Remember the thrill of picking out your lunchbox for that first day of school, the little metal box with the plastic handle and matching Thermos, or was that just me? Well, some things never change and whether kids are heading back to school or you are simply sauntering back to the office after a few days (weeks!) away, the idea of sporting something new, improved and efficient seems like a seasonal rite of passage.
This year, the lunchbox solutions that go straight to the head of the class include upgrades on old favorites and timely innovations that have come full circle.
Traditional Japanese bento boxes featuring individual compartments for each food item have been around for millenniums. Today, they remain just as fresh thanks to trends in portion control, healthful eating and eliminating plastic waste.
Durable, stainless steel lunchboxes by PlanetBox start at $39.95 (planetbox.com) and you can customize them with photo magnets of that awesome summer vacation ($8.95); or choose from decorative magnets that come standard. Sustainable idea: Keep the box, change up the look.
Sustainable solutions that eliminate waste, provide a healthful alternative and save money are always a good idea.
Made of beeswax, organic cotton, organic jojoba oil and tree resin, the food wrappers from Bee’s Wrap use the warmth of your hands to soften the wrap and create a seal. Once sealed, the reusable wraps hold their shape until you open them up. Wash with cool water and mild dish soap, then air-dry. Three-piece lunch pack set, $21, beeswrap.com.
Keep your cool
No one likes wilted lettuce on a warm egg salad sandwich.
PackIt lunch bags are designed with freezable gel inside waterproofed fabric walls to keep food chilled for hours. The bags fold up for storage in the freezer. PackIt freezable classic lunchbox, $19.99, packit.com.
Yogurt on the go
Have it your way: DIY yogurt parfaits.
This double-walled container with silicone seal, clip-on spoon and a separate section for storing granola, fruit and more by Joie is designed to fit lunch coolers and car cup holders. $6.99, containerstore.com.
Get out the funk
Reusable lunch sacks that pack a punch of personal style, not the odors of yesterday’s lunch? Yes, please!
Created with certified organic cotton and a food-safe, water-resistant liner, machine-washable Fluf lunch bags are designed to fight the funky, lingering odors often associated with lunchtime carryalls. Classic gray lunch bag, $22.50, us.fluf.ca.
A model of efficiency, this bento-inspired box design is the equivalent of carry-on luggage.
Microwave- and dishwasher-safe, the cleverly compact Box Appetit by Black + Blum features a vacuum release valve, optional inner dish, small container for dressing or dip, and a “fife,” i.e., a fork-knife combo. $24.95, blackblum.com
Some things don’t pack well in a bento.
The Lunch Pot by Black + Blum consists of two water-tight pots cleverly stacked with a spork and carrying strap. Designed from food-grade polypropylene mixed with the powder of crushed seashells, the pots have the feel of ceramic bowls — without added weight or fragility. Microwave and dishwasher safe. $24.95, blackblum.com
Bonnie McCarthy contributes to the Los Angeles Times as a home and lifestyle design writer. She enjoys scouting for directional trends and reporting on what’s new and next. Follow her on Twitter @ThsAmericanHome