BPA-Free but Microwave Safe? The Search for a Safe Lunchbox

Ladybug lunch box, $14.95 @ Lunchboxes.com

So yes, I got the email a few years ago about plastic containers being potentially dangerous when microwaved or used to store food in the freezer or fridge.  I remember suspiciously eying all the take-out food containers we were using for all our leftovers and thinking I should probably replace them.  Let’s just say it didn’t make the short list of priorities.

The turning point was when Jasper, after a year + of taking hummus sandwiches in his school lunch (he’s a creature of habit), decided he wanted the fancy pants stuff his friends were taking in theirs; namely, leftovers. Totally do-able, and actually easier, right?  Except that all the stuff gets nuked at school.  So faced with the fact that I was probably loading him up on BPA (I have evolved enough to know the name of the enemy), I started looking around for some options.

First stop, courtesy of a suggestion from cousin Steve: Preserve Products, a BPA-free company that recycles plastics to be more environmentally friendly. They use only #5 plastics, which have not been shown to leach BPA.  These are also dishwasher friendly (top rack only).

Large food storage container, $2.99, Preserve

I ordered small, large and square containers, plus a colander, and a 4-pack of plates, bowls and cups.  We’ve really enjoyed them; the food storage containers stack nice and neat in the fridge and the dinner ware is in constant rotation.  The downside is that these cannot be microwaved.  So the search continued.

Over at A Child Grows in Brooklyn they were talking about Lunch Skins.

Lunch Skins, $8.95 at 3greenmoms

I could definitely see these replacing my Ziplocs. The website says they might also replace  your Tupperware, but I DON’T see that with these and besides I have my cool Preserve stuff.  So these are not the answer, despite the fact that they are dishwasher safe and come in cute, Marimekko type fabrics. Alas.

Next, I found the most excellent Bento Box system from Laptop Lunches.   You can buy a kit from these folks that includes a lunchbox, and multiple, different-sized containers in a variety of colors.

Bento system, 2.0, $39.99 at Laptop Lunches

I bought a smaller version called “Bento Buddies” 2.0 that came with one large container good for sandwiches or pasta, one smaller and good for fruits and veggies, and two little containers, one a perfect size for hummus or some other condiment, and the last good for something even smaller (raisins?). Everything is dishwasher safe (top rack only).  And the containers (not the lids) are microwave safe.

Bento Buddies 2.0, $12.99 @ Whole Foods

Yippee, right?  Well, not exactly a home run. We’ve been using the Buddies and loving them, but I have to admit I don’t really understand the difference between these and the Preserve Plastics containers and why one can be microwaved and the other cannot.  The lunchbox containers are made mostly of plastic #5 as are the Preserve Products.  In the FAQ section of the Laptop Lunches site they say, “Our plastic containers are all FDA-approved for microwave use. However, some experts believe that microwaving in plastics of any kind may be hazardous. If you microwave in plastics, our containers are fine. Please note that the lids are not microwave safe.”

I’m starting to think that the BPA-free but microwave safe lunch containers are a mirage. Does anyone have any ideas out there?


5 Responses to “BPA-Free but Microwave Safe? The Search for a Safe Lunchbox”

  1. 1 kimk January 31, 2010 at 7:55 am

    When we were in Canada the thing to do was to microwave everything at home – in whatever you choose – and then to put your heated leftovers in a thermos that keeps them warm. OK so the food is not boiling hot when the kids eat it but it does stay warm…

  2. 2 oneworlddistribution March 18, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Gosh – microwaving is a whole other issue (and something that I’m generally a little apprehensive about altogether). Since Laptop Lunches are developed by moms and since they differentiate between the lids and containers I trust that the containers are microwave safe. I love my Bento Boxes & how they push me to be more creative for lunch, but since i’m mostly packing cold food, microwaving hasn’t been an issue.

    I personally agree with kimk. I have an insulated Klean Kanteen bottle that I use for soups and hot food. It’s stainless steel so it’s definitely not micro-safe but it’s really incredible at keeping things hot!

    Great post by the way!

  3. 3 Amy W April 15, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Hey there

    I had to do some searching to come back to this entry, but I remembered you had something about lunch boxes. I just found Goodbyns and thought I’d share. They are fun and have a good back-story.


    And here are some fun lunch ideas for it:


  4. 4 Kali September 26, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    I found your post during my own search. These containers are what you’ve been looking for. And they’re low cost! Many of my Asian children’s parents send them (I’m a toddler teacher) so if they’re not at your local Target store try Asian supermarkets. Good luck!

  1. 1 More BPA-Free Lunch Box Solutions for Back-To-School « Shiny Brite Trackback on August 12, 2010 at 9:08 am

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