Uncluttered lunch tote

Built NY Lunch ToteBuilt NY has a variety of totes, but I’d like to focus on the Lunch Tote. When I used to work in a traditional office building, I carried a typical lunch sack that didn’t really save any space in my work bag. When I was finished with my lunch, the sack was about same size empty as it was full.

The Built NY Lunch Tote lays flat when empty and can also be used as a place mat while you enjoy your midday meal. The tote is made from neoprene (the wetsuit material) which is a great insulator and can keep your drink cold or your food warm. The best part is when you are finished with your lunch, the tote lays almost completely flat and takes up minimal space for your travel back home.

26 Comments for “Uncluttered lunch tote”

  1. posted by Springpeeper on

    I think what you’re trying to say here is that this lunch tote LIES flat when empty… unless, of course, it magically produces fried eggs when empty… and that’s no lie! 😉

  2. posted by lana on

    Matt, you’re my hero. I’ve been looking for a lunchbag just like this for months now. Thanks!

  3. posted by Heather on

    I think lunch bags themselves are clutter. I like to re-use plastic grocery sacks as lunch bags.

  4. posted by thisisbeth on

    One thing I note from the picture: the plastic container to keep the sandwich from getting smooshed is going to ensure the bag is not empty, thus not flat, when the meal is over.

  5. posted by R on

    @ Heather – even if you reuse them once or twice, plastic grocery sacks are terrible for the environment. get some cloth bags to use for groceries! i’ve just started doing this and it’s really great to see how much less trash you’re producing. if you want some to line trashcans or soemthing, you can always pick one up every once in awhile. so i think the lunch bag is a great idea. 🙂

  6. posted by Red on

    Gotta love sitting down with my own Built NY lunch bag to eat lunch and to see the exact copy of mine on the site! Wonderful! I love mine – I carry it to work and roll it up and place it in my pocket for the walk home. It’s actually inspired me to bring my lunch more often as I receive so many compliments on my “cute bag”!

  7. posted by LazyLightnnig on

    personally i don’t think the Built NY bag keeps my lunch cold well at all. i even put a little ice bag in there with it and it still is thawed/lukewarm by noon. I really love the design of the bag though.

  8. posted by erin on

    I don’t usually use a lunch bag because I used to throw my lunch in my large purse and then put stuff in the fridge at work. Now that I am using a “sleek little clutch” I suppose now I need a lunch bag.

    /tongue in cheek

  9. posted by Steph on

    How can it lie (not lay) flat when you have that plastic container holding your sandwich?

  10. posted by mamacita on

    This lunch kit is the best! I have been telling people about them for a couple of years. My kids each have one. The thing I like best is that the kits are machine washable.

  11. posted by Anna on


    If you carry the lunch pictured above, why do you need a carrying case? Each of those pieces can just be put into whatever bag or briefcase you’re already carrying. This bag is just unnecessary clutter.

  12. posted by Sandra on

    But Anna, the bag/briefcase would not necessarily insulate one’s lunch if one had hot or cold foods.

  13. posted by lana on

    @Steph and thisisbeth – Collapsible lunch containters, like these:


  14. posted by Andy on

    Ha Ha Ha Ha! I have to agree with Anna, that is a unitasker if ever there was one. It’s sole purpose is to hold other stuff in your bag!?! Isn’t this what your bag is for? Seeing as how the sandwich\roll\whatever needs to be in a plastic container (as does the drink) then this device does nothing useful to save clutter as the space is still wasted. Keep food warm? Pah! If you’re packing a hot lunch at 0700 there’s no way it’ll be warm by lunchtime and if it is it’ll be slightly tepid and soggy.

    As someone else said if you really need to keep all your lunch together in one super-neat OCD bundle of lunchiness then wrap it up in plastic bag (you can reuse it to save the environment), or similar alternative, and then place it in your bag.

    To be honest this looks like a gadget that a 40 year old geek living at home with his mum would be given to take his lunch to work in. I can see it now: “There we go mummy has made her soldier a little lunch and put it in your special lunch bag. Be careful out there in the big wide world my little love and don’t go near any nasty bees in case you get stung”.

    If you really have to declutterer after eating your lunch then I’d vote with the collapsible containers.

  15. posted by gumnos on


    If I had round sandwiches, that fit in those, they would be great. I didn’t see any options in “sandwich-shaped”.

  16. posted by Bobbi on

    I love my lunch box. It’s a Bento Lunch Box Thermos. It has 4 different sized bowls, which stack up on top of each other in the thermos. I can put a range of foods in the containers and the hard case makes it very durable. It also helps those who are on a diet to manage their portions.


    It’s pricey, but it’s been worth it.

  17. posted by Nancy on

    ummm.. doesn’t my recycled plastic grocery bag work just as well and saves even more space and weight? Did I mention it’s eco-friendly too since I re-use my grocery bags until they are no longer usable.

    I agree my re-used grocery doesn’t keep my food cold or hot; but it saves space, is almost weightless, and it’s free. Did I mention eco-friendly? It also allows my lunch to fit into whatever space is free in my bag instead of having to make room for such a large pack (when the neoprene lunch tote is full, i doubt it’s very flexible to fit in the empty spaces of one’s bag).

    I don’t know about elsewhere, but in NYC, every office I’ve ever worked in provides an employee refrigerator & microwave. So hot & cold for transport isn’t usually an issue for me..unless I need to transport ice cream.
    Ice cream sundaes for mid-afternoon office snack? Now there’s an idea!

  18. posted by lana on

    Don’t worry, guys; I bought one yesterday from Amazon and I’ll be sure to give it a thorough test and post back here to report my findings. My main desires are that it keeps the food hot/cold until lunchtime and that it’s fairly compact when empty. I don’t have access to a microwave or fridge, so this is very important in my case.

    @gumnos – I know! How stupid of them. I’ll just have to cut my sandwich into a circle beforehand, I suppose. No big deal. I prefer dinner leftovers anyway (chicken and rice, beans, salads, pasta, etc.)

    @Bobbi – I’ve been eying that Bento for months, but I just didn’t want to deal with the bulk. Some reviewers claimed it leaked, too, and that scared me away.

  19. posted by Hanmee on

    I started just using one of my cloth (hemp) grocery bags to bring in my lunch. Then it’s easy enough to carry back home or stuff into my purse. I’m not usually worried about keeping things ice cold since I put it into the fridge once I’m in the office, but if I was, I have ice packs that I use on occasion (left over from when I would transport breastmilk back/forth from the office).

  20. posted by Bobbi on

    @lana — It does leak if you knock it over, but that is part of the reason I wanted the thermos/tubular container, because it was less likely to fall over. However, I very rarely had that problem because I kept it on my shoulder when walking and when I wasn’t it sat flat on the ground (and because of the weight of it.. It doesn’t tip over easily). I used it on the train, subway, walking/running up/down stairs without any problem, and if there was a spill… It was minimal and the clean up was quick and easy.

    Personally, I had more spilling and leaking when I use to use a regular bag (whether lunch or grocery).

  21. posted by Dawn on

    My current lunch tote is a square cotton bandana that I got for 45 cents at the thrift store. It wraps easily and securely around any sandwich bag(s) or box(es), Tupperware, Pyrex bowl, bento box, or other container that I use for my lunch on any particular day. When not being used for lunch carrying purposes, it has 1,001 other uses.

    To use, lay the bandana on a flat surface diagonally. Put your lunch in the center. Fold the bottom corner of the bandana up over your lunch and tuck it underneath. Next, fold the top corner up over that. Finally, bring up the two sides and tie them securely. Here’s a pic of my wrapped lunch:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/drv1913/99445244/. Do a Goggle search on furoshiki to find other ways to tie it to fit around different shapes.

  22. posted by auntiemichal on

    Shucks! Dawn beat me to suggesting a bandanna! I used one in school to wrap up lunch; plastic sandwich box on the bottom, apple on top, with maybe a second box with veggie sticks in the middle. With the opposite corners tied together ala hobo sack, it was easy to carry by hooking a finger under the top knot. I could carry books and lunch in one arm easily. This was before backpacks became student necessities!

  23. posted by Nana on

    And my kids used to take ice cream for dessert…in an old-fashioned thermos. They were much admired.

  24. posted by Dianne on

    When I did need to bring my lunch to work with me, I used an insulated bag and filled it with the things needed to eat what was my lunch. I didn’t have the same thing every day, so that insulated bag made it easy for me to fit in what was needed.

    I figure that each of us uses what works for us. In a world currently trying to go “green” anything reused is a benefit to the environment.

    The problem with those grocery store bags is that very few people reuse them and they end up in the landfills. I bought reusable totes from my grocery store and just bring them with me when I shop. Now that saves all of us money because I don’t have to get plastic bags filled, my totes hold more than those plastic bags and they don’t split open due to the corners on boxes and things.

    We recycle. I am amazed at how much can be recycled and the idea is not the cash return received. It is not using more of the raw resouces that require more use of energy and other things to be produced.

  25. posted by Jen on

    Wow. Sad to see so many people espousing their “green-ness” with the fact that they reuse plastic grocery bags. The first rule of true eco-living is REDUCE, not reuse or recycle. Take your own reusable cloth bags to the store and STOP getting plastic bags in the first place. Plastic bags blow. Using one a couple of times until it “wears out” doesn’t change the fact that it will still be around hundreds of years from now (if it’s not accidentally ingested by some unfortunate critter). Personally, I would like to see a PlasTax like they instituted in Ireland.

    As for this great bag, I’ve had mine for about two years and I think it’s fantastic. I use it for all kinds of things. On work days (I’m a teacher), it functions as my carry-all. My morning beverage goes in the side sleeve and my wallet, cell phone (in its own little Built NY protecting sleeve), keys, ID, and whatever else (like a gazillion pens, pencils, and dry erase markers) go in the main compartment. My drink stays cold on my commute (despite the Florida heat) so that when I get to my classroom or start morning duty, I have some cool refreshment rather than suffering a luke-warm beverage. Sometimes I don’t get a chance to crack open my drink for a few hours; luckily this great bag keeps it cool enough to still be enjoyable for even after three hours (although it won’t keep it cold all day). Oh! It also keeps my drink from “sweating” all over the other contents in my bag.

    I also use this bag whenever I walk over to the community pool. I throw a couple of drinks, a reusable ice pack, and sun tan lotion in the big compartment and put my cell phone in the little side sleeve so it won’t get wet from any condensation. Works like a dream (again, this is in Florida).

  26. posted by Java Monster on

    Here’s another alternative: To Go Ware, which sells stainless steel two and three-tier Tiffin lunch boxes. You can also buy bags that fit them, and bamboo utensils (which include chop sticks). http://www.to-goware.com/

    No, I don’t work for them at all. I’ve been considering buying one for a while. My problem is, I work at home, so rarely need to use a lunch carrier!

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