Tried & Tested: Snack-in-the-box

When your child wants street-cred and you want an easy life, the right lunchbox is crucial. Our panel dips in

IN THE battle to measure up in the playground, having the "right" lunchbox can mean a lot. But while for the kids, it has to be the very latest thing, for parents, it's more important that it resists damage and leaks. So, which should you choose?


Five children road-tested the samples with their mothers. The panel comprised Claire Wright, nine, her brother James, 11, and their mum, Di; Katelyn Dyason, six, and her mother, Jenni; and mother-of-three Joe Soden, with Joseph, nearly four, and Benjamin, nearly two.


Everyone agreed on the qualities of the ideal lunchbox. The parents wanted it to stand upright to prevent flask leakage, with enough room for sandwiches, crisps and other snacks. It had to withstand the usual playground knocks, and scored more highly if it was lightweight and easy to clean. The kids wanted something easy to open and carry, with a street-cred design.


pounds 6.99

The innovative "briefcase" design of this flask-and-box-in-one backfired; its four "push" catches were voted too sharp and too flimsy, while the children had trouble putting flask and box back together. "There isn't much space inside," reported Jenni Dyason; Katelyn Dyason and Claire Wright thought it "too fiddly". "Imagine the palaver of getting your lunch out of this every day," said an unimpressed Joe Soden. The only thing going for the box, it seemed, was the flask's bendy straw.


pounds 8

This metal snack tin, although tiny, was liked by all. "It saves taking a large lunchbox if you only want a snack," said Jenni Dyason. Claire Wright added: "I like eating all the time so it's good to carry around." Young Joseph Soden was enchanted with it, and his mother liked its novelty value: "If you were given it as a present, you might use it for holding cotton wool. But it's cute - children love carrying things like this around."


pounds 3.95

"The design on the front is sad, and it's too small," pronounced James Wright of this box, which carries the Fab Five's rather smarmy greeting: "Thank you for making us the number one act in the world." Everyone felt it was too small, but not bad for the price. Jenni liked the easy-slide catches, and pointed out that it was neat, sturdy and simple to wipe clean. "More of a snack box than a lunchbox," she said.


pounds 2.99

This lunchbox, with no handle and no gimmicks except a moulded lion's face on its yellow lid, failed to grab the panel, despite being sturdy, cheerful, cheap and easy to open. "You'd have to hold it and walk round with it all the time," said Claire Wright, who objected to the inconvenience. Her mother added: "You could put it inside your bag but it doesn't hold very much." The main drawback was that it would be easy to lose: "You'd put it down and forget to pick it up," said Joe Soden.


pounds 4.95

In principle, the adults on the panel liked the idea of keeping yoghurts cold with an ice pack, but when it came to this ingenious little red box, which has an ice-pack for a lid, they were less than keen. Their main complaints were that the four catches were stiff and fiddly, the lid was difficult to lift off, and there was little room inside for food. "It's something an adult might have, but it's not very exciting for kids," said Joe Soden. None of the children gave it more than a cursory glance.


pounds 7.95

This minimalist see-through plastic box, which came complete with movable compartment dividers and a flexible cutlery rack, was voted too bulky for school - and rather too adult. "It's quite stylish, but I couldn't quite work out exactly how to use it," admitted Joe Soden. Di Wright, meanwhile, liked the cutlery carrier, but added: "I'd use it for a family day out, for a picnic."


pounds 8

Voted the favourite "soft-sack" by everyone, this lined, double-zip bag was seen as a quality product with plenty of space for sandwiches, a drink and even an ice-pack. Mums were keen on the handle and on the incorporated name-tag; kids liked the "feelability". "The label's a good idea - the boxes I've got at the moment have got Post-It notes taped all over them," admitted Joe Soden. "This seems sturdier than a lot of the bags, and it's nice and big," reported Di Wright. Jenni Dyason pointed out that it was more difficult to clean, and the sandwich squash-factor was high. "All the crumbs tend to stick in the corners," she warned.


pounds 8.95

This was the out-and-out winner, loved by the kids because of its chunkiness and timeless design, and adored by the adults because it was sturdy, easy to clean, and came with the added bonus of a movable ice-pack, which creates an inside compartment. "It's a bit heavy and hard for young children to open, but good quality," said Joe Soden. "I absolutely love it. It would stop my chocolate bars from melting," said Claire, who found parting such sweet sorrow.


pounds 5.99

Trains haven't lost their appeal for little boys; both Joseph and Benjamin Soden picked up this bulbous blue case and were keen to carry it off. James Wright said it was a bit young for him. "Street cred's important. I'm more into Tom and Jerry, because they're always up to mischief." Mum Di Wright was uncertain about the flask. "The flasks always tend to break first, and this one has split slightly already," she reported. But it was simple to open, easy to carry, and had plenty of room for sarnies.


pounds 5.99

The children loved strapping on these insulated bum-bags, which would hold just enough grub to keep them going. Unfortunately, without the cardboard insert, they were too flimsy to prevent food from getting squashed; and picking crumbs out of the seams was frustrating. "They're great for picnics, but maybe not school lunches," said Joe Soden. Katelyn Dyason, a Barbie fan, didn't care about lunch; the bag was trendy enough to take anywhere.


pounds 7.99

Praise came for the design of this bag-and-box-in-one, which is big enough to carry a flask and to store sandwiches. But the adults were concerned about the quality, particularly the wear-and-tear on the seams. "It's a great idea having a box inside, but this looks as if it could easily split," said Di Wright. The children loved the bright blue design, and easy-carry handle. "This is good for younger kids," said James Wright.


Toy Story box from Hamleys, 0171 734 3161; Thomas the Tank Engine and Spice Girls boxes from Woolworths, 0171 262 1222; Animals in Danger tin from the Body Shop, 01903 731500; Lion box from Betterware, 0121 693 1000; 101 Dalmatians box/bag and Star Wars and Barbie bags from Daisy and Tom, 0171 352 5000 (London), 0161 835 5000 (Manchester); Mickey Mouse Polar Box and Mini-Fridge box from John Lewis, 0171 828 1000; Compartmental from Muji, 0171 323 2287; Mickey Mouse lunch sack from Marks & Spencer, 0171 935 4422.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum