August 14th, 2013

2013 Back-to-School Lunch Gear Guide

Salmon cream cheese roll up lunchbox

I’m thrilled to share with you the annual One Hungry Mama Back-to-School Lunch Gear Guide for the best non-toxic lunch boxes, containers, baggies, bottles, and accessories for the 2013/14 school year.

I can hardly believe that school has started for many of you and that it will be starting for my hungry boys—both of them!—in just 3 weeks. This will be my first year packing TWO school lunches day after day. So, more than ever, it’s important to have the right school lunch ingredients on hand, a lot of school lunch inspiration and, of course, the right school lunch gear.

Whether you make a lunch every day or just need a few things to cover field trips, I’ve got everything you need to pack fabulous, fun, and nutritious school lunches all year long.

Don’t forget to LIKE One Hungry Mama on Facebook so that you can get daily school lunch ideas. I’ll be posting every single school lunch of the year starting on Sept 9th! And also check out the 2012 Back-to-School Lunch Gear Guide; there are many things on that list that I still love.

 

OneHungryMama_Dabbawalla_lunchbox

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Dabbawalla lunch bags. They are on my list year after year but, more over, my kids carry them year after year.  These bags are made of an eco sponge neoprene that has give so that I can pack whatever I want—no squeezing, tucking, or hoping that the sippy doesn’t fall out. Plus, you can throw this bag in the washing machine.

 

 

 

OneHungryMama LLBean lunch box Back to School Lunch Gear Guide

As my hungry boy moves from being a little kid to being a big kid, I’ve started shopping for him differently. We’re trading in cute toddler stuff for full-sized gear with classic function from places like LL Bean. So good thing that they still get the  value of fun design. While you can easily grab a plain classic LL Bean lunchbox, they also have some fab prints. Because even big kids like a little flare!

 

 

 

OneHungryMama DwellThermos lunch box Back to School Lunch Gear Guide

Did you know about Dwell Studio for Thermos? I know. Mind blown! The line of lovely looking lunch boxes and containers is both beautiful and functional thanks to this brand match made in heaven. While the food containers are great, I say you show off with a chic lunch box. The dino pattern is my favorite, but there are also butterflies, the classic Dwell cars pattern, and much more.

 

 

 

OneHungryMama Back to School Lunch Gear Guide_Milkdot lunch boxes

I spied these stylish Milkdot lunch boxes over at Cool Mom Picks and love that Liz reports on these with experience. Her girls have been carrying Milkdot lunch boxes for a while and if they like it, I can recommend it! Especially with this fun new stripey pattern. Want higher fashion? Milkdot also has a line of lunch boxes with illustrations from Marc Jacobs collaborator, Matthew Langille.

 

 

 

OneHungryMama Back to School Lunch Gear Guide_Foogo Baby Bento Set

My kids may be getting big, but that doesn’t mean that yours are quite yet! The Thermos line of infant products is perfect for those of you packing lunch for wee little ones who head to day care or preschool. My favorite—and the most convenient baby lunch set I’ve ever seen—is the Foogo 3-piece Baby Bento Set. It comes with two 8-ounce food jars and an insulated bag into which they fit perfectly.

 

 

 

OneHungryMama Back to School Lunch Gear Guide_PlanetBox lunch box

PlanetBox lunch box/container sets have been around for a while but, the truth is, I was never drawn to these. I finally decide to give them a test run this summer and while I find this system, on a whole, a bit oversized, it’s pretty great. The container compartments in the Rover are perfectly portioned and my kids love that these metal containers come with magnets. So, overall, we’re fans.

 

 

OneHungryMama Back to School Gear Guide_Lock&Lock lunch box containerThe one, the only, the Lock&Lock lunch box container. This is the container you see all the time on the One Hungry Mama Facebook page where I document every school lunch that I make. The fact that I’ve been using this almost exclusively for three years says it all. The perfect size, four removable cups, a strong seal—this is the one.

 

 

 

OneHungryMama Back to School Lunch Gear Guide_Kinetic Go Green containers

The only problem with my favorite Lock&Lock container is that it’s too often sold out. When you can’t get your hands on it, you want to pick up this 29-ounce square container by Kinetic Go Green. I have several as my trusty back ups and they never fail. In fact, shhh, you can barely tell the difference between them and my favorite Lock&Lock.

 

 

 

Container Store Klip It lunch cubes Sistema is this year’s breakout brand of lunch gear and, with an ingeniously designed, colorful, BPA-free family of products, it’s no surprise. These Klip-It Lunch Cube containers are designed to keep a sandwich, veggies, and fruit separate in a single two-level container. I also like their Slimline Quaddie Lunchbox for smaller kids and the Klip-It Breakfast To-Go for things like rice and beans.

 

 

 

OneHungryMama Back to School Lunch Gear Guide_ECOlunch bento containers

If you like the idea of PlanetBox lunch boxes (above), but aren’t into the whole system, bag and all, check out ECOlunchbox containers. These stainless steel food containers are similar, but come la carte, if you will. I like the ECOlunchtray myself, but you can also get a bunch of varying sized rectangular and circular bento containers that stack and fit together.

 

 

 

OneHungryMama Back to School Lunch Gear Guide_Fit&Fresh lunch containers w ice packs

Don’t always want to cool everything in kiddo’s lunchbox? These Fit & Fresh containers with removable ice packs are the ticket when you want to give your hungry kid warm leftovers with a side of still-chilled fruits and veggies. Honestly, it’s kind of genius to keep food cool on a container-by-container basis, which makes these a super smart purchase (especially when a 14-piece value set is only $14.99!).

 

 

 

OneHungryMama Back to School Lunch Gear Guide_Dip N Dunk containersjpg

While I’m a sucker for a cute little sauce container on the side, I’m always looking for a container that has a little compartment for dip built in. I’ve tried a bunch that have room for dip in the middle of the container, but find them awkward. I’m digging the designer of these Dip ‘N Dunk containers which tucks hummus, dressing or whatever you like into a compartment neatly tucked under the lid.

 

 

OneHungryMama Back to School Lunch Gear Guide_banana saver

Before packing school lunch everyday I would have scoffed at this banana saver. But now? USE-FUL! Packing bananas is the bane of my existence. If I cut ‘em up, they get brown and slimy (according to the boys). If I don’t cut them up, they risk getting smashtastic, which is to say smashed and not at all fantastic (according to the boys). This handy little case is the answer.

 

 

OneHungryMama Back to School Lunch Gear Guide_Thermos Funtainer water bottle

The 2012 Back-to-School Lunch Gear Guide had an entire category dedicated to water bottles, but this year I’ve got just one. I find that all bottles are more or less, the same. This Thermos Funtainer, though, insulates like no other. Pack it full of ice, fill it with water, and kiddo will have icy cold water ALL DAY. No joke. Even in the hot weather! (They also come in a 16-ounce size.)

 

 

 

Lunchskins

Yep, Lunchskins again. I love these as much as I do our Lock&Lock containers (above). My original bags from three years ago are holding up great, though I’ve decided it’s time to add a few fresh bags this season. I expect my new Lunchskins will last just as long. And, thanks to the fact that they are dishwasher safe, that’s true with hardly any work on my part!

 

 

 

OneHungryMama Back to School Lunch Gear Guide_snack picks

 

I’ve been using cutesy bento food picks for a while now, but they’re getting to be a little small (ahem, useless) for my big hungry boy. These colorful, metal snack picks by Vacu Vin are our upgrade. A little stronger, these work much better for picking up big kid chunks of fruit and veggies.

 

 

OneHungryMama Back to School Lunch Gear Guide_mini kid fork and spoon set

If you’re looking for snack picks that are more grown up, but not quite as sharp and sturdy as the picks above, these mini kid fork and spoon sets may be just right! They are perfect for my nearly 4-year-old and I even pack them for his big brother, too, (for a fun change of pace). They work just fine and no more lost silverware!

 

 

 

 

OneHungryMama Back to School Lunch Gear Guide_lunch box ice pack

Okay, this is a practical one. No bright colors. No adorable pattern. Just an ice pack. A perfectly sized lunch box ice pack that actually keeps things cold. I’m giving up on all those cute thin ice packs shaped like basketballs and butterflies. They just don’t cut it. These might be a little thick, but they fit in our lunch box just fine and get the job done.

 

 

 

OneHugnryMama Back to School Lunch Gear Guide_bento lunch note pad

Last, but certainly not least, here’s a find that makes writing daily lunch notes a whole lot more fun. This lunch note pad reminds me of the Sanrio stationary that I used to collect when I was a little girl (remember Kerokerokeroppi?!) which puts a smile on my fave every morning. Seeing these cute characters in their lunch certainly makes my boys smile, too.

 

 

 

What have I missed? What are your favorite lunch gear picks this year?

 

NOTE: I am not currently working with any of the companies listed in this guide. I have not been paid by anyone to write this, nor have I received any products related to this guide for free. I either have personal experience or am excited to try the products on this list. Each one fits my guidelines, developed by lots of experience packing lunches. If you have experience with any of these products—good or bad—chime in. I want to hear what you think!

5 Responses

  1. Laura says:

    Lots of great ideas! Love them all! Thanks for sharing :)

  2. Charlotte says:

    Great picks! I’ve had a sistema lunchbox this last year, and a breakfast to go one for early morning starts. Sadly I have to report that neither ate leakproof! My breakfast one leaked yogurt and the lunch box leaked sauce from pasta salad. I won’t be using them again this year unless its for dry snacks only.
    I will check out some of the others though!

  3. One Hungry Mama says:

    Thanks for the feedback, Charlotte! We used our Sistem stuff a few times this summer and it held up, but I can imagine how it wouldn’t be leak-proof for more liquidy stuff. So helpful to know for sure!

  4. N Calhoun says:

    I have 2 hungry, athletic high school boys who have asked me to make their lunches this year. It seems most lunchbox ideas are designed for younger kids. Do you have some ideas that will fill them up and not embarrass them.

  5. Theo Wong says:

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    We are a neoprene product factory in China. Our product range covers neoprene lunch bags, baby bibs, neoprene toys, and other promotional items and gifts.

    We can produce as your design at cheap price. If you are interested in importing from us, please feel free to contact us for more information.

    Thank you.

    Kind Regards,
    Theo Wong

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