I’ll be honest, like most houses we go through a lot of lunchboxes.
We also go through a lot of tin foil, so when I was asked to review the Sustain-a-stacker I was keen to see whether this might be an investment that would take us to a more sustainable lunchtime.
Eagerly, I unpacked it and immediately put it through the family’s rigorous 5 stage review process.
- Can the dog get into it?
Before I make an emotional investment in anything these days, I need to know that I’m not going to walk into the kitchen one morning to see it turned into dog confetti. This is especially true of lunchboxes because our hound has a history of digging through bags, teeth first, to get at a dry crust. I totally understand his dilemma, a dog could starve in those few dark hours of the night, but I just can’t stand the emotional wrench of scooping up handfuls of beloved lunchbox these days. So my first test, while brutal, is by way of proving how bomb (and hound) proof the Sustain-a-stacker is.
The test was simple. Insert dog treat into middle layer of lunchbox. Assemble. Place lunchbox on floor. Retreat to safe distance with mug of coffee. Observe.
Predictably the dog was on the scene, nose to the ground, within a minute. He looked from the lunchbox to me and back again several times before going into a deep play bow that is code for “Challenge Accepted”.
There followed five minutes of licking, nudging, pawing and chewing. When that failed to make an impression the dog resorted to barking repeatedly at the lunchbox, me, and anyone else who he thought might be in earshot.
His final ploy was to go and find a willing slave to come and use their opposable thumbs in his service. In this case, my son.
- Can my son get into it?
Having been summoned by the dog, my son was eager to see what was inside the shiny box left unattended on the kitchen floor. I let him have at it, of course, because why would I step in when this review was writing itself? He turned the Sustain-a-stacker over in his hands, performed the age old rattle test and then set to unsnapping the hinges and unstacking the layers with ease.
I won’t pretend he wasn’t a little disappointed when the rattle turned out to be a dog treat, or that I didn’t smiles into my coffee as he trudged past me while the dog wolfed down his treat.
- How effectively can I wash it?
Despite being liberal with my children’s immune system I’m fairly hot on basic hygiene practices so a basic requirement for me is that I could clean the Sustain-a-stacker well enough to remove dog slobber and a lingering suspicion of e-coli. This is not an easy task with the popular “soft” lunchboxes that are limited to a quick spray and wipe, so it was reassuring to know that this little beauty could get the full dishwasher treatment. Anything that can be cleaned to a spotless shine with no effort on my part is my new favourite thing.
- How effectively does it retain food?
If I had one criticism of the Sustain-a-stacker it is that it isn’t completely leak proof. In fact, I would go so far as to say it isn’t leak proof at all. That may not matter to you if the sort of lunches you pack are made exclusively of sandwiches, or crudités, but in my house they normally involve leftovers. I fully accept that soup is a big ask for a container of this kind but when I tested the Sustain-a-stacker I packed pasta, stew and curry, all of which relocated to the inside of my handbag by being tilted at a jaunty angle during my bus ride into work.
The only solutions, as far as I could see, were to carry the lunchbox in front of you like some sauce filled explosive device, or to pack it into a plastic bag for extra protection which seemed to slightly negate the eco credentials of a reusable lunchbox.
- How cool is it?
I have a fairly simple criteria for children’s items: If I had to stand at the door to school and call after my son that he had forgotten something, would he cringe? More importantly would I be too ashamed to call after him in the first place?
I decided to test the Sustain-a-stacker by taking it into work for myself: The reaction was fantastic.
So perhaps the fact that I was in a kitchen full of computer geeks helped, but I felt a little like a lunchtime magician as I separated each layer like a shiny metal onion to reveal the parts of my lunch. I love that the layers double as plates so there was no need to fight over the last fork scored bowl in the cupboard and it was refreshing to know that I wasn’t making a contribution to the bin full of discarded wrapping.
Four out of five.
If the Sustain-a-stacker were leak proof I would have nothing but good things to say. It is flexible and shiny and robust and is a very worthwhile investment. The only problem you are likely to have is who gets to use it.
Munch Cupboard is the only New Zealand retailer of the Sustain – a – stacker. Head over to purchase your own one www.munchcupboard.com
Natasha Batsford, Munch mum reviewer from The Maybe Dairies