Tuesday, September 7, 2010

review: PlanetBox for waste-free lunches that are out of this world!

I've added the PlanetBox to our stash of lunchbox supplies this year. There have been a lot of questions about this new contraption and I apologize for being a bit vague about it. This post should (hopefully!) answer all your questions. :)

I had my eye on the PlanetBox for nearly a year. And being that PlanetBox is just in its infancy, having just celebrated their "first birthday" this summer, there wasn't a whole lot of information available out there. It's a bit on the pricey side and I wasn't sure about investing in it without any reviews or outside opinion weighing in on the matter....

But then this blog happened. :) And this blog gave me an excuse a reason to bite the bullet and finally buy it. And I'm so glad I did because it is really fantastic. This is where my hesitation to say too much about it on the blog thus far came from - I wanted to have a chance to really check out the PlanetBox and use it awhile before fully endorsing it. It's a bit of an investment and I couldn't in good conscience recommend an expensive lunch system to you all just to find that it wasn't worth it. But the good news is that I'm very happy with the PlanetBox and I feel good great about recommending it! :)

Okay? Okay! Let's get on with it then. :)

First, the name is just awesome. PlanetBox? You know it's gotta be cool. ;-)

Secondly, food looks far-out in it. Tidy, streamlined, the individual compartments of the PlanetBox make for really nice "frames" and just helps make the food it contains look nice.

PlanetBox froggie sandwich

This lunch was for my little girl and contained:
- Trader Joe's brand of corn puffs
- cantaloupe and grapes
- celery with peanut butter and raisins, aka "ants on a log"
- turkey sandwich on whole grain (cut w/ Sand*Wishes Lunch Punch) and cheese crown
- wafer cookie

I *love* that swizzle sticks fit in the long section.
My *kids* love that there is that tiny treat section because they always get a treat in it, and I usually don't include treats in lunches otherwise. LOL ;-)

The details:

* PlanetBox is 100% high-quality stainless steel.
* Being Stainless Steel it is obviously BPA free and free of all that other gunk we don't like (that would be: lead, PVC, and phthalates).
* Dishwasher safe
* Super duper powerfully durable

stainless steel PlanetBox

Even when it's naked it looks so cool!

When you want to dress it up there are fun magnets you can attach. :)
PlanetBox with ocean magnets

There are several magnet sets to choose from to decorate your PlanetBox (and every PlanetBox purchase comes with your choice of magnet sets!). Ethan picked the ocean themed magnet set. I really wanted the retro rocket motif, but he insisted. I'm sure I'll be ordering the rockets anyway at some point. They are just way too cute. :) Paige is partial to the rainbow and "princess pony" set. ;-)

The backside of PlanetBox, in case you are curious.
PlanetBox backside

One of the things I hemmed and hawed over when it came to ordering the PlanetBox was the lunchbag. To be honest, I wasn't wowed by the lunchbags and I tried to find a different lunchbag that would fit it. I could never find one. The PlanetBox is just a little too long and wide to fit in the other lunchbags I found. So I went ahead and ordered the complete set, including the lunchbag. Again, I'm glad I did! The photos of the lunchbags online really don't do it any justice at all. The PlanetBox carry bags are really very nice. They are VERY well insulated and solid!

The PlanetBox fits inside, just like so:
open lunchbox

The mesh pocket can hold two of my preferred ice packs side-by-side just perfectly. :)

PlanetBox, all zipped up and ready for take-off:
Lunch ready to blast off!

I can't even tell you how thrilled I was to find our Thermos Funtainers will fit in the drink pocket. PERFECT!

The whole lunch system is very streamlined - if your child prefers to carry his or her lunchbox inside their backpack the way my Ethan does, you'll appreciate how thin and easily this slips inside. :)
Planetbox slim profile

Please Note: Pink Funtainer is not Ethan's. It is Paige's. Spiderman, Batman and newly acquired Star Wars Clone Wars Funtainers were all either away at school or in the wash when this photo-shoot took place. Ethan would not appreciate anyone getting the impression that he is using the pinkalicious Hello Kitty drinking vessel and I'd like to make that clear now, to save myself from the 8-year-old's tirade of disdain. Thank you.

PlanetBox recently came out with some new lunchbag colors and the new carry bags have an even roomier pocket that looks like it could accommodate even more reusable drink bottle options.

As part of the "Complete" PlanetBox set I ordered are two small stainless containers, "Big Dipper" and "Little Dipper", that can fit inside the Planetbox, or be used separately (the big one would be great for a snack and slipped into the outside pocket of the carry bag!). We have used the small one for dips, and also worked great for housing sunflower kernels. They are really handy and seal so nicely!
PlanetBox containers

If I were handing out grades here I would have to say that that PlanetBox earns an A+. It is very functional and cool. The only downside to the whole lunch system is the cost. For the PlanetBox alone it is $35, that's a bit high for a lunch container. But I can honestly say I think it's totally worth it. The PlanetBox is a quality piece that will last years and years. This is not an item that will wear out over time. I foresee the PlanetBox being with us for a long time, to infinity and beyond, you might say.

PlanetBox is available for sale on their own website, planetbox.com,  and Amazon (ships for free!). They have a great website - check out the thorough FAQ's section! Just about every question you can dream up is answered there. In the year I pined away for this lunchbox I read every word on the website and I can attest that what you see and read about is what you get. The only surprise I had in store when I finally got the PlanetBox was how much nicer the carry bag was than I expected! :)

In a nutshell: PlanetBox rocks.

Supplies used in the making of this lunch:

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mochadoo said... [Reply to comment]

I have been eyeing this box too! Thanks for letting us know what you thought. I need to save up for a splurge like this though....maybe I'll put it on my xmas list! :)

Liz A. said... [Reply to comment]

I got them this year for Audrey & Connor and LOVE them. Well worth, the $ in my opinion. Both kids like them (though Audrey says she's disappointed the Planetbox was invented because she has healthier lunches and less "junk" now). Thanks for reveiwinf these Melissa!

Princess of Everything (and then some) said... [Reply to comment]

I love your disclaimer about the Pink Funtainer. HA!!

I love this box. I wish that they made it in an adult size.

Quinn said... [Reply to comment]

These are the CUTEST lunch boxes I've ever seen (not to mention that the frog sandwich is the most adorable LUNCH I've ever seen). Oh my goodness! How fun!

Cari said... [Reply to comment]

My middle daughter, reading over my shoulder, says how cool the box is and how badly she wants one - not only does it get her "cool" endorsement but your quality endorsement - looks like I'll be getting two of these:)

What are the eyes on the sandwich made of? SO cute!

Cher said... [Reply to comment]

Has it been a problem that the planetbox is stored on its side in the lunch bag? Do the sides of each section touch the lid so the foods don't get mixed together?

CarlaMom2AnSnM said... [Reply to comment]

I've been waiting for this review :). I was hoping you loved it as much as I do, but afraid, since I'm new at this whole Bento thing, that maybe I was missing something LOL. I started with 1, for my 2 girls to share, especially since I wasn't sure how the Bento thing would go in our house, but it's gone so well, and I was tired of the girls getting mad about it not being their turn for the planetbox that time, that I got another one with the new pink case. We LOVE them here, and they're the envy of the kids AND teachers at school!

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Cher, everything stays in their respective spots very well. Each section holds the food put - the sections are not water-tight, that's what the Little Dipper and Big Dipper containers are for - but you don't need to worry about foods being mixed together at all. :)

Cari - the frog eyes are made of icing, like little cupcake decorations. :) Here's a link to them on Amazon: http://amzn.to/cT7mrV

Mikaela said... [Reply to comment]

I've SO been wanting to purchase a Planetbox. Having a hard time justifying the $60 price tag (for the complete system) though. Thinking it might be a great Christmas gift.

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

CarlaMom - LOL! Not missing anything, I just needed to be sure of it before I did my review. :) I can see needing to get a 2nd PlanetBox at some point for us too! So far the PlanetBox has flown under Owen's radar, but I have a feeling once he notices it he's going to want to use it too. We'll see. :)

Erin said... [Reply to comment]

Hi, I'm a new reader, precisely b/c my son went back to school with a PlanetBox in August and I've been looking for ideas! I love it SO much. He's a kid on the go who doesn't like to take a lot of time to eat, so I love that he opens one latch, and voila! It's all there. Plus, it's so easy to clean.

Being new to the bento box concept, the PB makes it so easy. Just fill each section! I'm surprised at how much my son likes it. (And he did pick the Retro Rockets.)

Glad to hear you're a fan, too.

Kate said... [Reply to comment]

you just might be the coolest mom ever. found your blog and LOVE it! thanks for the inspiration!

Holly said... [Reply to comment]

I don't have kids, but I bought this for me to take to work. It's great for adults too and I'm the envy of the other architects and designers in the office. It's simply good design. My lunch today: turkey sandwich, artichoke hummus dip with cucumbers, fresh strawberries, whole grain blueberry bar and cheese crisps. It all fit!

Holly said... [Reply to comment]

Oh, and the drink pocket fits a Sigg water bottle. The carrier also slips easily into a messenger bag.

Amanda said... [Reply to comment]

Just like Holly, I don't have kids, and I also bought the PlanetBox for myself. As a teacher, I have the same short lunch time that the students have. I wasn't sure it would be enough food...especially since the box is marketed for kids. But, I get PLENTY of food, and the design makes it easy to add lots of filling fruits and veggies!

Sarah said... [Reply to comment]

My daughter's PlanetBox was used every single school day last year, and still looks as good as brand new. I throw the case in the washer every week or two, and the planetbox itself in the dishwasher when the timing works out. Well worth the investment.

Amy said... [Reply to comment]

Holly, thanks for your comments, as we have messenger bags and siggs at our house.

I am interested in this because it's not too babyish for my daughter to use next year when she hits middle school (boo hoo).

Melissa, I am torn between the PB and the laptop lunch system. Price is a big factor as I have two girls. What do you think?? Help!!

Jaime said... [Reply to comment]

Melissa, we have been LOVING our PB! I love the pink carry case, and Carina is loving her unicorn magnets! Your review is awesome!

Amy said... [Reply to comment]

One more question...is it sealed enough that your chips/crackers don't go stale or mushy?

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Hey Amy! It doesn't really *seal*. It seals as much as two plates inverted would seal. Does that make sense? I pack lunches in the morning, so food is only sitting for a few hours...and nothing has gone stale or mushy in that short period of time. Ethan is very vocal (read: complaining) of textures being off and he's just pleased as punch over the PlanetBox.

On your question regarding PlanetBox Vs. Laptop Lunches...
PB is more expensive, and LL can give you more packing options (especially if you factor in the Bento Buddies inner boxes). PB is only 1 piece to keep track of versus 5 pieces for LL (or TEN if you have two of them! Those pieces add up fast...I've got 3 LL and it's a lot to keep track of).
I really can't say one is better than the other. Sorry! I'm crazy lunchbox lady. ;-) I like the versatility of LL, but the PB can't be beat for durability and ease!

Kelly Polizzi said... [Reply to comment]

i love the way food looks in it too. My husband told me to order one a few days ago, thanks for the reminder!

Jus said... [Reply to comment]
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jus said... [Reply to comment]

We have four planetboxes on their way and I was so happy to open this blog and see the review! I was already wondering if I would regret such an expensive purchase and am feeling far better now. We ordered the basic box/magnets alone and hope to make something for wrapping it just could not quite get the whole set for all four!

Snowflowers Mum said... [Reply to comment]

I like this set, but I wonder for the little ones if there is enough room on the lunch table because the footprint of the lid is so large? I certainly like the idea though. For now I'm sticking with my little bento boxes but maybe in first grade I'll go PB.

Couture and Crayons said... [Reply to comment]

Thanks for stopping my blog. I'm glad you did because you have some awesome ideas. You are super mom, 4 kids. You are a saint. Off to read the rest of your posts! =)

Jenn @ BentoForKidlet said... [Reply to comment]

Ack, yet another thing to go on our list :P I love this box! I wish it weren't so expensive :/

Cameron said... [Reply to comment]

I love when you share the tools you use for your bento box lunches! I'm really excited about doing this when Isis is in school!!!

Nisha said... [Reply to comment]

Love these lunch boxes! Our whole school is aiming to have Rubbish Free lunches every day. Pity the postage to Australia is so steep! I hope PB gives you a discount code for your blog followers, im sure they've had an influx of orders due to this fantastic review!

Kelly said... [Reply to comment]

Looks like my kids are going to remain planet box deprived. Cool though it is, that price is just ridiculous!!! Hopefully they can rework this as time goes by....

Otiiva said... [Reply to comment]

I LOVE this...I bought Goodbyn's for my LO's, but now I'm doubting them because they are hard to open and close. Since I have 3 kids - it's MUCH easier to have one big container lunch, than a whole bunch of little parts.
How easy is it to open the latch though? I need this to be EASY, then they can save their Goodbyn's for when they are a bit older and can open/close them by themselves.
Thanks!! LOVE your blog BTW.. ;)

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Otiiva, the PlanetBox is VERY easy to open. It closes securely, but isn't the least bit difficult to work at all. I have the Goodbyn too, so I know what you are talking about there. I'm 100% sure you wouldn't have any trouble at all with the PlanetBox latch. ;-)

afroedge said... [Reply to comment]

Does that long section fit a yogurt stick (or whatever those longer ones are called :) by chance?

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Ooh, good question, afroedge! Um, no, I don't think so. I have a frozen one I just tried and it's about 1.5" too long. The brand I have on hand is Simply Yogurt (something like that). I don't know if different brands are different sizes or not...

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

I have really been eyeing this for a few weeks now but the cost is higher than I would spend for a lunch box. Thanks for your review..maybe we will add it to our christmas list for the grandparents this year ! LOVE your website by the way!

Nina Crittenden said... [Reply to comment]

I am totally considering Planet Box for my girls. Thank you for all the great info! :)

SallyP said... [Reply to comment]

So does Goodbyn open & close like Rubbermaid type containers? We have a Laptop Lunch and unfortunately my son struggles with that latch. How does Planet Box latch compare to LL? It looks like it just slips off but I thought pushing the LL latch would be easy. Any opinions?

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Sally, the Goodbyn is trickier to open than Rubbermaid/Tupperware things. It's our most difficult container to work with.

How old is your son? My oldest son could not open the Laptop Lunches box when we first got it either. He was in Kindergarten (age 6) then and was just so frustrated by the latch. Now my daughter who is 3 can open the Laptop Lunches, she has to concentrate, but can manage it when she really wants to - she's not as easily frustrated like her big bro. ;-) But in any case, the PlanetBox is very simple and easy to open. The latch holds the box securely, but it's not the least big difficult to open at all. I can open it using only my pinky. :)

. said... [Reply to comment]

I got my son the PlanetBox and Goodbyn. We kept the PlanetBox and sent back the Goodbyn. We love the PlanetBox! It makes the food easier for my lazy eater to get to instead of having to open different baggies/containers to get to his food. It also makes the food look more presentable and fun. The thing is so sturdy, that next year, I will just buy new magnets and then he's got a new lunchbox! :) Well worth the $60.

Era Glare said... [Reply to comment]

I got 2 Planetbox sets,the pony for my daughter(3rd gr)& the earth for my husband(believe it or not). Cost= $120 for both +$10S&H = $130. And I would say, that's a lot a money for a lunch box! But I did it anyway. I do love everything you've mentioned about it and I agree to all of what you've said. But I just thought I should share some of the real drawbacks that came with it.(actually, according from my 8 yr old daughter).

1)too heavy (I guess for a small child)
2)the plastic seal from the small/big dipper keeps on falling whenever she opens it.
3)and her supposedly hot/warm food doesn't keep.
4)kind of sharp edges(yes! her little finger got caught while she was closing it and cut her).
4)and a very high price tag <--this is according to me.

Now, don't get me wrong, it is the coolest thing!
I personally love it! I just thought I'd share my thoughts too. :-)

Rachele Gorsegner said... [Reply to comment]

Do you think the case is a necessary accessory? Will it stay closed without the case?

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Rachele, do you mean the carry bag/lunchbox? The PlanetBox would certainly stay closed without the outer carry case - the latch keeps it closed securely. If you do not need a lunchbag for the PlanetBox, you'd be able to use it independently, certainly. ;)

Maven said... [Reply to comment]

Where do you get your the purple name tags? I am going to get one for my daughter, but darn it I want one tooooo. I'll use it when she's home from school.

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Hi Maven! The nametag is a Mabel's Label, the linky for their online shop is right over there -->
in the right margin above the Amazon box. :) They are the BEST. Microwave, dishwasher safe. They don't fade or wrinkle or anything. They last forever! Love those. I put them on everything. :)

mamamay said... [Reply to comment]

Can you tell me what you use to skewer the grapes and the cheese? Thank you.

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

The long stick that is holding the grapes and cheese together is a swizzle stick - a cocktail drink stir stick. They are from a party supply store. :)

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

Hi, I absolutely love your site and find it very fun and informative!*
I definitely want to buy the PlanetBox though wanted to know if you knew of any other lunch bags/sacks that it would fit in other than the PlanetBox carry bag.
Also will the Klean Kanteen 12oz fit in the drink pocket?

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Anonymous (#46) - I don't know of another lunch carrier that would hold the Planetbox. It's slightly longer than a Laptop Lunches, so it won't quite fit in the majority of lunch boxes. I'm not sure about the Klean Kanteen. We used to have those, and I think they were a big wider than the Thermos FunTainers, though I'm not positive. Another variable here - it looks like the PlanetBox carriers have been redesigned a big. The drink pocket looks different than on the original carrier that I have. So I'm not sure if that makes it roomier or tighter.

Jennifer said... [Reply to comment]

Where did you get the swizzle sticks?

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

I bought these swizzle sticks at a local party supply store, but I see them regularly at places like Target and grocery stores too. Amazon and several other online retailers sell them too. HTH! :)

Foodie Mama said... [Reply to comment]

I have been on the fence about the PlanetBox for a while now. Your positive review finally sold me. I ordered it a few days ago and I can't wait for it to get here. I can't find the swizzle sticks anywhere though. I have been to all the party stores, Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, WalMart, the dollar stores, even the liquor store! No luck. :-(

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

That is odd, Foodie Mama! Where are you looking? I see them all the time stocked right next to toothpicks and disposable cutlery.

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