**Review update: Can summer slow down already? How is it even August? With “Back to School” back again I noticed this post was getting a lot of new traffic and I wanted to give an update. Last school year my son was in 2nd grade, and we used the LunchBots system for the whole year. Just to clarify, I used the PlanetBox Rover during his 1st grade year, and gained a ton of knowledge about both systems during my first two years packing school lunches! This coming school year I will be packing for my now 3rd grade son, as well as occasionally packing for my pre-school aged son who is starting pre-school in September. My family will also be welcoming a new baby boy so packing lunches will likely be done the night before, and I will definitely be looking for time saving tips! Both companies have made a few changes over the past year that I should note:
- LunchBots added a line of colorful Dots covers that fit over the lids. I believe this change was made due to color chipping complaints, as well as the logo wearing off the top of the lid. I do not own any of the Dots covers but they are SUPER CUTE and I must get my hands on one this year!
- LunchBots also added a line of smaller, snack-sized containers called Pico, as well as two new “clicks” containers that are round.
- PlanetBox changed their website completely and it is so much more fabulous then it was before. Bravo PlanetBox!
- PlanetBox updated their bags, some appear to have prints.
- PlanetBox also now offers a more “one-stop-shop” by offering their new “Bottle Rocket” water bottle with their kits. I really love that they made this update because the kits are pricey and the more you get for the price, the better! I would be interested to see if the new Bottle Rocket solves the water bottle issue I discuss below (water bottles not fitting into front pouch, slipping out of bag, getting lost continuously!) If anyone has an update on this, please share in the comments!
**Review Update 2016: We are still going strong with our Lunchbots! Started packing lunches again this week and saw this post was trending as it does at the start of every school year. This year is a very different start to the school year for us as we are moving into a new home shortly and things are a little chaotic! However I have noticed LunchBots has added a few new items including a deeper box and newly styled lunchbox. I did happen to get my hands on a dots lid this year and it is fabulous! We also added a few more of the rounds to our LunchBots collection as I provide snacks in them to my two younger boys. I noticed they did away with the plastic on the lid of the rounds, and that is awesome! All in all we still love our whole collection and our pieces are in great shape!
While browsing at Target today I noticed the dreaded “Back to School” section has sprung up out of nowhere, ready to remind me that there are only a few short weeks of summer left. Am I the only one who is super depressed about this? Not only will I have to face the fact that my son is no longer a little 1st grader, I will also have to face the “Back to School” schedule. I wouldn’t mind it so much if pick-up time wasn’t smack dab in the middle of naptime, but that’s a totally different story!
Last year was my first year packing lunches and I have to admit it was a learning experience! The first thing I realized was that Ziplock baggies and little containers weren’t going to cut it. I can’t explain how disgusting my son’s lunchbox would be when it came home. Every night I would reluctantly unzip the lunchbox and find a slimy mess of half eaten food and wet baggies waiting for me. Thoughts of dirty little hands would run through my mind as I touched the slime inside the lunchbox. One long weekend I forgot about the box of horrors in my son’s backpack and I had a nice moldy mess waiting for me on Monday morning. What a blessing in disguise that moldy mess was, because it prompted me to search for a better solution to lunch packing.
I had seen the Planetbox all over social media and knew I wanted to go the stainless steel route because I’m not 100% on board with plastics. Too many studies are now showing even BPA free plastics are laden with chemicals that can leach into food even if it isn’t hot. After I purchased the Planetbox I’ll admit, I became a lunchbox junkie! I found the LunchBots line and loved the look so I purchased a few of their boxes to switch things up once in a while. After using the Planetbox and LunchBots lunchboxes, I realized packing lunches doesn’t have to be complicated! Here are the changes that occurred when I started packing with these lunchboxes:
- No more slime- My son would come home with just one thing for me to clean up that wasn’t covered in goo and other unknowns. Cleanup was a breeze, even if the lunchbox was forgotten about over the weekend. I didn’t have to dig around the box to pick up all the pieces that were left. It was simply one piece that I could easily wash up for the next day.
- My lunches got healthier- Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t packing highly processed junk food to begin with but with the food spread out nicely in front of me it was easier to see where I needed to add nutrition. I also got more creative and started packing hot lunches with a thermos. This was an awesome way to switch things up and not fall into a boring lunchbox routine.
- My son started eating more of his lunch- With all of his food right in front of him he could dig right in. He is a talker and I knew a lot of his time was wasted during lunch talking. I also knew having to open a bunch of containers and baggies wouldn’t distract him. I know that sounds silly but my son is easily distracted and their lunch time is short.
- No more plastics- When I started using the Planetbox and LunchBots lunchboxes I was also inspired to get rid of the plastic water bottles and utensils my son was using for lunch as well. I can now pack his lunch knowing there are no harmful chemicals that are leaching into his food and potentially hurting his growing body.
- It made the teacher’s job easier- I’m not actually there during my son’s lunch but I’ve heard from him that teachers on duty essentially spend their time opening things for the kids. There is one exception to this with the Planetbox, and I will get there later, but these lunchboxes eliminate frustrating packaging.
- No more throwing away baggies- If everyone cut those stupid plastic baggies from their routine think of how much landfill space we could save. It honestly feels really good to know that I’m sending my son to school with a lunch that contains no waste. No baggies, no single serve packets, no single serve containers. Just one box that I reuse everyday that creates zero waste.
- Speaking of single serve packets… Seriously, who hasn’t been begged by their child to purchase those lousy, expensive, and totally not worth your money single serve packets!?!? Can I just say I hate those things? Not only are they expensive, all you really are paying for is packaging. You get lots of packaging and a little product. But for some reason, there is a market for them. Not to mention 99% of those packets are filled with nothing but junk. These lunchbox systems eliminate the idea in your child’s mind that they NEED to have the single serve packets, and if they ask, you have a really reasonable reason why you don’t need them!
Let’s take a look at the price comparison of these systems, then I will get to more Pro’s and Con’s….
LunchBots Pricing: (I am pricing all of the additional accessories that I recommend as well)
The LunchBots pricing differs from the Planetbox as it is more of a whole system of containers rather then just one box. This means you have to buy more pieces according to what you would like to take for lunch. By all means, you could just purchase one box if that was all you were looking for. That’s the nice thing, one standard size box is only $20.99. Being the lunchbox junkie that I am, I have a few different pieces because I like being able to send a variety of foods for my son. Hot lunches are something we do a lot of, and this system is PERFECT for sending a mix of hot foods and cold foods together. Here are the pieces that I will be using this year and the pricing:
Stainless Steel Trio: $20.99
Lime Green Quad: $21.99
8 oz. Rounds: $20.99
Bento Cinco: $29.99 (larger then the other boxes)
Now, let me just point out the fact that my need for this many containers is justified by being a food blogger. The average person who doesn’t take pictures of food and post them on a blog would probably not need as many pieces as I have.
I mentioned this before, and this is the reason I prefer LunchBots over Planetbox… it is really versatile and customizable. You can send literally anything in this system without hassle. I send a lot of hot lunches and leftovers, and LunchBots makes it easy because the boxes are the perfect size to compliment a hot lunch. If I am only sending cold food I use the quad or the bento cinco, which is a larger sized box. Leftovers are really easy to heat up and throw in the Thermos, as well as freezer soups and sauces that you can make ahead of time and pull out a day or two before you need them. When you are packing a lunch everyday sending a sandwich and fruits or veggies gets old really quick. To get out of the “sandwich slump” this is a great system!
Along with the other Pro’s mentioned above, I also love the color options of the lids, and love the size of the 8 oz. rounds. I think the individual pieces are priced reasonably and if you aren’t a lunchbox junkie, they are pretty affordable. The boxes are also just as durable as the Planetbox, and my son has abused his boxes expensively without any damage. Just like with the Planetbox, these pieces will last a lifetime if you want them to. You will not need to purchase another lunchbox for the rest of the time your child is in school! Not only that, you will not have to purchase baggies or single serve containers, which all add up over time.
The LunchBots system doesn’t have an icepack specifically designed to go overtop of the boxes. However, they do offer an insulated carrying bag that can fit one or two boxes along with utensils and a drink container. To be brutally honey, I don’t love the look of the bag they offer, but their boxes are sized to fit into many many other lunch carrying boxes. Here is a look at their bag to make your own decision about it!
The only other con I have as far as the Lunchbots system, is that watery food can transfer between sections. There is a really simple fix to this, and that is to use little silicon cups under anything that is wet (watermelon, pineapple). I also use the rounds for wet foods like these to prevent anything else in the box from getting damp.
PlanetBox Pricing: (I am pricing all of the additional accessories that I recommend as well)
The complete Planetbox Rover Set comes in at a heafty $59.99. There are two other Planetbox options that run about the same price, give or take. I would recommend getting the complete set because it comes with a carrying case specifically designed for the Planetbox, which isn’t shaped like any other lunchbox I have seen. I can’t imagine matching up the Rover’s size to any other case so your best bet is to get the set. The set also comes with a magnet set. I’m sorry this video is painfully awful, but it shows you everything you really need to know about the system.
Cold Kit ($7.99): Again, this cold kit is an essential part of this system in my opinion. The icepack slips right into a mesh flap on the lid of the carrying case and lays against the whole top of the Planetbox. It is designed perfectly for the box, and I would highly recommend it!
Utensils ($6.95): These aren’t quite as essential but they are an add on that we used and my son liked taking his own utensils.
The total expense for the whole system with the add ons is going to be $74.95. Unfortunately, after you spend all of the money for the box, Planetbox doesn’t offer free shipping so shipping will cost you an additional $10. That brings your total for the Planetbox system to $84.95.
Ok, I’ve discussed some changes that occurred after using this system and to sum those up I mentioned the messy cleanup after school was reduced, my lunches got healthier, my son was eating more, the teachers weren’t spending time fiddling with his stuff, we weren’t wasting baggies, and there was no reason to purchase single serve packets anymore. In addition to all of these things I’d like to add that although the cost is super high for a lunchbox, this is going to be the last time you purchase another lunchbox! This thing is about as durable as it gets. My son abused his Planetbox heavily and it still looked brand new at the end of the year. Also, all of the compartments are separate so watery foods will not leak into other sections.
My BIGGEST issue with this system is the compartments on the front. One of them is a closed compartment and the other is a stretchy compartment that a water bottle would go in. This is a problem because the water bottle compartment doesn’t have a drawstring or anything on it to keep your drink bottle from sliding out, and let me tell you… we went through about 4 water bottles until I finally started giving him his drink in a reusable food pouch (Squooshi). The Squooshi was the only sure fire way that he would come home with his drink still in his lunchbox. We had various water bottles, of various sizes, and somehow, someway they would slip out and never return home. I can’t say this would be true for all Planetbox users but it was an issue for us.
The other issue with the storage on the front of the carrying case is that there is no room for a thermos container to send hot lunches. A standard Thermos brand hot lunch thermos just fits inside the stretchy compartment, but then you have the issue of not having anywhere to put your water bottle. Obviously inside the carrying case there is no room for a water bottle so when I wanted to send a hot lunch I would have to use another lunchbox.
Another thing I have to mention, although I haven’t spoken to anyone else who had this issue, was that our big dipper lid would NOT come off of the base. I wasn’t able to send it to school anymore because no matter what I put in it, how I closed it, or what teacher was on duty, nobody could get the lid off. I was very disappointed by this considering how much money I spent for the system but overall. I would say it was only a minor flaw because nobody else I talked to experienced this but a flaw is a flaw.
One last con, I’ve heard from other Planetboxer’s that their child was embarrassed by the size of the box, meaning they thought it was too big. My son never had any complaints about the size but apparently those who thought it was too big were embarrassed by how big it was when it was laying out in front of them on the lunch table. Yes, this is a large lunchbox, but it isn’t THAT big!
Which System Is the Right For Me?
I can’t tell you which system will work better for me, however it really depends upon what you want to do with the lunchbox. If you ask yourself these questions, you can probably decide which option will meet your needs better:
- Am I going to pack hot lunches? (Go with LunchBots)
- Will my child be comfortable with a lunchbox that is slightly bigger then some others?
- How many pieces am I looking for?
- Do I really want to pay shipping for something I’m already spending an arm and a leg for?
- How much will I be packing lunches?
- Will I be making freezer lunches?
- Which carrying bag is more appealing to me?
I mentioned before, I will be sending a lot of hot lunches and writing recipes to go along with those to post on the blog so I will be using the LunchBots line exclusively. You will get to see how I use my lunchbox, and why it fits my needs better then the Planetbox. I hope my review helped you make a decision, and if you love another lunchbox system let me know! Or maybe don’t let me know so I won’t be tempted to purchase it! Also, we are doing our very first giveaway, starting on August 1st and running through August 15th, and one lucky winner will get a Lime Green LunchBots Quad, my favorite of all of my pieces! Make sure you check back soon for that 🙂