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Out to lunch

They say that you are what you eat. In which case, what you eat, is probably what your lunch box is made of. Packed lunches are what a large pro-portion of the school population goes to work on and yet many of them are rendered inedible by inadequate packing, or the unmistakeable odour of age-old egg mayonnaise. The TES looked at a selection of lunch boxes and subjected them to a lunchtime workout to assess containerly performance, value for money and wash-up-ability. In our opinion, none of them would have passed the air-tight test and so anything remotely mushy was off the menu.

And it seems that the only way to avoid Tupperware pong is simply to wash boxes thoroughly after use, dry with their lids off and don't leave egg sandwiches in them overnight.

Postman Pat lunch box with Thermos beaker with retractable plastic straw Pounds 4.95 A bright pillar-box red (what else?), this is the quintessential lunch box with superior hinges and chunky fastening. It's aimed at pre-schoolers but would suit just about anybody (providing they could live with the large picture of Pat and Jess on the front). It's very small but it should take a sandwich, piece of fruit, and chocolate without too much squishing. The enclosed beaker takes up most of the room but the plus side of this is that it holds 360ml.

Design**** Value for money*** Dishwasher-proof no Addis lunch box with enclosed beaker Pounds 3.95 Lovely, roomy, traditional box would take a small picnic: couple of sandwiches, chicken drumsticks and a slice of madeira cake and still have room for its accompanying beaker (330ml). This is microwavable as well as dishwasher-proof, although the lid of the box is very difficult to force home and even with much wrestling, it would not form an air-tight seal. Suitable for any age group.

Design *** Value for money **** Dishwasher-proof **** Foodsafe Mini Fridge Lunch Box Pounds 4.95 Rather small, bijou box with a detachable lid. Sling the latter in the freezer overnight and it keeps your victuals nicely chilled all day. Because the lid is rather fiddly to take on and off it is, says the manufacturer, unsuitable for children under 3. The box could accommodate a small carton of juice or a beaker such as the Rubbermaid Juice Box (250ml, Pounds 1.95), but not much else besides.

Design** Value for money ** Dishwasher-proof no Decor Trio Lunch Box Pounds 4.95 The 4WD of lunch boxes. A hatch-back on the lid will comfortably seat a portion of biscuits, jelly beans or anything you want to keep separate. Inside, a plastic flask acts as a partition between your fruit on one side and your samosa on the other. You could fill this with something to drink, or freeze the contents for an instant fridge effect. The box is robust with no nasty edges and the top clicks nicely into place. It is not air-tight but it won't come off in a hurry either.

Design **** Value for money **** Dishwasher-proof **** TES top buy Towell and Scott Twist and Drink Flask Pounds 4.95 In the Baywatch category of good looks but limited use, this multicoloured, Dalek-shaped flask is not strictly necessary but enormous fun to use. Its domed head conceals a retract-able plastic straw and you can disassemble and play with the whole thing, once you have consumed its contents. Only suitable for cold, still liquids and bored individuals.

DESIGN **** Value for money ** Dishwasher-proof no All the above items are available from branchesof John Lewis

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