I recently reviewed two kinds of lunch boxes and a thermos from Cute Lunch Boxes, a website that exclusively sells lunch boxes, thermoses, and water bottles and ships them worldwide for free.
I was offered the following items complimentary for purposes of a review: a 3-part Bento Box, a Yellow Ladybug lunch box, and a Lion Thermos.
The kids really loved the bright yellow Ladybug Lunchbox and I appreciated the practical use of the Bento Box. We used the thermos to pack some hot chocolate for a cool wintery play day at our local park. Overall, my kids and I enjoyed using the lunch boxes and thermos from a practical and visual standpoint. However, I do have concerns over the quality of the products.
I am a self-confessed lover of bento boxes of all kinds. Two of my shelves are stocked full of lunch boxes of every shape and size and for every possible need. Whether it is a day-time outing, snacks for the late-morning, something more substantial for brunch, or a sandwich lunch, oh what about a warm lunch…no matter what the type of food and the time of the day, I have a lunch box for that. I really do. So, where does this bento box fit in with my other boxes? Keep reading to know more.
First impressions: Not quite impressed. The plastic appeared not quite as sturdy as I expected. There is a certain feel to when you touch Tupperware or lunch boxes made by Sistema or the air-tight boxes made by Snapware and Oxo. This brand just does not have that same quality. The best I can describe this box is that it is a better quality version of restaurant take-out containers. So, at least as far as the quality of the box goes, it felt flimsy and I was disappointed.
However, I did like that the box is deep, it fits two slices of bread (sandwich) perfectly in the larger space with enough depth in the two smaller parts for sides.
Use: In the box to the left, I have a grilled cheese sandwich with enough depth left to place one more sandwich, and some more carrots and red peppers. I would be able to grab just this one box for lunch for both kids instead of having to make another box for the second kid.
Cleaning: The box is really easy to use. No hidden crevices for mold to grow. The box cleans well in a dishwasher. I have hand washed it as well as washed it in the dishwasher and both ways have worked well for me.
Important to note: According to the website, the lunch box is BPA free, and microwave and dishwasher safe.
Yellow Ladybug Lunchbox
The kids and I really liked this lunchbox. We loved the attractive yellow color and the box is really cute too.
First impressions: Very cute. Very attractive. Practical. Not so sure I will microwave this box even though the quality seems better than the bento box, at least to the touch and overall feel. Even though I was informed that all lunch boxes are microwave-safe, as a rule, we don’t microwave plastic in our house unless we absolutely have to, for whatever reason, and the back of the said plastic container categorically states or illustrates the Microwave-safe message. This lunch box does not do either of those things. The web page for this product also does not clearly state if this is the case.
Use: The best use of this lunchbox of my kids will be when I pack them room temperature dry-foods/snacks. Just going off my impressions of the quality of the product, I would not recommend putting hot things in the lunchbox (freshly steamed rice, for example). In the image below, (my kids insisted on eating their lunch in their lunch boxes even though we were at home) I packed my daughter the same things as in my son’s bento box above + chicken). At a couple months under-2-years of age, she is almost able to open and close her box independently. The main part of the lunchbox is quite deep and even with the removable tray, it can still hold quite a bit. The lunchbox also comes with a spoon (not pictured).
Cleaning: I have used this box in the dishwasher without issues. Hand-washing is always an option too.
First impressions: I have only used the thermos once so far and have been impressed with its ability to keep the beverage hot for the time I needed it to. It is also quite cute and given the small size, fits perfectly into my shoulder bag (not a diaper bag, just a regular Vera Bradley bag). I liked the feel of the thermos. It has a well-built quality to it. The lid opens and shuts easily.
Use: On a recent trip to a local park, I made us some hot chocolate (I make it on the stovetop and not in my microwave) and poured it right into the thermos. Two hours after I first packed it, at the park, the hot chocolate was still quite warm (not hot, hot) that I actually needed to blow on the beverage a few times so my kids could drink it.
The one thing I don’t like about the thermos is that it does not come with a lid that doubles as a cup like thermoses have traditionally done. So, I had to also take along two cups (we don’t use disposable cups, so I had to pack my metal cups). This is not a big issue in and of itself since I could always carry a couple small cups but I am a little undecided if the convenience of the small size of the thermos (fills under 12 ounces. When I put 12 oz of the hot chocolate in the thermos and closed the lid, a lot of the drink spilled out. I am okay with the small size. One just needs to know the purpose for which one needs to use this thermos) necessarily matters more to me than having a cup-lid.
Cleaning: I have put it in the dishwasher and it cleaned well without any issues. I have also hand washed this.
The competition for lunch boxes is really tough. It just seems like there has been a recent and sudden explosion of bento-style boxes and other carefully designed lunch containers all over the place. Whether I visit Marshall’s, Home Goods, Target, or any random store, pretty much everyone stocks some kind of lunch boxes that have transitioned creatively from old school Glad or Rubbermaid plastic leftovers-containers we used to pass as lunch boxes. While I am a huge fan of lunch boxes (I had my first bento box when I was 17 and lived in Japan and the love for traditional bento-style boxes has not waned in over 20 years!) and seriously have way more than my family will ever need, I did like the idea of a website, Cute Lunch Boxes, dedicated exclusively to filling some basic portable food/drinks-carrying needs. However, the prices are on the higher side. As I said, the competition is tough and there are lunch boxes to fit all kinds of budgets in the market. While I did like the products I used, would I spend $14-16 if I had to buy them? I don’t know just yet. I will need to use these products over a longer period of time to see how they stand to the test of two toddlers and decide accordingly.
Featured Image Photo Credit: CuteLunchBoxes.Com