Published On: Thu, Oct 3rd, 2013

The School Lunchbox Purchase. Get It Right!

Danielle Mantakoul

Danielle Mantakoul

BA of Ed Early Childhood and Editor at Mummy Weekly
She's described as one of the most engaging & dynamic speakers in the early childhood industry today, now having educated hundreds of thousands of parents & teachers. She has lectured for organisations such as KU Children’s Services, Only About Children, Qantas, National Australia Bank, Child Protection Australia, Goodstart and hundreds of council & private centres. She also developed and ran the popular parenting series for the Australian Financial Review.
Danielle Mantakoul

Lunchbox PurchaseAs the new school year looms, we begin to make those all important school purchases, and for those of you with kindergarten starters, this includes a new lunchbox. But before you buy, take a moment to consider these points to get your school lunchbox purchase right!

Firstly, learning how to use a lunchbox is an art form, a balancing act, and kids need practise with this before they have to do it by themselves at school, so any box you choose, your child will need a bit of pre-use to get the hang of it.

When parents ask me what is the number one thing they are looking for in a lunchbox, I do not hesitate. Ease of opening and closing. This is paramount for little fingers that can tend to lack strength for difficult clips or zips.

Schools would be expecting that your child should be able to use their lunchbox without assistance. What you are seeking is the child-friendly, teacher-free lunchbox. Kids certainly do get help from their school allocated buddies at lunchtime, but this does not last long. Not only does the box need to be child-friendly, but the drink bottle must also have ease of use. A bottle difficult to close spells disaster for homework and notes in the school bag.

Children that attend the preschool environment tend to be using a lunchbox already, but many parents decide that they will buy a new box for their child to take to school. When buying a new lunchbox, take your kids with you so you can hand it to them to try. A zip is not a zip, and a clip is not a clip. Some zips can be difficult to pull, and some clips, a nightmare to undo. The lunchbox should pass this first test before you look any further.

When you do take your child to buy that lunchbox at Target, Woolies, Coles, K Mart, wherever you go, and you stand there with your child and you say “Okay sweet, which one do you like”? They are still preschoolers! So what preschool related lunchboxes are they saying they want for school. That’s right. Dora, Elmo, Thomas, Wiggles. Now you know we all love Wiggles, but Wiggles ain’t cool for school! You can soon find into the kindergarten year that your child would now like a “bigger kids” lunchbox. Money wasted. Go for a lunchbox that’s aimed at a child a little older, or better still, the plain lunchboxes can be the way to go. Also keep this in mind with the items that you put inside the box such as the toddler aimed character yoghurt tubs or cheeses.

There should be enough room in the lunchbox to place three different lunch items plus a drink. If a drink bottle does not come with the lunchbox and you need to purchase it separately, keep in mind that they should fit together somehow, be it comfortably inside the box or fitting in a side pouch. You want the two items to be together so your child does not have to grab them individually. Some kids when starting kindergarten get constipation because there is no longer an early childhood teacher reminding them to constantly drink in the warmer weather. To help with this, have two drink bottles. One for morning tea and one for lunch. Don’t rely on your child to take the drink bottle out of their morning tea box and to take it to lunch with them again. They will simply forget. Schools have bubblers, so keep in mind if the drink bottle is coming home full, that they could be using the school bubblers instead. To ensure my kids are drinking, I tell them I like to see at least half of their bottle empty.

Cling wrap is tricky for little fingers, so go the grease proof paper, alfoil, sandwich bags or the best thing, the little Sistema containers with the clips on the side. They are relatively easy for kids to open, and there is nothing to throw away. Ensure you label the base and lid of all containers, they tend to grow legs and become separated. Some lunchboxes you can place items inside the lid. Ensure with these boxes that the lid is not attached to the box, or you can have over balancing issues when the box is opened.

You know those wipes that you have been using for at least the last 5 years? You have probably used around 2.5 million of them by now. Pop one of those in the morning tea and lunchbox. Its nice for kids to be able to wipe their mouths and hands after they have eaten. Some schools have taken up being waste free with lunches, encouraging parents to avoid packaging and general waste, so check the schools policy on lunches to find out if items such as wipes or cling wrap are allowed.

Some parents put morning tea inside the lunchbox, especially if they are after the cold packing that the lunchbox may provide. Lunch and morning tea need to be in separate containers, making them easily identifiable to kinder  kids. Parents who put everything in the one box, kids take the box out to morning tea, eat everything, then not have anything left for lunch, so ensure you are separating and using the same boxes each day to help with confusion.

When you attend school orientation, take a look at where the schoolbags are kept. Some bags are kept in the classroom. Some, in a locker type room, and some outside on a hook. Some even get sun on them for part of the day. This may make a difference to what you pack, or it is at the very least going to give you an indication of how much cold packing you will need to do.

It is tempting to go the biggest lunchbox and drink bottle, but keep in mind kinder kids have a lot to carry in their bags. Jumper, hat, homework, library bag, change of undies and socks, school notes, and possibly news items.  Remember, that the lunchbox only needs enough room for three different food items and a drink bottle, not the weekly shopping.

By Danielle Mantakoul
Copyright 2012 Mummy Weekly
www.mummyweekly.com.au

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  1. […] A lunchbox isn’t a lunchbox and there are a million to choose from. To help you make a good decision on how to decide on which one is best, I have written an article on what you need to consider when purchasing. Lunchbox purchase, get it right. […]

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