Which Lunch Box/Container?

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Archived Q&A and Reviews

Lunch Boxes Containers & Packaging

Lunch Boxes

June 2008

Hello, Well, my little girl is ready to go to kindergarten. This is going to be a big change for everyone. This is probably the most trivial of the transitions, but I just wanted to ask a few questions about kindergarten lunch. We've never had to provide for lunch before. Our preschool serves snacks and lunches. My daughter isn't the most coordinated and I wanted advice on the best lunch boxes and containers. I have a feeling that if she can't open it, she will be too shy to ask for help, therefore, won't eat anything. Not only is easy access a concern, but also safety and health. I know that there are certain plastics and synthetic materials I should stay away from but I'm not aware of what they are and what products I should steer clear from. Also, what about sippy cups? Cups with pop-up straws for water? Anyway, any suggestions would be appreciated. In addition, if anyone wants to share any appealing lunch box recipes, I would be absolutely grateful! Mom of uncoordinated & picky eater

It depends on what she will eat as to what container to provide. If she will eat a sandwich, then a simple brown bag will do great. Easy to open, no big deal if it doesn't make it back home and great for her for recycling if it does. If she won't eat that and you need a thermos, then you will have to get an actual box. They come with a latch or zipper, material (vinyl) or metal, etc. We got a great dinosaur vinyl with zipper already and have mastered opening / closing and are ready for lunch.

My 5 year old son will eat a sandwich if it is on a bun (hamb or hotdog) so we put turkey, cheese. Will stay away from mayo because I'm weird about it sitting. I will get him used to it this summer so that it is ok at school. He won't eat peanut butter but will eat sunflower butter from Trader Joes (there is also almond). Also, carrot sticks with small, easy open container for dip (hummus, ranch). Then some sort of cracker or chip. I buy the Kirkland juices at Costco (14% sugar) or the small water bottles. If it makes it home, then we will recycle again and again and if it doesn't I'm hoping they recycle at school.

Advice from a mom of 4 told me to start practicing lunch this summer so that he is used to it. My son can take up to an hour to eat lunch. Bite, play, bite, toilet, bite, etc. At school, they get like 20 minutes and then go out to recess. We play school and he is so excited that it works. Also try new recipes with him this summer (big kid school food) so that I know he will eat it at school and not be hungry. Our kindergarten is 9-3pm so that is a long time to go with no food. excited about Kindergarten

I have fond memories as a child of my mother making me little mini shishkabobs for lunch... take a toothpick and put a few cheese cubes, olives, pieces of meat, cucumber, etc. on it, and include 3, , 4, 5 of them. Fun! Also, you might want to take a look at what the other kids have, or perhaps check in with some first grade parents at the school? kevin

My daughter and I swear by these lunch boxes: http://www.laptoplunches.com/. I've seen them at Elephant Pharmacy. She also makes iced tea for herself in a Rubbermaid drink container with self-contained straw purchased from Target. She puts the drink container into the lunchbox instead of one of the larger bins. laptop lunch lover

I just bought a bento-style lunch box for my 4 year old. I got it from: http://www.laptoplunches.com/

He likes it alot ann wants to eat dinner out of it, too. The little compartments are fun and easy to keep clean. It comes with its own silverware.

Its easy to keep clean, too. My one gripe is the latch is tricky to open and he requires a teacher's help. Hopefully, he'll learn to work it himself soon.

If you really think your daughter won't ask for help to open it, then I wouldn't get it. But maybe she'd like it so much she could be brave enough to ask. Its working well for us. Lunch Box Fairy

Laptop Lunches!! http://www.laptoplunches.com/

My 3-year-old son has been using this lunch box every day at preschool since the beginning of the year. I love it! It reduces waste, is non-toxic and safe, and the little boxes make it fun. If you order the whole lunch system online it comes with a nice little book that has some healthy lunch ideas. It also includes a plastic-safe water bottle so you don't have to use a sippy cup.

It's very versatile and oddly makes packing lunches more fun (it looks so pretty after I have filled all the boxes up with colorful food). Laptop Lunch fan

My daughter was in Kindergarten this year, and she just has a regular soft-sided lunch box from Target, that zips open and closed. It works fine. One thing she does not like is ziploc bags for her sliced apples or whatever. She can't open the zips, so I wrap stuff in Saran Wrap instead. She also doesn't like the pudding or apple sauce cups, because she can't open them herself. She doesn't take water to school anymore (her lunchbox came with a water bottle with a pull-spout) because it's too heavy, and she can drink water from the water fountains at school. My older daughter takes her lunch, but opts to purchase the organic milk at school for 50 cents a day. Happy Kindergartening! heidi

Alternatives to Vinyl Lunchboxes

Sept 2005

Has there been any advice given about alternatives to vinyl lunchboxes? All of the parents in my daughter's preschool have complained that they cannot find any alternatives to vinyl (e.g. the metal lunchboxes that I grew up with). Besides the old standby the brown paper bag, does anyone have alternative suggestions? Daphne

Try here: http://www.lunchboxes.com/dome.html Nori

Try http://www.lunchboxes.com/ - they have metal and plastic lunchboxes. Anon

How about a Mimi the Sardine bag? You can buy them at Whole Foods. http://www.mimithesardine.com/BAGS/Bags.html anon

Hi, I had the same problem and finally found a few vinyl free options at www.reusablebags.com (click on ''cloth lunch bags''). They have a cotton canvas bag for $6.95, an organic cotton canvas bag for $8.95, and some cute SIGG bags as well. Amy

We use little cat in the hat back packs for lunch boxes. Now that they need bigger packs for school (preK and 1st grade), we put the mini back pack lunch into the bigger pack. karlyn

I've seen small canvas bags, that look like little versions of the canvas shopping bag, at Artist and Craftsmen Supply on Shattuck, south of University, closer to Ashby. Those are nice because you can decorate or paint them yourself. You may also consider Halloween trick or treat bags. There are a bunch at Target right now, of course they all look like pumpkins and black cats, but who cares! They seem durable and handy. Baskets work well too, thats what the kids who go to the Waldorf school use for their lunches. Baskets come in a variety of styles. Some are lined, some are picnic style with a hinged lid, and I've even seen some that are suitcase style (like metal lunch boxes). For baskets try Target, Cost Plus, or Salvation Army.There are so many different types of soft or rigid type bags or baskets for all types of uses. Be creative when thinking of where to look. You might be surprised what you find. Try The Ark on fourth street, and other toy stores. Elephant Pharmacy is another place that can have some interesting bags or containers. But probably the easiest and most simple would be a canvas bag or basket with a handle. If you are handy with sewing, you can eventually make a nice bag and insulate it yourself. And there is nothing wrong with a paper bag either. That's all I had when growing up. Laurey

I just ordered lunch bags at www.ReusableBags.com - they say that they are lead free. One has a cute airplane on it and another is pink with flowers. They're expensive (relatively speaking... $19.95 each) but it's all worth it!!! huckin' the Vinyl too

Last year or maybe the year before last, I bought a metal ''Olivia'' lunchbox at Rockridge Kids. They had about 3 other characters. Anon

Please note that not all soft lunch bags are made out of vinyl. With all the recent news about vinyl lunchbags, I freaked out and did several google searches for info. My daughter's lunchbag is actually polyeurothane which has not (yet?) tested positive for the lead problem. FYI. Elizabeth

The metal lunchboxes are still around. Try 5 Little Monkeys on Solano, Snippety Crickets on Solano, The Ark on 4th Street, Mr. Mopps on MLK, or order on line. Good luck. anon

I'm not sure about where to get non-vinyl lunchboxes, but I did buy a lead testing kit at the hardware store (about $7 and can be used 4 times) and tested 2 of our vinyl lunchboxes, both which tested negative, so you may want to give this a try. martha

You may find that you can use lunch containers that act as coolers. Try REI. It won't have that logo of a favorite character but it may stand up to more wear and tear and can serve as a great way to keep lunch cool. If you are into the metal containers there are a few still being made. Look on line or at a store called ''Happy Trails''. Rachel

At my children's school, the young children use baskets, similar to a sm My older son uses a canvas bag that is cut in the same shape as a paper bag. I've also seen a drawstring cloth bag, which I always liked the look of. I, myself, use canvas grocery bags for my lunch; so easy to wash over and over. eve

You can get the old metal (or newer plastic) kind with fun graphics, etc on ebay. Rockridge Kids carries a couple of hard plastic ones that are pretty durable, but not deep enough for the short, squat thermos's. Fabric bags work and are easy enough to make, if you're so inclined. Or, whatever happened to a good ol' brown bag lunch? ~Alt lunch mama

Lunchboxes.com has a large selection of metal and plastic lunchboxes, including a lot of retro ones apparently designed for adults (would kids want an I Love Lucy lunchbox?). Many of them have matching thermos bottles, like the ones I remember from way back when. Kathleen

I found a metal lunch box at www.jetblue.com in the 'shop blue' section. It isn't an obvious advertisement for the company, but rather just a collage of their travel poster (which don't say JetBlue, but rather are art-deco city scenes). We love the retro lunch box and will get another when our younger child needs one as well. -found a metal box

Insulated lunch box

July 2004

I'm looking for an insulated lunch box for my preschooler with a *removable hard plastic insert* so I can take it out and wash all milk and other spills out completely. We had one like this (insulated rectangular box - fabric on the outside, shoulder strap, hard plastic insert to protect sides and bottom) that we bought at Pastime but it is lost and I've been to many hardware stores, drug stores, and searched online to no avail. I keep hoping that the ''back to school'' products will come in soon and I'll be able to find what I'm looking for but I'm getting tired of searching and am hoping someone has seen one or knows a brand name. - Thank you!! Charis

Hello, I bought two of these in Walgreen's, across the street from the Berkeley Bowl, but that was one and a half year ago. Anon

Lunch box to hold hot and cold foods

Feb 2004

I'd like to buy a new lunch box for my 5-yr old. Is there such a lunch box that can take cold things (cold juice, cold milk, blue ice) and hot things (hot food in thermos) at the same time? What do you recommend? Where can I find the product? Thank you very much.

Here's what works well for us: Get a stainless steel vacuum-insulated wide-mouth Thermos (real Thermos brand, about 10-ounce capacity). We found it at Target. This will hold the hot stuff. Then, the chilled items go in little plastic containers (Tupperware type), and I put a small blue-ice pack with them. You could also use a frozen juice-box.

They all go together (with utensils, etc.) into any soft-sided lunch box. I know that the soft-sided ones are a little trickier to keep clean, but the rigid lunch boxes are not flexible enough to hold all the assorted size containers. The vacume thermos is so well insulated, the hot food stays hot, and the cold food stays cold.

The Thermos was a little pricey, but REALLY keeps the food warm. It works best if you pre-heat it with boiling water for a few minutes before adding the warm soup, or whatever. R.K.

Lunchbox with thermos - not Barbie

May 2003

My daughter is starting school in fall and we're looking for a lunchbox, with a thermos. We would like something other than Barbie or Brittany, even Dora the Explorer would be better. We've tried Toys R'Us and Target with no success. Any ideas much appreciated. anon

I bought a Barbie lunchbox that had a thermos, and peeled off the ''Barbie'' part on both sides. Then I had a gloriously pink plain lunch pail, the only sign of barbie being her name in cursive on the handle where no one sees it. Sally

Most stores won't be getting lunchboxes til August. I did see a few at Rockridge Kids though, both with and without characters. Try them and other toy stores, but all will tell you the best selection will be available in August. Ellen

Rockridge Kids has some right now. Curious George, Olivia, and a handful of other characters (Sesame Street, which is probably too young for your daughter, and some others I don't remember). Oh- I just realized that they probably don't have thermoses. Well, perhaps you can buy a plain thermos at the drugstore.

Try toy stores instead. We have found nice lunchboxes at both Mr. Mopp's, on MLK, and A Child's Place, at the top of Solano. They are not character lunchboxes, and seem to hold up as long as any others we have tried. Mary

Teddy's Little Closet on College Ave. (nr. Ashby) in the Elmwood neighborhood of Berkeley has nice insulated square lunch boxes with beautiful designs like butterflies and bugs and zoo animals. No thermos though. I got mine earlier in the year so you might want to call them before you go to see if they still have them. anon

Toy Safari in Alameda has a wide selection of lunch boxes from plastic to cool metal, with vintage to current children's themes. elaine

We've had great luck over the years with the softsided zipping cooler boxes from REI and other outdoor stores. Easy to clean. Easy to cram into a backpack. You can toss in a small icepack to keep things cold if need be. No advertising. Been there

I saw some cool lunchboxes with animals on the front (non- corporate) at Baby World on Piedmont. They have thermoses in them too. Brightstar

Check out http://lunchboxes.com. They have a good selection and range of prices. Last year I looked everywhere for a metal lunchbox my son would like and found this site. They have all types for all ages, even a good selection of metal ones. (We find the clasps break on the plastic ones and the cloth ones get smelly.) My son gets comments at his preschool on his ''really cool'' Schoolhouse Rock lunchbox. The comments are all from teachers in their 30s, but he likes it and it has lasted the entire school year. I'm trying to talk him into the Janis Joplin lunchbox this year, but I think he wants Spiderman.... 30s Mom

Try Target a little later in the summer (but not TOO late) - the selection will be much bigger, including not only the ''hottest'' characters, but some more toned-down ones (like Dora) too. Also, they always have some with no characters - bright colors or designs. You may want to try a few times, since selection varies throughout the summer. Another option, if she likes any of the ''Hello Kitty'' (Sanrio) characters, is to try stores that specialize in that stuff (like the one a Pacific East Mall). They are more expensive than Target, but the one my daughter got there four years ago is still going strong, while we've had to replace my son's Target purchase at least once in that time. Also to consider in your decision: I know some people like the hard-sided ones rather than the soft-sided because they are easier to clean. However, one advantage of the soft ones is that it can take a variety of small containers inside. I like using re-usable containers rather than endless plastic bags, and the hard-sided ones make it hard to fit them inside. R.K.

Try Lauren's Closet on Park Blvd. in Alameda. Although they specialize in used kids clothes, they have lots of fun, brand new lunch boxes, including my personal favorite, Hello Kitty! I think Rockridge Kids also has a decent collection. AW

A great idea I picked up from other moms at my nursery school is to go to an art-supply or hardware store and get a clear plastic artists or storage box. They have a handle on the top, and are usually the right size for a sippy/thermos, lunch plus icepack. They don't get that funky odor that the soft lunchboxes do, and they can just get washed in the dishwasher at night. My daughter likes to be able to peek and see what's for lunch during the day too, without opening up her box. You can decorate them with stickers or sharpie pens if you want. sick of stinky lunchboxes

For lunchboxes - I second the recommendation for the REI lunchbag-style soft lunchbxes. I prefer the noncommercial type lunchboxes. I recently saw a lot of lunchboxes at the ACE Hardware on San Pable AVe in ElCerrito. ellen

Compartmental boxes for school lunches

July 2001

Re-heatable re-usable boxes for school lunches, with separate compartments and tight fitting lids. We send our kids to school with home cooked lunches most days. We are looking for a better solution that than small square rubber maid containers, which don't keep the food separate. Have found lots of options that are too big. I need something small enough to fit in a lunch box. Something like a small sturdy bento box would be ideal. Anyone found anything like this? peterandbrian

Tupperware has an item, called a Lunch-N-Serve, I think, that might work for you. They have recently introduced a cold cup to go in one compartment, so you can take the cold item (fruit, yogurt, whatever) out before you heat the whole thing in the microwave. This might be too big for you, though. Also, they have some smaller divided containers pretty much meant for this purpose, although I'm not sure that they are regular items (might have been a special). If you are interested in checking out the Tupperware, you could call my former manager, Denise Lum, at 510-814-6999. She's a real sweetie with a 1 year-old, and could use the business. Dawn

We bought a bento-box like container at Toys 'R' Us a few years ago. We use it often for our daughter's preschool lunches. Fits nicely in a lunchbox. It has a bottom compartment that is one big compartment, and a top compartment that is three or four small compartments, and a lid. We love it. Brksie

There are Japanese-made food jars made by Zojirushi that sell between $35-$55. They are very well designed. The $35 model is very small but holds enough food for a small child. The Obento model costs $50+tax and it's light blue. It looks like a wide thermos and fits inside a regular lunch bag. It comes with three containers with lids. Two of the containers slide in. One is good for dry food (rice/noodles+meat+veggies), the second container is small and can hold a small amount of soup. The third container is integrated onto the lid. You can find it in San Francisco's Japantown. The store carries kitchenware and is located in the first floor next to the garage entrance/exit. Rosa

Tokyo Fish Market on San Pablo near Gilman has a nice selection of bento boxes. They also have wonderful miniature tupperware with tiny lids, which I use for pickles, peas, and other stuff. Laura

I had to go through the same search couple years ago, because my child does not like to mixed food. I bought couple of lunch boxes with small compartments in a Chinese store on Clement (cross 8th st) in San Francisco. I think they are really bentoes and made in Japan. One of them is about 4in x 7in x 1.5in (w x l x h) and has 3 small removable compartments in it with tight lids (leak proof). Another one is a 4in square cube, which has two layers but the lid is not tight fitting. You can take out the top layer. I am not sure where to get something like this in east bay. The store I bought the boxes is not a Chinese grocery store, it sells all kinds of kitchen wares. Maryann

I found a small square tupperware-style serving dish at ToysRUs about a year ago. I believe it is made by First Years: the bottom dish is made to hold a sandwich; stacked on top of that is the divided dish (it has 3 sections); then the lid goes on top of the whole thing. The divided dish has been great for our toddler and older child. However using the sandwich holder on the bottom does not work well because it is very difficult to separate the 2 dishes. So I have 3 of these setups, so that I have 3 lids. Maybe they've improved the product in the last year. Jennifer

Containers & Packaging

No more plastic bags for lunches

Oct 2009

When packing lunches for my kids I am thinking of two things, ONE - is the packaging safe and TWO - am I being environmentally wise. So my question is this...is it Ok to put food into the nylon/fabric wraps that are now available? How do I know that they are safer than plastic bags? One website that I was looking at is the www.reusablebags.com. Any favorites that last long and still look good while keeping the food products free from toxins found in plastic. Thank you, Green Mama

Our concern with plastic baggies is far more the disposal problem than the toxins issue, so I'm not sure what you would consider sufficient assurance that the reusable containers are safe. But I can report that we've been pleased with the quality of Wrap-n-Mat sandwich wraps and Happy Sack snack bags. We've used the sandwich wraps for several years now, and the velcro is kinda worn out on some of them but otherwise they're still in good shape. The Happy Sacks are nice because they are moisture- proof (so you can use them for washed fruit/veggies) without using a plastic liner. The maker says the fabric is coated with something that's tested out as food safe -- I don't recall the details but it's not vinyl or the like.

There are other containers that use stainless steel and/or uncoated/unlined fabric, which you might prefer. Etsy has many sellers making the fabric ones. And if you're not concerned about packing wet items, you can simply wrap foods in a regular cloth napkin! (Though adding a button or velcro or what-have- you helps keep things contained.) Holly

Laptop Lunches are awesome. They are made with non-toxic plastics in the U.S. - no BPA or phthalates. They have sweet boxes inside the larger box, similar to a Japanese Bento Box. Kids really seem to love them because they are colorful and different. I recently purchased one for my nephew who just about hit the roof he was so excited. oaktownjen

Lunch containers that are microwave safe?

August 2009

My three year-old takes her lunch to preschool in small tupperware containers. Her teachers heat it up (when necessary, such as soup, or rice and beans) in a microwave. I'm sure these containers aren't microwave safe and am concerned about the health effects of heating plastic over and over. What do you use to pack your child's lunch in? The metal containers I've heard of can't be microwaved, and glass is too breakable. Do you know of any products to solve this? Searching for a better solution

We've solved the problem by getting our daughter a thermos. We fill it with boiling water to warm it up while we heat the food, then empty out the water and put in the hot food. We've been doing this since our daughter was in preschool (she's going into 6th grade) and it has always worked well for us. The food isn't quite as hot as it would be coming out of a microwave, but children generally don't eat piping hot food anyway, and this way she isn't exposed to the off-gassing of plastics. Don't even own a microwave

Half-pint canning jars, like Mason or Ball. They are cheap and you can get them at Longs or Ace Hardware or online. They are glass but they are very sturdy, not to mention dishwasher safe. I pack my toddler's lunch (for daycare) in them and have not had one break in transit or at school. lunchy

Get a thermos - they really work. And then no need to heat up, no plastic containers, and saves a lot of hassle for the teachers!

How about just skipping the microwave part (like we did before microwaves!). For hot foods, heat it at home and pack in a stainless steel wide-mouth thermos (even Target carries these). The food stays warm best if you pre-heat the thermos with boiling water for a few minutes first. You could also send more cold foods, and/or just let your kid eat the food cold - nothing wrong with cold rice and beans! R.K.

I too, had the same concern about the re-heating done at my childs preschool. My solution was to heat soups or saucy caseroles in a pan on the stove before school and place the hot food in a fun thermos. By the time he got to it, the eating temperature was perfect for consumption at lunch time. I have also sent pizza on a paper plate that I'd wrapped in dye-free paper towels. It can demand creativity, but it gets easier with time. Hope this helps. Kendra

I use a small thermos when my kids want a hot lunch, and it works just fine. Pouring some very hot water into it 5 minutes before you add the food will help the meal stay warmer. Another option is to continue with the tupperware, but put a paper plate in the lunchbox and ask that any hot foods be warmed and served on the plate, not in the tupperware. The Lunch Lady

I had exactly this problem with my son when he was in preschool -- only they had so many kids bringing in lunches needing to be microwaved that they asked us not to any more. My solution was one of those Japanese Bento lunch jars (a Zojirushi Ms. Bento lunch jar, purchased on amazon.com). It has two inner jars, both with pretty liquid- proof lids (the only thing that doesn't work is liquidy soup), and an outer jar in which they both fit. It keeps things warm until lunchtime (picture pasta with sauce in one jar, cooked carrots in the other). It cost $40 to begin with, but as we approach 3rd grade, we still use it. For soup I got a little bowl-shaped thermos container at the Container Store. Keeps the soup warm, fits in the lunchbox with a slice of bread and a piece of fruit. Two advantages -- your child won't have to wait for lunch to be warmed, and this will still work in elementary school (when there's no time, and no personnel, for anyone to warm anything!). Karen

Hi, I put hot lunch into food thermos. Microwave it hot in the morning and it's perfect by the lunch time. Pack a spoon or fork and your child can eat right out of thermos. You can buy a food thermos from Target. anon

The bottom line is the only containers that are both microwave safe and safe for the human body... are breakable ones made of glass. Any way you cut it, regardless if it's the Nalgene brand or some other Bisphenol-A free plastic, they're all bad and they all leech toxins into the food. For awhile, one plastic will rise to the top and be the 'good' one. Years later, after you've been using it faithfully, the studies come out and are not widely publicized and you feel stricken that you were following all the rules but have still harmed your family's health.

So what's the answer to this conundrum?

Adjust what you're sending to school. No microwaving food at school at all. Either cold lunches, or whatever can be sent in a stainless steel thermos (raviolis, soups, etc). The thermos will keep them between tepid and warm. And that is good enough. Get a wide mouth thermos and you can put lasagna or casserole-ish items in there to be scooped out with a spoon.

You might think this is too hard, but I'll tell you this: I don't use a microwave ever, even at home, and I'm just fine. In my case, it's because I read microwaves change the cellular structure of food and the body doesn't recognize it as food anymore. If the body doesn't recognize things, sometimes it sends these things off to be quarantined in fat cells. So then, aside from the fat problem, if food isn't providing my body nourishment because my body can't unscramble the coding, what is the point? No microwaves for me. But if I did use micros, I'd NEVER put plastic in them. Too much info out there on this...

Non-plastic lunch packaging

May 2009

My daughter has a non-lead lunch box (wouldn't go for the tiffins, unfortunately). I use small tupperware inside for pasta, protein, veggies, etc. I'd like to stop using the plastic, but I don't know what to use instead. She won't eat sandwiches, so I can't wrap in cloth napkins, etc. I need small metal, or non-toxic plastic containers I can pack in her lunch for things like chopped fruit/veggies, hot dogs and the like. I have a stainless steel thermos for pasta and that works fine. trying to get off plastics...

I use baggies made out of waxed paper whenever I can, in place of plastic baggies. They don't have a way to close (like the zipper top of the plastic ones) so keep a roll of tape nearby. Waxtex is the brand I've found. I'm pretty sure I got them at Monterey Market but I bet they're all over. As for the more wet stuff...maybe some reusable dishes designed for camping? anon

You could re-use candy tins (like the ones from Trader Joe's espresso pillows...yum!). At holiday times, you can often find small gift food tins at many stores (though I dont know if they are considred food-safe for direct contact). You dont' mention how old your child is; some of these containers are a little hard for younger kids to open and close. I saw some metal lunch containers at Berkeley Natural Grocery. For other ideas, see: http://www.reusablebags.com/store/lunch-bags-more-food-containers-c-4_20.html

You also mentioned ''non-toxic'' plastics. If you are using Tupperware (or most similar Rubbermaid and ZipLoc containers), they are probably #5, polypropylene, which does not contain plasticizers or BPA, and is considered relatively non-toxic (don't use for hot stuff to be even safer). Other ''safer'' numbers are #1 and #2. Definitely avoid #3 and #7. If the containers you are using are not labeled with a recycling number, use something else. R.K.

Only need the thermos

August 2006

So where on earth does one find a kids' drink thermos these days? My child is starting Kindergarten in a few weeks. I have a perfectly fine lunchbox from his preschool days, and a really great insulated food jar with a couple of inner containers (so my gourmet child can have warm tortellini and broccoli for lunch). All I need is the little drink thermos with the plastic cup on top, so my son can have his milk (and I don't have to buy it at school). I originally thought I'd have to look a bit to find one that didn't have Superman on it; it now turns out I'd accept one with Superman on it if I had to. I've found a couple online that are glass inside -- but this is a 5-year-old we're talking about. Do they not make these things any more? What's going on??? Confused mom

I don't have an answer for you, but I do have a question. Where did you get your really great insulated food jar with a couple of inner containers??? I've been looking for one forever. In fact I was going to post this on the BPN. Thanks! ramisima

Try Rockridge Kids, Crackerjacks, ''the big Long's'' (on 51st & Broadway) or Target. They all have them. -Signed a thermos-full household!

I've often found them at Target - or even at Rite Aid. However, if you can't find them, a couple of great online alternatives (cut and paste the url's): http://www.laptoplunches.com/ http://www.katescaringgifts.com/ Laurie

I thought that my kid would need a thermos, finally found an all plastic one. It even has a spout that folds down. We rarely use it. The insulated cups with pop-up straws (NOT sippy cup tops, which can cause teasing) seems to keep milk cold from morning until lunch. I toss in a couple of ice cubes. The main issue is cleaning the things (although this is true of the thermos too). Only buy insulated cups when you can also buy replacement straws (which I buy at the same time), have more than one, don't let them stagnate overnight, and use pipe cleaners to clean the straws good luck!

I seem to recall the milk from my lunchbox thermos being a little too warm for my liking (maybe they're better now?) If you do find a thermos that fits in the lunch box, test it first at home. Throwing in an ice cube or two might help milk drinker

Glass lunch containers

May 2004

I am concerned about warming food up in plastic containers. Can someone tell me where I can get small glass containers with plastic lids that I can use to send my daughters lunch to daycare. Thanks! shari

Almost any department store (Sears, Target), kitchen store (Williams Sonoma), or even Costco and some hardware stores sell these, although the range of sizes may be limited. Or a thrift store. I sometimes put food in my jelly jar-type drinking glasses that have matching plastic lids. You might also consider ceramic containers (like Corningware).

But if you're worried about plastic, you'll want be sure the lids are removed before they go into the microwave or get containers with glass lids. David

Mason Jars would work for this: They come in a variety of sizes. Also, Picard makes a French Working Glass with a top that would work too. I would check first with the preschool to see if they will actually take glass. Mine won't because they are afraid of breakage. Good Luck.

I bought some at Target, but they aren't perfect - too small for some things, and one broke in transit . . . So now my solution is to send ''warm-ups'' on paper plates or in paper bowls. I know it's not so great for the environment to create more landfill, but at least they biodegrade? amy

I've found some nice little round glass containers with plastic lids at Crate & Barrel. I noticed that they also have them at the Crate & Barrel Outlet store on 4th street. The only drawback with glass is that your child might break them and get hurt. Sima

They have great small lunchbox type glass containers at Koreana Plaza (formerly Pusan Plaza). They come in assorted sizes and have snap on plastic lids. It's a Korean market at 2370 Telegraph. Sian