Back to school is here, mamas, and you know what that means… nine straight months of packing lunches! With four kids in my house, I can attest that nothing about the school year stresses me out more than lunch.
I have to constantly come up with healthy meals that my kids will actually eat and I never have the right food containers. Believe me, I've attempted to have the right gear—like that time I bought four bento boxes and after one cycle in the dishwasher, none of them would close. Or that time I bought four sets of lunch boxes at the grocery store and all the lids had cracked after a few uses.
Plus the waste plagues me. My family's landfill contribution annually is something I'm actively trying to chip away at, which is why investing in waste-free mealtime solutions is a priority.
So, say it with me, mamas: New school year, new lunch situation! I set out to find the safest, most durable reusable food containers that will satisfy all the demands of even your pickiest eater. Got a kid that prefers fresh veggies? PlanetBox's stainless bento boxes are the way to go. Your kid demands a hot, homemade lunch daily? Hydro Flask's food flasks are your solution. Can't stand the idea of sending one more snack to school in a plastic bag? Well, Stasher's reusable silicone bags about to blow your mind.
Comprised of stainless steel, silicone and in some cases BPA-free plastic, these food container solutions are all non-toxic and they're going to set you on the path to healthy school lunches all year long
Why we love it: Is it possible for a food container brand to be lovely? Because, um, that's the exact sentiment when using Ecolunchbox's wares. Plastic-free and leak-free, the brand's Blue Water Bento line of nesting cups and modular boxes are the perfect lunch solution for kids who want options—and genius design means that all of the products can either nest into themselves or stack for easy storage. Our favorite offering is the Seal Cup Trio (pictured above) comprising a small, medium and large round container that is perfect for everything from berries to pasta to pita chips. All parts are dishwasher and oven-safe to boot!
Why we love it: If the amount of single-use plastic bags your family churns through is something you simply can't abide by anymore, Stasher is your answer. Perfect for the many snacks kiddos need throughout the school day, Stasher bags are 100% silicone, non-toxic, hypoallergenic and—get this—can go in the dishwasher, microwave, fridge, freezer, stovetop (sous vide!) and in the oven. Seriously. And the amount of things you can put in the five different bag sizes—snacks! sandwiches! school supplies! makeup!—is literally endless. You're going to want to have a drawer full of these, and we don't blame you one bit.
More to know: A certified B Corp., Stasher is part of the 1% for the Planet organization, donating 1% of its proceeds to non-profits protecting the ocean. Doesn't that feel good?
Why we love it: Deeply committed to reducing the amount of trash we product, U Konserve has a complete selection on of food storage solutions to help you this school year. Our favorites are the stainless steel "divided" containers that come in a range of sizes with removable dividers and leak-free lids and the round nesting trio. While these products' lids and dividers are plastic, they are free of BPA, phthalates and lead. Bright primary colors make these containers cute as can be, and the roomy sizes mean that you'll probably be borrowing them to store dinner leftovers every now and again, too.
More to know: Also a certified B Corp., U Konserve donates 20% of its profits back to schools that promote waste-free lunch packing, and is also part of 1% for the Planet.
Pottery Barn Kids
Why we love it: It's hard to talk about kids' lunch solutions without mentioning Pottery Barn Kids. A leader for all things back to school—backpacks and water bottles and pencil cases, oh my!—all swathed in adorable prints and patterns, the company clearly knows how to satisfy the needs of moms and kids alike. And when it comes to food containers, we love the myriad of options within the Spencer line. Available in a dozen sizes and configurations—from a bento with four compartments great for Mediterranean snacking to a sandwich-size—the collection comprises stainless steel bottoms with translucent plastic lids that are free of BPA, phthalates and lead. Looking for a one stop shop? PBK is your answer, as all of the Spencer components fit neatly in the brand's litany of lunchbox options.
More to know: The containers are dishwasher safe.
Why we love it: There are bento boxes and then there is PlanetBox. This brand legit launched a thousand Pinterest pages—you know the ones, where moms post photos of the healthy, adorable meals tidily arranged in cutesy compartment? Yep, those shiny, stainless steel lunchboxes you're eyeing are likely from PlanetBox.
Offering three options, we tested them all and here's the rundown: The Shuttle is the smallest option and is perfect for pre-schoolers, with two compartments and one tall silicone-capped "dipper" that is ideal for containing condiments, yogurts, juicy fruits and more. Next up is the Rover, which is full of compartments of varying size and shape and contains one small and one big dipper. Lastly, there's the Launch, which is the same size as Rover but has three bigger compartments and one small dipper—perfect for your traditional kid who loves nothing more than a PB&J, a fruit and a dessert. The best part? You can throw 'em in the dishwasher nightly. (Oh, and the lids are attached… so your kids will never lose them!)
More to know: Pair your lunchboxes with PlanetBox's super cute coordinating Carry Bags that are made from 100% recycled polyester—and add the stainless steel and silicone water bottle, which fits perfectly into the bags' front pocket.
Why we love it: We've long been obsessed with Hydro Flask's water bottles for adults and kids (seriously, if you haven't checked these out, you want to!), so it's no surprise we're equally enamored with the brand's Food Flasks. Available in 12 and 18 ounces, the flasks keep foods piping hot or freezing cold. You read that right—you can now send your sweet-pea to school with ice cream as dessert. Comprised of pro-grade steel on the inside, powder coat on the outside and an insulated plastic lid that is free of BPA and Phthalates, the food flask is about to be your kiddo's new favorite way to eat lunch.
More to know: The flasks come with a lifetime warranty.
Why we love it: Bee's Wrap is the sustainable, natural alternative to the Saran Wrap that you're perpetually running out of. Use it to wrap everything from fruit to sandwiches or cover last night's leftovers in a bowl. Made of GOTS-certified organic cotton treated with beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin, the malleable wraps are reusable for up to a year—simply hand wash and air dry! With more than 1,200 positive reviews on Amazon, Bee's Wraps come in four bee-themed patterns will make you and your kiddo's eyes light up.
More to know: A certified B Corp., Bee's Wrap is based in Vermont where the wraps are made by hand.
Why we love it: Listen, we were really hoping to avoid 100% plastic items on this list… but with more than 6,000 positive reviews on Amazon, the Bentgo Kids Lunch Boxes simply had to be included in our roundup. And that's not including the multiple Motherly staffers who swear by these puppies! Available in three primary colors (green, purple and blue), the box's big latches are easy for little hands to open and include five sensibly-sized compartments that kiddos—especially younger ones—will enjoy grazing over. They're leak-proof, dishwasher and microwave-safe and feature rubberized edges that make it the most durable on this list.
More to know: The boxes are free of BPA, Vinyl, Lead, and PVC and are recommended for ages 3 to 7.
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