Tiffins: Unique Lunchboxes

With back to school prep, this Creative Solution is on the environmentally friendly, zero-waste lunch containers called Tiffins.

Traditional Tiffin Lunch Boxes

Traditional Tiffin Lunch Boxes

Tiffins are a lunchbox system from India.  The Discovery Channel has a fascinating clip of the use of tiffins and the complex lunch delivery system in India.  While they come in all shapes, sizes and materials, traditionally tiffins are made of stainless steel, and stack any number of tiers with a self-latching lid.

Top three reasons why I like them:

  • Environmentally friendly, zero-waste: you put the food directly in each tiffin tier.
  • Dishwasher Safe
  • Perfect portion sizes

We are a gluten-free, dairy-free family (which will be the topic of an upcoming post), so our lunches consist of fruits and vegetables.  My boys also like a PBJ sandwich and ants-on-a-log (celery, peanut butter, and raisins).  When I make the lunches, I lay out the tiffins and distribute according to everyone’s preferences.

Our Lunches in Tiffins

Our Lunches in Tiffins

Packed up and ready to go!

Packed up and ready to go!

Notice the stickers?  It is a lot easier to tell whose is whose when they are personalized.  I love it when my husband asks, “Am I the red dinosaur?”  Many stickers will wash off, but I have found that certain clear-outlined stickers from Hobby Lobby will work.  Sure, they’ll fade over time, but you’ll get a couple years out of them.

Stickers with clear background

Use stickers with clear background

Tiffins range in price from $10 to $30+

I have five of these from World Market.  They are only 2-tier, and they are thinner than any others I own, but they are only $10.   Purchased 3 or 4 years ago, only one has broken (the latch on the bottom fell apart… but we still use the top).

Hammered Metal Tiffin Lunch Box | World Market $9.99

Hammered Metal Tiffin Lunch Box | World Market $9.99

We have two of these  Stainless Steel Food Containers: To-Go Ware 3 Tier Food Carrier, purchased from Amazon.  The quality is fantastic, and the three tiers are roomy.  I love that the top tier can be used separately, with its own latches.  My husband doesn’t like the long side arms, and both of my boys complain that the top tier is difficult to open.


We also have a LunchBots Uno Stainless Steel Lunch Container (in green).  Pros: great size and shape for a salad.  Cons: leaks pretty easily.




Rome 3-Tier Belly Tiffin

We also have a tiffin that our family calls “The Dalek,” which is a Dr. Who reference.  Several years ago, a friend sold me hers since its design wasn’t working for her family.  My husband loves the size of the compartments, but he hated the cage it comes in.  So my oldest son has claimed it as his.  We have a 2-tier version, which I cannot find on Amazon, so here is the 3-tier version.

Unless we are packing lunches for an outing that involves the tiffins sitting in the car or the sun, I don’t worry about putting them in another container with an icepack.  The fruit and veggies are perfectly fine coming to (an air conditioned) room temp.

Tiffins are a Creative Solution that works well for our family.  While they might be a little expensive at first, their longevity and environmentally conscience design makes them worthwhile.