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Why wait for dinner to dig into yesterday’s yummy leftovers? Pack 'em for lunch. With a trusty lunch box on hand, you’ll always be able to take along your favorite food to work, school, or even on a picnic.
Bringing a meal from home has other benefits besides an automatic five-star review from you, too: It can save you money. Plus, a reusable lunch box or bag means less waste than using a single-use brown or plastic bag for toting your food.
And don’t think for a second that lunch boxes are just for kids (although we did find the perfect pick for little ones, too). As our list below of the best lunch boxes proves, there are plenty of grown-up and stylish lunch boxes out there just waiting to hold your meals.
When choosing a lunch box, consider its insulation properties and ensure that it's made with water-resistant and leak-proof materials.
See some of the best lunch boxes below.
Best Overall: MIER Adult Lunch Box
Lots of pockets/compartments
Shoulder carrying strap
Oversized for a lunch box
Can only be spot-cleaned
Won’t hold an upright bottle
If you've ever opened a brown bag lunch to find your food sadly squished or crushed, you know how unappetizing it can be. Fortunately, you won’t have to fear that particular mealtime surprise with this stellar selection. The MIER Adult lunch box features two large main compartments that provide plenty of packing space, as well as the ability to separate your cold drinks and hot food.
Our tester notes that it can fit a full day's worth of food—not just lunch—with space left over. The BPA-free liner allows you to store all your grub safely. It also includes exterior compartments with unique functions (there’s even a cardholder), and the exterior’s tear-resistant oxford fabric comes in a variety of patterns.
"If you pack cold food in this lunch box and include an ice pack, the food will still be very cold by the time you get to lunch." — Ashley Ziegler, Product Tester
Best Budget: Rubbermaid LunchBlox Small Lunch Bag
Containers not included
You’ll already be saving a ton of cash taking your lunch every day as opposed to buying it—but if you really want to double down on your savings, opt for a budget-friendly lunch box that still boasts all those must-have perks without a trumped-up price tag. Sound like a tall lunch order? Rubbermaid doesn't seem to think so: Its LunchBlox Lunch Box showcases plenty of practical features like an insulated, roomy interior with BPA-free lining, separate compartments for utensils and a water bottle, and both a removable shoulder strap and cushioned handle for easy carrying. And all of that comes at a very affordable price.
Best Insulated: Hydro Flask Large Insulated Lunch Box
Maximum, long-lasting insulation
Four fun color options
Doesn't include a longer strap for carrying
If you already trust Hydroflask's reusable water bottles to keep your drinks cold, you'll be glad to learn that the brand's lunch boxes boast that same powerful insulation. In fact, Hydroflask’s Large Insulated Lunch Box features two layers of insulation to keep your food perfectly chilled for hours. Plus, this durable design holds up to countless outings like the brand's trademark bottle. Available in four exterior colors (our favorite is the bright sunflower hue), the lunch boxes also feature fully lined interiors that can be wiped down and cleaned easily, as well as a zippered pocket for utensils and an ice pack.
Best for Adults: Modern Picnic Luncher Tote
Separate compartments for utensils and more
May be too small for larger meals
To anyone who believes lunch boxes to be childish, Modern Picnic is here to change your mind. Woman-founded and led, the brand crafts fashion-forward lunch boxes that look like the designer handbags you’d find in an expensive boutique. Available in a whole host of hues, the exterior of its classic The Luncher bag is made of faux crocodile leather for a modern spin on the mealtime essential. But these bags aren’t only stylish: They’re also completely functional, thanks to the expertly insulated interior that’ll keep whatever foods you pack nice and cold. Inside you’ll also find pockets for utensils, and the bag snaps shut via a magnetic closure.
Best for Kids: TWELVElittle Adventure Lunch Bag
May not fit into every kid-sized backpack
When it comes to a lunch box for your little one, durability is key. In the event of spills (because trust us, there are bound to be some), you’ll want something that can be cleaned easily, and this lunch box from TWELVElittle fits the bill. It’s made of high-quality water-resistant fabrics that can be wiped down when soiled, and its long, detachable strap can be worn as a crossbody for easy carrying. The roomy interior is fully insulated, and it features an incredibly cute starry print pattern.
Best Electric: CTSZOOM Self-Cooking Electric Lunch Box
Reliable heating function
Layered food compartments for more space
Stylish white and brown design
Needs a separate adapter for a car
Perfect for those who don’t have access to a microwave to warm their food, an electric lunch box is the perfect multitasking option. In addition to transporting meals, it can also warm and even cook food. Electric lunch boxes boast heating components that eliminate the need for a microwave or oven to enjoy hot food. Our favorite option features two-layered, high-temperature-resistant food containers, so you’ll have plenty of space. It can be plugged into a nearby outlet so you can enjoy a warm meal right at your desk. Plus, with a clean white and brown design and nifty handle, it’s also stylish.
Best Metal: Onyx Two-Layer Sandwich Box
Food-safe and durable stainless steel
Comes in a set of two
Metal may rust if not properly dried
We love the minimalist, vintage feel of these metal lunch boxes. With stainless steel construction, they're durable enough to survive endless runs through the dishwasher or getting shoved to the back of the fridge. The biggest perk? They boast two compartments: The top is the perfect size for a sandwich, while the bottom can store a snack, salad, quinoa, pasta, and more. Two simple metal clasps secure the boxes to keep your food safe inside. The set comes with one medium and one large box, so you can choose the right size for every meal or use them to pack up a picnic for the family.
Our top pick is the MEIR Adult Lunch Box, which ticks many boxes including ample storage space, unique functions, and plenty of color options. If you're looking to splurge on an adult lunch box that is a bit more compact, however, opt for Modern Picnic's The Luncher (view at Modern Picnic). Not only is it stylish and modern, but it is also designed with a crossbody strap and exterior pocket, which makes commuting with lunch that much easier.
What to Look for in a Lunch Box
Water-Resistant and Leakproof Fabrics
In case your water bottle or food container springs a leak, you’ll be thankful for a lunch box that features water-resistant or leakproof fabric. This way, the mess will be contained inside and won’t spill over to the interior of your car or inside your office desk drawer. Most of these fabrics can also be wiped clean, so your lunch box will be as good as new to carry your lunch the following day.
To keep food from spoiling and drinks refreshingly cold, be sure that your lunch box boasts insulating capabilities. Many lunch box manufacturers proudly tout this feature: Insulation helps keep items at the temperature you want them, and some insulating lunch boxes can keep food cold for hours.
Food-safe linings help ensure your food stays fresh without being contaminated by lunch box materials. Look for the term “BPA-free" in the product’s description, which means that the lining doesn’t contain the chemical bisphenol-A that’s used to craft many common materials and could possibly seep into food and beverages.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Lifestyle writer Jamie Cuccinelli has several years of experience in the wedding, lifestyle, and home décor industries, first as an editor of Brides.com and then as a writer for websites like MyDomaine and The Spruce, where she’s seasoned in outfitting a killer wedding registry, kitchen cutlery drawer, linen closet, and carefully curated home. Years of living in New York City on a shoestring budget has also made her a pro at packing homemade lunches—and that time that her brown paper bag sprung a leak inside her tote made her vow never to trust anything but the most leakproof lunch boxes again.