Kids lunchboxes are a fun and practical way to provide lunch for your child when they are away from home at school or on trips. They help to keep food fresh and they allow you to control what your child is eating. This is important for all children in order to maintain a healthy diet but is vital for kids with allergies or other special dietary requirements.
Kids lunch containers come in all sorts of shapes and designs so it is important to think about what will work for you. Some kids love a picture of a cartoon character on the front but others prefer something more low key. It is essential that it does not leak and is easy to keep clean. To help you make the right choice, check out our guide to the best kids lunch box.
The Best Kids Lunch Box
Perfect for little appetites, the five neat compartments in this lunch box are well portioned for children. There is even a special compartment for dipping sauces. It would suit the appetite of a three to seven year old child. The sturdy edges are designed to withstand school life so they are rubber-coated and will not smash when dropped.
The sealed box will keep food fresh and neat but the latches are easy enough for children to open. You can even pop the removable compartment tray into the microwave for reheating and when the meal is over it can be put in the dishwasher. It is best to handwash the outer shell. The whole thing is made from BPA free materials.
Five neat compartments
Sealed to keep food fresh
Suitable for microwave
- Weight1.23 pounds
Lid is easy to remove
Foods do not mix
Easy to clean
Latches can break
Seals can become moldy
Kids and even those who are simply young at heart will fall in love with this novelty Disney princess lunch box kit. Many other characters are available including Scooby Doo and Hello Kitty. Because it can be used so many times, it reduces waste. It’s also completely PVC free and has PEVA lining.
These insulated lunch bags are suitable for children aged over five years. The main section closes securely with a zipper and it comes with a soft carry handle. The closed cell polyethylene foam insulation keeps the contents cool and fresh. Kids will love the detailed graphics which are screen printed and the unique shape as well as the cool sounds! It can be wiped clean with a damp cloth.
Many attractive and fun designs
Foam insulation to keep food fresh
Carry handle and zipper
Can be wiped clean
- Weight4.2 ounces
Keeps food cold
Strong and durable
Lining will eventually crack and fade
Zipper can break
The kid-friendly and convenient option for lunch boxes, this is a set of four boxes made from polypropylene #5 plastic, approved by the FDA for use with food and which contain no BPA, phthalates or PVC. The lids are easy for little hands to open but they will not leak so runny food will not escape and mess up school bags.
They have three useful compartments inside so that food can be separated – which suits picky eaters. You can put these in the microwave and they are dishwasher-safe. You can also put them in the freezer for storing left-overs. When you are not using them, they nest together to save on space. The four boxes have lids of assorted colors.
Set of four boxes with compartments
Can be put in freezer and microwave
Can be washed in the dishwasher
Nest together to save space
- Weight1.06 pounds
Lids fit well
Easy for kids to open
Keeps vegetables crisp
Edges trap water in the dishwasher
May be too big for some school bags
An insulated lunchbox for kids featuring the popular Under Armour sporting logo and a variety of cool designs. It is made from 420D polyester which is durable and they are completely free form PVC, Polyester and LDPE. The insulating effect is provided by IsoTec premium foam and the strong lining material is Flex-A-Guard. This is easy to wipe down and protects the contents from getting crushed.
Inside this insulated lunch box, there is a separate mesh pocket to give you flexibility with storage. The lunch box is closed with a secure zipper and kids carry it around using a molded rubber handle which is adjustable. There is also a side clip so that it can be attached to a back pack.
Popular Under Armour sporting logo
Foam insulation to maintain internal temperature
Internal mesh pocket
Handle and clip for back packs
- Weight8 ounces
Walls are thick and sturdy
Zipper is strong and durable
Easy to wipe down
Top is a bit narrow to get some containers in
Water pouch on the side does not fit most bottles
This lunch box features a bold and attractive pattern that children will love but which does not go out of fashion. There are plenty of pattern and color choices available. On the outside, there is a premium fabric which is both durable and easy to clean. The walls are insulated so it will keep food cool and fresh or warm.
The box is compact but there is plenty of room inside for all your child’s food, snacks and drinks. There is also a front pocket with a zipper and elastic tabs inside so that you can secure a water bottle or an ice pack. Also, inside there is a mesh pouch.
Fabric can be wiped clean
Plenty of room inside
- Weight7.2 ounces
Design will not go out of fashion
Perfect size for school
Durable and lasts for ages
Internal lining will stain if it comes into contact with food
Stitching has been known to come undone
All of the materials used in this attractive bamboo and white lunch box are food-grade and BPA-free. The containers are airtight with silicone sealed lids to keep food fresh and to prevent spillages and leaks that make a mess in school bags. The various internal compartments help a lot with portion control and to separate food for special diets.
They are very durable and easy to clean thanks to the smooth and non-porous inner surface. They are also safe to put in the dishwasher if you wish. You can use this lunch box to heat up food in the microwave and they can even be placed in the freezer. There is a ventilation cap which makes heating times shorter. You get some lovely added extras including some lunchbox notes for your little lovelies, an elastic strap and a pair of chopsticks and cutlery set.
Attractive bamboo and white design
Various internal compartments
Easy to clean
Microwave and freezer safe
- Weight13.4 ounces
Very attractive – great for older kids
Do not leak
Useful cutlery set
Strap can be tricky to use
Very liquid food could leak out
Devotees of the Minecraft app will love this attractive and fun lunch box. It has some lovely graphics (dirt and grass block) based on the popular video game and features a “Quality Gear Until The End” Minecraft logo (licensed).
The lunch box is fully insulated so it will help to keep food cool and fresh. The exterior is made from nylon/polyester fabric and the zipper closure is reinforced to make sure that it lasts; the zipper pulls are molded. There’s plenty of room inside for your child’s lunch and a drink.
Official licensed Minecraft logo
Insulated to keep food cool
Nylon/polyester fabric exterior
Durable zipper closure
- Weight0.64 ounces
Kids love it!
Sturdy and durable
Zippers can break off
Limited room inside
An ideal lunch box for kid’s school lunches combining practicality with attractive design. The lunch box is made from molded silicone and it has a lid which aligns perfectly with the tray so there are no leaks. This means that you can pack dried food suck as crackers next to dips or moist fruit and there will be no leakage. The latch opens easily so even very young children can manage it. There are no BPA materials or phthalates used in its manufacture.
Inside, there is a tray with five handy compartments of varying sizes to accommodate different types of food. They are the ideal size for kid’s food portions and help you to feed your child a varied and balanced diet. It has been so successful that is has been awarded the Good Design Award for a Children’s Products so you know it works well. It is just the right size to fit with an icepack into a normal insulated lunch bag. Because the tray corners are rounded, it is quick and easy to wash and is even dishwasher safe but only on the top rack. The outer shell should be hand washed.
Five handy compartments
Perfect size for kid’s portions
Rounded tray corners
Latches are easy to open
- Weight1.1 pounds
Very easy to clean
Tray can go in the dishwasher
Would be useful to be able to see what is in each compartment
Compartments are too small to fit a traditional sandwich
This is the sturdy choice for kids who love to wreck their lunch boxes. It’s made from 18/8, 304 grade impact-resistant stainless steel and is built to stand up to a lot of punishment and has a built-in handle. It’s completely safe and FDA and CPSIA compliant; it is also BPA-free. It comes with a vacuum-insulated insert which is leak-proof for hot food and liquids and has a wide mouth so kids can scoop out their food easily. Without the insert inside, it will fit a traditional sandwich.
The divider can be moved around so that you can customize the compartments to fit in your desired food. You won’t need a separate container for drinks and snacks which saves on space in a school bag. The whole box is double walled and insulated with air so your food will stay fresh for hours. When you need to clean it, it comes apart and even the rubber seals are removable for thorough washing. If the seals get worn, they can be replaced so that you can continue to use the lunch box.
Lots of useful compartments
Vacuum-insulated insert for liquids
Rubber seals can be replaced
- Weight1.7 pounds
Feels very sturdy
Carry handle is very useful
Great to keep food warm
Insulated compartment is quite small
Younger children may find it hard to close it
Here we have a durable 600D polyester fabric lunch box that is available in 16 colors including red and heather gray. It’s just what your child needs for carrying their lunch or snacks to school. You will be able to use it over and over again, cutting down on waste.
It is fully insulated with a thermal and leakproof lining but it contains no BPA, PVC, lead, phthalates or cadmium and has been approved by CPSIA and CSPA tests. The zippers are strong and reinforced so they can stand up to repeated use. There are also useful internal pockets where you can put utensils and a front and side pocket. It has a detachable hand strap with a buckle so that it can be attached to a backpack on the way to school. Thanks to the wipeable lining, it is easy to clean with a damp cloth.
Durable 600D polyester fabric
Insulated and wipe clean
Detachable hand strap
- Weight9.6 ounces
Very well made
Zipper opens all the way back to allow easy access
Appeals to younger and older children
May be a bit small for older kids
Zipper tends to stick
Best Kids Lunch Box Buying Guide & FAQ
What to Look for in a Kids Lunch Box
There are several things that you should bear in mind when you are buying a kid’s lunch box and remember that it is not just your opinion that counts!
- Will your kid like it?
Children take a lot of notice of each other’s lunch boxes! They can be incredibly fussy about the design and the characters that appear on the outside. Branded lunch boxes featuring characters from their favorite film or TV series or lunch box designs based on the latest video games are always popular. However, because children can also be fickle, you may decide to avoid these as their appeal may fade in a few months or even weeks! In the end, you could just have to buy the same lunch box and your child’s friends have got so they feel part of the crowd.
- Is it insulated?
Lukewarm food is a bad idea from a food hygiene point of view and from a taste point of view. Cold food should be kept cool and this is best done in an insulated lunch box. You can get special, small ice packs to go in with the food and it will stay nice and fresh until lunch time. Some lunch boxes have insulated compartments where you can keep warm food such as soup.
- Is it safe?
We all want to avoid nasty chemicals in any product that goes anywhere near children. Therefore, look out for a lunch box that is completely free from BPA, phthalates and other harmful material. It should be constructed from materials that have been designated as food-grade by the appropriate authorities.
- Does it have compartments?
Compartments are a very good idea for kid’s meals. They allow you to separate out things like crackers from more moist food and that makes it all more palatable. Children also like variety and a lunch box with compartments allows you to provide small quantities of lots of different types of food which suits a child’s appetite.
- Can they carry it?
Your child may have to carry the lunch box as they are walking to school or when they are on a school bus. A comfortable and strong carry handle is therefore useful or a clip so that it can be attached to a school bag. Alternatively, it should be small enough to fit inside a school bag.
- Is it durable?
School lunch boxes have a very hard life! Therefore, they must be able to withstand the wear and tear that your child will subject them to.
- How will you clean it?
Hygiene is very important when it comes to cleaning lunch boxes but so is convenience. You may want to choose a lunch box that can at least partially be dishwasher cleaned. You may have to hand wash the outer shell.
- Can it go in the microwave/freezer?
This is not that necessary for a child’s lunch box but is a useful feature if you want to use the box for yourself or for freezing food.
A lunch box leak in a school bag is a disaster! Always choose one that has strong seals and is leak-proof.
- Can they open it?
It is important that the zipper or clips on the lunch box are suitable for little hands to open. This is especially important when you are looking for a toddler lunch box because they can struggle with stiff clips.
Benefits of Packing a Lunch
It may seem like a lot of hassle to make up a packed lunch for your child every day but there are a lot of benefits for you and them. Here are the main advantages of lunch bags for kids.
- You are in control and will know exactly what your child has eaten.
- You can use up food from your home and so produce less waste.
- They are cheaper than buying food.
- You can make sure that the meals are healthy.
- Many children find it comforting to have home-prepared food.
- It is the environmentally friendly option because there will be less packaging waste and they can be reused many times.
What to Pack in the Lunch Box
The possibilities of what to pack in a child’s lunch box are endless. Here are some healthy ideas.
- Finger sandwiches, carrot sticks and yogurt.
- Cheese, crackers and apple.
- Humus, cucumber and raisins.
- Home made soup, bread and a banana.
Best Kids Lunch Box FAQ:
Q: How many lunch boxes do I need?
A: In theory, you only need one lunch box because they are reusable. You simply wash them out by hand or pop them in the dishwasher and they are good to go again. However, kids will be kids! They are very likely to come home without their lunch box because they have left it in school or on the bus. Therefore, it is always a good idea to have a spare one in the house just in case!
Q: Are insulated lunch boxes dishwasher safe?
A: Fabric, insulated lunch boxes are not dishwasher safe, they can only be wiped down with a damp cloth. Always check the manufacturers’ instructions for how you can clean the lunch box. Some types of lunch box can be placed on the top shelf of the dishwasher. Some have to be taken apart and some have sections that are dishwasher-proof but others are not.
Q: How do I clean a lunch box?
A: It is important to thoroughly clean a lunch box for hygiene and safety reasons. Any surface that comes into contact with food must be non-porous and capable of being wiped down. Some parts of the lunch box may be dishwasher safe but always check this in the information provided by the manufacturer. If you do not follow their instructions, you will affect the durability of the product.
Usually, a mixture of water and a dilute detergent is all that is needed to keep them clean and fresh. They also need to air dry thoroughly.
Q: Are the lunch containers safe for microwaves and freezers?
A: Again, this varies between lunch boxes. It is very handy if they can double up as storage containers and can be used to store frozen meals. Being able to microwave the lunch box is also useful but this is more likely to be used by adults in a work situation than by children. Very few children will have access to a microwave to reheat food in school. If you would like your child to have a warm meal, it would be best to provide a meal such as soup in an insulated containers so that it will still be warm at lunchtime.
Our Top Pick
Our top pick of the best kids lunch box selection has five neat compartments that are perfectly portioned for kids. There is a cute dipping sauce compartment. It’s great for three to seven year old children and has sturdy, rubber edges.
When you buy a Bento lunch box kids will have no problem opening it and will love the way it keeps food nice and fresh. The removable compartment can go in the microwave and the dishwasher but hand wash the outer shell. The whole thing is made from BPA free materials.
- The History of the Lunch Box - HowStuffWorks
- How Dirty Is Your Kid's Lunchbox? You May Not Want to Know - Parents