Buying a lunch box: it’s a hard choice

by Lana

After leaving Alden’s very plain and boring, yet irritatingly perfect-sized Joe Fresh lunchbox behind somewhere in Ottawa, I’ve been hunting for a replacement lunchbox. I figured that with Joe Fresh selling peacoats in July they would also have some back-to-school lunch boxes by August. Not so. (Or at least, not at the Baseline/Woodroffe Loblaws.) The other grocery stores options included a $15 super fugly cooler bag or girly Elle lunch sac. No no no. No.

I started searching around online for some stylish lunch boxes. And wow – there some kyuuuute lunch boxes out there. Ultimately, I let my wallet decide and chose the very cute owl Zoo Lunchie by Skip Hop ($16).

Packing lunch

The boy flipping adores it. He carried it around the house all evening, waved and yelled “bye bye.” He was ready to hit the road and leave mom and dad at home in the dust. It was a major toddler win. He clutched it in his stroller all the way to daycare today too. It would be the perfect lunchbox except… it’s about an inch and a half too small. Duh duh.

You see, I need to pack a main dish for lunch, drink and two snacks each day and it’s a pretty tight squeeze once you add in a drink container and a main dish container.

Packing lunch - Zoo Lunchie interior

Maybe I’m meant to have a separate thermos for the drink or perhaps use baggies instead of containers. I’m not sure. All I know is that that it’s just slightly too small for my toddler’s daily food rations. Sigh. Boys. At this point, I’m not sure what to do. Order another lunch bag or keep trying to cram everything into Mr. Owl.

Here is a list of the lunch boxes that I had on my shortlist:

  • Beatrix Lunch Box (available at Raspberry Kids): $37. Yes, $37 for a lunch box. Outstandingly cute. Expensive.
  • Goodbyn (available from many different online shops in Canada) : $35. I like this a lot, but I needed something that could accomodate small containers.
  • BuiltNY Munchler $14 – Major cute points, but decidedly petite. I could see using this for short outings. And I ADORE the built-in placemat.
  • Lunch Boxes for Kids – Cute, understated and great for my lunch. But linen + toddler = nightmare. Also, it looks small.
  • Neoprene lunch bag $36 – I still love this one. I regret not buying it. I think the size is probably perfect for my needs. Washable and non toxic. Darn. Next stop: Regret City.

Lana is a knitter, veggie gardener, wife and toddler wrangler.  She can be found blogging about cooking, baking, gardening and more on her blog, Apron Strings.



Filed under Parenting tips

9 responses to “Buying a lunch box: it’s a hard choice

  1. Jolene Smith

    I bought a munchler at posh kids in Orleans and my daughter just loves it!!! Surprisignly it fits a ss drink container a foogoo food container and 2 snacks. It surprised even me how much it fit!

  2. Ooh, that’s good to know about the Munchler. The photo online made it look so small!

  3. I bought a pink Laptop Lunchbox for my 4yo and she loves it. Easy to open and fun to eat from the little containers. Her friends are envious.

    I love it because I don’t have to go searching for containers and everything fits. Putting together her lunch is like doing a puzzle. I also bought the insulated sleeve and cold pak. I’m planning a trip to Chinatown to search out more bento accoutrements.

    I bought mine online at but Boomerang Kids sells them too. And check out all the lunch ideas at!

  4. Alison – the Global housewares on Somerset/Arthur has lots of cute girly bento boxes.

  5. Lara Theoret

    FYI We had a BuiltNY Munchler and while the size was fine for half-day kindergarten, it broke down pretty quick – maybe half the school year or a little more. And the zipper is a little stiff for 4 year olds so I’d bet it never gets unzipped to placemat size!

  6. I’m getting the Beatrix – BPA free, no phalates etc. plus I have the little back pack that I got as a review and even after many many trips (park, beach, etc) it looks brand new. So I figure the investment is a good one!

  7. It is ridiculous how much time and energy I have put into looking for the “right” lunchbox. But the one I bought last year was awful, so I want the perfect one b/c I have one son in grade one, and the other in SK. I just haven’t found any big enough for the drink container and all the food containers. I also want one for myself (it needs to be huge, I take lots of food!!) b/c I’m a teacher. Yup, school is Tuesday and I have bought none of them yet!!!

    I’ll have to see how big the Beatrix is . . .

  8. This one looks good too, it’s for Balanced Day lunches . . .

  9. I too have spent an inordinate amount of time looking for the right lunch bag/box! (Kind of annoying, really.)

    I looked at the monkey version of the owl one you bought and found that it didn’t fit everything in either (drink or thermos). I ended up getting a Crocodile Creek number (Westboro Boomerang). Safe materials, slightly bigger. Not too bad in price. For the bits and pieces to fit in, I picked up a combo pack of BPA-free containers from Belly Laughs in Kanata.

    Now I just need to figure out what to get for myself! 😉

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