Everything You Need to Know About Lunch Containers

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A lot of you have asked me about good storage solutions for lunch because containers are tough to store, tough to clean, and there are so many options. Keeping in mind portability and storage, I’ve parsed through everything and picked out the very best lunch solutions just for you! And of course, in keeping with Clean My Space tradition, I will also tell you how to clean them!

WATCH: Everything You Need to Know About Lunch Containers

The old way of taking your lunch to school was wrangling a bunch of containers into a bag and somehow trying to make it look normal. The new way is to find these cool all-in-one lunch storage solutions. We’ve got a bento box, we’ve got a salad container, and we’ve got a collapsible double-decker container. When I was shopping for these containers, it seriously made me wish I had these when I was growing up.

Sistema Bento Box

Bento-Style

Sistema has a cool bento-style container for food that comes with dips and dressing. They have movable dividers so that you can easily customize the box to fit whatever it is that you’re putting inside.

WATCH: Everything You Need to Know About Lunch Containers

Salad Container

I don’t know about you, but when I bring a salad with me to work I usually dump everything into one container, and it ends up all soggy and gross.  Or, I will use like a million different containers, each carrying a different ingredient, and whip up the salad at work. Then I have to schlep home with my millions of empty containers.  This Sistema salad container is a real all-in-one solution. It even comes with a little dressing container and a fork and a knife. 

Collapsible Container

Collapsable

This double-decker container by Smart Planet is made of silicone. The bottom half is collapsible, which makes it super easy to store, and I love silicone because it doesn’t hold on to flavors or odors.  It’s also super easy to clean. This one also comes with a little dip container and a spork.

WATCH: Everything You Need to Know About Lunch Containers

Lunch Bags

I remember I used to have this hideous red plastic lunchbox as a kid. It was so ugly. Mom, why did you do that to me??? Today, kids are so fortunate because the lunch bag options are endless, and they’re super smart.

This lunch bag by Bentology fits perfectly a bento-style container and thermos.  It can accommodate any of the all-in-one lunch solutions, as well as an ice-pack. It is fully insulated and comes with a bottle holder, bento-box, 5 lunch containers, and an ice pack. 

Munchkin Snack Catcher

Snack Containers

There are a lot of neat options that you can pick up to help accommodate the various snack requirements of your kids. The Sistema Klip It Collection Breakfast Bowl To Go is designed for breakfast. So, if your kids love yogurt and fruit, and you want to separate them so they can make a parfait, this container is designed for that.

The Munchkin Snack Catcher is great for small hands that want to dip in and grab a snack. Even if it’s tipped upside down, the snacks won’t fall out. Just imagine all of the goldfish lives you will be saving by using one of these!

Cutlery Set

Portable Cutlery

How about a portable cutlery set? Honestly, for kids and adults alike, this thing rocks.  I used to bring metal forks and knives to work with me, and they were heavy, they would clink, and the knife would sometimes cut the bag. It was all kinds of drama! This is great because it comes with a fork, a knife, a spoon, and chopsticks. 

WATCH: Everything You Need to Know About Lunch Containers

Kids Thermos Water Bottle

Beverage Bottles

With the advent of litter-less lunches, drinking containers have not been left in the dust.  Drink in the Box is a portable, reusable juice box. Juice boxes are so expensive in comparison to pouring juice into a reusable juice box, so it’s a huge money-saving item. Plus, this one is dishwasher-safe. Kinda genius.

For keeping kids’ drinks cold all day long, the Thermos Funtainer is perfect. They come in a child-size 12-ounce stainless steel, vacuum-insulated container, with a straw. The best part, it will keep liquids cold for up to 12 hours. As a bonus, they come in a whole variety of colors and cartoon designs.

Container Lid Storage

Storing Your Containers

When it comes to storing containers, there are a few different ways that you can do it.  Personally, I like to store my containers with the base on the bottom, and the lid sealed on top (making sure both are dry first), stacked on top of each other. It’s easy for me to pull out the container exactly as I need it, without having to fish around for all the components.  

However, if you like keeping containers separate from the lids, using a plate rack is a handy way to do it. Another great option is this expandable food container lid organizer, which can also be used for dishes and pans. Store your lids from biggest to smallest so they’re easy to find.

The thing about containers is, how do you know when you have too many? When you open your container cupboard or drawer and things fall out, or are hard to find, then I think it might be time to slim down the collection. You probably don’t need those flimsy lightweight containers, you know what brand I’m talking about, and if you have any stained, scratched, or smelly old containers, you can probably ditch those too. 

Only keep the ones that you need and use regularly, and of course, make room for those smart storage solutions that we just reviewed. If you make over your container cupboard and it looks all neat and tidy but three days later it’s a disaster again, you really ought to follow my advice and slim the collection.

WATCH: Everything You Need to Know About Lunch Containers

Hand washing a container lid

Cleaning Lunch Containers

Let’s talk about how to clean all these different containers. They’re actually quite easy to clean and, of course, if you clean them every day after lunch you really only need one. I could feel the eye rolls on that one. It is a genius idea though because it makes storage way easier and it cuts down on waste in the long run (when you eventually toss the old crusty container in the trash).  To clean, just pop them in the top rack of the dishwasher. If you put them on the bottom, they might melt. You can also use warm soapy water if you plan to hand wash the containers–which you will need to do for the thermos. 

If there’s anything hardened on, or a stain, add a little bit of baking soda to the mix and scrub with a cleaning toothbrush or bottle brush.  A toothbrush is also great to get into hinges, rims, and corners.

Lunch bags definitely need proper cleaning, more frequently than you’re willing to consider. That being said we do have a video on how to clean them. Remember to check the care label because some of these materials are not machine washable or need to be treated in a certain way. Lunch bags tend to get smelly and can even grow mold and mildew if not taken care of.

READ: How to Clean Plastic Containers

What was your favorite thing to eat for lunch, when you were growing up? I have to say, when I got a fruit by the foot in my lunch bag, nothing else mattered. That was a good day. Let me know your favorite lunch item in the comments down below.

I hope this has helped you make really good decisions about how to pack your kids’ lunches this year. And, hey, if you don’t have kids maybe you can up your own lunch game.

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.

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