Sunday, May 12, 2013

Gear Review: Ecolunchbox Pods


I picked up these 'lunch pods' because I had been finding my Lunchbots a little big for just snack stuff and was looking for a plastic-free alternative to my well-used Sistema containers, which have become a little TOO well-used and are starting to feel a little grubby and gross. These stainless steel 'pods' from Ecolunchboxes started out as part of their 3-in-1 container and are, by popular request, now available separately.

I was attracted to this product because I like stainless steel stuff and I was looking forward to having a small little extra I could tuck into a lunch bag if I just wanted to pack a little something extra. I liked the portion control of the 1/2 cup serving size, and I liked that this could be a modular component to a bigger lunch system (I did investigate just buying the 3-in-1 kit but Reuseit doesn't have it yet and shipping off the ecolunchbox site costs more than the lunchbox does!)

So, what did I like about these containers?

1) They are gorgeous. I just love the way stainless steel looks, and it really does set off the colours of the food and make it more attractive to look at and eat.

2) The portion size is perfect. In a larger container, I do tend to over-serve sometimes. I really do like that I ca easily pack a proper portion, and toss it into a bag without having a big, clunky thing to wash.

3) Held up well to hand-washing so far. This is the big issue with plastic for me, even safe plastic feels fine at first but then reaches a point where it feels like it can't really get clean anymore.

4) Works well with my other containers. It fit into my Laptop Lunchbox, Easy Lunchbox and Lunchbots even with the lid on, and fit into my Planetbox without the lid, as a divider.

5) The lid fit perfectly. They mentioned on their website that it is not water-tight, but I felt it was plenty snug enough for carrots, grapes, dry snacks and so on. I would have no problems tossing it in a bag.

What didn't I like?

1) The bottom was rounded, not flat. This meant it did not lie perfectly inside my other containers (although height-wise, it fit) and it meant they could not stack neatly on a kitchen shelf.

2) The barcode sticker on the bottom was extremely well-affixed and was very difficult to remove. I messed up the first one, left the second one on and will have to go at it with goo-gone later.

3) I do feel their website shipping is extremely unreasonable. I got the two lunchpods from Reuseit and paid $4.50 for shipping, but they don't carry all the ecolunchbox products.

4) I would love to see a divided container like the Sistema one, but in stainless steel. I really do prefer two-part snacks, so packing two of these instead of one of those will give me more to wash.

So, my final verdict? This meets my needs for a stainless steel snack container and I am pretty happy with it. Leaving aside the shipping issue which prevented me from trying the more complete 3-in-1 system, I do think the lunchpod is a well-made option for what it is. I like the durable and healthier stainless steel and look forward to using these for years. I do wish they could tweak it to make the bottom flat though. I hate that I can't stack these neatly without them toppling over, and I think that this design flaw will force me to stop at two and not buy others, because they are just so fiddly to store.

Overall, I would give these a 3.5/5 and recommend them---with the caveat that you comparison-shop on shipping, and have ample space to store them.

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