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Posted on Feb 27, 2009 in Poll | 47 comments

Poll: What containers do you pack lunches in?

Poll: What containers do you pack lunches in?


What food containers do you usually use to pack lunches?

Although I have a wide variety of different containers for all kinds of foods and appetites, I usually wind up reaching for a bento box, a Lock & Lock box (Tupperware-type container), or a thermal bento set. It depends upon what I’m packing, what shape the food is, and if I want it hot. How about you?

If you’re not clear on the differences between the containers, click on the following for examples of a: Laptop Lunchbox, thermal lunch jar (like the Mr. Bento), thermal food jar, thermal bento set, tiffin tin, sandwich case, tempered glass box, disposable container, or other reusable container. I’ve left out  lunchboxes and lunchbags themselves from this poll; that can be a separate question at some point.

What containers do you pack your lunch in? (check all that apply)

  • Tupperware-type container (66%, 985 Votes)
  • Bento box (52%, 776 Votes)
  • Plastic baggies (29%, 431 Votes)
  • Sandwich case (16%, 239 Votes)
  • Thermal food jar or thermos (14%, 202 Votes)
  • Laptop Lunchbox (12%, 175 Votes)
  • Other reusable container (describe in comments) (11%, 170 Votes)
  • Thermal lunch jar (like Mr. Bento) (9%, 133 Votes)
  • Tempered glass box (6%, 90 Votes)
  • Tiffin tin or stacking metal box (5%, 73 Votes)
  • Thermal bento set (4%, 56 Votes)
  • Other disposable container (describe in comments) (3%, 49 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,496

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Poll voting closes at midnight Pacific on Friday, March 10, 2009.



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  1. My “Other reusable container” is pyrex with rubber lids.

  2. @1 from Venia: Ah, I knew I forgot something! Just added tempered glass boxes as an option. Thanks!

  3. My “other reusable containers” are lock & lock boxes, which is what we’ve used for the past five or six years before getting our Mr. Bentos.

    It really depends on what is getting packed as to what container is used. When my husband wants to take something tomato-based, like tomato soup, spaghetti, or lasagna, he always makes sure to used our “designated” containers that have already been stained!

  4. “other reusable container” - the Superman, rectangle, vinyl, lunchbox to hold all the plastic & thermal containers that go inside the lunchbox

  5. Our other disposable item is wax paper sandwich bags.

  6. I really want to start using glass containers for meals that need to be microwaved, but I’m terrified of dropping my bag on the way to work and shattering my lunch. Has anyone done that? Or is it only something that my own graceful self would do? lol.

  7. My other reusable containers are things like whipped topping containers, margarine containers, etc.

  8. I love my bento boxes, but I also use the gladware and ziplock plastic containers a lot as well.

  9. I buy lots of foods like olives, antipasti, marinated cheeses, takeaway salads etc that come in round disposable plastic containers of various sizes. I always keep and wash these to reuse for lunches - I carry them in a printed white cloth bag with zip and handles that was the original packaging a kg of basmati rice. The plastic containers can be washed in the dishwasher and resumed many times. They can be gently reheated in the microwave. I use them until they or the lids crack or buckle, or sometimes if I’ve had something very greasy and I just can’t be bothered washing it again! I very rarely run out.

  10. My other reusable containers are Lock & Lock and a Corningware soup mug with a vented lid for the microwave.

  11. I use a laptop lunch mainly right now and sometimes some small rubbermaid containers. I do have bento boxes being shipped to me that I will also be using:) Cant wait!

  12. I have two plastic containers with screw-top lids (1/2 cup capacity) that I really like for hummus or yoghurt, frozen fruit, etc. Anything room temperature or colder and I love that I don’t have to worry about spills. I also have one of the larger Greentainers with clips…it’s basically a tiffin, but is split inside rather than having separate containers stacked on top of each other. I like the more compact format.

  13. My other reusable containers are reusable sandwich and snack bags from Happy Sacks — love ‘em!

  14. I use a lot of the cheap plastic gladware/ziploc containers too. And I save all kinds of resealable containers that food and takeout come in.

    Like someone else said, I would sort of like to use glass containers for microwaving, but am not sure about how wise it is to send my fiance off to work with them.

  15. Another Lock & Lock user here

  16. Lock N Lock containers inside a vinyl lunchbox. I LOVE my lock n lock containers, but I have not been able to find a real bento box to touch and feel in person, and hands on is a must for me. Although, I love my lock n locks so much, that I may never get a real bento box!

  17. thesoftlanding DOT com/allugolu.html [NOTE: edited for dead link]

    This is a new one on me. I may just have to order one. Half bento/half lunchbox I guess. Cute.

  18. I also use lock n lock boxes. It was all I used before I bought my Mr.Bento. They are great for when I have errands to run with my daughter and don’t want to buy fast food!

  19. I’ve got some segmented containers as well. A couple are like divided plates similar to the disposable kind, only with lids. Plus I have a big round half bento/half tupperware one that has four removable sections in different colors. It looks like the tokens in trivial pursuit kinda.

  20. Like a few others, I generally use the Gladware plastic re-usable containers for my husband’s lunch. He requires substantially more food than I do and he also “grazes” throughout the day rather than just eating a lunch. And because he has microwave access, keeping things hot/warm is not an issue for him.
    I usually use a lovely thermal bento set a friend brought me from Japan. He knew I had looked at them on eBay but they were much too expensive ($35-50 before shipping!!).

  21. For the last 15 years I’ve used lexan Nalgene containers with screw-top lids (available at outdoor stores). These are the ones made of clear, hard plastic (lexan), not the white and softer plastic. The lexan doesn’t hold onto food odors much at all, and the food is more attractive in the shiny clear thing. They are really tough (I’m still using many of my original containers) and best of all the LIDS STAY CLOSED! It’s the only way I will pack salad dressing or milk, sure that it won’t leak. They come in several sizes: a large squat cylinder we call the bowl-gene, also a cup-gene, a half-cup-gene, and what we call the nano-gene which holds about two ounces (good for the aforementioned salad dressing).

  22. @kuzatab & others who posed the glass question: I haven’t had an issue on the few occasions I’ve brought Pyrex to school (about 10 years ago) except for the weight. I wasn’t a super careful nor careless child but I packed it into a plastic grocery bag in my bookbag and it was okay - I was not a teen who threw my bookbag around though, nor did I lay it down as though on lily pads. I did, however, once carry a plastic (think Ziploc brand?) container - the square one - in a paper shopping bag and accidentally dropped it straight down onto the sidewalk, and the whole thing exploded. The lid didn’t pop off, the plastic just cracked and everything got EVERYWHERE. I still don’t know how or why that happened - it was not frozen or hot. I was really mad about “losing my lunch” though!

    I personally cycle through my bento styles - weeks will go by when it’s all about the two tiers, then weeks will be all about lunch jars - then weeks of single tier boxes… it’s snowed about a foot here so far today, I may just be using lunch jars for the rest of the week…

  23. I use gladware for my reusable containers. they are great for small portions of moist fruit and other things like this for DDs lunch.

    Today her lunch was in a thermos jar—leftover lasagan and a small bento box with broccoli and dip. Plus a couple of homemade chocoate cookies. All this went to school in her purple lunch box.

    Mine is in a tupperware divided plate-this one does have a removable inner cup if you have something that doesn’t need reheating. For me—good Southerner that I am—barbequed pork, black eyed peas, turnip greens and 2 mini cornmeal muffins.

  24. I use Sigg food boxes usually. They are aluminum, and have no compartments, so I use the extra sets of inner containers from my laptop lunches inside, as well as some small lock-and-lock containers and silicon cupcake cups.

  25. My vote actually represents what I WILL be packing in, as my Ichiban Kan order is on its way. (It was due today, but it can’t get to me because of the snow.)

    “Other reusable container” refers to the washable fabric snack/sandwich bags I am about to make out of some gorgeous Amy Butler scraps!

    PS: Spending my snow day in the kitchen, making lots of bento freezables (rice, pasta, sauce). Thanks!

  26. I love my Fit ‘n’ Fresh sets! Picked them up when the hub and I started the South Beach diet because they would also hold the two snacks you were assigned as well as most of the lunch stuff.

  27. I use ziplock plastic reusable boxes sometimes, along with normal bento boxes. They’re small, reusable, and easy to pack.

  28. If I order out for Chinese, I’ll save the plastic containers they come in. Those last me a goodly while.

  29. My other resuables are Ziploc or Gladware boxes that I use until my husband cooks them too long with spaghetti sauce and they fall apart. :)

  30. Like Anny Mouse I have a Fit N Fresh set that I sometimes use instead of my bento boxes or laptop lunch set. I find it a bit too large most of the time, but it’s perfect for packing a salad - plenty of space to keep the greens from getting mushed, and an ice pack to help keep them crisp:

  31. I love my Lock & Lock, but the kids (13, 15, & 19 - and yes, they are the envy of their class mates!) get Hello Kitty Bento boxes!

  32. I <3 my Lock and Lock containers. I have a bunch with inside dividers, and use those almost as much as the real bento boxes. For hot stuff, i use Mr. Bento.

  33. I use Sigg food boxes usually. They are aluminum, and have no compartments, so I use the extra sets of inner containers from my laptop lunches inside, as well as some small lock-and-lock containers and silicon cupcake cups.

  34. I reuse the retangular plastic containers from our local Chinese restaurant, too. They are just right for DH’s lunches and they are microwave safe, too.

  35. For fresh diced fruits and salads I use the fit and fresh plastic containers that can keep the contents cool and fresh for up to six hours. All I need to do is refrigerate the cooling gel plate prior to use. Great for summers!

  36. We like Lock & Lock…the 2- and 4-compartment boxes are the best things!

  37. Hello Biggie! I’m actually commenting to ask you a bento-question: I check a lot of bento-blogs for inspiration, including ones in japanese, since most of the time the photos (or a translator) can help me figure out what’s in the lunches. However, there’s one ingredient that keeps popping up that I can’t identify. It’s used in this lunch:

    I want to know what the yellow ‘flower’ in the front is. Do you know what it is? Thank you!

  38. Reusable: glass jar for soup, lock&lock
    Disposable: aluminum foil

  39. My other reuseable container is an ancient Rubbermaid Lunch Break! Sandwich/Snack Keeper. It’s so old I couldn’t find a picture of it when I Googled it! It’s a meal size sandwich keeper. It has two layers, the top lifts out and has three divided compartments. The bottom is one large compartment, but it’s a bit small for anything but sandwiches made with Maier’s very square bread. ;) I’ll take a picture the next time I use it and post it on the LiaB forums.

    I do usually pack some additional things in a sidecar container when there’s bread in hs lunch because it’s not quite big enough for my DH’s big appetite unless it’s packed really densely without bread or other bulky lunch items.

  40. BTW - Mary, that yellow flower looks like it’s made of plain old processed cheese! I can’t imagine what else would be so flexible!

  41. I use different boxes/containers depending on what the lunch is. Laptop lunchbox when there are several items, sandwich box for just a sandwich (& pickle spear!), thermos for soup, single layer bento for a pasta-skillet type dish or things that can mush together a bit. It all depends. You have to use the best tool for the job!

  42. For my pyrex containers, I try to pack them with a cloth napkin underneath (in the bottom of my paper bag) to prevent cracking from setting it down hard.
    I think that a padded lunch bag would offer plenty of protection, though.

  43. My daughter gets a Laptop Lunchbox because it fits perfectly in her bookbag. My husband gets a re-used plastic take-out container from our favorite Chinese restaurant.

  44. @37 from Mary: I think the yellow foldy thing that makes the flower in the lunch link you gave is probably thin egg sheets (usuyaki tamago, microwave version recipe here).

  45. Most of the time it’s our Laptop Lunchbox. Otherwise it’s “other reusables” in the form of Snack Taxi bags and Wrap n Mats.

  46. I’m a little late for the poll, but I use a Bento box most of the time.
    I am in the market for a good tiffin tin, though. I want to start cooking Indian-esque meals and bringing them to work with me.

  47. Although I have a wide variety of different containers for all kinds of foods and appetites, I usually wind up reaching for a bento box, a Lock & Lock box (Tupperware-type container), or a thermal bento set. It depends upon what I’m packing, what shape the food is, and if I want it hot. How about you?