When you decide to ditch plastic baggies and buy a reusable, earth-friendly lunchbox, you’ll find an array of plastic, stainless steel and glass lunch containers. The choices can be bewildering. We’ll help you choose the best lunchbox for your lifestyle by comparing key features.
Plastic lunchboxes are the easiest to find but vary widely in quality. Be sure to choose thick, durable, BPA-free and phthalate-free plastic. While they’re generally safe to wash on the top rack of the dishwasher (check the label), washing by hand minimizes warping and heat damage. Plastic lunchboxes are also the least expensive, most leak-proof, and lightest. However, the long-term safety of heating food in plastic is unclear and they’re not the best choice for use in the microwave.
Stainless steel lunchboxes are widely available, non-toxic, dishwasher safe and durable. A well-made stainless steel lunchbox can be used for generations (with a few dents accumulated over the years). However, solid stainless steel lunchboxes are not leak-proof unless they have a plastic or silicone lid, can’t go in the microwave and are more expensive and less colorful than plastic.
Glass lunch containers are heavy, breakable, and only leak-proof with a plastic or silicone lid. However, they’re dishwasher safe, can last for years if handled with care, and are the clear winner if you’ll be heating food in the microwave.
No lunchbox is perfect for every lifestyle. Find the one that fits best and choose an earth-friendly lunchbox you can use again and again.
With plastic or silicone lid
— By Laura Prevo, dietetic intern, and Debra Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.
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