Bisphenol A (BPA) is a carbon-based compound that the FDA has banned from usage in the manufacture of containers for use by children, as it poses health hazards. So, ensure that the lunch box you purchase is BPA free.
Storage of food is as (if not more) important to one's health as its preparation and nutritional value. More so if it's kids' food that we're talking about. You may slave over the stove to prepare that super-healthy lunch for your kids, but if not stored and carried in an appropriate container, it can result in:
What Makes a Perfect Lunch Box
Not Too Big and Not Too Small
Your kid's lunch box can double up as yours once in a while if you buy one that is neither extra large for him or her nor too small for you to carry a light snack in.
Just the Right Size
When it comes to kids, sometimes parents can overestimate the amount of food they can eat. Remember, just because the box is empty when it gets home doesn't mean your child ate it all. There must be some part of the lunch at the bottom of the school cafeteria bin. Why does this happen? It is second nature to most of us. When we see a large container, no matter how much food we put in it, it seems less. A very big lunch box could be making you do this. On the flip side, a very small lunch box may hold lesser than sufficient food for the child. Hence, use your judgment based on your observation of how much your child eats at home to decide the size of the box.
Will it Stand the Test of Time?
A good lunch box will last for a minimum of one year. So, even if it is a little pricey, it will be a good investment.
A lunch box is something that your kid is going to use every single day for (at the very least) a year. In this 1 year, the box is going to see a considerable amount of wear and tear, rough handling like throwing, scraping, etc.; not to mention it is going to be washed every single day. Hence, it is obvious that a lunch box that comes with a guarantee or warranty of some sort is what you should prefer, even if it may cost you a little extra. Check if the seller guarantees that it is unbreakable. Test it if you must, but buy one that is sure to be durable.
How would you like it if your PB&J sandwich was all soggy with the juice that seeped out of the fresh and juicy peach kept next to it in the lunch box? Not at all, we suppose. Kids, who, let's face it, are already picky eaters, will get this added excuse of the wets and drys mixing up in the box for not eating their lunch. So, we say, the more the compartments in a lunch box, the better. There's a reason Bento-style lunches are so popular. Traditionally, it's a one-portion meal, but with compartments, you can separate the salad from the fruit and the yogurt from the crackers with such ease and finesse that your kids will love to open their boxes to see the culinary cornucopia you prepare for them. Just ensure that there aren't too many, else the size of each compartment will get smaller.
Do not confuse resistance to heat with the ability of the lunch box to keep the food within it hot. What we mean when we say that the box should be heat-resistant is that it should have enough insulation to ensure that the food remains hot, but the outer material should be such that it shouldn't feel hot to touch. Imagine handing a freshly cooked lunch to your kid and his hand getting scalded because the box was not insulated properly. To avoid such mishaps, get a box that can withstand the heat of hot food.
Just Lid Vs. Clasp
Some kids may find it difficult to open a box with tight clasps. In such cases, opt for a box that has a well-fitting lid.
Easy to Use
Ease of handling is a major factor that influences the decision of buying a lunch box. Since most kindergarten schools insist on kids handling their lunch boxes on their own, it is necessary that your child, especially if he or she is a toddler, be able to open and close the box with ease. Take your kid along to buy the lunch box and have him or her open it at the store to check if they can or cannot. This will help you avoid buying something that he or she won't be able to use later.
Fix that Leak
If the box you have your heart set on is not leakproof, lay a sheet of plastic under the lid before you close it.
Leakage and spillage are problems that everyone who carries food around is afraid of facing. It is inconvenient, it causes wastage, and it is messy: 3 things that a kid in school is going to be (to put it mildly) horrified to deal with. So, ensure that the box you pick is totally and completely leakproof. If it isn't, you can stretch a rubber band into its lid while closing it. Get an insulated bag or container to hold the lunch box. This will contain any spills or leaks that the box cannot. Another, and probably the most practical alternative, is to send food that will not leak in the first place.
Make Washing Easy
If not dishwasher-safe, at least buy a box that you won't have difficulty washing by hand, i.e., a box with not too many compartments or parts.
Low on Maintenance
Nobody likes to wash utensils that have elaborate and ornate patterns that are difficult to clean. Neither do they like to use utensils that aren't dishwasher-safe. Why should your child's lunch box be any different? It's going to be used on a daily basis. So, it only makes sense that it be easy to clean, wash, and maintain. So, the best option would be to buy a box that is dishwasher-friendly. This way, your kid can just pop it into the dishwasher when he or she gets home from school. The bag that it is to be carried in, too, should be washing machine-safe.
The material that the box is made of can also be a factor that you might want to take into account. While plastic is the clear winner, as can be seen by so many leading manufacturers, stainless steel is fast becoming a popular material for lunch boxes because of its durability and strength. Mull over the points given above, and make the right choice.