The number one tip for choosing a lunch box

The number one tip for choosing a lunch box: have a Bex and a lie down.

Six weeks ago, if you had told me I would develop an obsession over children’s lunchboxes, I would have thrown my head back and laughed the laugh of a woman who thought ‘bento’ was what happened when you stubbed your little toe.

Well, times have changed, people. Times have changed. Now, it’s sad to say, I am obsessed with lunchboxes.


Because all the darn back-to-school social media and blog posts exploded and multiplied before my eyes; people were commenting in the thousands here, there and everywhere about the preferred type of lunchbox for their darlings.

Um, say what now? Were there options beyond a plastic rectangle or a brown paper bag? Turns out that yes, yes there are.

And that’s when it started for me; this slippery slope of school yard sandwich and snack containers. One lid or several? Aluminium or plastic? Divided sections (bento style) or multiple containers? Can it be opened easily by small hands? Will it last a term, let alone a year?

Perhaps the most concerning thing is my daughter isn’t even at school. You read that right. She’s at kindy; kindy that requires a lunchbox to stay in each child’s locker, because apparently fetching their own food helps prepare them for school life. (Probs just like how reading books about toddler tantrums ‘helped’ prepare me for scenes not unlike those from The Exorcist being played out by my then two-year-old at the supermarket. I swear I saw her head spin during The Great Freddo Frog Refusal Meltdown of 2013. *shudders*)

Oh, the pressure! What if I stuff it up? What if I get one with too many containers and she gets confused and cannot cope with all the lids at Little Lunch and Big Lunch and that gets her whole school life off to a rocky start and WHOOSH there goes her chance at attending Oxford? What if it’s too big and heavy and it falls on top of her and she can’t get up; rushed to Emergency with lunchbox injuries like one or several broken or bentos?! <– Sorry, couldn’t resist. Will it stay cold enough or will my precious girl have to deal with *gasp* slightly warm cheese? Nothing is worse than a slice of tepid Edam. (SIDE NOTE: The author can scoff an entire wheel of warm Brie, but that’s beside the point.)

Make it stop – I can’t handle it!

How to choose a school lunchbox my way

Then it came time for me to knuckle down and choose one. Not only did I spend a solid couple of hours online researching lunchboxes, but then I spent a further hour rocking in the foetal position below walls of the blasted things at various shops. That’s at least three hours of my life I won’t get back because of choosing a blimmin’ lunchbox.

CONFESSION: I even considered spending $80 on a fancy-schmancy lunchbox. EIGHTY DOLLARS! Wow, would I like a frontal lobotomy with that? Anyway, I decided against applying for a second mortgage to fund a lunch container unless it could throw out the manky remnants of crusts and crumbs and banana skins and wash itself. Instead, I bought myself a new pair of pants as a reward for making such a fiscally sensible decision. Because PRIORITIES.

Eventually, I pulled myself together and remembered my own school lunchbox. It was a green, slim, rectangular number and on most days held the riveting contents of a packet of sultanas, piece of standard fruit (apple/banana/mandarin), frozen popper that would melt by 8.30am, muesli bar, and a warm Vegemite and lettuce sanga wrapped so tightly in cling film I could have had a career in petty theft, such were my sandwich break and enter skills.

And can you believe it? I survived school with a basic lunchbox and lunch. With new resolve, I resisted the expensive options and settled on a $12 gem with included ice bricks from good old Target. Well done, I thought, rise above, old gal, and stick to one cheap lunchbox.

simple lunchbox

This is an example of a perfectly standard pink lunchbox.


Yeah, that resolve lasted one day and I welcomed another lunch box, ice pack, and lunch bag to my already-overflowing Tupperware drawer within 48 hours.

It’s a sickness. Send help. (Or lunchboxes). Please.

Have you caught it, too? What lunchbox did you choose and why?

About the Author
Ngaire Stirling
Owner and Founder of Brisbane Kids, Ngaire grew up in Brisbane and lives with her husband, 3 kids and too many animals. She has marketing and teaching qualifications focused on the early year of schooling. She loves long summer days, bright starry nights and working on Brisbane Kids.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Tell All Your Friends About This!

14 responses to “The number one tip for choosing a lunch box”

  1. Capp says:

    My only criteria is that it has to attach somehow to the backpack, I sometimes don’t even need to open the backpack, things inisde dont get dirty or juices flow into things. The pros is that I can easily hook or unhook and have an extra hand to hold the kid (s)

  2. Kat says:

    I have a thousand lunch boxes for my oldest darling! None were quite right, then there was that time Woolies had a nudie one for about $3 so I bought that on principal (cheap! Might save it for my youngest darling!) And now Nanna gave her a Tupperware one in a cooler bag for Christmas, so she’s using that. Given a whole bag of lunch boxes to the op shop and could still open a store. It truly is a debilitating illness

  3. Amy @ dietofplenty says:

    My son already has a black eye from his… Awesome lunchboxing there! We’ve struggled as kindy keeps everything in the fridge but are also rubbish free (encouraged not mandatory, which means you do it or die by the flames of parental judgement right?). So it has to fit everything including odd-shaped fruit and oversized bread, have closed compartments or space for little boxes of yoghurt and runny food, not let the sandwich go stale and still fit in the fridge. Oh, and no cooler bags thanks as they stop air circulation.

    We went through about 6 last year (mostly jumped on) and had periods of taking lunch on a woolies plastic bag until I had time to find a new one. I think I’m going to pack it in a pillowcase this year.

  4. Melissa says:

    I DID buy the $80 lunchbox. No frontal lobotomy necessary, thanks. 😛 One of my first memories of starting school is my lunchbox (much like the pink one) being stepped on and broken in the very first week. $80, sure, I couldn’t just run out to Big W the week before school and buy it, I had to plan and save for it, but it’s great. And theoretically not needing to buy a new lunchbox for the next 13 years – I’d call that pretty fiscally responsible. 😉

    • Kristyn says:

      I bought the $80 lunchbox too ×2 children plus postage from the US as they weren’t available in Australia at that time. We have been using them for over 3.5yrs now and still holds sufficient food for my boys. The eldest now in yr7. I was also very pleased with how fresh the food remains. My children had never lost a lunch box before that but I did talk with them about the investment when purchasing them. And yes I also saved towards buying them. For us they are great and I rave about them and recommend them however not everyone packs a lunch the same way.

    • Guest says:

      What is the $80 lunchbox??? I’m curious!

      • Kristyn says:

        Planetbox. Now available through Biome in Brisbane. I’m not sure if available through other Australian retailers. Different sizes are now available too.

    • Shellly says:

      Wait till they lose it! Then you will have another horrid memory 🙂

  5. Toni says:

    Decor lunchboxes rock! My kids have all had theirs since they each started prep and my eldest is now grade 5! If that’s not value for money I don’t know what is 🙂

  6. Gyfted says:

    My daughter has a new lunch box for starting school, having had one that could clip onto her backpack for Kindy. However, her prep class divides the lunch into three ‘meals’ for the first term (some kids are still learning apparently), so her brand new lunch box is suddenly needs to be 3 or some pull apart bento style thing. Back to labelled paper bags for me for a while it seems.

  7. Fifi says:

    I can’t stop laughing after reading this. My daughter’s new kindergarten flatly refuse to use the ‘tinkerbell’ insulated lunch box that she loves because…..REGULATIONS? They want individually packed containers for morning, lunch, afternoon tea. At the end of the day the empty mountain of lunch containers are piled up in a fridge and you need to hunt through the identical boxes for those labelled as yours. Joy. I have been obsessively looking online for distinctive plasticware that I can recognise and seize quickly. Eventually I gave up and told them she would have 1 lunchbox and that she is capable of working out what she wants to eat at each sitting. It’s the pink lunchbox at the bottom of your page. 🙂

  8. Niq says:

    My second lunchbox this term (that’s right – bought it on day two of prep after the Sistema Slimline proved itself absolutely useless) is a Nudie Food Mover set plus I bought the handy carry bag. I love this thing!

  9. Leanne Cugley says:

    I let the kids pick their lunchboxes this year and they chose multi compartment boxes with multi lids….all good ’til they had to wash them up themselves! I had my décor lunch box in the 80’s too and still it is going strong. My husband has been taking it to work for the last 17 years as well!

  10. Rowie says:

    Too funny! I just discovers these $80 lunch boxes yesterday and although I’ll say it up front they look flipping awesome, I just can’t do it (x2). We have been using little containers now for 5 yrs- I still have some of the originals. I’ve lost the ice packs but will get more.
    Who knew it was such a hot topic.
    Thanks for making me feel less? Crazy (maybe)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Keep Up To Date With Brisbane Kids!