When it comes to kids’ lunch boxes, you’re actually spoiled for choice. There’s no reason to go with the tried-and-tested tupperware, ziploc bags, and brown paper bags. You shouldn’t limit your choices to those plastic or metal boxes with a cartoon character printed on the outside either (much like your lunch box when you were a kid). With so many different sizes, shapes, and styles to choose from, it can become quite overwhelming. After all, you just want something that will be safe and easy for your child to use as well as able to contain all the healthy food you want him or her to eat. Well, before you start reaching for the ziploc or brown paper bag in your kitchen, why don’t you check out the best kids lunch boxes we’ve found through testing and research?
The Bentgo Kids is the perfect answer to any child’s school lunch needs. It features 5 kid-portioned compartments where you can easily separate the different foods you want him to eat. It is drop-proof with its rubber-coated edges and sturdy design, an essential if you want the lunch box to survive a full school year. The lunch box is leak-proof as well so the food remains fresh hours after you’ve packed it and doesn’t make a mess while your kid transports it to school. Plus, the compartment tray is microwave and dishwasher-safe. Even better, the lunch box comes with a free eBook filled with 30 kid-friendly recipes as well as a 2-year warranty. However, the portions are too small for someone older than 7 so this will have a limited lifetime. The lunch box is quite big which means you’ll need an adult-sized lunch bag to carry it. And there isn’t room to fit in an ice pack to keep food cold.
- kid-portion compartments
- microwave and dishwasher-safe tray
- not ideal for older kids
- will not fit in a kid-sized lunch bag
- no room for ice packs
EasyLunchboxes 3-Compartment Bento Lunch Box
The EasyLunchboxes 3-Compartment Bento Lunch Box is perfect for your gradeschooler. It’s made from FDA-approved, high-quality polypropylene #5 plastic. It does not contain BPA, PVC, or phthalates. You can use it in the microwave, freezer, or dishwasher. Best of all, these lunch boxes are stackable which allows you to store it away easily. However, the lunch box is not leak-proof which means no liquids or runny foods. The lid doesn’t snap on easily which is something you need to consider if you plan on using it for your preschooler. Also, the tab used to pull open the lid sometimes breaks.
- No BPA, PVC, or phthalates
- good-sized portions
- freezer, microwave, and dishwasher-safe
- not leak-proof
- lid doesn’t snap on easily
- tab may get broken
Thermos Novelty Soft Lunch Kit
The Thermos Novelty Soft Lunch Kit is a good choice if your kid wants some character on his/her lunch box. It comes in several designs so they can easily pick the one that matches their interest. The lunch box features an exclusive multi-layered IsoTec insulation structure so the food remains fresh and at the right temperature. The lining is 100% PVC-free. The handle is padded to make it comfortable to carry. And the zipper is easy to use. However, there are no compartments to keep the food separate so you’ll need to use tupperware, ziplock bags, or other storage containers to keep the food separate. The bag is not 100% waterproof. Cleaning it with soap and water has to be done sparingly. Otherwise, some of the water may get in between the stitches and cause mold to grow. And because of the variety of designs, it can be hard to predict what will fit into your kids’ lunch box and what will not. Also, some parents have reported that the lining in their lunch box doesn’t last longer than a few months’ use.
- Plenty of designs available
- Insulated bag
- PVC-free lining
- Requires you to use containers
- Not 100% waterproof
- Lining doesn’t last long
PackIt Freezable Classic Lunch Box
The PackIt Freezable Classic Lunch Box is exactly what its name implies. The lunch box comes with an all-in-one cooling system which is essentially a freezable gel built into the walls of the bag. No need for an ice pack because you can just freeze the lunchbox overnight to keep your kid’s food fresh for hours. The lunch box features a buckle handle so you can easily attach it to your kid’s backpack as well as an exterior mesh pocket for his water bottle, utensils, and other snacks. A zip pocket at the front lets your kid store his ID or wipes. Also, the lining is food-safe and water resistant. However, like the Thermos Novelty Soft Lunch Kit, this does not have compartments which means you’ll need to use your own food storage containers. The lunch box does get quite heavy due to the built-in ice packs. And the mesh pocket is too small for a lot of water bottles.
- Built-in ice packs
- Buckle handle
- Roomy interior
- No compartments
- A bit heavy
- Mesh pocket is too small
If you want to pack hot and cold food together for your child’s lunch, then the OmieBox is your best option. Yes, it’s a bento box. But it’s no ordinary bento box. It comes with a thermos insert that’s vacuum insulated and made of a double layer food grade stainless steel. The thermos insert comes with an easy-to-open lid as well as a built-in leak-proof seal. If you don’t want to pack any hot food, you can easily take out the insert and use the compartment. The lunch box even comes with a divider so you can customize the space based on the food and portions you want to pack. And because the OmieBox come with a built-in handle, there’s no need to buy a lunch bag to carry it. The best thing about the OmieBox is that the rubber seals are removable so you can wash them thoroughly. They are also replaceable so you don’t have to keep buying a whole new box whenever they wear out or break. However, the compartments may be too small to fit enough food to feed a bigger kid (like someone in middle school). The lunch box is heavy which can make it difficult for a young child to carry. And there’s no space to store your kid’s utensils or water bottle so he/she will have to carry them separately.
- can store both hot and cold food together
- easy to use
- replaceable rubber seals
- too small for a bigger kid
- quite heavy
- no compartment for utensils and water bottle
Grub2go Stainless Steel Lunchbox
GRUB2GO’s Stainless Steel Bento Lunch Box is a great option if you want something more environmentally friendly. The material is 100% high quality stainless steel; it contains no plastics, BPA, phthalates, and lead. It is dishwasher-safe and does not stain or retain odors. And it features 3 containers, one of which is a top tray where your kid can store his condiments and utensils. However, this lunch box is not leak-proof. It is also not for microwave use. And the brackets that hold the lid and the compartments together seem a bit weak.
- does not stain or retain odors
- Stain, tear, and water resistant
- Can be flattened for storage
Built Gourmet Getaway Mini Snack Tote
This lunch tote bag from Built is great for both kids and adults. It is made from stretchy neoprene and is BPA-free, vinyl-free, PVC-free and tested for lead safety. The bag is machine-washable so any spills inside the tote is nothing to worry about. The insulating material makes it ideal for carrying both hot and cold food. It is also stain, tear, and water resistant which makes it one of the most durable lunch bags on our list. Because the material is so stretchy, you can easily expand it to fit all sorts of foods. At the same time, it can be flattened for storage. A zipper is included to ensure that your kid’s lunch stays inside while he/she is on the go. Plus, the handles make it very comfortable to carry. You can get the Gourmet Getaway Mini Lunch Tote in a variety of colors and patterns. However, unless your kid picks the black, he or she may find the other patterns too feminine. The zipper has been reported by some users as sticky or easily snagged. And it may be too small to fit some bento boxes or containers.
- Stain, tear, and water resistant
- Can be flattened for storage
- May be too small to fit bento boxes
- Zipper can get stuck
- The designs may be too feminine for some
LunchBots Bento Trio Stainless Steel Food Container
The LunchBots Bento Trio Large Stainless Steel Food Container is about as simple as they come. It features three compartments, big enough to feed an adult. It is dishwasher-safe. And it is incredibly durable due to the high quality 18/8 stainless steel. However, the compartments aren’t completely “sealed” from each other. Any juice or sauce from one compartment can seep under the seams of the compartment walls and “contaminate” the other foods. In addition, this is not leak-proof so you can only pack dry foods inside. Plus, compared to other lunch boxes, the LunchBots Bento Trio Large Stainless Steel Food Container is quite expensive.
- easy to use
- easy to clean
- 60% bigger than other bento boxes
- compartments aren’t completely separate from each other
- not leak-proof
Coolbites Premium Bento Lunchbox
The CoolBites Premium Bento Lunch Box is another lunch box that features a built-in cooling gel pack so your kid’s food remains cool and fresh until lunchtime. It contains four big compartments that can fit enough food to satisfy a healthy kid’s appetite. The lunch box also features detachable vent holes for moisture and condensation to escape and covers made of food grade, anti-bacterial silicone when not needed. The lid features 4 side snap latches that prevent any spills or leaking. And the lunch box is microwave-safe, just make sure to take out the cooling gel pack. However, the compartments themselves are not leak proof because they lack individual seals. Take note that the top layer stuff won’t mix in with the bottom layer stuff. It’s just the compartments within the layers that you need to watch out for. Also, some kids found it very difficult to close the lid. Plus, the cooling gel pack only keeps the bottom half of the box cool.
- 4 big compartments
- built-in cooling gel pack
- detachable vent holes
- no seals on the individual compartments
- may be difficult to close the lid
- only bottom half stays cool
The PlanetBox Rover Complete is another eco-friendly option for parents who are looking for an alternative to plastic. This particular lunch box looks more like a TV tray than a box but it sure does the trick. The individual compartments allow you to pack different foods for your kid. It comes with 2 lidded containers that feature a silicone rubber lid which enables you to pack some wet foods. And there’s even a carry bag made out of recycled material plus some hip magnets to decorate the lunch box. However, this lunch box is not designed to handle hot foods. It is also not leak-proof unless you use the small lidded containers. And because it is made of stainless steel, the lunch box is quite heavy and expensive.
- plenty of compartments
- complete lunch kit
- not for hot foods
- not leak-proof
- heavy and expensive
Kids’ Lunch Box Buying Guide:
Choosing the perfect lunch box for your kid is not as easy as it sounds. Because of the plethora of choices available, it can be hard to pick out which one will suit the needs of your kid as well as your own. After all, you also have some say on what kind of lunch box he or she is going to get. You’ll need to look at several factors aside from size and design in order to find the right one. To help you pick out the best kids lunch box in the market, we created a short but very informative guide so your kid can enjoy healthy lunches outside your home.
Types of Lunch boxes:
Bento Boxes: these are containers that feature separate compartments, allowing you to pack different foods in one box. It also makes things more convenient for your child, having to open only one container instead of several. Bentgo Kids is one of our favorite bento boxes.
Eco-friendly containers: disposable plastic bags are no longer an option if we want to save our environment. Instead, parents are now choosing to use reusable containers such as plastic containers and stainless steel containers with lids like the Grub2go Stainless Steel Lunchbox.
Neoprene lunch bags: neoprene is the rubber used to make wetsuits. Lunch bags made from this material like the Built Gourmet Getaway Mini Snack Tote are often insulated and expandable which allows you to stretch the bag in order to fit all of your kid’s lunch. As an added bonus, neoprene is machine-washable.
Insulated lunch box: some lunch boxes like the Thermos Novelty Soft Lunch Kit come with a special type of lining that keeps your kid’s food fresh and at the right temperature until he or she is ready to eat.
Factors to Consider:
Kids aren’t as careful with their lunch boxes as adults are. Expect it to be dropped on the floor, squeezed into his/her backpack, and other types of general abuse. If you want something that will last throughout a whole school year (at the very least), you need to make sure that you choose a lunch box that will stand up to some rough use like the PlanetBox Rover.
Who wants to eat apples that taste like meat or pasta that has mixed in with some orange juice? When picking a lunch box for your kid, try to look for one that has individually sealed compartments like the OmieBox. This is especially important if your kid is a picky eater.
Easy to Clean
Food is messy. So are kids. You need to make sure that your life is not made any harder with a lunch box that’s very hard to clean. Your best option is to go for something that is stain resistant and easily washed, if necessary. A lot of bento boxes are dishwasher-safe like the Coolbites Premium Bento Lunchbox. Insulated lunch bags typically require washing by hand (which is incredibly inconvenient) or can only be wiped down. Avoid any lunch boxes that have any crevices because these might trap crumbs or other residue, making it hard to clean.
Easy to Use
Your kid’s lunch box should be easy to open and close. It should also be portable; he/she can carry it or put it in a bag. The PackIt Freezable Classic Lunch Box, for example, features a buckle handle that makes it easy to strap onto a backpack or messenger bag.
When choosing a lunch box, look for one that is a little bit larger than you think you need. This enables you to add more food should your child’s appetite grow. Take note that the box shouldn’t be too big that you end up leaving some compartments empty. Some bento boxes feature compartments that are kid-portioned which limits their lifespan because it will no longer be able to contain enough food for a bigger child.
Do you plan on packing hot and cold food?
Some lunch boxes are not ideal for storing hot food such as ones made out of stainless steel. Typically, an insulated bag is a good choice for carrying hot and cold food. But some bento boxes like the OmieBox features a design that allows you to store both hot and cold food together. If you want to keep your kid’s food fresh, you might be interested in buying a lunch box that comes with a built-in ice pack like the PackIt Freezable Classic Lunch Box.