Once school resumption draws near, we are inundated with a lot of things to get for our children – new school uniforms, shoes, socks, school bags, books and…lunchbox for their meals, if you prepare food for them. Many mums buy lunchboxes based on the outward appearance without thinking of other necessary considerations that will make their child’s meal safe and the purchase well worth it in the long run. Here are some important things to check when eyeing that beautiful lunchbox that is being advertised or displayed for you.
Well-made Structure, Sturdy, Durable
Firstly, a good lunchbox for a child must be well structured and strong enough to withstand the ‘throws and ‘bangs’ from kids. Imagine your child dropping their lunchbox and it breaks open, spilling their lunch to their dismay and fear of the scolding they will get? A good structured lunchbox will also be able to keep whatever food that you pack in good shape till lunchtime without jumbling them up. Make sure you check the lunchbox you are getting and remember a quick look may not be enough. Take your time and check the handles, straps and locks o be sure they are very good and wont snap or pop open easily when being carried.
This depends on the purpose or type of food that you want to use the lunchbox for i.e. hot foods like rice and stew or cold foods like sandwiches, rolls, fruits and drinks.
A well-insulated lunchbox should be able to keep food hot or at least warm for your child until breaktime. Getting a lunchbox that has this quality is very important, especially if you are sure there is no provision in their school for warming food – not many schools provide microwaves and if they do, I wonder how long it will take warming every child’s meal…this will surely eat into their breaktime.
For lunches that need to be kept cool e.g. sandwiches, yogurt and smoothies, it is worth investing in a lunchbox with a freezer pack. If you don’t have one, then freeze water in a water bottle the night before and put the frozen bottle in the lunchbox to keep the food cool.
Leakproof and Airtight
No one wants to find their child’s bag, books or clothes soiled with stew because it leaked out from the lunchbox. Consider checking that the lunchbox you are buying is leak-proof, airtight and does not have any defect.
Easy to open and close
No child wants to be fiddling with their lunchbox trying to get it open when they are hungry…imagine the frustration. This doesn’t mean you should neglect the structure and durability I talked about above.
You know your child and what they can eat. Also think of how much time they have in school for lunchtime, so that when getting a lunchbox, you can choose a size that will not encourage them to waste food. Remember, there are people out there going hungry, so don’t encourage food waste please.
A lunchbox with compartments i.e. different sections are a very good one that make food look appetising and interesting for kids. This is best for cold foods like sandwiches where you can put them in one section with other fruits, vegetables, sal, snacks and dips in another section. For hot foods, if you are able to find a well-made lunchbox, it will look better to put different foods like rice, beans, stew, meat and vegetables in separate compartments.
BPA- free containers
BPA is the short name for Biphenol A which is an industrial chemical that is used in making most plastics. BPA can leach or seep into foods from containers that are made with this chemical and using these plastics as lunchboxes for your child have been found to cause health concerns linked to the brain and possible behavioural concerns in children. Look out for BPA-free labels on containers and plastics to reduce the risk of your child getting exposed to BPA. If you are not not sure, then try and avoid microwaving foods in plastic containers because they ultimately breakdown with usage and then allow BPA to leach into the foods stored in them.
Finally, don’t forget to choose a lunchbox that will be fun and interesting for your child – be it a favourite cartoon character or colour, because it will also encourage them to open and enjoy the goodies inside. However, please make sure they first meet the important considerations above.