Everything is getting more expensive lately, and food is near the top of the list.
For those of you who work outside of the home (and don’t have free and tasty food as a work perk), you’re probably trying to figure out how to fight the suddenly very real problem of lunchflation. The easiest and most obvious way is to pack your own lunch, but often times food tossed in a brown bag or a plain old lunchbox (Evil Knievel or otherwise) doesn’t stay warm or cold enough or whatever needs to be done to optimize freshness.
Luckily for you, we live in an era of feature-packed lunchboxes. Models with everything from temperature zones to hydro flasks to stackable compartments and more give everyone from school kids to lunch-toting nine-to-fivers an abundance of options for bringing a meal along for the day.
And things are about to get even better. A new generation of tech-powered lunchboxes is on its way to help make eating homemade lunches outside the home an even better experience. Below I take a look at four of these new options coming to market for those looking to pack up their lunch for work or school:
The Sunnyside Solar-Powered Lunchbox
The Sunnyside lunchbox features a solar panel on the top of the lunchbox to charge its 10000mAh power bank, which powers the onboard cooling and heating (or both). The Sunnyside’s heating system utilizes induction coils to heat the food, and the built-in cooler uses coolant and fans to chill the food.
Perhaps most surprisingly, the company claims the whole thing can be thrown in the dishwasher – including the solar panel top and the electronics-filled bottom. Even so, I would definitely hand-wash the box and lid since I don’t think it’s a good idea to put any electronics in a dishwasher.
For some, a solar-powered lunchbox may not make sense, especially if you mostly work inside an office, live in a less-sunny locale (hello from Seattle), or don’t get a chance to put the box outside during your busy workaday routine. That said, my guess is the Sunnyside – which has a USB port to charge phones with the power bank – can also be charged via USB like a typical power bank.
The Sunnyside debuts on Kickstarter later this week and will go for $59 backer price and for $125 retail.
The Steambox Steam-Heating Lunchbox
While a plain-old thermos or insulated bowl might keep your meal mostly warm until lunchtime, why not add a little steam to heat things up and keep your food moist? That’s the idea behind the Steambox, a steam-enabled lunchbox that debuted on Kickstarter last year and made a splash at CES in January.
The Steambox features a sealable inner container, two steam outlets, an app, and Bluetooth connectivity to control and monitor your device (it also has on-device on/off controls) and a bamboo lid.
The Steambox has shipped to backers, but if you want to buy one now, you can order on the website (if you’re ordering this month, you’ll have to wait a couple of months before it’s shipped).
The Jarsty Food Storage System
The Jarsty system isn’t a lunchbox so much as a food prep system, where the food containers can be used to store meals, either raw or fully cooked. The Jarsty can also be used in the microwave and heat (or fully cook) the meals. The containers, which are vacuum-sealable and can be thrown in the dishwasher, come in various colors.
I could envision committed meal-preppers storing a week’s worth of meals in advance in a Jarsty system. The company behind Jasty just wrapped up a successful Kickstarter campaign, but I imagine they’ll make a purchase option available on their website soon.
The Forabest Electric Lunchbox
While all o of the other lunchboxes above are not quite here yet, there are a variety of electric lunchboxes you could buy today on Amazon and other online retailers. The Forabest electric heating lunchbox is one of the most popular, and you can buy it on Amazon today for about $40. The system features a car charger and 110V power cord and takes about 30 minutes to warm a meal.