Pack a lunchbox with style

Attention grandmas: If you are looking for a gift to give the grandchild that has everything, I have a suggestion. It’s a stainless steel bento box, called “The Rover,” sold online by PlanetBox.com.

These lunchboxes are chic, eco-friendly and will probably make your adult children praise your brilliance because they make lunch packing easier. I have been in love with PlanetBox ever since I bought two lunchboxes for my kids in September.

The Rover is an all-in-one lunch box that has five wells for food. The largest compartment fits a small sandwich, while the smallest section is ideal for sunflower seeds or chocolate chips. Seeing the five partitions all at once helps me pack healthier lunches because I know one of those slots should hold vegetables, another should contain fruit, and so on.

When the lunchboxes come home, my kids dump out the leftover food and put the boxes directly into the dishwasher. It’s a quick, two-step process that avoids drama.

Like most parents in the Pacific Northwest, I care about the environment. Plastic baggies are out. Reusable lunch containers are in.

Before I bought our stainless steel bento boxes, I relied on small plastic containers that were the right size for carrot sticks and sandwiches. Since I don’t put plastic in the dishwasher, these containers floated around from the sink, to the dishrack, to the cupboard, to school, and then back to soapy water, over and over again, in an endless cycle of drudgery.

Another issue was exploding yogurt. The insulated lunch bags got slimed on a regular basis and washing out the bags without trashing the insulation was tricky.

On average, every lunch I packed contained five items. Multiply that by two kids, and I was hunting down 10 containers each time I packed lunches. With lids, that meant searching for 20 pieces of plastic every single day. No wonder lunch packing was such a detestable chore, and purchasing prepackaged junk food was tempting.

Veggie, fruit, protein, starch, snack and done. I feel a huge sense of accomplishment every time I close the lid on another picture-perfect lunch.

What’s funny is that most of the lunches I pack now are no better than the lunches I used to pack in the little plastic containers; they just look prettier. There is something about seeing celery sticks in a bento box that makes them seem like a gourmet treat.

At $55.95, The Rover isn’t cheap, and once you add the accessories like the insulated lunch bag and thermos, the price climbs to $85.95, but I think the cost is worth it. My kids have taken very good care their PlanetBoxes so far, which tells me that they value the coolness factor.

My second-grader does have one complaint, though. She doesn’t like that the metal lunchbox is heavier than her old one. It makes trudging to school (uphill, both ways) more difficult. Sigh… I guess no lunchbox is perfect.

Jennifer Bardsley is an Edmonds mom of two, and author of the books “Genesis Girl,” and “Damaged Goods.” Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, Twitter @jennbardsley or at teachingmybabytoread.com.

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