Pottery Barn Kids offers a slew of fabric patterns and four bag styles. Penny picked the MacKenzie Chocolate Zebra classic lunch bag, which is a fairly standard size and shape lunch box. We paid $7 to have her name embroidered on the bag, which I figured was worth the price to ensure her box isn't mixed up with another kid's lunch. I let Penny pick the font and thread color and ordered online.
|Pottery Barn Kids Classic Lunch Bag|
If your child spills something, it's a pain to clean up, especially by the time the bag gets home from school and the food and guck has been sitting there, staining and mucking up the "prettiness"of the bag. Below, you can see near the bottom of the bag and on the side where something spilled, perhaps soup, and I haven't been able to get the stain out.
There are a lot of nooks and crannies for food to hide. If your kid is a bit messy or very young, you'll be cleaning out all sorts of little spaces, finding crumbs, liquids, and stuck on stuff that again, by the end of a school day, is practically glued in there. This is much more cleanable than the fabric outer shell since it's a plastic-like material, but it still has to be done regularly or you'll have a stinky lunch bag.
You can see below how fabric interior trim is now stained. I can't get that out either.
A better look at that stained trim area:
I do like how the shiny grey area is fast to clean up. I can wipe that with a sponge, no problem. But this bag is not really suitable for little ones who are still learning to serve themselves and make lots of messes. Honestly, I don't mind the messes themselves, because really kids should be messy sometimes, but I don't like that I can't easily clean those messes and that the lunch bag looks WAY older than it actually is.
If you do choose this lunch bag, you'll be happy to know that the size and shape is standard enough that you don't have to order Pottery Barn Kids lunch inserts. I picked up some LunchBlox Kids Flat Lunch Box Food Containers from Toys R Us and they work super well (at least until my daughter forgets to close the lids after she's done eating). I run them through the dishwasher every night and they've held their shape and the lids still fit perfectly.
If you send lunch to school with your preschool or pre-k child, consider buying a really inexpensive bag (or two) that can be washed easily. Don't worry about pretty or fancy custom styles. It's not worth the cleanup hassle.
I do suggest this lunch bag for older children and teens. They're cute and fun and for kids who aren't spilling Spaghettios everywhere, they are a great personalizable choice.
2015 UPDATE: I've since caved and tossed this bag in the wash a couple times. So far, it's held up and does look a lot better after a good cleaning. Food continues to get stuck in the crevices, but we're going on more than a year and it still works.