Keeping food separate in a lunch box is pretty easy if you have an individual container for each lunch component. If you're using a larger container, like a bento box, then baking cups come in handy.
Miss Mads is a berry fiend, but the pea puffs I packed in her lunch can shed little bits of pea puff dust, and I couldn't imagine that a blackberry with a pea puff coating would be particularly tasty. So, to separate out the berries and to provide a bit of visual pizzazz, I put the berries in a festively colored baking cup.
There are two types of baking cups I tend to use - paper and silicone.
Above are two examples of each. The blue cups are silicone, the multicolored ones are paper. Both kinds have advantages and disadvantages.
- Reusable - It's cheaper in the long run, and the same cup that was used in your lunch can later be used to bake a cupcake
- Liquid-proof - If you use it to hold something that's a little bit wetter than the rest of your lunch, like orange slices, you don't have to worry about the liquid seeping through the cup
- More variance in shape - One of the blue cups is square shaped; there are tons of other shapes out there, like hearts
- More expensive - While they aren't as expensive as they used to be, the per cup cost of a silicone cup is significantly higher than a paper one.
- Cheaper - A single paper cup is a fraction of the cost of a single silicone cup
- More variance in color and pattern - It's much easier to find brightly colored paper cups, and packs of cups will often include 3 or more colors and/or designs
- More malleable - If you're trying to squish something in, paper cups can be folded and bent
- Can be leaky - Not so much of an issue if you're packing nuts, but wetter foods can leak through
- Not as sturdy - If you look above, you can see that one of the paper cups is a bit squished. Paper cups need a little more care in storing; some of mine had something lean up against them at some point
- Not reusable - These are usually one use only.
I ended up going with the paper cups for Miss Mads' lunch, mainly because I'm not sure I can trust her not to accidentally throw away the silicone cups.