The 12 Best Lunch Boxes

Lunch-box-with-appetizing-food-and-bag-on-wooden-table-against-chalkboard-background

Lunch is a vital meal, and it’s particularly valuable if you often find yourself crunched for time and skipping breakfast.

By making the choice to take homemade lunches to work or school, you can take control of what you put into your body or the bodies of your children.

Beyond this, buying takeout lunch every day soon gets expensive, as well as putting inches on your waistline.

The first decision you’ll face on the buying trail concerns the type of lunch box or lunch bag. Here are the main options at your disposal:

  • Plastic boxes: You should avoid using these flimsy plastic containers. They often contain BPA, meaning they could leach chemicals into your food. They are not leak-proof either, and you cannot freeze them, microwave them, or pop them in a dishwasher. Instead, use one of the following alternatives…
  • Lunch box: A traditional sandwich box will usually accommodate some sandwiches along with snacks and drinks. Lunch boxes come in many different materials as you’ll see below, so all that counts is finding which meshes with your lifestyle
  • Lunch bags: Insulated bags might not stop your food from getting squashed, but if you’re driving to work, this might not be an issue. As with lunch boxes, you’ll find the best lunch bags in a variety of materials to suit. These bags comes with a carrying handle on the top and a detachable shoulder strap to widen your options
  • Bento boxes: Asian bento boxes are now also very popular in the United States. These compartmentalized containers have multiple tiers and allow you to take delicious and nutritious pre-assembled lunches to work or school

Once you have decided which style of lunch box makes the smoothest fit, there are a few other basics to account for when you’re comparing models:

  • Materials: Plastic is durable, and it’s also safe to pop in the microwave, freezer, and dishwasher, all valuable properties in a lunch box. The lightweight nature of plastic boxes also lets you pack large lunches without being weighed down. Stainless steel lunch boxes contain no chemicals and they are also naturally antibacterial. Lifespan is perhaps the key selling point of stainless steel lunch boxes. Bamboo is sustainable and eco-friendly, and it’s also both affordable and lightweight. Better for lunch box components than for the entire container, bamboo can warp and stain very easily
  • Airtight seal: Any kind of airtight container will always keep food fresher and hotter for longer. Whether you want a lunch box for the office, the construction site, or the school yard, always ensure the storage environment is airtight
  • Size: Whatever style of lunch box makes the right fit for you, you also need to make sure it’s large enough to accommodate the food you have in mind. A few of the boxes and bags we review today have small capacities, and we draw your attention to these throughout our reviews
  • Compartments: The best lunch boxes come with multiple compartments to prevent cross-contamination between different foods. A lunch box with several different sections is great for kids
  • Leak-proof liner: If you plan to transport any kind of liquids, you’ll need a leak-proof lunch box. Silicone seals help to keep everything inside, and the liner should be easy to clean, too
  • Free of all contaminants: BPA is an industrial chemical used to make resins and plastics. The chemical is known to cause serious health issues, including cancer and prostate gland issues. You should always make certain that any plastic lunch box is free of BPA, lead, phthalates, and all other contaminants
  • Cutlery: If you want an all-in-one lunch box, look for sets that include spoons and forks, so you have everything you need to eat on the go

OK, if you keep these simple pointers in mind, you should have no problem at all choosing the best lunch box for your requirements. Check out a dozen of the leading solutions right now and see if any makes the right fit.

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I. The 12 Best Lunch Boxes

1. Our #1 Pick: YETI Daytrip Lunch Box

YETI-Daytrip-Lunch-Box-Sagebrush-Green

Features

  • Materials: Dry-hide shell and insulated liner
  • Weight: 1.05 pounds
  • Dimensions: 11 x 9 x 5 inches

First up and our overall favorite in today’s showcase of the best lunch boxes come from the mighty brand YETI. If you’re shopping for budget lunch boxes, this is not for you, but we have plenty of more affordable options below. If you’re looking for nothing but the best and you have a more fluid budget, read on.

You first need to choice from a handful of commanding colors ideal for all tastes. This box is finished in a muted green.

If you need a durable lunch box, whether for your kids at school or your husband on a construction site, the rugged YETI won’t let you down. The exterior is waterproof while the liner is leak-proof and super-simple to clean.

Like all the best lunch boxes, the YETI is highly insulated. The lightweight closed-cell insulation ensures your lunch stays cooled, along with any drinks you pop inside this thing.

All components of this lunch box are made from food-safe materials, allowing you to buy without any niggling health concerns.

You also benefit from a magnetic thermosnap closure, locking the contents securely inside, ready for you to whip out your lunch on demand.

While this is one of the most expensive lunch boxes you’ll encounter, it also happens to be among the very best. If you can afford it, you won’t be disappointed with the YETI.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Great choice of colors
  • Closed-cell insulation
  • Magnetic closure
  • Extremely expensive

2. MIER Adult Lunch Box

MIER-Adult-Lunch-Box-Insulated-Lunch-Bag-Large-Cooler-Tote-Bag-for-Men

Features

  • Materials: Fabric, PU, PEVA
  • Weight: 14.4oz
  • Dimensions: 10.2 x 7.9 x 11 inches

MIER serves up an adult lunch box that would also work well for older kids or teens. What do you get for your money, then?

Well, the first thing you’ll notice is just how little this lunch box costs, so if you’re reeling at the stiff price tag of the YETI above, you’ll find the MIER much more pocket-friendly.

Fortunately, you don’t take a hit on performance to qualify for a bargain, although you will need to keep your expectations about lifespan reasonable. Despite predominantly positive user reviews, we also found a handful of complaints about the liner of this lunch box ripping prematurely.

The shoulder strap on this lunch box is both highly adjustable and comfortably padded for your convenience.

There are two compartments inside this lunch box. The upper section is for dry foods and anything that’s not likely to seep out of its container. Twin zippers let you access this compartment on the go in seconds flat. The wide opening makes grabbing what’s inside a cinch.

Down below, you get a cold section. This contains a leak-proof liner that’s totally food-safe. It’s easy to keep clean, and it’s also efficiently insulated to keep your food just the way you want it ready for lunch.

Around the front of the bag, you get an accessory pocket, completing a winning package at a price you’ll love.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Oversized capacity
  • Adjustable shoulder strap
  • Highly insulated liner
  • Inside prone to ripping

3. MAZFORCE Original Lunch Box

MAZFORCE-Original-Lunch-Box-Insulated-Lunch-Bag

Features

  • Materials: Oxford fabric
  • Weight: 0.4 pounds
  • Dimensions: 4.5 x 8.7 x 10.2 inches

Next in line is a flawed gem from MAZFORCE that’s well worth popping on your shortlist.

Here at Madiba, we like to save you time and money. To help you do that, we’ll lead off with the reported issue plaguing this lunch box. A handful of disgruntled users complain that when you add a drink bottle to the side compartment, this causes the bag to become unbalanced. The bottom of the pouch doesn’t sit flush to the bottom of the bag.

If you’re not planning to take a bottled drink with you, how does this lunch box shape up?

The robust Oxford cloth means you’ll get plenty of use out of this lunch box, even in dirty environments like a construction site.

You can choose from a broad palette of colors to suit, including this understated gray bag.

Inside, you get foam core insulation to keep the contents of your lunch box cold and fresh until it’s time to eat.

Some mesh pockets inside allow you to organize your food and keep things from cross-contaminating.

With the exception of the gripes about the issue with the side pocket on this lunch box, overall user testimony is mainly positive, so do your due diligence and let us know what you think if you invest in this multipurpose lunch bag.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Sleek casual styling
  • Interior mesh pockets
  • Expandable water bottle holder
  • Unbalanced when you add drink bottle

4. Stanley Classic Lunch Box

Stanley-Classic-10qt-Lunch-Box-Large-Lunchbox

Features

  • Materials: Metallic fiber
  • Weight: 2.59 pounds
  • Dimensions: 10.4 x 4.9 x 8.4 inches

This ultra-robust lunch box from power tools specialist Stanley is well worth a place on your shortlist.

We found some scattered reports of this box not living up to the usually exacting standards of this powerhouse brand, but we found far more glowing reviews of this hardwearing classic.

Available in this muted navy colorway or a hammer green alternative, you get a simple but effective stainless steel container ideal for carrying your lunch or anything else you see fit to pop inside.

Although you don’t get any dedicated insulation with this lunch box, the stainless steel build is more than enough to keep your lunch protected from being squashed while also fresh enough to eat a few hours later.

As you would expect given the stainless steel construction, this lunch box is reasonably heavy, weighing in at 2.59 pounds. As such, it doesn’t make the best fit for kids. That said, the carrying handles makes it easy enough for adults to carry around. The compact nature of the box also means you can pop it inside a bag or rucksack if required.

With 5 quarts of storage space inside this thing, you can easily fit a hearty lunch inside, and you’ll still have plenty of space for snacks and beverages.

If you’re looking for the best lunch box in terms of durability, the Stanley is hard to beat.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Retro aesthetics
  • Exceptional durability
  • Generous capacity with space for bottle inside
  • Insulation is lacking

5. Rubbermaid Lunch Bag

Rubbermaid-LunchBlox-Lunch-Bag-Medium-Black-Etch

Features

  • Materials: Canvas
  • Weight: 6.6oz
  • Dimensions: 5.38 x 8.75 x 8.88 inches

Rubbermaid produces a deep bench of luggage and accessories like this neat lunch bag that would work well for younger kids.

The backpack-style lunch container comes with a carrying handle on the top as well as a shoulder strap for maximum flexibility.

The design of the bag is intended to accommodate LunchBlox food containers. You can buy those right here.

Choose from either this medium-sized bag, or a smaller alternative if your kids are even younger and you’re looking for something more manageable for little hands.

The zip closure makes it easy to get in and out of this bag. The zippers are also heavyweight and built to last, eliminating a common weak point.

Inside, there are several compartments so you can better organize your kid’s lunch for the day ahead. There is plenty of space for drink bottles, too.

The liner is food-safe and free of BPA, so you can buy with a clear conscience.

While the bulk of user reviews for this lunch bag are positive, we found a few complaints about lifespan. We feel you need to peg your expectations when you’re buying any product at this price point, so explore some of the extra-rugged containers on our shortlist if you’re hopping primarily based ion durability and lifespan.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • BPA-free liner
  • Bottle holder
  • Accessory compartment
  • Questionable lifespan

6. Zojirushi Vacuum Lunch Jar

Zojirushi-Ms-Bento-Stainless-Steel-Vacuum-Lunch-Jar

Features

  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Dimensions: 4.38 x 4.97 x 8.13 inches

As we hit the midway point in our quest for the best lunch boxes, rice cooker specialist Zojirushi steps in with this stainless steel container ideal for many purposes.

It isn’t just one container you get here, though. The insulated jar has the space for the trio of food bowls provided inside. These bowls have the following capacities:

  • 8oz
  • 5oz
  • 2oz

These bowls are all microwave-safe, and they’re also extremely easy to keep clean. You also get a forked spoon that attaches to the side of the jar.

Whether you’re looking to keep food and drink hot or cold inside these containers, you can do this with confidence for 6 hours or more. This should be more than enough for most purposes.

Despite the wide choice of containers, you might find these slightly small for your requirements, so double check the sizes above relative to the portions you usually serve for yourself and make sure it’s a good fit.

There is a disclaimer from the manufacturer on the product listing suggesting that the lunch box may contain potentially carcinogenic chemicals, so we would advise doing your due diligence here.

If it was not for the unsavory chemical content, this would be an otherwise excellent method of cutting down on store-bought lunch.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Elegant design
  • Hot and cold lunch storage
  • 3 food bowls
  • Minimal capacity

7. Black+Blum Lunch Box

Black+Blum-Stainless-steel-Lunch-Box

Features

  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Weight: 1.01 pounds
  • Dimensions: 5.51 x 7.87 x 2.56 inches

Next in line is another top-notch stainless steel lunch box, this time from Black+Blum.

Despite the rock-solid stainless build, this box is pretty lightweight, weighing just 1 pound.

There are 3 color choices for the silicone band that wraps tightly around this metal box, guaranteeing the tightest seal, and also offering onboard cutlery storage. A stainless steel fork is included, and this slots neatly under the band on one side of the box. Pop a spoon under the band on the other side and you have everything you need for lunch on the go.

The container is safe to use in both the freezer and the oven, so you can easily transport dishes you cook straight from the stove.

Not only does the lid snap tightly into place, but you also benefit from a vacuum seal, ensuring your lunch stays fresh, even if you get tied up and don’t end up eating until the late afternoon.

While this is by no means the cheapest lunch box you can find, if you shop for lunch boxes based only on the bottom line, you’re liable to come up with something unsuitable and sub-par. Invest in this stainless steel lunch box, by contrast, and you won’t be shopping for another in quite a while.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Totally leak-proof
  • Rugged, durable build
  • Safe in both oven and freezer
  • Quite costly

8. Carhartt Deluxe Lunch Box

Carhartt-Deluxe-Dual-Compartment-Insulated-Lunch-Cooler-Bag

Features

  • Materials: 100% synthetic
  • Weight: 9.8oz
  • Dimensions: 10 x 9 x 7 inches

Next up comes a stylish lunch box from streetwear legend Carhartt. While some fans of this brand praise the styling, a few die-hard fans complain that this fails to live up to the usual Carhartt standards. As usual, the truth falls somewhere in between.

The synthetic bag-style lunch box is finished in this camo print, or a scattering of other colorful alternatives.

As with all the best lunch boxes in this style, you get both a carrying handle on the top and a shoulder strap, maximizing your options and allowing for hands-free transportation when required.

The heavy-duty fabric is water-repellent and built to withstand plenty of punishment. This brand, after all, is famous the world over for its fashion-inspired workwear.

Metal hardware and rugged YKK zippers reduce the chances of the classic weak points on lunch bags from letting you down. Triple-stitched for adding durability, you’re getting a long-lasting lunch box solution.

Inside the bag, twin compartments give you all the room you need for a large lunch and beverages, as well as anything else you need to get you through the day.

Ideal for teens and adults, you might be surprised at just how little this lunch box costs, certainly when considering the usual pricing of this brand.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Stylish camo design
  • Water-repellent
  • Large and compartmentalized interior
  • Not the usual Carhartt quality

9. monbento Lunch Box

monbento-MB-Square-bento-box-Large-2-tier-leakproof-lunch-box

Features

  • Materials: Plastic
  • Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Dimensions: 5.51 x 5.51 x 5.51 inches

Bento boxes are increasingly popular among people looking to enjoy healthy lunches on the go.

This box is finished in a dusky pink, but you have several other colorways at your disposal if you don’t fancy a blush of pink.

Made of reusable PP plastic, these boxes are designed to give you years of use, so why not pick one up for the whole family?

The intermediate lids all feature silicone seals, so everything you pop inside the airtight environment will stay fresher for longer.

You can pop these boxes in the dishwasher for hands-free cleanup, and they are also microwave-safe for your complete convenience.

The container has twin tiers, so you can better organize your lunch inside.

Made from food-safe materials that contain no toxins like BPA, you can save yourself money over store-bought lunches, while also enjoying healthier options and taking control of all the ingredients yourself.

The raised edges of the boxes means that all your food will stay securely inside, whether that’s a tasty mixed salad or a large serving of stir-fry.

Part of a wider range of lunchware, add this bento box to your arsenal and start eating more varied and healthier lunches on the go.

The only serious gripes we encountered about this bento box concerns the undersized capacity. If you eat huge lunches, this is not the best option for you. If you prefer quality over quantity, this is one of the best lunch boxes out there.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • BPA-free and food-safe
  • Robust build
  • Double-tiered container
  • Extremely small

10. ASEBBO Insulated Lunch Box

Insulated-Waxed-Canvas-Lunch-Bag-by-ASEBBO-10L-Lunch-Box-for-Women

Features

  • Materials: Leather, aluminum, canvas
  • Weight: 1 pound
  • Dimensions: 11.2 x 8.8 x 7 inches

Perhaps you want a lunchbox solution that looks smart enough to take to the office, this 10-liter waxed canvas bag from ASEBBO fits the bill perfectly.

Build quality is impressive throughout. A genuine leather handle complements the waxed canvas body of the bag and makes it easy to carry this lunch box. You also get a shoulder strap if you prefer hands-free transportation. This shoulder-strap is detachable if you don’t find you use it.

Inside the bag and below a double layer of waxed canvas, aluminum film makes for highly efficient insulation and keeps your lunch at its best all day long.

The leakproof liner is also super-simple to clean, so you’ll have no problems with ongoing upkeep.

We all have so many accessories and devices these days, you’ll appreciate the exterior zipped pocket for anything you need beyond your food for the day.

Backed by a solid 1-year guarantee, you have nothing to lose by investing in this affordable but stylish lunch box from ASEBBO.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Hardwearing waxed canvas finish
  • Real leather handle
  • Snug buckle closure
  • Loses shape after washing

11. Self-Cooking Electric Lunch Box

Self-Cooking-Electric-Lunch-Box-Toursion-Mini-Rice-Cooker

Features

  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Weight: 2.99 pounds
  • Dimensions: 10.79 x 7.56 x 5.98 inches

As we near the end of our search for the best lunch boxes, it’s time for something completely different.

The CTSZOOM Store serves up this self-cooking electric lunch box to give you the ability to cook raw food in around 30 minutes. If this sounds like it would liven up your workday and keep you going through the winter, read on.

The stainless steel lunch box contains a pair of stainless steel bowls. One of these had divider in the middle, while the other provides you with enough space for a main dish.

Made from food-grade 304 stainless steel throughout, you’ll have no problem with BPAs or any other contaminants. After all, that’s the last thing you want when all you’re looking to do is eat more healthily!

The plug port is designed to be water-repellent.

You need to ensure the water you add to this self-cooking lunch box doesn’t run out, or the unit will automatically power itself down, leaving your lunch uncooked.

A handle on top of the box streamlines transportation, and this lays flat when not in use.

Given the nature of this lunch box, you must make sure you’ll have access to a power outlet, otherwise you’ll end up disappointed and with raw lunch.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • 2 removable bowls
  • Stainless steel build
  • Cooks raw food
  • You’ll need access to electricity

12. TWELVElittle Adventure Kids Lunch Box

TWELVElittle-Adventure-Kids-Lunch-Bag-(Twinkle)

Features

  • Materials: Polyester
  • Weight: 10.4oz
  • Dimensions: 12 x 10 x 4.3 inches

Last but not least in our collection of the best lunch boxes comes from the TWELVElittle Store, so how does it stand and fall?

Firstly, the design and build of this bag makes it a great fit for school lunches. Intended for children, the cute styling is understated, emblazoned with twinkling stars to inject some magic into your kid’s day.

You get a long strap that is detachable if your kiddies prefer carrying this lunch box using the top-mounted handle.

A small zipped front pocket is great for your girls to pop their hairbands or other accessories inside, too.

The spacious interior of the bag allows you to cram in several containers and a drink bottle, all your little one needs for the day ahead at school.

Kids make lots of mess, and this lunch bag is machine-washable to cut down on the tedium of hand washing dirty bags.

With no lead, no BPA, and no phthalates, this is one of the safest and most effective lunch boxes out there, and it’s perfect for younger kids.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Lengthy detachable strap
  • Holds several containers
  • Machine-washable
  • Capacity could be more generous

II. FAQs

1) What are the benefits and drawbacks of using lunch boxes for kids?

Kids make lots of mess, and most lunch boxes are very easy to keep clean. They are usually dishwasher-friendly, too. The rigid nature of a lunch box should stop sandwiches from getting squashed. With multiple sections inside most of the best lunch boxes, you can keep different foods separate. If you have a liquid lunch of any description, a tightly sealed lunch box is ideal. On the downside, some lunch boxes are brittle and prone to damage. The rigid nature of a lunch box can be beneficial, but it also means they take up quite a lot of space, even when empty.

2) What are the benefits and drawbacks of using lunch bags for kids?

A lunch bag is softer and easier for your little ones to carry. Bags are less breakable than most lunch boxes, and they can accommodate a similar quantity of food. You’ll usually find lunch bags feature at least some degree of insulation. Many lunch bags are very keenly priced, so you can snatch yourself a bargain. Once a lunch bag is empty, it takes up much less space. You will find most lunch bags are machine-washable. The flexible nature of lunch bags leaves your food exposed to the risk of being squashed. Most lunch bags will need you to use extra wraps or containers to keep your food segregated inside.

3) What is a bento box?

Bento is a packed single-serving meal, transported pre-assembled and ready to eat. Most bento boxes include rice or noodles as the base, with a protein source like fish, meat, or eggs. These foundational ingredients are complemented by a variety of pickled and cooked veggies, and some slivers of delicious fruits. While eastern in origin, many modern bento boxes also take inspiration from the west.


III. Conclusion

While buying a lunch box might not initially seem like the most confusing decision, you’ll need to navigate lots of cheap and low-quality products, so we did the hard work for you with today’s curated shortlist of the best lunch boxes out there.

Whether you want a small and simple box, a lunch bag, or even the self-cooking lunch box we included today, you’re spoiled for choice.

Bear the pointers from our buying guide in mind when you’re comparing lunch boxes, and you should have no problem at all finding the perfect lunch solution for your needs.

Before you head off today, take a second to bookmark Madiba. We bring you fresh content daily, so pop back soon and don’t miss out!

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