I was recently invited to join a Facebook group of Bento Bloggers. The group’s description is “Do you make bento meals and blog about it? Or make bento meals and not blog about it? Join your fellow bento makers to share tips, pics, links, and chat!”
Obviously, there’s a lot of lunch packing going on between all these gals! Many of the members use my EasyLunchbox containers and coolers for packing lunches for their family.
One of the gals posted this question last week:
“I have a question for the ELB’ers, and I’m being completely serious – what is the difference/ benefits to an ELB as opposed to a ziploc divided container? Educate me! :)”
Now, I’ve written a whole post that addresses just that question, and you’ll find even more on my testimonials and reviews pages. But, at the risk of self-serving overkill, I thought you’d enjoy reading some of the lively conversation that ensued:
(WARNING – this is long. Pour yourself another cup of coffee.)
Astrid of Lunches Fit for a Kid: “The ELBs are ridiculously sturdy… I’ve had mine (3 sets) for almost two years I think, and they go through the dishwasher daily. They have never warped or cracked or broken. They have never discolored and the customer service can’t be beat (Hi, Kelly!)”
Cristi of Bent on Better Lunches: “I agree. I haven’t owned the ziploc one, but just before I bought my ELB’s, I took care of a friend’s boys while she was out of town for 3 days. This is my friend who is a dietitian…she packed all their lunches before she left. She used the ziploc containers – purchased them new. 2 cracked just from the boys taking the lids off by themselves, and they warped in the dishwasher. Sucks for her, but bonus for me, made my choice to go with ELB’s very easy! I probably would have chosen them even if the ziploc performed just as well though, to be honest – I like the coloured lids :)”
Kendra of Biting the Hand That Feeds You: “…my personal comparison, the lids on the Glad/Ziploc are SO TIGHT (before they warp, anyway) I was practically in TEARS trying to get the lid off. My cute bento lunch inside was all shooken up by them too. No WAY could kids open it. I have dropped ELBs, sat on ELBs and the only thing is that the little tabs to help get the lids off have broken off two of my lids (from being dropped directly onto the tab.) The down-side to ELBs is the same as a plus for someone else – the lids aren’t water-tight, making them easy for kids to open and close on their own (unlike Ziploc, Glad, Laptop Lunches, Goodbyn, Tupperware, ECOLunchbox, or anything with those tension snaps on the sides.) Older preschoolers might be able to open the Lunchbots fairly well, but my toddler couldn’t at 2, and still can’t at 3.
Oh, and the Ziploc ones anyway, you get 2 for around $3-$4. And they will maybe last 6 months, tops. ELBs are 4/$14, or $3.50 each. I bought mine Summer 2010, and they’re still good. I got some Goodbyns when they were an awesome price through a deal site, but never use them. Maybe when my daughter’s bigger, she’ll be able to eat THAT MUCH food. But for the same ‘awesome price’ I can get FOUR ELBs.
I got a Laptop Lunches with some piddly discount code (10% maybe?) and splurged for a spare set of inner containers, but it took A WEEK to get all the little parts back once I’d tossed them into the sink to be washed since I don’t do dishes every minute. And I could get almost EIGHT ELBs for the same price!
I got a Groupon-type deal for KidsKonserve, and was super disappointed. They were SO overpriced compared to Snapware and Lock-N-Lock. And you can’t microwave the metal containers. And the lids? Don’t even get me started on how hard they are! The smallest one fits in an ELB, so I’ll use it on occasion.
I really dislike those fabric wraps/baggies just on principle. I’ve never been suckered into buying any. They’re ONLY useful in a hard-shell lunch container, since if you toss one filled with crackers into a diaper bag, you’re only getting crumbs back. Or a smooshed sammie. And if you’re going for a hard outer container ANYWAY, you may as well go bento-style. And I cannot be convinced that they can get truly clean. Ever. Would you eat a sandwich off your child’s (or husband’s) freshly washed underwear? Case closed.”
Shannon of What’s for Lunch at our House: (Shannon and her family just relocated to an army base in CO) ”I’m just thrilled I finally found ours! Unpacked a box and there were all 4 of them – the lids, and the bags! (Of course, we still have no silverware, but I have fun bento items again.) Kelly, I promise lots of good usage now that I know where they are! We’ve got a whole new base of people to convert and my husband goes back to work on Monday, so he’ll be taking one too.”
Stephanie of A Pocket Full of Buttons: “My fav part of ELB is the lids. They fit so perfectly and securely I never worry about it opening up as my daughter slings around her lunch bag. And because of that I know when she opens her lunch, all the food will be where I put it and not mixed together (which she does not like). ELB and Kelly rock!”
Astrid of Lunches Fit for a Kid: “…the only downside is that they’re not leak proof… we’ve had applesauce explode onto other compartments, and dumpling sauce leak (out of a secondary container) all over the lunch box and back pack… but you don’t claim that they are leak proof, so that’s no fault of the ELB… it’s user error. ;)”
Becka of Just a Bunch of Momsense: “Just adding my 2 cents here…. I absolutely prefer ELBs over Ziploc divided containers. About a month before I discovered EasyLunchBoxes, I purchased a set of Ziploc 3-compartment containers on a whim, thinking they would be great for freezable/reheatable TV dinners/lunches. Boy was I ever wrong. After ONE use, the bowl AND lid were completely warped, and the lid no longer fit properly. I have used my ELB’s almost every day since March and they go through the dishwasher after EVERY SINGLE USE. I’ve used them in the freezer and microwave MANY TIMES OVER. They have not warped or cracked at all, nor have they gotten that nasty plastic residue build-up that you get with Rubbermaid/Ziploc containers. Yuck! My kids use the coolers and we’ve never had a problem with spillage or leakage. I would NOT recommend using a sideways lunchbox for ELBs if you’re packing any moist/liquid-y foods. We use ours for lunch as well as frozen meals. I highly recommend these for durability and price. They WILL last. We love them.
P.S. If your kids are in sports and you find yourself constantly using the concession stand for dinner, pack yourself (and your kids) a healthy meal in your ELB’s to take along! I’ve been doing this for my daughter’s volleyball games and A LOT of people comment saying things like “Now, YOU’VE got the right idea!” or “Oooh, that looks good.” (Yep.)”
Shannon of What’s for Lunch at our House: “We took ours with us when visiting DH in Missouri. They are perfect for the car since they are bigger/flatter to fit on the kids’ laps and they can open them without any help. My oldest was in charge of the cooler since I was driving and it worked out perfectly! As much as I like some of the cute little bentos, I cannot imagine the mess in my car it I tried to use them on the road.”
Kendra of Biting the Hand That Feeds You: ”We tried a 2-tier bento in the car once. I had to give her just one tier at a time, and she was VERY angry about that. And kept wanting just one bite of whatever was in the one I had, and making me trade her back and forth the whole drive. It was horrible. When I finally gave up and gave her both halves, it all got on the floor. ELBs have been our best bet for eating in the car – so much so that I keep some clean ones in my car just for fast food on the road!”
Cristi of Bent on Better Lunches: “That IS a good idea Kendra! Kelly Lester, you could make a commercial for ELB’s out of our little chat here :)”
Kelly of EasyLunchboxes: (yea, that would be ME!)
@Cristi – This blog post might even be better than a commercial, since everyone fast forwards through those, lol. WOW!…I promise, none of these enthusiastic gals are on my payroll. Uh, I don’t actually have a payroll. (You guys are the BEST!)
Here’s the thing – My containers and coolers are NOT for everyone. If you must have leakproof or you want a super secure container to throw in a backpack on it’s own, EasyLunchbox containers are probably not a good choice. However, if used as I designed them – to be carried upright in my cooler bag – then you’ll probably love them. Everyone has different requirements when it comes to packing meals. My system may be just what your family needs. They’re easy to open, durable and affordable…”
So there you have it :):
Just a few observations about my EasyLunchboxes from these expert lunch packers. What? You haven’t read enough? OK then – here’s a post all about the cooler bags! So what’s your experience been with all the different lunch packing products you’ve tried? I want to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.