowing my kindergartner access to his lunch without having to use precious minutes to find an adult to help him. It gives me peace of mind to know he can manage in the lunchroom on his own.
I also like the divider feature on the rectangle, which makes sending multiple items in one space-saving container easy. Whether you’re splitting sandwich from vegetable or just simply packing the greens on the side so they don’t get soggy, this container makes it easy to do so without using plastic bags or extra containers to crowd the lunch box. All the pieces are dishwasher safe, which makes them a no-brainer in the easy-to-clean department, and they give you peace of mind with no BPA, lead, phthalates, or PVS as well.
You can find Kids Konserve and U Konserve containers on the Kids Konserve website, as well as purchasing on Amazon, or locating a store near you that carries them.
Kinderville Silicone Pop Molds
I stumbled upon these pop molds by accident, purchasing them online on a whim while looking for ice pop molds for the kids. I own several varieties of silicone molds, and these are our favorite for their durability and stability. The tops are easy to open, but also leak-proof, a very important quality for lunch box packing. They are slightly shorter and wider than many other pop molds, helping them fit in shorter lunch box spaces easily. They make a great container for sauces, yogurt – frozen and then packed, and small snacks like seeds.
I have only ever found the Kinderville pop molds on Amazon and direct from the Kinderville website.
To-Go Ware Stainless Steel Snack Tiffins
These stainless steel tins are a win for their durability. A longstanding staple of our lunch box collection, we use them for everything from sliced fruit to hummus and pita chips. I’ve been particularly impressed by their ability to withstand beatings without denting and dinging, bouncing around in lunch boxes and the bottoms of backpacks and repeatedly dumped out or dropped onto concrete floors or tossed in the sink.
The one downfall of the design is sometimes depending on humidity, moisture around the rim, or simply an askew placement, these can be a bit difficult to open. I usually reserve them for the larger kids or the kids that I know will work to get at the goodies within.
To-Go Ware containers can be found on Amazon, the To-Go Ware website, and a number of national retailers.
Thermos makes a complete line of stainless steel thermal containers, and if you’ve been a regular reader, you’ll know that they are in constant use in lunch boxes for my kids. They work well for us because they are the right size for small fingers to grasp, as well as being dishwasher safe, and ready to be preheated and stuffed with homemade hot foods like 10-minute macaroni and cheese, fried rice, and oatmeal.
Being able to pack and send hot food items with my kids is essential in keeping the lunch boxes varied and interesting for me. It also helps in stretching our food budget a bit further, as leftovers are quickly consumed the following day.
Thermos FUNtainer, Sipp, and Foogo lines are available on Amazon, direct on the Thermos website, at Target stores, and several retail locations near you.
Happy lunch box packing!