Do You Really Need That PlanetBox? Four Alternative Bento-Style Lunch Boxes
Agonizing over what lunch box to buy is something only a mom of multiple children would know about. There are so many options out there at back to school time, all at varying price points and the most coveted of all would be the PlanetBox. If I were to do an informal poll of my Facebook friends, making lunches would probably be the most hated back to school chore there is. But, it seems when you have a Planet Box, moms seem to much more enjoy this tedious task. Next thing you know, you are drooling over photos of their very neatly made and cool Planet Box lunches and wishing your kids had one too. Hit up their site and watch the video of the kids making their own lunches and you'll be totally set!
Then, reality hits and you realize it would cost you about $200 to outfit your three kids with these gorgeous lunch kits and you remember you have to also buy nine new pairs of shoes plus three snow suits and Planet Box just doesn't look so good anymore.Truth be told, I did do an informal poll of my Facebook friends about what lunch kit is their favourite and the ones who had Planet Box were very enthusiastic about how much they loved them. They loved that they were not plastic (made from stainless steel), they were the perfect size for a school kid's lunch and had the most perfect spots for everything a kid would need for a healthly lunch. They also loved the very cute lunch bags that come with them and the fact that the kid can open it all up and eat it very easily (plus no little containers to lose!). The downside besides the price? When your kid loses their one and only Planet Box, and trust me, they lose them, you are out that $60+ in U.S. dollars. And, that's just for the tray itself and not the cute must-have magnets and the bag and the coolie packs and other accessories. Did I mention they also ship from the U.S. and shipping is $14 plus any duties?
What are the alternatives?
As I said, I agonized over this decision last year, so I spent quite a bit of time researching alternatives for my kid's lunches. My mother-in-law did ask me what was wrong with the paper bags that she used to make lunches with and while this could be a very frugal approach (the cost of a new paper bag each day could add up), it wasn't the direction I was going to take.
With the Planet Box, you've got your bag and your tray already decided for you because no other bag fits that thing! If you are buying them separately, then you've got much more work to do!
One Mom on my Facebook account told me her favourite alternative to the PlanetBox that was still in that bento style, but made from plastic are Goodbyns. While they might not be as fun or pretty or eco-friendly, they are much easier on the wallet. The most common all-in-one styles are the Bynto and the Hero. The best price I found on these was at Well.ca. If you got the Hero and an insulated bag, your total would come to $43.96 and you'd also get free shipping.
Go Green is another bento-style lunch box, also in plastic, but it is BPA and all other bad things free. I do see that you can buy a replacement lid, which doesn't give me much confidence in the quality, but it does come with the box, the insulated lunch bag and a stainless steel water bottle for less than $50. Fenigo is the place I found it the cheapest, for $47.97 plus shipping. If you are planning on spending $200 from this litter-less lunch store, you'll get free shipping. I do love the options for the exterior bag.
If you are that mom that needs the stainless steel, Lunchbots might be your PlanetBox alternative. They are bento-style, although not as well laid-out as the PB. The largest would be the Cinco, which has five sections. I did find a nice price at $29.56 on this one at Safety Superstore, it is out of stock until some time in August. This was also a heavy hitter in my Facebook poll, especially for the down with plastic moms. The trio is also a nice size and the best price I found for this one was at Amazon, where it sells for $27.99. The only downside is that you'll have to find a lunch bag to go with these.
Bentology (Laptop Lunches)
Formerly known as Laptop Lunches, Bentology is a bento-style box, but the containers that fit inside are all removable. Personally, this could be a godsend and a sin. Because the containers come out, there is a higher chance of loss. But, if they aren't lost they can be very handy for sending that little bit extra outside of the main lunch. They also allow your child to close the lid on the larger box to keep it fresh while eating what's inside the little box. These also look very easy to open for little fingers and may reduce spillage when there is two lids. I say may reduce because trust me, you'll have lots of days of wiping yogurt up that has spilled everywhere no matter what lunch kit you choose. The best price I found on these was from My Little Green Shop where they sell for $29.95, but using the coupon code AUG10, you get another 10% off. So for the box plus insulated bag, you'll pay $53.91. Buy two and you've got free shipping.
Bargainmoosers, what bento-style box is your favourite?
Photo credit: omgponies2