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When your kids leave for school in the morning, you probably make sure they have a few essentials with them: backpack, homework, etc. No matter how old your children are—preschool or high school—chances are you also send them off most days with a lunch box packed with their favorite foods. In the market for a new lunch box for kids? There are a whole lot of products to choose from, and you should factor in what types of lunches your child typically eats. The best lunch box for your kid will likely depend on their age and style preference, too.
Here, the best lunch boxes for kids this school year.
Best Overall: Bentgo Kids' Lunch Box
Rubber sides are extra durable
Easy to clean
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.
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 leak-proof when put to the test in her son’s backpack.
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 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.
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. There’s a zippered front pocket where you can hide an encouraging note for your preschooler, and the insulated interior helps to maintain a hot or cold temperature to ensure their food is always fresh. 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.
Dimensions: 7 x 3.25 x 9.75 inches | Weight: 0.13 pounds | Material: Polyester and BPA-free liner
Best for Elementary School: Rubbermaid LunchBlox Small Lunch Bag
Fits Rubbermaid or Tupperware containers
Features bottle holder and utensil compartment
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. The lightweight product is designed to be used with Rubbermaid LunchBlox food containers, but you can also use it with whatever Tupperware you have at home.
Reviewers love that it has a side zip closure, 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.
Dimensions: 5.38 x 8.75 x 8.88 inches | Weight: 0.65 pounds | Material: Polyester
Best Freezable: PackIt Freezable Classic Lunch Box
Gel liner can replace ice packs
Collapsible for easy storage
Bottle pocket is small
Heavy 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. The frozen walls help to keep food insulated and fresh for longer, and you don’t have to use any ice packs.
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. There are a zip pocket and mesh pouch on the exterior of the bag, and the whole thing is made from canvas with a water-resistant lining.
Happy parents say it works perfectly, keeping food cold for hours—several even note that you can use it in conjunction with a bento box with room to spare.
Dimensions: 10 x 4.25 x 8.25 inches | Weight: 1.28 pounds | Material: BPA-free materials and gel liner
Best for High School: OPUX Insulated Dual Compartment Lunch Bag
Several extra pockets on exterior
Includes handle and shoulder strap
Bottom opens if zippers aren't fully closed
Once students reach high school, chances are they’ll start bringing more food to school, which means they’re going to need a larger lunch box. The OPUX Dual Compartment Lunch Bag is a great option for older students, as it has a durable “double deck” design that’s spacious and versatile.
The bottom section of this lunch box is insulated and leak-proof, making it ideal for cold food and drinks, and it’s large enough to fit up to 10 cans. The top section is ideal for snacks and other items kids 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.
This lunch bag can be carried via its handle or with the adjustable shoulder strap. Plus, it's spacious and attractive, without being juvenile. It works well for adults, too!
Dimensions: 10 x 7.5 x 10 inches | Weight: 15.2 ounces | Material: Polyester/nylon
Best Set: Bentology Lunch Bag and Box Set
Comprehensive lunch set
Range of colorful patterns
Dishwasher safe containers
Containers can be hard to open
Low-quality ice pack
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. 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.
Dimensions: 8.5 x 9.5 x 3.25 inches | Weight: 2.2 pounds | Material: Polyester and BPA-free plastic
Best Stainless Steel: LunchBots Large Trio Stainless Steel Lunch Container
Large compartment fits a whole sandwich
There are several benefits to stainless steel lunch boxes, including that they’re quite durable. The LunchBots Trio Stainless Steel Lunch Container is a bento-style metal option that’s perfect for kids, thanks to its three-compartment design. There’s one large section that can hold a sandwich, as well as two smaller areas where you can pack snacks.
This simple lunch box is made from 18/8 stainless steel, and it can be cleaned in the dishwasher. The compartments aren’t leak-proof, so it’s best used with dry foods, and you can also opt for a version that has a colored polka dot lid, if desired.
Dimensions: 8 x 6 x 1.75 inches | Weight: 1 pound | Material: 18/8 stainless steel
Best Thermos: 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. It has a durable stainless steel interior and exterior, and when closed, it’s leakproof, preventing any lunchbox spills. The jar is technically top-rack dishwasher safe, but the brand recommends hand washing to increase its longevity.
Dimensions: 3.5 x 3.5 x 4.5 inches | Weight: 8 ounces | Material: Stainless steel
Best for Warm Foods: Omie OmieBox
Removable thermos for hot foods
Can be fully disassembled for cleaning
Tricky for young children to open
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 leak-proof, so you don't have to worry about spills, and its contents will stay cool and fresh.
Parents love that this lunch box keeps food warm for their little ones, and many say it's versatile and easy to clean. However, some note that the thermos lid can be a bit hard for younger kids to open, so this may be best for elementary school children.
Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.3 x 3.1 inches | Weight: 1.75 pounds | Material: Stainless steel and BPA-free plastic
The Bentgo Kids' Lunch Box is our favorite option 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 older children, the OPUX Dual Compartment Lunch Bag (view at Amazon) is significantly larger, providing two spacious compartments that can hold full sandwiches, water bottles, and more.
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, and/or a water bottle. Keep weight in mind, as well, as your child will have to carry the box around in their backpack.
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 of the coin, 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 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.