When we first starting writing the “What’s for Lunch?” series here at ProfHacker, we were striving to find ways to make lunch an enjoyable and healthy event, not salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes, soups, and leftover dinners).
Having really great food for lunch is fine, though, but what we haven’t spent too much time on is how to carry that food around with you. Of course, there’s always a paper bag (remember third grade?), and that’d be great for a PB&J sandwich and a bag of chips, but if you want a different type of lunch, maybe a lunch with greater options, a paper bag just might not do.
There are, luckily, alternatives to the paper bag. Mr. Bento and Ms. Bento are wonderful carriers for a healthy lunch, and they are stylish and functional. These stainless steel lunch jars have removable microwaveable inner bowls that have excellent heating / cooling retention. In fact, Mr./Ms. Bento can keep soups warm for hours, while holding salads, fruits, casseroles, dips, or whatever else you might have packed for lunch. They are a bit pricey, but they are sturdy. They come with their own carrying bag. If you are unsure about what kinds of foods you might include in a Ms. Bento or Mr. Bento, the Flickr Group by the same name can show you examples. Mr. Bento and Ms. Bento are favorites among the ProfHacker crew. Julie and I both use them.
Another way to carry your food for lunch are in “American-style” bento boxes from Laptop Lunches. The bento boxes are constructed of a sturdy plastic and their varying sizes allow you to mix/match which you might include. The bright (primary) colors of the boxes might suggest that these boxes are for children–and many people use them for kids’ lunches—but they are more functional than that. Laptop Lunches don’t hold soups, but they can hold a surprising amount of food. Interestingly, Laptop Lunches also has a Flickr group so you can see examples of how other people pack their lunches and what they include.
Lastly, there is a paper bag alternative: the neoprene lunch bag. These are colorful and fun. Manufacturers claim that the neoprene bag can hold hot or cold food (and keep them hot or cold for up to four hours), but I’ve never tested mine. I use it on days that I’ve made a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich for lunch. This bag, too, holds a surprising amount of food.
All the times mentioned here are dishwasher safe or machine washable (drip dry).
How about you? How do you carry your lunch with you to work? Please leave suggestions in comments below.