The Kitchen Think: Think Outside the Box


Did you carry a lunch box or did you brown bag it?

Mama carried a plain tin tartan-patterned lunch box with a matching thermos. Yeah, I probably would have liked the super cool Campus Queen Lunch Box (featuring the perfect blonde pictured with her perfect date) or even the Vietnam War era GI Joe Lunch Box (social commentary with your PB&J).

Those lunch boxes were definitely fashion over function. It was all about what was on the outside that counted, because when you opened it up, it was an empty metal box with a clip to hold the thermos (which was breakable). You threw everything in it and hoped that the tuna salad wouldn’t go bad and stink up your locker before lunchtime.

My, my, my the world has turned.

Saving the planet and Japanese-inspired Bento boxes are big this year. The latter is a good idea because it encourages portion control and eating a variety of foods. There are a lot of insulated lunch kits as well, to keep foods fresh and cool. I understand the need for this, but I find it funny because, when I was a kid, I don’t remember anyone getting sick because of a spoiled lunch. (They probably did get sick, but the school nurse usually figured you were faking just to get out of math).

Some of the more interesting lunchboxes:

The Laptop Lunches lunchbox fits into an insulated carrier that looks like a laptop. Inside there are 5 sectioned removable plastic containers with lids… and it comes with silverware (let me know if your kids still have all the pieces after a month… mine wouldn’t). You can keep the whole thing cold with icepack inserts (sold separately).

Another hipster option is from Planet Box. This also is Bento-box style, but composed of one stainless steel piece. The top has raised compartments so you can stack food in the bottom and latch it closed… no messing with different lids.


The Go Green Bento Box is a one piece Bento-box as well, but it is made out of plastic so it’s lighter. Both the Planet Box and Go Green Bento Box come with insulated carrying cases that can accommodate an icepack.


After all these years, Thermos is still rocking the lunchbox game… and still capable of inspiring lunchbox envy. The Zebra Purse Soft Lunch Kit is perfect for budding fashionistas. Thermos also makes several lunchboxes (most of them aimed at boys) that fold flat after use, presumably so you can stick them in a back pocket before hitting the playground.

There are literally thousands of lunch kits from which to choose. Cartoon and comic book characters are still big, as are TV shows, iconic movies and celebrities (although the Kardashians haven’t come out with a lunch box… yet).

But if you (or your kids) are’t into the flash, and prefer lunch incognito… well, there’s always that brown paper bag.

Find the vintage lunchboxes at these ebay stores: tommyboy-69 and charlotte’s web of collectibles.



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  1. Pingback: Mama's High Strung™ » Blog Archive » Kitchen Think: What Are You Packing?

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I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: