7 questions to ask yourself to help you choose the best metal lunch box for your needs
- Is it big enough for all the food I want to put in it?
- Is it leakproof?
- Is my child going to be able to get the lid on and off?
- Are there any bento compartments in it?
- Can I fit a sandwich in it?
- Will it fit inside the lunch bag I already have?
- What kind of metal is it?
ONE - Is your metal lunch box big enough for all the food you want to put in?
Regardless of what kind of lunch box you shop for in our store, the dimensions for everything are listed on the product pages. The biggest issue we'd found with metal lunch box options is the height. The very first metal lunch box we ever stocked was from Lunchbots, and they're still in the store now. Their restriction is their height. At just 4cm tall for their larger capacity 960ml box, there's not a whole lot of fruit you can fit inside that box, and that was always the biggest question we were asked. Lunchbots did create a double height box with a removable bento divider, but it came and went without much fanfare (sadly).
As well as the height, the volume of food you want to put in should also play a factor. We have choices ranging from 450ml in capacity right through to 3.3 litres so it's best to work out just how much (or how little) food you're going to put in one and make your choice from there.
TWO - Is your metal lunch box leakproof?
Many have tried, and failed. We're pleased to say not all though. Getting a silicone seal to sit in place inside a stainless steel lid but still easily removable for cleaning is not as easy as it is with a plastic food container. Most stainless steel lunch boxes are not leakproof. For those that aren't, ask yourself what's going to leak inside it and see if you can put it inside a smaller snack pot that will fit inside.
From Avanti - the Dry Cell stainless steel containers are not primarily designed or marketed as a lunch box, but they are the same shape, materials, they are leakproof and come in the most versatile set of sizes and heights in our whole metal lunch box category. Dry Cell starts at 420ml, around the size of the smallest Lunchbots, and goes through to 3.3 litres in capacity, which is overkill for most people for a lunch box, but not everyone. At a whopping 11cm in height, the 3.3 litre is the largest available in all dimensions.
From Lunchbots - you need to step in to the thermals or the round stainless steel salad bowls. They are available in a 750ml, 1 litre and 1.5 litre capacity and are perfect for a salad or anything that's going to potentially leak.
Both of these options are single wall stainless steel, so they have no insulation capacity. If you want to store hot food in them, a hot pack in an insulated lunch bag will give you some assistance, but not for any extended period of time.
THREE - Is your child going to be able to get the lid on and off?
This is a question we get asked frequently, and not an easy one to answer. The boxes with the 'biscuit tin style lids' which are Lunchbots and the single layer bentos from Ever Eco can be a little tricky for some small hands. Even the dual layer boxes with the clips can be a little tricky when hands are tiny. While metal lunch boxes are definitely the eco choice, tiny hands can have an issue with them if there's no-one to help them take the lid off at lunch time. Our returns policy does allow you to return them for a change of mind purchase as long as all the labelling is in place and they're not scratch or damaged in any way while you're testing it at home.
FOUR - Does your metal lunch box have bento compartments?
The vast majority of metal lunch boxes in our store are actually a bento lunch box with compartments, but not all of them. For some, the bento compartments are actually a double or triple layer container instead of compartments on one flat level. Ask yourself if you want or need bento compartments as most bento boxes made from metal on the market these days have the dividers fixed, so they can't be removed for a change of configuration. They are welded in to place.
FIVE - Can I fit a sandwich inside my metal lunch box?
Sandwiches are square. Almost all the stainless steel lunch boxes on the market these days are rectangular. So can you fit a sandwich in yours? If you want to be able to fit one in, please measure your bread and check before you buy. In many instances, you will need to cut the sandwich in half and stack on top of each other, or in the case of the Lunchbots with up to 5 compartments, they can be cut in to quarters to fit in to some containers. Most people don't buy a bento for sandwiches, but it's nice to know you can once in a while and have it actually fit for you.
SIX - Will my metal lunch box fit inside the lunch bag I already have?
Most lunch boxes will get placed inside an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack. If you already have a perfectly good lunch bag, then you'll want to find a box that fits inside it. If you're buying both, here's our handy tips for checking the sizing and whether your lunch box can remain upright during transport.
SEVEN - What kind of metal is my lunch box made from?
You will want 304 grade stainless steel, which is the most common and versatile stainless steel for lunch boxes and water bottles too. Your sink is most likely made out of it as well as cutlery, saucepans and even your stainless steel pegs.