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Posted on Mar 25, 2009 in Bento, Equipment, Fish or Seafood, For Kids, Meat, Phyllo or Pancake or Other, Review | 22 comments

Review: Kids Konserve metal lunch kit

Review: Kids Konserve metal lunch kit

I know some of you are looking for alternatives to plastic bento boxes because of concerns about the health effects of food packed or heated in plastic, so I’ve been playing around with metal bento containers. Most multi-tier latching tiffin tins are plain-looking and too big for a one-person bento-style lunch, so I was pleased to find a smaller metal alternative with a dash of style, from Kids Konserve.

Kids Konserve metal lunch set

I tried out their green lunch set, which consists of a cloth napkin/placemat, two 250ml stainless steel bowls with green plastic lids, a drink bottle, a reusable sandwich wrapper, and a cloth carrying bag with handles and a velcro closure (shown below). I was also curious about their smaller, all-metal 80ml condiment containers, pictured above at the bottom/middle. I had a few questions and concerns going in, namely about how watertight the containers were and how well the sandwich wrapper would work. (Read on for the full review and a sample lunch packed inside.)

The green lids for the main containers are quite thick, BPA-free, and dishwasher-safe. Both large and small containers are mostly, but not 100%, watertight. To test them out I filled them with water and shook them around. Light shaking was fine, but a few drops came out when I turned the containers on their sides and shook hard. Still, they’re secure enough to hold moist food without leaking. If I were confident that the lunch would be carried and stored upright until eating, I’d be okay packing even stew, yogurt or other liquidy foods in the containers.

Kids Konserve lunch bag Kids Konserve reusable sandwich wrapper

The canvas carrying bag has a strip of velcro along the top and short string handles. Four-year-old Bug complained that the string handles hurt his hands when the bag was packed with a full drink bottle, so a little quibble there. It’s got a cute metal tag to write your name on, but that’s easily removed by people with sticky fingers, so best to label the bag and containers more permanently if there’s a potential theft problem where lunch is stored. Don’t laugh! I’ve heard of ID tags being torn off of cool lunch bags even at tony private schools, and the parents later spying the stolen bags being used by other children. (Grrr.)

The canvas bag isn’t insulated, though, so I wouldn’t pack highly perishable foods like yogurt inside as it’d come to room temperature quickly. Pack the containers inside an insulated bag with ice packs, or pack non-perishable foods in the regular cloth bag, and you’re fine. For more guidance, see my post on food safety for packed lunches.

The Food Kozy shown above is basically a reusable sandwich wrapper with a velcro closure that’s designed to replace plastic bags, plastic wrap, or aluminum foil. Handwashing and air drying is recommended. I liked the concept of this (hey, less plastic in the landfill? What’s not to like?), but found it a bit stiff when wrapping soft sandwiches. I think I’ll continue to use collapsible sandwich cases or bento boxes to reduce bread squishing when packing sandwiches, but I could see it as being a green alternative to plastic wrap for bulky, dry foods like bagels.

The kit (minus the condiment container) goes for US$40, and a set of four metal condiment containers is US$15 on the Kids Konserve store (if you need international shipping you can order them here from Nubius Organics). The company also puts out cuter versions with butterfly or caterpillar designs for US$42.

The folks at Kids Konserve have been kind enough to set up a 10% discount for Lunch in a Box readers; enter coupon code lunchbox at their online store (good until 9/30/2009). They also agreed to give away a lunch kit and a condiment container to a lucky Lunch in a Box reader; stay tuned for the giveaway.

(Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Kids Konserve, but the Nubius Organics link is an affiliate link that supports Lunch in a Box at no added cost to the buyer.)

* * * * *

Okonomiyaki bento lunch for preschooler

Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Mini okonomiyaki (Japanese cabbage “pancake” with shrimp and bacon in this case, made with my recipe), condiments for the okonomiyaki (okonomiyaki sauce, Kewpie mayonnaise, katsuobushi bonito flakes, and aonori seaweed flakes), mini banana, red grapes, and kiwi.

Morning prep time: 5 minutes, using leftover okonomiyaki that I made in smaller sizes with excess from dinner. In the morning I cut the okonomiyaki into bite-size pieces, filled the condiment containers, and cut the kiwi in half.

Packing: The mini okonomiyaki were just the right size to fit into the little round containers, but cutting them in the container when eating is unwieldy for a four-year-old. I cut each into nine pieces and stacked two okonomiyaki on top of each other. I usually peel kiwi and cut it up into bite-size pieces for Bug, but decided to go plain with it simply cut in half. I should have gone ahead and cut it up, though, as Bug had problems scooping the kiwi out with his spoon. I used flip-top squeeze bottles for the mayo and okonomiyaki sauce, a little furikake shaker from Ichiban Kan for the aonori, and a little condiment cup for the katsuobushi. (Shopping note: Ichiban Kan recently announced that they have expanded their shipping area to include Alaska, Hawaii, and APO/FPO addresses.)

Verdict: Too big — Bug only ate the okonomiyaki, a few bites of kiwi, and a few grapes. He ate the banana and the rest of the grapes at the playground after school as a snack.

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  1. I’ve been eye-ing these (or one similar) for a little while now. I didn’t want to plunk down such a huge chunk of change though without knowing exactly what I was getting into. Thanks for the review. It really helped answer some of my questions.

  2. Oh wow. Those are so pretty. I still need to eventually get a bento box (as I have none), and I’ve often debated metal. I think I’ll still get a plastic box to start with, but a metal one would be a nice change of pace.

  3. Great review – Tiffany and I share the same sentiments. And 10% off! Yay :)

  4. I am glad you reviewed this – I saw it at our local sustainable home store, but the price scared me off a bit. And the insulation thing is an issue, as pretty soon, it is going to be quite toasty during the day. I do like the way the box looks, and for my kids, who are slightly older than bug, the amount of food would be just right.

    Thanks!

  5. Tiffin cases? Am I jumping the gun by bringing up tiffin cases?

  6. I have a sandwich wrapper similar to the one you have trialled. It’s by Onya bags and is called a “Wrap N Mat”

    I’ll add a link to the site as it might be of interest to UK readers who can’t get the items you’ve featured here.

    http://www.onyabags.co.uk/shop.php?crn=213

  7. I love the green in this set! And I am very concerned about using plastic for my bentos, especially for kids, so this is a good alternative! I would love it if there was an easier or sturdier way to cart the container around though.
    Thank you for the review.

  8. Great review. Don’t know if I would want one though. Some of the points you made threw me off. I will stick to the bentos I have. It is becoming a bit of an addiction anyway. How would I explain another set to the hubs!? :D

  9. A quick question: I have that same little bottle with the bear head. Is it meant only for dry ingredients? I’ve been trying to transport condiments in it and I haven’t been too successful. Drips and leaks have been known to occur. The Daiso I went to had it advertised as a condiment container!

  10. @5 from arkonitebabe: Thanks for the link, arkonitebabe! What do you think of the Wrap N Mat? How well does it fasten?

  11. @6 from MaNams: I e-mailed Kids Konserve and asked them to double-check the “lunchbox” coupon code. They said it’s working fine on their store (not the Nubius Organics store, mind you, but the kidskonserve.com store) and have seen orders using it go through fine. Keep in mind that it’s “lunchbox” and not “lunchinabox”.

  12. @9 from misti: Yes, the little Clickety Clack bear-head yellow condiment container is meant for dry or really thick condiments, not really liquidy ones (as the lid isn’t 100% watertight like the screw-on type). I put katsuobushi in it, but have also had luck with ketchup & mayo.

    I’ve seen two similar ones from Daiso (I got mine at Ichiban Kan) — one proper condiment cup for ketchup/mayo, and another with a built-in spreader for things like peanut butter or butter. The one with the built-in spreader has a really cruddy latch, and even the regular condiment cups can develop loose lids over time. Watch out.

  13. @10 from annette: Good question about the lids — I’ll have to edit the review to add those thoughts. The lids are very tight-fitting; I was initially concerned if a 4yo would be able to open them on his own. When we first got them they were too tight for Bug, but after 5-6 openings/closings it loosened up enough for him to be able to do it on his own with a little concentration and practice.

  14. @11 from Biggie
    My wrapNmat handles really well. I haven’t tried it with slippery type sandwiche fillings like salad. Not the time of year:) But so far so good. The sandwiches stay in place, the slices haven’t come apart and the velcro fastener seems to be very secure so far. I like the way the mat opens out to form a napkin for your lap or table. It’s especially great for me as I travel around in a van all day so it’s quick and easy to open and keeps me clean too!

  15. That looks really neat but I think I’ll buy some of the parts indivudiually instead of the whole set. How thick is the metal on the containers? Would they get easily dented if carried in a backpack or swung around by an active ten year old?

  16. Thanks for the review but one thing that I like it leak proof containers so I think I will stick to my Lock & Lock bento sets for now.

  17. I like the look of metal (I have one of the pretty stacking ones), but they seem tricky to me. Sometimes my family wants to heat up lunches and invariably, there’s nothing but a microwave, which won’t work, of course.

    Maybe this would work for summertime lunches, for my daughter. She typically gets sandwiches and fruit, so this would be perfect for the hard use of nature camping.

    Thanks for the review.

    Stasia

  18. i still can’t believe that there is a possibility of lunch box theft in schools.

  19. what is the food cozy made out of, I couldn’t find the contents on the site. :[
    thank you for the review

  20. ah nvm I just saw what it’s made out of >_<;; hmm I wonder if i could make some.

  21. Please enter me in the contest! I would pack a PEANUT-FREE lunch for my son in this cute set!
    Thanks!

  22. I have been curious about the Kids Konserve lunchbox, thanks for posting such a thorough review! Unfortunatly, my quota of cash to feed my lunchbox obsession is dried up for awhile–I need to enter more giveaways :)