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Best Lunch Boxes for a New School Year

By Melissa Summers

Yesterday we had our last Summer Tuesday Playgroup with my group of friends and their kids. As I’ve mentioned, I’m ready for school to start and have been ready for school to start for most of the month. Today as we said our goodbyes I told Max to tell his friends to have a good first day of kindergarten.

He turned to me and said, ‘But they’ll be there with me right?’ and I think it was the first time he really understood what I’ve been telling him. Even though we’ve been in preschool all together for the last two years and we rode in carpools and had playgroups and playdates and saw each other 3-5 times a week, this year we’re all going our separate ways to different elementary schools.

Then, the impossible happened, I cried because school is starting and life is changing.

This is simply more proof you can’t please me no matter what you do. I cry because school is starting and then I cry because school isn’t starting fast enough. But enough about that, we have lunchboxes to choose.

I’ve got one more year of lunches at home with my little boy and I plan to relish our last year of solo time. We’re going to need a lunchbox for my daughter though.

I’ve been eyeing the Bento Box with great interest for a year now. I love the idea but fear it will only serve to bring into glaring focus my daughter’s finicky eating habits and my uncreative use of whole wheat bread.

The insulated lunch box is quite popular at my daughter’s school. Lunches stay cool, especially if you put a frozen juice box in the bag in the morning. Pottery Barn Kids makes a nice simple version called the Fairfax. My daughter is likely to veto this option as ‘boring’ a lot like that backpack I proposed yesterday. Maybe she wants a lunch box with sparklers and it’s very own monkey. It’s a lunchbox Madison, not a side show act.


makeyourown.jpgLike I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a fan of character items, but like most kids, my kids are big fans of character items. It seems everything is better if it features a cartoon character. This might be a compromise I can live with. A classic metal lunchbox, decorated with stickers of your child’s choosing. Or maybe I just need to ease up a little and buy that My Little Pony box. Or maybe not.


piratelunchbox.gifPirates have universal appeal, so this pirate lunch box would be fun for carrying lunch to school. Also, if you don’t put that frozen juice box inside to keep things cool, it could serve as a warning about the rancid chicken salad sandwich your mom packed for you.


brownpaperbag.jpgOf course, there’s always the low tech brown paper bag which Teresa suggested yesterday. Easy, customizable and maybe best of all when your child eats two bites of his sandwich and two cookies for lunch it’s between him and the trash can. You don’t even have to know.


Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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It’s not the lunch box that causes me great distress, it’s what to put in THE lunchbox. Any suggestions?


There’s Vegan Lunchbox, which I love to read but find myself gasping to realize how incredibly difficult my daughter is to feed. I can’t imagine her eating half those things. This article has some reasonable advice. I like the idea of packing small amounts of several foods. (That’s where that bento box would come in handy). This Kraft site seems useful, the recipes are plain enough I can imagine, with time, my daughter acquiescing to pasta salad in her lunch. I’m embarassed to say, I like the ‘Round the meal out with:’ section of this website. I swear to you… Read more »


I, too, have been eyeing that Bento Box for a long time, after having watched it be so creatively filled on Vegan Lunchbox. I must admit, though, the sheer number of little boxes intimidates the hell out of me. I have a hard enough time coming up with more than three edible items. Luckily my kid’s extremely finicky and is happy with the same lunch day after day. It’s the ONLY upside of having a picky eater.


My son is now in middle school and opted for the insulated version this year. It’s actually been great because it seems easier to wash inside than the plastic lunchboxes are.
I’ve always been amazed at how disgusting those things get. You’d think I sent my son poopy diapers everyday for lunch, as bad as his lunch box smells by the end of the week.


You could go all out and get those brown paper bags with esteem-building notes all over them, and then make sure you drop a hand-crafted love-mom note inside as an extra surprise. As if a child will let their lunch partners see them reading a note from home. As if a child isn’t going to just trash the note with the 3/4 of the sandwich they didn’t eat. And the apple.


If my mother had been offered the option of the bento box when I was Madison’s age, she would have laughed. I would never have made it home with all of the pieces.
I don’t have kids, but something I’ve discovered for my lunches is dried fruit. A serving size is half that of fresh fruit, so it takes up less space and might fit into the “just a few bites” category.

Woman with a Hatchet

I bought the Laptop Lunch box and I (and my 5 year old) love it! At first I was wondering how to fill 4 boxes, but then I just started tossing in a bit of this and a bit of that and voila! lunch was made. Fresh vegetables in one box, fruit in another, cookies in a third and the main part (sandwich, leftovers from dinner, etc.) in the fourth. Easy and the best part is, it all comes home empty. My daughter eats some at snack time and then at lunch. If she still hasn’t finished it when I… Read more »


i got the bento boxes in december of last year but have been too chicken to use them.