Friday, August 20, 2010

The Lunch Box Experiment - Part 3 - Back to School Lunch Boxes

Back to School Lunch Box Review




It's that time of the year again.....back to school.  It's time to seek out supplies for school: lunch boxes, back packs, etc.

This year, my children will be lunch packers.  I want more control over what they eat and eliminate as much as the processed foods in their diet as possible. Waste in the form of paper lunch bags, plastic sandwich baggies, etc.

Last year, I often visited my son at school during lunch.  One thing I immediately noticed was that the kids that packed lunch would place their food directly onto the less-then-sterile table.  Since they didn't have a plate or tray.  Looking for a solution, I thought a bento style lunch box was the way to go.

So what features did I look for when I set out find the perfect solution for my kids lunch boxes? 
  • Compartmental or bento style lunch box. Not too many parts and lids.  The kids only have a 20-minute lunch. I worry that they will only open one or two of the containers and bring the rest home to be emptied into the garbage.
  • I would like the unit to also serve as a plate so the kids don't place their food directly on the table (as stated above).
  •  Price value for product.  
  • Ease of use. My kindergartner needs to be able to operate this unit herself. Lids need to seal tightly to avoid leaks, but can't be too difficult for her to remove on her own.
  • Packing up to bring home.  My youngest needs to be able to place the lid or cover back on and put it all away so that it does not leak.  This is part two of "ease of use" but important enough to be a line of its own because of gross factor!  It is so disgusting to see old pudding and food crumbs at the bottom of the bag. Especially if you do not get around to emptying it until the next day.  Even after it is cleaned out, it still smells.
  • It cannot be so big and heavy that it is awkward for her to carry independently or must take up most of the room inside her backpack like some of the other compartmental lunch units I have seen.
  • Sturdy and durability is a must.  Frugal is not cheap, there is a difference.
  • I must be able to keep the food items cold.  Meaning that the containers cannot be that the ice pack can't do it's job.
The first item I experimented with was the Ziploc divided containers.  (You can read part one of the Lunch Box Experiment HERE.) They are in-expensive and can be found locally so I can support my local businesses.  We had a few days to test this set up and the container and lunch bag combination for my daughter was not ideal.  She has a hard time getting the container in and out of her new lunchbox without the lid coming off.  I felt like I needed to wrap it in rubber bands to keep it together. 

The container itself is proportioned ok.  The largest compartment fits a full sized sandwich, which is not the case with some of the other lunch units.

The plastic on the Ziploc unit is a little bit on the thin side.  They warp a bit when you wash them. As an adult I have not destroyed a toss away container, but my kids have managed to crack a crease in theirs on the first use by doing so: 



video




Can you see the tiny stress crack there in the center edge?










Easy Lunch Box System





For the next part of the experiment, I wanted to compare the ziploc system to the easy lunch boxes system.  When I asked Kelly from Easy Lunch Boxes if they would like to participate in a comparative study, they were more than happy to oblige.  They were confident that their product would stand up to the test.

We were immediately impressed with the heavy duty quality of these boxes.  I wish there were a better way for you to see just how nice and sturdy they are quality wise. 

The first thing we noticed right away was the nice LOUD snap the boxes made when they were open and shut.  The lid was nice and sturdy that it did not bend when my daughter tried to open it.

video


My daughter loved the colored lids.  She took off playing with bins and I could hear her opening and shutting the containers over and over.  She was putting toys and crayons inside them.  They held up to her abuse without any damage.  In my opinion, you definitely get what you pay for here. 

But does it leak?  Check out this video:


video


Not a drop of the colored water gets into the other two compartments or on the table. I'd say that is pretty impressive.  Do I recommend you put liquids in your container and go crazy?  No. But it's good to know that if your child drops their lunch container, their sandwich won't be ruined by the fruit cocktail you packed in the next compartment. Click HERE to read more helpful information on the topic.

THE VERDICT:


I highly recommend the Easy Lunch Box System.  I find them extremely sturdy and easy to use.  They are also very affordable.  I like the size of the Lunch Bag.  You can pack up to three lunch containers or one container a large drink thermos along with other snacks but not too big and bulky that it becomes an issue for my daughter.


Some Useful information I learned over at Easy Lunch Boxes:

The Easy Lunch Box system is supporting the waste-free lunch movement by offering a reusable, superior solution at a much lower price than other companies. 
 No BPA, phthalates, lead, vinyl, or PVC. Safe for dishwasher, freezer, and microwave.   
Their plastic containers are FDA-approved for microwave use. They are made with the highest grade polypropylene plastic (#5), a plastic that will not leach harmful chemicals when heated or cooled. More info here.
Cooler Bags are made of the highest quality 300D Polyester for premium durability and toughness. Vinyl free (PVC free) & lead free, with an FDA compliant PEVA lining.   
9.38" x 6.1" x 2" Compartment capacities: Large section - 2.5 Cups, Smaller section - 3/4 cup, Smallest section- 1/2 cup.


The Giveaway:




Would you like to win one?  Great!

Enter to WIN a Lunch Bag (color of your choice) and a 4 pack set of containers by following the instructions below.

First entry is mandatory:

Visit EasyLunchBoxes.com and browse their web site. Report back to this blog post and leave a comment about  something you have learned.  Maybe visit their Gallery of Yummy Lunches and let me know which one you think sounds great.

For extra BONUS entries:

Follow this blog (publicly) with Google Friend Connect (see sidebar) and leave me a comment letting me know.  (Current followers, please leave a comment to be entered.)

Subscribe to this blog and leave me a comment letting me know. (Current subscribers, please leave a comment to be entered.)

Blog about this giveaway and leave me a comment with the link to your blog post.

Grab the button to add to your post for an additional entry.  Leave me a comment to for entry.


Please note:
  • Each entry requires a separate comment.
  • Giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.
  • Giveaway ends on Tuesday, August 31, 2010.
  • Winner will be selected by Random.org and contacted by email.  Winner will have 48 hours to respond to claim your prize!
  • Please do not enter this giveaway if you have won or received free product from Easy Lunch Boxes within the past 3 months.
Can't wait for the contest to end?  Click here to be re-directed to Easy Lunchboxes.com and order today.

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    The Extraordinary Life blog received no monetary compensation for this review, only a free selection of products in exchange for my honest opinions.  The words expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way.  No purchase necessary to enter and void where prohibited by law. 
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