COOL, CREATIVE LUNCH BAGS
A fun part of back-to-school shopping is the search for the perfect lunch container.
This fall, there are lots of new designs for students old and young, with thoughtful details and addons meant to make lunchtime pleasant and palatable.
Karen Cicero, contributing editor at Parents magazine, reminds parents and caregivers to keep kids’ ages and grade levels in mind when shopping for lunchboxes.
“If you have a preschooler or kindergartener, you’ll want a box that’s easy to open and close,” she says.
“For middle schoolers, you want to make sure it’s large enough to hold their lunch, an ice pack, and snacks they’ll need for after-school practices.”
Also consider how easy the box is to clean, and whether it hooks on your child’s backpack, “which is a good feature so it doesn’t get lost or separated,” Cicero said.
Bento boxes are big among elementary and middle school kids, says Cicero. Popular for years in Asia, bento boxes are made of plastic or steel fitted with various-size compartments. That separation keeps foods from becoming a pile of crumbs or mush.
And with just one container to wash and re-use, there’s often less waste. There are built-in bento containers in many of this season’s lunchboxes.
Or Bentgo’s colorful, leak-proof bento containers come in several varieties. (www.bentgo.com )
Other environmentally friendly options include Russbe’s sturdy, gusseted reusable bags, which come in a bunch of designs and sizes. All have leak-resistant doublelock closures; they’re alternatives to plastic bags. (www.reuseit.com )
Cicero also likes Packit: The whole bag is lined with a gel material, so you can freeze it the night before and food stays chilled all day. There’s a peppy buffalo check, and a tie-dye pattern in the collection. (www.packit.com )
“What’s new is that you’ll see a lot of girls with traditional boy designs,” says Cicero. “Gender-neutral options include geometric patterns, stars and animals.”
Unicorns are trending strongly with girls, she says.
Zazzle.com has a nice variety; a lot feature rainbows, too. Target has the Skip Hop Zoo unicorn-shaped bag, and Gymboree offers a unicorn-printed box that clips to a matching backpack. (www.target.com ; www.gymboree.com )
Photo-printed lunch boxes and bags stand out from the crowd; some are even 3-D. (www.aliexpress.com )
For younger kids, dinosaur, galaxy, mermaid and camouflage patterns in glow-in-the-dark inks are popular. Cicero also mentions quintessential favourites like superheroes and sports themes. Nike has lunch-size versions of its classic duffel bag. (www.store.nike.com )
For older boys, consider videogame references like Minecraft or Halo 5 lunchboxes.
Licensed characters are perennial lunchbox favourites. This year, a Wonder Woman lunchbox picks up on the movie’s popularity. And the front of a Star Wars Chewbacca lunchbox is covered in washable fake fur. (www.lunchbox.com )
Allison Spampanato, senior vicepresident for product development at Pottery Barn Kids and PBTeen, is betting on a few stylish designs: “Our Emily & Meritt gear features neon pink and oversize florals, bringing two trends together,” she says.
Other graphic standouts in that collection: a chic, black-zippered lunch sack with the word MEOW in white type, and a bold, blackand-white-banded sack.
There’s also a shibori motif. Larger-scale gingham and polka dots, and icons like sailboats, bows and hearts are a fresh take on preppy. (www.pbteen.com )
Preppy sailboats decorate the Mackenzie water bottle. There’s a lunch bag and backpack with the design, too.
Bows and polka dots jazz up a pretty Emily & Meritt lunch bag.
This Emily & Meritt Neon Roses lunch sack combines fashion forward trends in a stylish lunch tote that would appeal to any age.
Forgo the plastic and foil wrap by stowing lunch treats in a washable stainless steel bento box.