The Wish List
With my daughter starting kindergarten in September, I have been on the hunt for a bento style lunchbox which ticks the following boxes:
- Multiple compartments which are spill-proof
- One container with a single lid
- Easy for her to open herself
- Appropriate for hot and cold food
We own a couple of Yumboxes, which are great and fulfill requirements 1. through 4. very nicely. I knew that number 5. would be more challenging and was not sure if I would find something suitable. Enter: the OmieBox, my wishlist come true.
Unboxing: First Impressions
It’s a great looking product which was well conceived and executed with attention to detail. My 5 year old can open the OmieBox and the insulated container on her own with no issues. This is the first insulated container that we have found that she can open on her own. The fold down handle on the lid is such a smart feature. Closing was a little more challenging than opening but fine after a couple of tries. You have to press firmly down on the lunchbox lid to snap it closed and the lid of the insulated container needs to be positioned correctly in order to twist it closed properly. It has a handle for easy transportation outside of a lunch tote. The insulated container is shallow and has a wide mouth which makes eating out of it easy. It can be removed completely to make room for a sandwich or other cold lunch option. A movable divider for use in the cold food sections was included too. This product has great versatility. The company’s website (www.omielife.com) is worth a visit with well presented product information, videos, photography as well as tips, recipes, and lunch ideas.
- Height: 2.9”
- Width: 7.2”
- Length: 7.2”
- Weight (empty) with insulated container: 1.7 lbs
- Weight (empty) without insulated container: 1.2 lbs
The Test Drive
To start, I filled the insulted container with boiling water from the kettle and tested it after 2 hours – it was still hot. I then boiled the kettle and re-filled the container and left it for 4 hours and the water remained very warm. This looked very promising. I did 3 test runs with food re-heated in the microwave as this is what I plan to do once school starts. In each case, I checked the temperature after 4 hours as this is the amount of time which is expected to elapse between lunch packing and lunch eating. I served my daughter the results of each test case as dinner to obtain her feedback.
Test 1: I pre-heated the insulated container with boiling water as recommended and then filled it with microwaved leftovers (chicken and coconut rice). The outside of the insulated container stayed cool to the touch after being heated with the hot water and filled with the hot food. This was a promising sign for the cold food items (fridge-cold drinking yoghurt, grapes, and some cucumber slices). Having read other reviews and recommendations about the cold food not staying very cold and that an ice pack is recommended to do this, I slipped it into a neoprene lunch bag with an ice pack and left it for four hours. The cold food was not cold but was still cool and fresh. The chicken and rice was only lukewarm.
Test 2: The second test was with leftover mac and cheese. I pre-heated the insulated container with boiling water and this time I made sure the mac and cheese was steaming hot. I included watermelon, carrots and a drinking yoghurt in the cold food compartments and packed the box with an ice pack and left it for 4 hours. The mac cheese was not hot but it was warmer than the food from Test 1. I think it is important that the food is really hot when you first pack it.
Test 3: Because I was curious if the ice pack was interfering with the ability of the insulated container to keep the food warm, I did a third test drive. This time was rice with lamb and gravy in the insulated container and strawberries and drinking yoghurt in the cool food compartments. I dispensed with the ice pack and left the Omiebox on the counter for 4 hours. The meal was no warmer than the mac and cheese had been. The yoghurt and berries were only marginally cooler than room temperature. I’ll be packing the ice pack with her lunch in September for the sake of the cold food items.
The insulated container could definitely use some improvement. While I found the temperature of the “hot” meals to be cooler than I would have liked, my daughter was happy; enjoyed her meals; said that the food was warm enough for her; and that she gives it two thumbs up.
A Few Things to Consider
- Price tag: At $69.95 CAD/$39.50 US, it’s steep for a kids’ lunch box and was the one thing that made me hesitate before purchasing. However, if it holds up to almost daily usage and she does not lose it, I think it will be worth its price tag.
- Washing up: while it is top-rack dishwasher safe, the company recommends that you take it out before the drying cycle or hand wash it. They also recommend that the insulated container be hand washed. To keep it hygienic, the seals should be removed for cleaning with warm soapy water and then rinsed and dried thoroughly. This is not difficult but it is a bit finicky and takes some extra time.
- Expectations: the cold food sections are double walled with air insulation in between so food will not be kept cold but will stay quite cool and fresh. An ice pack helps. It is leak‐proof on the outside and in between compartments but should only be used for wet food and not liquids. Use the insulated container for soups and other liquids. The square compartment (which houses the insulated container) is not leak proof. Food will not be kept hot. It is only lukewarm 4 hours later.
- Weight: some may find it on the heavier side but they would have probably had to sacrifice quality to make it lighter.
- It is not microwave or freezer safe.
- Appetite: the insulated container holds just under a cup (250 ml) of food, which is enough for my 5 year old daughter when eaten with the other items in the box. It may not be enough for an older child or one with a heartier appetite.
- When the insulated container is removed, if the lid is not sitting straight up, the lunch box can tip backwards as the lid becomes heavier than the bottom. This is not a big deal, just a side note.
- http://readisetgo.ca/ (I purchased mine from here)
- https://well.ca/ (11Jul2017: less expensive at $54.97)
Update (13 December 2017): After over 3 months of almost daily use, the OmieBox is still going strong and there is not much I would change about the review above. My daughter is still enjoying using it and her only complaint is that the seal around the lid of the insulated food container often falls off when she opens it. This also happens with some of the other insulated food containers that we have from other brands. I am a bit wary of using it for soups as they spill out a bit if she doesn’t finish what’s in the container as she can’t close it as tightly as I can.
Have you tried the OmieBox? What did you think? Do you have recommendations for lunch boxes which would meet my wishlist?