Sometimes all you need to get you out of a stagnant rut is a new lunch box! I don’t know if this technique will work for everybody, but when it finally got to my door this Friday I was beyond ecstatic about the meal prep this weekend!
I’ve been using a sixpack lunch bag for the past several years and it has gotten a lot of use, so I figured an upgrade was needed. I enjoyed the sixpack but I did find it a bit cumbersome at times, so I started researching smaller options. I have seen the Isolator bags on social media before and always thought they looked good in pictures, less of a bulky look. So here I am with my 3-pack Isolator bag:
It is way smaller than my previous bag and even though I have not tested it in practice yet, I think I’m going to be happy with the downgrading in size. I might actually use the shoulder strap to carry it. Before, I never have used the shoulder strap because of the bulky size of the bag. However, if you like to smuggle things in your lunch box (simply because your purse is too small) then you probably won’t like the size of the Isolator, because once you put your 3 meals in the main compartment and the 4th in the top compartment, there really isn’t any more room in the bag for anything else. There are the side compartments, but they are not very big and will probably only store my teabags and some extra utensils and water drops. I do like the mesh on each side for a water bottle, though.
And here are my meals prepped for the week in Isolator containers: 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 5 mid-morning
meals and 2 salads (I don’t like to pack salads for the entire week because they get soggy, so I keep them freshly made throughout the week). Call me crazy but I do like the even look of those containers! It will make it so much easier to figure them out first thing in the morning, grab and go. Usually all my meals would have been in whatever containers that I happen to have ready, so they would not be all identical and I don’t know about you, but I’m half unconscious in the mornings, so this will make grabbing them from the fridge so much easier. Also, the fridge looks a bit more organized when those beauties are staring back at you nicely stacked up. Not that it matters, but my mental well-being is dependent on orderly environment, so if it helps my mood, I’m for it! When they are not in use they fit in one another so that saves a lot of room in your container cupboard! One thing that I am a bit concerned about when it comes to those containers is the microwave safety. The top lid states they are microwave safe and are BPA free but somehow the bottom part sort of feels thin and plasticky, like salad containers in the grocery store. So, I hope they won’t start melting in the microwave. Will report once tested!
This is the top compartment that can store one extra meal or random things like napkins, extra cutlery, teabags or whatever your heart desires that is the size of a flat container. This compartment is not very deep at all. The top lid that zips up has a mesh pocket that you might be able to stuff random things in as well, to hold them securely in place. While we are here I will point out that the interior lining is made of somewhat stiff plastic that I am anticipating might rip pretty easily. Not sure, but that’s the feeling I get. Again, when or if it happens I’ll add on an update.
Here is a shot of the side compartment with the corner mesh for a water bottle. I actually like this bit because it will allow for potentially 2 water bottles and this is great. I really missed that feature in the sixpack. Yes, the sixpack also had side pockets that were meant for water bottles but I was never able to find a water bottle that was short enough to stuff in there and zip it. The Isolator with its mesh pockets allows for the bottle to stick out so you don’t have to find one that fits in the zippered pocket!
This is the inside of the main compartment. The bag came with 2 Isolator icepacks that fit very snuggly into 2 side pockets on each side. I must add, the fit is too snug for my liking and I am also anticipating that either the plastic of the bag or the icepack will eventually rip. Way, way, way too tight of a fit and since both the bag and the icepack are made of very stiff plastic they are bound to get damaged. I will do my best to be careful, but putting that icepack in the pocket was not an easy fit.
This picture shows you the side pocket without the icepack in it. And on the bottom you have the icepack laid on top of the bag. The extra plastic all around the pack had to be folded in order to fit it into the side pocket.
All in all, not having used the bag in practice yet, I am content with this purchase. I will no longer look like I am walking around with a cat carrier when carrying my lunch bag, as this is more the size of a regular lunch box. I might miss the extra space for random things thrown in my lunch box, but that might be a good thing. Extra space means extra food, just in case food, that usually ends up being snacks like protein bars etc. and if I don’t have it with me, I won’t eat it and it won’t stick to my hips!
UPDATE #1: I have been using my bag for about a week and so far I have had no issues with it. It has not ripped yet and I am being careful but not to the point where I wouldn’t use the bag as it has been intended or being ridiculously cautious. I use it as you would any lunch bag – to transport my meals 🙂 The lining of the bag is very stiff indeed, feels very plasticky to the touch, but that’s mostly aesthetics, unless it does tear, then there is an issue. I’ve learned to “manipulate” the ice packs in such a way that putting them in is a little bit easier than initial try. I fold the edges slightly and slide them in with the flat back facing the outside of the interior and flat to the side pocket. This seems to work best, however, it still is a tight fit. The bag itself is very unobtrusive and feels more like carrying an actual lunch bag and this is a huge plus. Personally, 4 meals at a time is plenty for me, because I’m never outside of my house for long enough to need to eat more than 4 meals and unless I was traveling I would not pack more than 4, so size wise it is exactly what I needed.
The containers: boy oh boy do I love them!! They are the bomb! I love how uniform they are and how little rom the take in my cupboard once stacked together!
They also did very well in a microwave – they did not melt or even lose shape in any way and I used my regular 2 minute setting I used before. I thought I would not like the lids as they didn’t appear to be able to close snugly, but they are snug enough and nothing has yet leaked out of my containers, which can’t be said about other containers I have used in the past that flood my cupboards.
I can’t comment about how they do in the dishwasher because I opted for cleaning them in the sink. Simply don’t want to jinx myself and get them come out all wrinkled or melted. Nope, not even willing to try with one. I have gotten into a bit of a routine where I unpack my lunch box right away upon arrival home for work, washing the containers and putting the icepacks in the freezer – this makes for an easier packing in the morning and my icepacks are always frozen 🙂
They are very sleek and quite handsome 🙂 Normally, carrying around lunch is very obvious, not with these babies. I even snuck them into a coffee shop the other day (I did order a meal for a certain thru-hiker and 2 coffees) but nobody even said anything about my home made food.