I can’t believe we’re already half way through 2015 and saying goodbye to another school year. Taylor will be entering 5th grade in the fall, Syd will be a 3rd grader, and Hayden will start preschool 2 mornings a week, meaning I’ll have a 3rd lunch to pack each morning. While the year had its fair share of ups and downs, dealing with a bit of baseball and 4th grade girl drama, for the most part it was a terrific school year. The kids loved their teachers, and we saw Taylor rise to the challenge of a heavily increased workload, with me seeming to complain about it more than anyone. Syd made a couple of really good friends who live close by and he started spreading his wings a bit with the increased independence that comes with biking on your own to your buddies house.

IMG_4440A constant throughout the school year were our daily school lunch posts, most often packed in the Planetbox. I started getting so many questions about the Planetbox, that I wrote a post answering all of your most frequently asked questions. After using these boxes for a complete school year, I wanted to answer the most basic question of all, and that is if the expense is really worth it, to which I answer with an unequivocal yes.

Quality

The Planetbox is made of stainless steel, and while the boxes at first seem a bit heavy, the kids quickly got used to them and didn’t even notice the extra weight. What I’m most impressed with is that these boxes look almost brand new still, even after a year of constant use and almost daily running through the dishwasher. The magnets stayed in tact and haven’t peeled at all, and the boxes don’t have even the slightest dent.

IMG_4439The lunchpail that goes with the Planetbox held up pretty well. Syd carries his in his backpack so it stayed a bit nicer than Taylor’s, who carries hers outside of her pack because it’s so stuffed with books (aww, the life of a 4th grader). I washed Syd’s once throughout the school year, and Taylor’s got a washing about every 2-3 months. To wash, I put in a pillowcase and set it on the delicate cycle, then let it air dry. They held up beautifully in the wash.

IMG_4441The only Planetbox item that got a bit sad by the end of the school year were the ice packs. Not sure if you can tell here in the photo, but some of the pockets of water sprung leaks so obviously no longer ice up. They still did their job in the cooler temps, but because we go back to school August 5th, when it’s just heating up here in SoCal, I’m definitely going to need to replace these to have any chance of keeping their lunches cool.

Efficiency

I know some people see these “pretty” lunches and think they make life more complicated and add unnecessary stress to the day, but I really felt the opposite when using them. I knew each day what I had to work with and just a few weeks in, developed such a routine that having all those compartments to fill became a really easy task and took the guesswork out of what to pack each day. And I have to stress here that using bento style boxes like this aren’t about making beautiful works of art and laboring over kid’s lunches for an hour each day. It’s about appropriate portion sizing and adding variety to their meals. Most days I repeated meals over and over, but as long as I had some veggie, some fruit, a carb and protein and a little treat, everyone was happy.

IMG_4438Less Waste

The premise with using bento style boxes is that there’s less disposable waste as opposed to using individual packaging and ziploc baggies and such. Yes, you’ll definitely see less waste when you use these, and coincidentally will save a buck or two buying fewer Ziploc bags. But an unexpected advantage to packing this style of school lunches, is that there was less food waste too.

The portions are great for school age kids, so I very rarely over packed their lunches with food they couldn’t eat or have time to eat (the eating portion of lunch recess is a measly 20 minutes at our school). Of course some days they came home with uneaten food, but for the most part almost everything got eaten on a daily basis.

The compartments also help to keep the food separated and looking nice, making it easier and more appealing for the kids to eat. Some kids have dexterity issues with opening up a bunch of different packages, leading to wasted time. Some kids hate for their foods to touch, and so these separate compartments help in those situations.

With the way these things are holding up, we’ll easily be using these for the remainder of elementary school, and Hayden will probably be able to adopt Syd’s Planetbox when he goes off to middle school. Who knows, he may even still want to use it then.

The cost is a tough pill to swallow, but if you can swing it, you’ll definitely be happy with yours, especially if you have younger kiddos who can get a lot of use out of them throughout the years. Let me know if you have any questions I didn’t answer here!

  • Thanks for the review — I have been considering buying one this year for Alexa because I’ve gone through so many tupperware containers this year, and I’m not sure about plastic anymore because of BPA/BPC/WTF/I can’t keep up with the latest chemical scares nowadays.

  • Emily

    Hi Andrea! Wondering your thoughts on what is best for a kindergartener. Our oldest will be starting school in the fall, and I’ve seen you use the yumbox panino also. Curious what your advice is on that topic? Thanks!