To Bento or Not to Bento - Lunch Gear Choices for Your Little Ones
Well parents, it's that time of year again, and the great lunchbox debate continues. When we were kids I'm pretty sure everyone had a pretty simple variation on the StarWars/Smurfs lunch box/thermos combo, but these days the options are seemingly endless.
In my mind it can come down to a bento box vs lunch bag decision, both of which I've tried, both of which have merits.
I do like the freezable lunch bags, they keep food cold for most of the day and store flat in the freezer. If you're choosing this option you'll need an assortment of tiny tupperware containers to stuff all your food and snack items into the bag (not to mention the mind of a Tetris genius to make it all fit).
I'm also a fan of the bento box which generally comes with the aforementioned tiny containers, and keeps everything compact. I will say one thing about bento boxes, the constant washing and drying of the box itself. and depending on the style you choose, it's inside shelf/compartments/ridges, can be a bit of a chore. And if a part of the set breaks (ie. the lid to one of the tiny Tupperware's) you can't generally replace the individual pieces.
When my son was in JK I got him a Monbento box that was perfectly sized and easy for him to handle. *Pro tip, practice opening and closing the box BEFORE the first day of school! I sometimes put this compact bento box in a freezable lunch bag if the contents required refrigeration.
Last year my son had to walk to a further lunchroom with a bigger box, and additional snack containers. While I liked the flat Bentology bento box, halfway through the school year I switched to a lunch bag, as he was sometimes dropping containers on the walk. Having said that, the price point on the box was very reasonable, and while we don't use the box itself as much, the majority of the inner containers are still intact and very useful.
Over the summer we tried a 3 Sprouts rectangular thermal lunch bag that we attached to the outside of his backpack. It is easy to pack as the entire top zips off, and has plenty of space for snack containers and ice packs, however it's been through some outdoor wear and tear, so I've purchased another lunch bag for next week's start of school.
So for Grade 1 I got him a Burton Lunch Sack at MEC that is insulated, easy to clean, and comes with a lifetime warranty! The bag also has a handle, and a side pocket for a water bottle, which makes transporting everything he needs for lunch, to the lunch room easier. It also comes with a carabiner clip for attaching it to his backpack. I'll use the same Crocodile Creek ice packs from the summer, and an insulated food jar when necessary, packed in this bag. Will it be a winner? I guess we'll have to wait and see!