November 6, 2013 1:59 PM   Subscribe

I need a plastic lunch box to take to work. Requirements inside.

So I have a tiny fridge at work and I'm weird about foods touching each other, so I need a lunchbox that:

-Is no more than 3-4 inches thick.
-Is leakproof and lock-sealed.
-Has at least three separate compartments that keep food totally separate even if the box is situated on its side.

Price is no object within what a plastic box realistically costs.
posted by griphus to Shopping (27 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Not sure about the thickness, but laptop lunchboxes?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:02 PM on November 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm also weird about foods touching each other, and I really like my Sistema Salad-to-go. They have a few other divided ones, if the proportions of the salad compartments aren't right for you.
posted by carbide at 2:04 PM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

Bento boxes make good lunch boxes and are great for keeping foods separate.
posted by billiebee at 2:07 PM on November 6, 2013

I am goddamn obsessed with my Ms. Bento. So, so worth it. Won't bring my lunch any other way. It's a weird shape but is also completely fine to leave unrefrigerated.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:11 PM on November 6, 2013

I have a laptop lunchbox and while there are individual sections that have airtight lids, the box as a whole isn't. I can always contain the parts that might get saucy or sloshy in the airtight sections, but I wouldn't say it is entirely leakproof.

I do really like it, though! It lets me make my paleo lunches and bring them to work instead of relying on nearby sandwiches.
posted by chatongriffes at 2:12 PM on November 6, 2013

separate compartments that keep food totally separate even if the box is situated on its side.

This is going to be a challenge for most bento. They have internal compartments but if they tip over, all bets are off. I am also still waiting to find the leakproof bento. (liquids are not found in bento in Japan)

I was going to recommended either Ms. Bento or Mr. Bento. They do not meet your size criteria but since they don't need to be refrigerated, I do not think this should be an obstacle.
posted by Tanizaki at 2:15 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing Mr. Bento. Those things are great.
posted by Pecinpah at 2:17 PM on November 6, 2013

I have and love this set. It has two triangular large boxes and two smaller square ones, all with their own lids, inside a larger (but not very large) box. All parts are microwave and dishwasher safe. Sometimes I just take one or two of the inner boxes without the rest.
posted by MuChao at 2:21 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Laptop lunchboxes are about 2 1/2" thick. The standard fit-out comes with one lidded container, but you can buy additional ones separately.

I love mine.
posted by girlgenius at 2:36 PM on November 6, 2013

I completely agree with the suggestion to get a Laptop Lunchbox. I've had one for at least 6 years -- the same one. You can put it in the dishwasher with no problem. It's expensive, but I have found it worth the money.

As others have noted, the tops of the containers don't have lids. This is fine if you are putting stuff in it like a sandwich or carrots or trail mix or crackers or something like that. The food stays completely separated -- those things are big enough that they can't get into the teeny-tiny gap between the top of the inner containers and the lid of the lunchbox.

However, anything saucy or soupy will slop over -- yogurt, cottage cheese, pasta with sauce, etc. To solve that problem, I have deployed Glad Press 'n Seal wrap. Regular plastic wrap won't do, it has to be that Press 'n Seal stuff. Put that over the container with the liquidy stuff in it, and you're good to go. I would be hesitant to put something really watery in it -- no soup or milk or anything like that. But stuff that's just a bit fluid is completely fine. I've never had a leak.
posted by OrangeDisk at 2:36 PM on November 6, 2013

Nthing Laptop Lunchboxes. By default there are several lidless containers but you can buy additional lidded containers separately. The outer box is kind of flimsy, so you could also just buy the inner boxes and put them inside a Lock & Lock.
posted by payoto at 2:41 PM on November 6, 2013

I got a standard insulated lunchbox from Costco that came with a plastic bento-type box; it divides up inside to three compartments (or one if you remove the insert boxes) and has a lid that stays sealed tight. The food should not touch each other, though I haven't tried anything like soup.
posted by emjaybee at 3:31 PM on November 6, 2013

Ok, I just need to note that that Amazon link has some insane price on it of 47.00; I got it for 13.00 at Costco so I don't know what that is about. It's not a 50.00 lunchbox.
posted by emjaybee at 3:34 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Bento. Bento. Bento.
posted by The Whelk at 3:46 PM on November 6, 2013

Chiming in with another bento suggestion: monbento.
posted by tim_in_oz at 4:02 PM on November 6, 2013

goodbyn Fits all criteria and has held up well to daily use since Sepr.
posted by bq at 4:18 PM on November 6, 2013

posted by kbennett289 at 4:19 PM on November 6, 2013

These ziplock divided rectangles are even cheaper at Walmart or Target. I store my sort of halfway on its side in the fridge every day at work and nothing every leaks.

Don't put them in the dishwasher though, in order to maintain the tight seal on the lid.
posted by raspberrE at 6:24 PM on November 6, 2013

Hello, my name is Telophase and I am a bento box addict. Given your desire to keep your foods absolutely separate, I think you might be better off with several smaller separate containers than one container with compartments. I've pointed out several of each below.

Container Store options:

Divided Lunch-To-Go
For non-leaky lunches, the Cube-to-Go
For even more food segregation, the Recycled Lunchbox, which has several separate containers.
Also the Bento Buddies set, which works on much the same idea of separate containers.

I recommend the Mr and Ms Bento lunch jars like the other commenters: you can cool them down or warm them up as necessary before putting your food into them and you won't need the fridge.

Black & Blum:

Black & Blum has the Box Appetit but the inner container isn't leakproof, so it's only good for meals like their ad has, with spaghetti and a salad.
I like their Bento Box, but it's a one-dish meal option, unless you supplement it with other containers.
If you've got a tall or a long space in which to put the containers, their Lunch Pot is great--two leakproof containers that stack. I hace not tried their Thermo Pot, but it appears to be a one-dish container as well, and I'd just get a Mr/Ms Bento (depending on your appetite).

The Fit & Fresh Lunch on the Go Removable Container Set has a main compartment, two separate sealable boxes that fit inside the main one, and an ice pack in the top, so you might not even need the fridge at all.

Lock & Lock makes several lunch bag sets with separate food containers--depending on the size of the fridge space available to you, you might be able to take the containers out of the bag and shove them in, or just let the insulation of the bag take care of the food outside the fridge (replacing the water bottle with a small blue ice pack if you're worried). I've got this one, and the individual compartments aren't leakproof, but the two separate containers are.

Lock & Lock also has several other containers of varying sizes if you go the separate-containers route. They're in the regular food-storage section of the web site.
posted by telophase at 8:50 AM on November 7, 2013

In case you'll consider metal, Planetbox is not totally leakproof, *but* depending on which size you pick there are inner containers that are (they remain leakproof because they get sealed closed when the lid is locked. (there's a glass container for the Launch, and then dip containers or a larger round container that fit the middle-size one..)

Also depends on what kind of food - I've had berries, cherry tomatoes, etc. that didn't go anywhere at all, and also not-very-liquid food. It won't stop mingling of something with more liquid to it (yogurt, say) without putting the yogurt in a sealed container, though.

Also. Awesome magnets.
posted by modernhypatia at 1:18 PM on November 7, 2013

Could someone with a Ms. or Mr. Bento please take a photo of it next to/containing something of obvious scale (or locate such a photo as I can't)?

I've found a lot of photos but I can't actually tell how big the compartments are because they have foods in them that vary in size (e.g. cherry tomatoes and shrimp.)
posted by griphus at 2:02 PM on November 7, 2013

Here are a few snapshots of my Mr. Bento. (Coke Zero can for scale)

This product comparison chart also might help.
posted by Tanizaki at 8:59 AM on November 9, 2013

posted by griphus at 12:04 PM on November 10, 2013

I got the regular Mr. Bento and am currently eating warm food out of it! Hooray!

However, it seems that one of the two insulated bowls leaked. It's not a particularly big deal because the entire thing itself is leakproof, but I'm wondering if I am improperly putting liquid in there or jostling it around too much? Any ideas? Thanks!
posted by griphus at 12:38 PM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

(Just to be clear, it at no point tipped over.)
posted by griphus at 12:39 PM on November 13, 2013

I do not have my Mr. Bento with me now, but it is definitely the case that not all of the containers are leakproof. I think the only one that is safe for liquids is the one with the "valve" in the middle of the lid.
posted by Tanizaki at 8:54 AM on November 15, 2013

« Older How to store an overwatered bay laurel until...   |   Small delicious homemade snack food? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.