When your kids leave for school in the morning, you probably ensure they have a few essentials: backpack, homework, etc. No matter how old your children are—preschool or high school—chances are you send them off most days with a lunch box packed with their favorite foods.
While the best lunch box for your kid likely depends on their age, style preference, and the type of lunch they normally eat, we tested some of the top-rated options to help you decide. Our experienced at-home testers packed dozens of lunches for their children and had their little ones tote the lunch boxes around. Then, each one was rated on design, versatility, insulation, size, and overall value.
Here are the best lunch boxes for kids this school year, tested and approved by both parents and kids.
Bentgo Kids Lunch Box
Rubber sides are extra durable
Easy to clean
Comes in lots of fun colors
Slightly heavier than other models
Exterior scratches pretty easily
Bento boxes are a popular choice for children, as they allow you to separate food and snacks in various compartments, and one of the best products you’ll find today is the popular Bentgo Kids' Lunch Box. Designed with kids in mind, this lunch box comes in three bright colors, and it features five compartments that are perfectly portioned for kids ages 3 to 7. After testing, this one earned our best overall spot—approved by both parent and kid testers.
This bento box has drop-proof rubber-coated edges in case it takes a tumble, and it opens and closes using two kid-friendly latches. The inner compartments are different shapes to hold a variety of food and snacks—even dipping sauce!—and there are seals to keep the contents from leaking into your child’s backpack. The inner tray can be put in the microwave and dishwasher, and the box is made from BPA-free materials.
Our tester particularly loved its solid build, well-designed compartments, and the fact that it was truly leakproof when put to the test in her son’s backpack.
Price at time of publish: $40
Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.5 x 2 inches | Weight: 1.2 pounds | Material: BPA-free plastic and rubber
"Once the lunch box is closed (via two snaps on the front), a rubberized seal prevents any leaking—both between compartments and out of the box itself. We particularly loved that nothing leaked out into our son’s backpack the entire week he used it." — Linnea Covington, Product Tester
Best for Elementary School
Rubbermaid LunchBlox Small Lunch Bag
Fits Rubbermaid or Tupperware containers
Features bottle holder and utensil compartment
Requires additional packaging
This budget-friendly lunch bag is perfect for children in elementary school. This won't break the bank, but it's also surprisingly spacious and perfect for school lunches. This lunch bag comes in four colorful designs, including blue, purple, and black patterns.
Our tester found this bag to be extremely lightweight, even when packed with her son’s favorite foods. If there’s any downside, she said it was that you needed to package all of the food in a separate container—this lunch box is simply an insulated bag. It’s designed to be used with Rubbermaid LunchBlox food containers, but you can also use it with whatever Tupperware or bento box you have at home, which keeps things flexible regardless.
Our tester loved that it has a side zip closure that wraps around the entire thing, making it easy to pack and unpack. There are also mesh pockets on either side where you can store additional food. This lunch box is safe for the microwave, dishwasher, and freezer. It's also BPA-free.
Price at time of publish: $16
Dimensions: 5.38 x 8.75 x 8.88 inches | Weight: 0.65 pounds | Material: Polyester
"If you want the flexibility to pack a wide range of foods, this is a good, lightweight option." — Brigitt Earley, Product Tester
PackIt Freezable Classic Lunch Box
Gel liner can replace ice packs
Collapsible for easy storage
Bottle pocket is small
Heavy, especially when frozen
Who needs ice packs when you have a freezable lunch box? The unique PackIt Freezable Lunch Box has freezable gel built into its walls, so all you have to do is pop it into the freezer the night before, and in the morning, it will be ready to use. In tests, the frozen walls were highly effective at keeping food insulated and fresh for longer—our tester didn't have to use any ice packs, even for food like yogurt.
This lunch box comes in a wide range of fun patterns to appeal to children, and it’s large enough to fit a sandwich, snack, and 12-ounce drink. Our tester never wanted for more space, even though her preschooler has a hefty appetite. There is a zip pocket and a mesh pouch on the exterior of the bag, and the whole thing is made from canvas with a water-resistant lining, so our tester found it easy to wipe clean.
If there’s any downside, it’s that it was relatively heavy—even when not frozen—making it difficult for smaller children to comfortably tote on their own.
Price at time of publish: $23
Dimensions: 10 x 4.25 x 8.25 inches | Weight: 1.28 pounds | Material: BPA-free materials and gel liner
"This is a really cute option that keeps food cold and fresh for a long time." — Brigitt Earley, Product Tester
Bentology Lunch Bag and Box Set
Comprehensive lunch set
Range of colorful patterns
Containers can be hard to open
Relatively heavy when fully utilized
The Bentology Lunch Bag and Box set comes with everything you need to pack a delicious meal for your kids. The set includes an insulated lunch bag, a plastic bento box, a five-piece set of containers with leak-proof lids, and a matching ice pack, and you can choose from a dozen bright, colorful patterns to suit your child’s style.
This affordable set is made from BPA-free materials, and the lidded containers can go in both the microwave and dishwasher—something our tester found to be key for simplifying lunch prep and cleanup. You can mix and match the containers inside the bento box for versatility, and it all fits inside the insulated lunch box for easy packing. There’s even a mesh pocket on the side of the bag where you can slip a water bottle for your kids.
In tests, food stayed fresh for a long time—even without the extra ice pack. There was one sacrifice to be made for these conveniences, though: Our tester found the lunch box to be a bit heavy for her preschool-aged children.
Price at time of publish: $27
Dimensions: 8.5 x 9.5 x 3.25 inches | Weight: 2.2 pounds | Material: Polyester and BPA-free plastic
"This lunch box has a lot of value. The price is comparable to others, but it comes with so much more." — Brigitt Earley, Product Tester
Thermos 10-Ounce Funtainer Food Jar
Kid-friendly colors and designs
Wide mouth is easy to eat from
Keeps food cold or warm
Hand wash recommended
Must be pre-heated for maximum heat retention
If your child likes to take soup to school for lunch, they’re definitely going to need a container like the Thermos Funtainer Kids Food Jar. The insulated jar can hold up to 10 ounces of food, and it comes in a variety of kid-friendly colors and patterns, including options with characters from popular shows like Paw Patrol and Frozen.
This thermos for kids has a wide mouth that’s easy to fill and eat from, and according to the manufacturer, it can keep food cold for up to seven hours or hot for up to five. When we sent this to the home of our product tester, she found that it lived up to those claims. Macaroni and cheese was hot enough to eat safely after five hours in the container, and ice was still present after seven hours. It has a durable stainless steel interior and exterior, and when closed, our tester found it was leakproof, preventing any lunch box spills.
The jar is technically top-rack dishwasher safe, but the brand recommends hand-washing to increase its longevity. Our tester noted that hand-washing also helped clean out the nooks and crannies in the lid. She recommended going so far as removing the O-ring gasket to really get in there and prevent any mold issues down the line.
Price at time of publish: $31
Dimensions: 3.5 x 3.5 x 4.5 inches | Weight: 8 ounces | Material: Stainless steel
"Hour after hour—all the way up to the five-hour mark—we found our mac and cheese was still nice and hot." — Suzie Dundas, Product Tester
Best for Warm Foods
Omie Bento Box
Removable thermos for hot foods
Large compartment fits a sandwich
Can be fully disassembled for cleaning
Must be hand-washed
If you're looking for a great segmented lunch box to send to school, look into the unique OmieBox Bento Box. Part of the reason bento boxes have become increasingly popular is because of all the different foods they can accommodate. This one features two temperature zones, which allow you to store both hot and cold foods in one box.
The OmieBox Bento Box comes in five bright colors, and it includes a built-in thermos food jar. This keeps entrees like soup warm until lunchtime. The lunch box itself is double-walled and leakproof, so you don't have to worry about spills, and its contents will stay cool and fresh.
Our tester liked how securely it closed and that she didn't have to worry about spills with her little ones. Plus, it's easy for kids to carry. The main downsides are that it doesn't come with utensils and it's a bit difficult to clean. Still, she said it's a quality bento box that she expects to last a long time.
Price at time of publish: $45
Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.3 x 3.1 inches | Weight: 1.75 pounds | Material: Stainless steel and BPA-free plastic
"This transports very easily, thanks to the handle. It also closes securely, and the food does not mix compartments in transit. Nothing leaked, even though I packed apple sauce in the thermos." — Brigitt Earley, Product Tester
Pottery Barn Kids Astor Lavender Navy Aqua Lunch Boxes
Can be customized
Has organizational pockets
Tons of color and pattern options
Pockets are very tight and narrow
Personalization was a little sloppy
From glow-in-the-dark dinosaurs to rainbows to color blocking, this insulated lunch box comes in dozens of options to suit your child’s style and interests. What’s more, the lunch box can be personalized with their name or initials for a small upcharge.
The box itself is structured, which helps protect the contents inside, even though it doesn’t come with any additional containers. And while our tester found the insulation suitable enough for a few hours, you can buy the lunch with a cold pack to give yourself a little more wiggle room—especially if you like to pack things that really need to stay cold, like yogurt.
Our tester—and many reviewers—love that Pottery Barn offers a full suite of products to match, so your child can tote the same lunch box, water bottle, backpack, and more.
Price at time of publish: $25
Dimensions: 7.5 x 3.75 x 8.25 inches | Weight: Not listed | Material: Polyester
"This is a nice option for anyone who wants personalization." — Brigitt Earley, Product Tester
Best for Preschool
Wildkin Insulated Lunch Box
More than a dozen patterns
Fits standard bento boxes
Light interior can get stained
Interior pocket doesn't have closure
Sending your little one off to school for the first time? Make sure they have everything they need to conquer preschool with the help of the Wildkin Lunch Box. This kid-friendly lunch box is designed for ages 3 to 15, and it comes in more than a dozen fun patterns to showcase your child’s personality. It's slim enough to fit inside a backpack-style diaper bag easily and light enough that little kids can carry it.
This insulated lunch box is spacious enough to accommodate a bento box or several plastic containers, and it includes a mesh pouch on the interior where you can tuck an ice pack, napkins, or utensils. Our tester was able to fit half a PB&J, a fruit pouch, a cheese stick, a snack pouch, and a water bottle—with room to spare. Plus, at the end of the day, you can simply wipe down the interior with a washcloth, and it will be ready to go again the next morning. Our tester said there were no lingering odors, either.
There’s a zippered front pocket where you can hide an encouraging note for your preschooler, and the insulated interior helps maintain a hot or cold temperature to ensure their food is always fresh. Our tester found that without an ice pack, food stayed cool for one to two hours, but with an ice pack, food can stay cold for four to five hours.
Price at time of publish: $25
Dimensions: 7 x 3.25 x 9.75 inches | Weight: 0.13 pounds | Material: Polyester and BPA-free liner
"The print is fun, colorful, and 100 percent caught the eye of my toddler. The interior is spacious with plenty of room for a sandwich, fruit, cheese stick, and snacks. It can easily fit a bottle of water or juice box." — Sharon Lehman, Product Tester
The Bentgo Kids' Lunch Box is our top choice, particularly for younger children, thanks to its durable and leakproof design. Foods stay in their designated compartments during travel, and the box comes in a variety of bright colors that kids are sure to love. For a full, easy-to-pack set, try the Bentology Lunch Bag and Box Set. It comes with everything you need: an insulated lunch bag, a plastic bento box, a five-piece set of containers with leakproof lids, and a matching ice pack to keep food fresh all day.
How We Tested
We sent more than a dozen lunch boxes to our expert product testers to review after packing real lunches for their children. They packed a variety of food items—everything from sandwiches and salads to fruit, yogurt, smoothies, and snacks—and rated each lunch box on its design, insulation, versatility, size, and overall value. Each tester provided additional insights on how easy the lunch boxes were to clean, whether anything leaked and if food stayed separated in compartments, and what their kids thought, too!
Other Options We Tested
- Opux Insulated Dual Compartment Lunch Bag: This spacious lunch bag has a "dual deck" design that is more suited for older children or adults. The bottom section is insulated and leakproof, making it ideal for cold food and drinks, and it’s large enough to fit up to 10 cans. The top section is great for snacks and other items you might need to grab quickly, and both compartments have reinforced zippers for durability. There are also two side mesh pockets for water bottles, as well as two front pockets for utensils or other small items. Our tester reported that it is well insulated and has a lot of usable compartments, but ultimately decided it's too big and bulky for kids. "I think this lunch box is much too large for children. It's really more of a mini cooler. You could pack a full day's worth of food in here for one person," she reported.
- LunchBots Large Trio Stainless Steel Lunch Container: This is a bento-style, durable metal option that features a three-compartment design. Our tester found the compartments to be roomy enough for a wide range of foods. There’s one large section that can hold a sandwich, as well as two smaller areas where you can pack snacks and even smaller whole fruits, like clementines. It worked well for keeping delicate sides and snacks, like berries or pretzels, separate and intact. However, it's expensive for a lunch box, and it doesn't provide any real insulation. It also doesn't have room for a drink, and the compartments are fixed. As a result, it's not super versatile. Plus, it doesn't have a handle for carrying. This is a long-lasting bento box that would definitely work for some people, but we decided it's not necessarily the best lunch box for kids—particularly given the price.
What to Look for in a Lunch Box for Kids
The age of your children and what they like to eat for lunch will determine how big a lunch box they need. Young children in kindergarten or preschool may be fine with small bento boxes that just hold half a sandwich, but older children may need a larger lunch box that can hold a full-size entree, multiple snacks, or a water bottle. Keep weight in mind as well, as your child will have to carry the box around in their backpack.
Design and Accessibility
If you’re buying a lunch box for young children, you’ll want to consider whether they’ll be able to easily open all its components. Some lunch boxes are tricky clasps that small fingers can’t manage, and some hot food containers have to be screwed on tightly to prevent leaking—these types of issues can make it frustrating for your child to get to their food.
A lunch box with good insulation is key to keeping food safe until lunchtime. You’ll likely end up putting ice packs into it—though some lunch boxes have built-in gel linings—but the ice can melt quickly if the container doesn’t have enough insulation. On the flip side, kids who take hot lunches will need a thermos or other insulated container that can keep food warm for several hours.
What is a bento lunch box?
Bento boxes originated in Japan, and they’re designed to hold a single serving of food, including a main dish and several sides. These lunch boxes are divided up into multiple compartments—commonly between three and five—and they have a compact form that’s easy to transport in a backpack or other bag.
How do you wash a lunch box?
At the end of each day, you should wash your child’s lunch box using warm, soapy water, making sure to get into any cracks and crevices. You can then let it air dry. Alternatively, some lunch boxes can be placed in the dishwasher, allowing for hands-free cleaning.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
This article was originally written by Camryn Rabideau, a freelance writer and product tester for The Spruce Eats. As someone who commuted to work for many years, she knows the importance of a well-insulated lunch box, and while selecting products for this list, she looked at each lunch box's size, weight, capacity, and special features. She considered how easy the various lunch boxes would be for children to open, as well as their durability.
This article was later updated by Brigitt Earley, a freelance writer who has spent nearly 15 years researching the best home goods and kitchen items for various digital publications, including The Spruce and Good Housekeeping. Brigitt also frequently contributes to parenting sites like What to Expect, plus has four of her own children, including two preschoolers she regularly packs lunches and snacks for. She personally tested seven lunch boxes for this roundup.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bisphenol A (BPA) factsheet.