5.15.2010

Planet Box For Weight Loss Review

After a very long time feeling like most modern women about my body image, I've finally kicked the misery. I see articles or catch jokes about how gut wrenching it is for swimsuit season to come around or how to drop X pounds for Fill-In-The-Blank-Event-We-Would-Feel-Judged-At and it makes me sigh. I can remember when I felt panicked about not looking a certain way, but I guess something in me finally clicked and I decided not to be ashamed of my figure or looks, no matter what their standard to other people.

That doesn't mean I don't still watch my weight for health purposes, though. I led a very unhealthy lifestyle in my childhood and it wasn't until adulthood that I grew an interest in nutrition and physical activity for enjoyment. I've finally gotten a handle on my body's diet needs and I've lost 27 pounds so far and I'm really stoked about it  because it's good to know I'm getting healthy.

I'm not a very active person (love to sit around and do art and writing all day...) so I have to be a real stickler about portions. And since nutrition matters to me, I like to make sure I'm not only eating controlled amounts, but of a variety of things. My super secret for that has been this: lunch trays.

Melamine "school lunch" style trays from Target


Being a visual and order-oriented person, I found that the limited size and demanding cubbies of the lunch trays expected me to stick to a certain amount and to fill them all to make a 'complete' tray. There was no grabbing a piece of toast and wandering off (Just bread? Not very nutritious. And carbs? Not my friend, how I wish.) If I had one piece of toast, well there were still four other spots and a fridge with fruit and veggies waiting.

For a long time, these trays were my personal secret weapon for eating well. But then I got concerned about melamine in dishware. The FDA talks about reasonable amounts of part per million that can leech into your food on melamine dishware before you should be concerned and... yeah. Call me overly-cautious if you want, but I don't think any amount of parts per million of melamine leeching into my food is cool with me.


Enter: Planet box.


After searching the web for a stainless steel lunch tray, I found this alternative. I should note that Planet Box didn't give me anything for a review. Too bad, I totally would have taken one of these for free. :D Planet Box also doesn't promote their lunch cases as a weight loss tool and yada yada, technicals.

 
I ordered the middle set: The box with two "dipper" containers. First off, I'll warn that this isn't exactly an inexpensive lunch box. They advertise these heavily towards children, but I definitely think of this as an adult investment at 49.95$. Still, knowing how often I used my melamine trays, I knew I would make good use of this tray and decided to go on with it. (Because ooooh, you could even dish into the lid side when eating at the table. Trays for two from one box!)


Size:


After digging around in my kitchen for foods with a fairly recognizable size for reference, I came up with the above photo. That's an awfully yellow looking lunch. I don't think I'd personally eat that combination, but it gives you an idea of the size of the cubbies. The center cubby is absolutely tiny. It couldn't quite fit that Ritz style cracker in it (although the lid can close and lock with it balanced like that.) so I'm not really sure what you're supposed to put in it. A chocolate? A mochi? I'm not sure how useful it will be, but you never know.

The larger 'dipper' container is sized well to hold an English muffin. I think you could fit a sandwich in there or a container of soup. The lid of the larger canister has a silicone ring to help make a seal. I like that it leaves the top lid metal. If the silicone were solid across the top (as it is in the smaller dipper container) I think you'd have to worry about it getting stained too easily.


I looked through my pantry for some time to find something to fit in the small container that would be a good reference. (Didn't help that it was also before grocery shopping day...) I couldn't find something that would make a good reference visually, but filled it with two scoops of tea- enough for two pots. So if you ever make loose leaf tea in a pot... that's how big it is! :D


I think when they called these containers dippers, they meant it. I don't think the smaller container could be used for much except dips, toppings, or something like that. Granola, salsa, half-serving of nuts, maybe... but that's about it.
 
 Carrying:

Although Planet Box offers an insulated carrying case (albeit rather plain and u-g-l-y, IMO) that would be handy, I didn't get it for a reason. I think this box could probably be carried vertically without too much food-shifting depending on what you'd packed and how tightly you'd packed it, I still would rather have it sit flat if I was going to carry it out anywhere. Sometimes, I like to get mad crazy with my packed lunches and make them like this::
And you SO do not go to that much work so you can turn it vertically and shove it in a bag, insulated or not. Normal packed lunch, maybe, but not some things. I would rather sew up my own horizontal bag or just tie it up in a scarf and be on my way.

Construction:



Two of the interior cubbies have little raised dots which, in combination with closing the lid, hold the dipper containers in place. Although the larger dipper will only fit in the large cubby, the smaller dipper could be put in one of the larger three cubbies, although there is only one cubby with the 'dots' meant to hold it in place. When the lid is shut, you can shake the box and the small dipper does not move. The larger dipper makes a light rattling noise, but doesn't go anywhere.



The hinge is made of alternately rolled sections of metal and a pin runs through the center. The pin seems pretty well contained and I don't see it as being likely to slide out.


The latch slides on and off firmly.



The latch brackets are spot soldered. It makes me a little worried because I bought a stainless steel tiffin a year or two ago with a similiar soldering job and it popped off before I even got to use it. I was really bummed about that, but I guess there are only so many ways to stick metal to metal. At least this one looks like it has some kind of a peg its attached to. I hope that helps stability.

And, on the plus side, if this were ever to break, like quality shoes of the past, it's something that can be repaired and remain with you, whereas a broken plastic latch turns the entire container useless for its intended purpose.


The Fun Stuff:


Probably the smartest thing Planet Box did when manufacturing this box is to include specially sized magnets! Yay!


This is the best part. <3



Although smart, I didn't love most of the designs. This unicorn one was pretty rad in the sense that Jem is rad and she'd probably play some rocking rhythms about friendship while riding said unicorn if she could, but I would have liked a few more options. Luckily for me, however, I know I can just get some sheet magnets (or 'upcycle' some business advertisement sheet magnets) and put my own pictures on them.


Overall:

I would order this box again if I could do it over because there just aren't many options for stainless steel lunch trays out there and I'm eager to have a non-plastic option for my 'lunch tray' food trick. I don't think the cubby sizes are as convenient as the melamine trays I had, but using those trays for food is no longer a consideration of mine so the point is moot. But if I could have had the choice to design this box myself, I definitely would have done a few things differently with the layout. However, as a person using this as a plate and not a traveling box, if I really find a cubby limiting (whole banana goes where...?) I can put it on the side or don't have to worry about closing the lid. And if I ever DO need to go somewhere, I'll know I have something for the job.

At the very least, I think it's great that someone is even offering alternatives.

I'll keep my eye open for different designs or different companies, but I know that in the mean time, this one will last and probably even be passed on.




If you'd like to order one, go to http://www.planetbox.com

5.07.2010

Part-Time Artists Shop Update

Well, we're officially open over at Part-Time Artists. Stock is starting to increase. Most of the artists there are new to selling their work online and so it's a new experience for most everyone. I remember when I first started selling online I was so confused about what to do. It took me a really long time to get into the swing of things. But I'm actually really excited by some of the things I'm seeing my collective members working on.

Here's a sampling for you. : )


Custom greeting card sets by my sister, Amanda





 
Single card designs and a frame dry-erase marker board
 






Scrapbook picture frames
 



I'm posting mostly off-brand creations on Part-Time Artists- meaning things I've made but that don't fit my Meandrous wire design image.   ...But if you'll notice, although they're not wire designs, they're not exactly a far throw from my usual inspiration. Flowers, flowers, nature, flowers. : )

A series of fabric and felt hair decorations.



I'm re-opening my shop (No, I'm REALLY going to this time...) under the Etsy name Meandrous, instead of my old name, MissMeander. Kind of a bummer because I'll lose all 144 'hearts', but I wanted to streamline and have one brand name of Meandrous or MeandrousArt to cut down on confusion.

I'll be selling all of my former stock either on clearance sale or on Part-Time Artists and launching a seasonal theme of one-offs, like a small boutique, using my brand new painted roses. I'm so stoked about it! I even have a little secret to unveil. : ) I will definitely share later.
... But for now, check out Part-Time Artists at http://parttimeartists.etsy.com and show some love!