Pack the Best Lunches with This Essential Gear
Whether you need to make wholesome meals for little ones to take to school or simply want to get into the healthy and budget-friendly brown-bag habit yourself, it’s important to have the right equipment. After all, what good is a homemade sandwich that gets squished in a backpack or freshly brewed coffee that spills during your commute? By investing in some key pieces of equipment, you’ll be able to make and transport meals with ease and do away with lunchtime disappointment for good.
If you need some new ideas to spice up your lunch routine, look no further than our book The Make-Ahead Cook. This useful guide features more than 150 recipes for pasta and grain salads, stews, curries, casseroles, and more. These dishes can all be prepared in advance, making them perfect picks for a tasty lunch at home or the office.
Simple snap-down lid sealed easily throughout testing. Though it allowed a few drops of water during its first submersion test, after dishwashing, seal was perfect. Flat, rectangular shape encourages quick cooling or heating and stacks easily, with lid attaching to bottom. *Since our testing, the company has changed its name from Snapware Mods (but that's all that's changed).
BUY FOR $11
A neat, tight, reliable seal, good capacity, and solid performance in every test made this container a standout. We didn’t perform the “drop” test on this or any other glass container because of the certainty of breakage, and it was heavier than the lightweight all-plastic containers, but if you are concerned about microwaving food in plastic storage containers, this is the one to choose. Downsides: The lid is washable only on the top rack, and the container has a deep tall shape, which is less preferable than a shallower, flatter shape for quick freezing and heating.
BUY FOR $26
Inspired by the Japanese bento boxes for which it’s named, this 6-ounce plastic container transforms Mason jars into two-part food storage containers. The small tub fits neatly inside wide-mouthed Mason jars 1 pint or larger, but it stays at the neck of the jar thanks to a wide, flat rim, which creates plenty of space for snack duos like yogurt and granola, hummus and carrot sticks, or vinaigrette and salad. It formed an impressively tight seal, preventing leaks both inside and outside the jar even when we packed liquid ingredients. It’s top-rack dishwasher-safe.
BUY FOR $12
This twist-on plastic lid transforms a Mason jar into a drinking cup. A flip-top arm seals the drinking spout closed, forming a seal that stayed tight during transit. Once flipped open, the spout is wide and comfortable for drinking and the arm stayed back and out of the way. The lid can be sealed on so tight that we found it required near-superhuman strength to remove. It also worked as a salad dressing shaker, allowing us to mix up vinaigrette and pour it without dribbling over the jar’s grooves.
BUY FOR $9
This sleek mug kept coffee drinkably hot for twice as long as it took for us to get to work (over an hour), but what really made this a top tumbler was its simple, leakproof lid design, which made it super easy to handle and a cinch to clean.
BUY FOR $30
This bottle’s clear plastic sides made it easy to fill, and its bi-level twist-on lid was secure and easy to sip from. Its tether stayed out of the way and folded into a handy carrying loop.
BUY FOR $12
No other container in our lineup had an airtight seal (activated by a pop-up button on the lid). We also liked that the clear plastic (BPA-free) jar showed off our baking. The container was easy to clean, but the lid’s nooks and crannies took more effort, and the lid is not dishwasher-safe. We tested the 4-quart model; the container comes in several sizes and shapes.
BUY FOR $19
This bag protected food from freezer burn and ice crystals for more than two months, and it stayed intact when filled with tomato sauce and dropped. But the band of thicker plastic under the double zipper was on the short side, making the bag a bit difficult to prop open and fill. And the side seams on the zipper enclosure itself were less sturdy than those of the product’s older version, tearing more easily and allowing some water to leak into and out of the bag.
BUY FOR $5
BUY FOR $15
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