Lunch boxes for kids are a relatively inexpensive purchase compared to other items parents and guardians need on hand for their little ones to thrive (don’t get us started on car seats), but a bad lunch box can ruin a day. Is that statement dramatic? Yes, but only to someone who hasn’t had to clean out a lunch box that didn’t live up to its leak-proof claims. In a word, ‘ew.’
Lunch boxes for adults have come a long way since the time of reusable tote bags. We have eco-friendly options, lunch bags that can heat or cool food, and lunch containers that are chic enough for the office. Thankfully for kids and their parents (let’s be real about who does the cleaning), lunch bags for little ones have also improved. Bento-style boxes make it easy to keep items separated and contained, while lunch bags with insulation keep food cool until snack time. Straps for carrying, pockets for water, and fun designs all create a lunch bag that will make kids excited for their carrot sticks. Fingers crossed.
Whether you need a lunch box to keep your kid’s food safe through hot days at summer camp or provide insulation during the cold months at school, these options are easy for little ones to open and cool enough for big kids to proudly show off while waiting for the bus. Not sure what to put in your kid’s lunch box? We have healthy snack ideas for kids as well.
1. Bentgo Children’s Lunch Box
The Bentgo Children’s Lunch Box has been steadily taking over schools and for good reason. Durably made and able to withstand the rigors of backpacks and lunch bags, the lunch box is one of the pricier options out there, but it will last through several school years. The drop-proof, rubber-coated exterior is available in a wide variety of solid colors and patterns. The interior compartment can easily be removed and is safe for (drumroll) the microwave, the freezer, and the dishwasher. The BPA-free lunch box is divided into handy compartments that are appropriate for kids aged three through seven, but we used one with our younger child and it still worked great. The outside of this lunch box for kids is leakproof, helping to keep food inside, and Bentgo donates to Feed The Children for every lunchbox sold.
2. Munchkin Bento Box Toddler Lunch Box
For older kids who can handle utensils with their lunch, we like the Munchkin Bento Box Toddler Lunch Box. The box comes with a toddler-friendly, stainless steel fork and spoon that snap into the top of the lunch box for safe storage. The dishwasher-safe lunch box is made without the use of BPA and includes five compartments to help keep food separated. The kids’ lunch box, which is available in two color combinations, is finished with a convenient carrying handle.
3. EasyLunchboxes Bento Lunch Boxes
If you’ve got several kids to keep fed at school, an affordable lunch box is a must. We like the set of four bento lunch boxes from EasyLunchboxes. Made from BPA-free, dishwasher, microwave, and freezer-safe materials, the lunch boxes include three compartments and can be stacked for a compact storage option when not in use. A great option for older kids, the EasyLunchboxes likely won’t last as long as the two options above, but they provide an excellent choice for big families or kids who have a tendency to lose their lunch boxes. It happens.
4. 3 Sprouts Lunch Bento Box
For little eaters who don’t like a mess, we recommend the 3 Sprouts Lunch Bento Box. The toddler-friendly lunch box for kids features three sections that are all leakproof. The snap lid can be opened even with little fingers (or with help from teachers). For kids who like their food warmed up, the 3 Sprouts lunch box can be placed in the microwave. When it’s time to clean up, the lead-free, phthalate-free, PV-free and BPA-free lunch box can be placed in the top rack of the dishwasher.
5. PackIt Freezable Classic Lunch Box
BEST FOR HOT DAYS
Now that you’ve selected your child’s lunch container, they need something to put it in. A great option for warm camp days or anyone in a hot climate, the PackIt Freezable Classic Lunch Box can be placed in the freezer overnight and will keep its contents cool for hours thanks to the freezable, non-toxic gel that lines the lunch bag. Parents can finally skip the ice packs, which are easily lost, and opt for a PVC-, BPA-, and phthalate-free lunch bag that keeps food cool. An exterior zippered pocket is perfect for utensils or napkins and the lunch bag includes a detachable strap that makes it easy to fasten the PackIt to a backpack. Kids will enjoy choosing from the 19 patterns available in the rectangular lunch bag.
6. Arctic Zone Reusable Lunch Bag Plus with Microban Protected Lining
Anything that holds food runs the risk of also holding odors, especially when that item is left in a backpack over the weekend or … even longer (*shudder*). That’s why we like the Arctic Zone Reusable Lunch Bag Plus with Microban Protected Lining. Not only is the lunch bag for kids insulated to help keep food cool and ready to eat, but it also helps to prevent and protect against odors. The Mircoban lining also makes it easy to wipe and clean the lunch bag when an accidental spill occurs. The PVC-free bag is divided into two compartments, comes with a convenient carrying handle, and includes zippered closures for added security.
7. Fulton Bag Co. Upright Lunch Bag
FOR OLDER KIDS
Lunch bags for kids have an expiration on coolness, but growing kids still need to eat. Thankfully, there are lunch bags that keep food secure without looking like they’ve been with your child since preschool. Fulton Bags has a wide lineup of big kid lunch bags, including the upright design shown here. Featuring high-density insulation to keep food cool, a Microban lining for easy cleanup, and a hardliner with an adjustable divider, the Fulton is a great option for older kids. The padded handle has an adjustable swing clip that can be connected to backpacks and an exterior mesh pocket is perfect for drinks. Most importantly for kids, the bag comes in a variety of ‘mature’ patterns and solids.
8. LL Bean Expandable Lunch Box
BEST FOR BIG LUNCHES
Sometimes the school day runs long and for those days, a lunch box that can accommodate extra snacks is a must. The LL Bean Expandable Lunch Box is a great choice for kids who like to pack extra food for the day thanks to its two-inch expandable zippered compartment. Made from BPA and PVC-free materials, the bag is insulated to keep food cool and has a durable packcloth exterior. An internal mesh pocket is ideal for holding ice packs and there’s also an exterior zippered pocket for small items.
9. Mackenzie Aqua Disney Frozen Cold Pack Lunch Bento Set
Worried about your child’s lunch box getting mixed up with their friends? Pottery Barn offers a wide range of designs that can be customized with your little one’s name or initials, making it easier for them (and you) to quickly find their container. The Mackenzie bag, which is available in several patterns, including Disney themes, comes with a removable nesting ice pack that can double as a divider. A zippered mesh pocket inside and exterior zippered pocket provide storage options and a mesh pocket on the outside is ideal for drinks. The Mackenzie comes with an extended carrying strap, as well as a bento box. Pottery Barn offers several matching backpacks, thermoses, and even luggage options, helping to create a school set that kids can get excited about using every day.