The Best Lunch Boxes (Review) in 2019
Whether you’re looking for the best lunch box for the office or a sturdy, airtight yet quirky design for your children’s lunches, it can be tough to find a lunch bag, bento box or lunch box that meets all of your needs- and meets them well. Luckily, you have us- and we’ve researched everything there is to know about lunch boxes to help you decide on which lunch containers will best meet your needs, whatever they may be.
Check out our top picks to see some of the best lunch boxes available on the market, today or read on to discover what you should consider when buying lunch containers, as well as answers to your most frequently asked questions- letting you know everything there is to learn about these simple storage containers for lunch on-the-go.
6 food containers for portion control with shaker cup, pill dispenser, and ice pack
Microwaveable, reusable, freezer-safe, BPA-free
Double insulated lunch bag
4-compartment lunch bag
2-compartment, leakproof 7-quart capacity cooler
With 1.1-quart vacuum-insulated bottle
Premium, rustproof 18/8 stainless steel
Lightweight and durable lunch bag design
Large main compartment with interior mesh pockets
BPA-free, food-safe liner
Removable shoulder strap and comfortable handle
The Best Lunch Box
Designed with a goal of keeping your fit and healthy, the insulated lunch box and 6 portion-control containers (along with the shaker cup, which comes with its own set of storage containers) are ideal for organizing a full day’s worth of meals- including snacks and vitamins. Don’t worry about fitting it all in, though, as the double-insulated bag handles everything perfectly with many compartments and side pockets to fit all the different, airtight containers.
All the items are BPA-free and click-lock lids make sorting out and accessing your food a doddle. On top of all this, you even get a lifetime guarantee with every purchase- perfect if you have a faulty product and need it replacing ASAP. All-in-all, we can see why this lunch bag and box set has nearly 2,000 positive reviews from happy customers, as it meets the needs of almost any user.
Perfect for meal prep
All plastics are BPA-free
Coming in as our second option is this lunch bag from kitchen-based giants Rubbermaid. Designed to work with Rubbermaid’s food storage containers, this bag is lightweight and easy to carry, with an adjustable shoulder strap, which is perfect for commuters, as well as a heavy-duty handle for quicker trips. There’s also an added mesh pocket along the side, for water bottles and accessories.
This option is considered smaller than a lot of the competition out there, although we would class it as a medium-sized option. It also works brilliantly at keeping food cooler, for longer. It’s also just the right size for light lunches and can easily contain multiple containers and utensils, as required.
Adjustable shoulder strap
Another fantastic option is this lunch box from MIER. Hosting two compartments- perfect for keeping hot and cold food separate- and a surprisingly large capacity of 14.5 liters, this lunch bag will carry pretty much anything you need and works brilliantly as a picnic basket, too.
Customers love the longevity of temperature that this bag gives their lunch- even with 12 hours shifts- and many say that this works perfectly with their meal prepping, as they can fit pretty much anything and everything in here. The only things missing are any added accessories that you can get in our top pick, and a few reviewers have mentioned that the two-way dual zippers can come apart quite easily if you’re the heavy-handed type.
Two insulated compartments
Great for larger amounts of food
Detachable, adjustable shoulder strap for comfort
This freezable option from PackIt comes in a huge array of different styles and designs- perfect if you prefer a quirky look with your lunch. The gel walls work to both contain the temperature of your dinner and act as an ice pack- although you won’t be able to microwave the bag, due to the gel.
Ideal for small dinners or for carrying snacks, there have been a few complaints about size, so if you’re looking for anything larger, have a gander at some of our other top picks. If you need something that folds up easily and carries just enough for a simple lunch, then this is definitely the bag for you.
Gel insulation acts as an ice pack
A longer, slimmer bento lunchbox that slides beautifully into fridge sections without fuss, this is probably the best lunchbox for office workers who need to share a dining area. This super-stylish lunchbox works brilliantly, with three sections for portion control- if a little reminiscent of school lunches.
The tray fits easily into the insulated carry bag and doubles-up as an icepack, keeping your dinner nice and cold, ready to eat and is even leak-proof, so the separate sections won’t sit together and create a soggy mess. The best part? If you’re not happy, Modetro’s guarantee means you can always get your money back.
Microwave, dishwasher and freezer-safe
Fits perfectly in your fridge or freezer
Coming as a set of two, these lunch boxes are both insulated and come in a simple, tote bag design. Great for those who like to keep their food portion-controlled, or simply to switch between the two, as one is washed and set aside, it can either be a huge benefit to have multiple bags or a hindrance. If you don’t want to carry around two bags all day, it might be best to give this one a miss and head for others on our list.
One lunch box for longer days out
One lunch box for smaller lunches or shorter days
A bento box with a great design, acting as a testament to its humble roots, the bento box bundle from BentoHeaven includes two boxes for food, along with a food divider, chopsticks, utensils and free notepad- perfect if you make a packed lunch for your loved one and want them to be surprised. It also comes in two colors- black and white.
This choice is also BPA-free and leak-proof, which is ideal if you prefer a liquid lunch of soups or yogurt. Best of all, however, is the fact that this option is microwaveable and freezer-safe, and can even be placed in the dishwasher.
Dishwasher, microwave and freezer-safe
Comes with free utensils and accessories
A fantastically stylish lunch box, this squared-off, business-class style lunch container is airtight, BPA and BPS-free. It’s also microwaveable, freezer-safe and dishwasher-safe, meaning this is the lunchbox that fits in with your needs, as opposed to you fitting in with your lunchbox.
There are two compartments kept in this eye-catching lunch box and a cup is included, making this one of the most practical options on the market, today. That said, this is also one of the smallest, in terms of capacity, so might not be the best choice for longer days.
Microwave, dishwasher and freezer-safe
The fully-insulated stacked compartment lunch bag from High Sierra is lined with PEVA and comes with three separate containing spaces, as well as a mesh side pocket for drinks or accessories. It’s available in some great eye-catching colors and even comes with a webbed handle to maintain a sturdiness that can handle tough trips.
While there isn’t a huge array of variety with this bag, you can always add in some food containers if you’re looking for a little more flexibility, as there are no separate compartments to get in the way of your meal prep.
These stainless-steel lunch boxes may look a little like ration cans but they’re increasingly popular with buyers online. Most of this popularity is thanks to the fact that this 3-in-1 container set is dishwasher safe and rust-resistant, making it perfect for daily use.
The modular design makes it easy to take away two containers if you prefer to keep things freestyle or keep them in for portion control if you so choose. Unfortunately, however, this isn’t leak-proof as ECOlunchbox use absolutely no plastics in production- which makes it a naturally BPA and phthalate-free.
Stainless-steel lunch box
Naturally chemical free
Designed mostly to hold cans, this cooler still works surprisingly well as a lunch bag, thanks to the waterproof design of the insulation, which is also removable if you prefer space over temperature maintenance. The benefits of the purpose of design is that the hems are heat-welded to prevent leaks and the inside is even coated with antimicrobials to resist odor, mold, mildew, and fungus from forming
Coated with antimicrobials
This insulated cooler lunch box from Fit and Fresh works brilliantly as a smaller version of our top pick- with smaller portion food containers and a mesh pocket along the outside of the side wall. Again, the containers themselves are freezer-safe and the insulated bag will maintain their temperature for up to 24 hours after being removed from the freezer or fridge.
There are also an ice-pack, vitamin container and shaker bottle included with this option, with the shaker itself housing a patented mixer that allows for all your protein shakes and similar to be efficiently mixed when you need them.
Includes shaker bottle
6 Leak-proof containers included
Available in a wide selection of cute and novelty colors, this is a great option as a lunch box for work or for those whose children are still at school. This is an insulated lunch bag with handy shoulder strap, along with a front zipper for smaller items and a mesh pock along the side for flasks or other accessories.
There are no additional compartments beyond this, which helps if you like to bring along your own food storage containers but isn’t great if you depend on the compartments for portion control. That said, this is a fantastically affordable option that will keep your food cool, all day long and the insulated lining is also very easy to clean, so you suffer from any leaks or spills.
Insulated lunch bag
Adjustable shoulder strap
A rather tough-looking cooler and lunch box, with an added Stanley flask for any liquids you want or need on your lunch, this men’s lunch box is ideal if you’re concerned about your lunch bag being knocked about on the commute or at work. The stainless-steel lunch box is great for men or women who work in rugged jobs where it’s likely that your box will be knocked over- or even if you’re just a little heavy-handed.
The Stanley lunch box is completely leak-proof and insulated- keeping food hot or cold for 24 hours after being added or removed from the fridge. There are separate compartments already available in this box, making it a little less flexible than those you can add storage containers to, although this is beneficial to those who prefer to keep things simple.
Lid doubles as a tray
A rather cute option from Baloray, you would be forgiven for thinking that this tote bag was just another handbag, were it not for the added insulation on the inside walls of the lunch bag. Spills and leaks are easily mopped up thanks to the waterproof lining and the extra side pocket is great for bringing along any dinnerware you might need.
This is an affordable, lightweight option for users who want their lunch bag to be carried with them throughout the day without it being obvious that their lunch is inside. It has some amazing reviews, too and seems to be holding steady as a popular option.
A great women’s lunch bag
BPA-free PEVA insulation
Best Lunch Boxes Buying Guide & FAQ
Features to Look for in a Lunch Box
- Storage capacity
Always look for a lunch box that is larger than you think you need. This way, you’ll have added space when you need it most- such as those long days away, family trips out or extended trips. You also need the added space to make up for food kept in storage containers, before being placed within the lunch bag or lunch box.
- Dividers and pockets
Depending on how you like to store your food, you may need more than one extra storage department or pocket. Depending on how you like to stack or place your food, you’ll need less storage spaces and more overall room, as you’ll likely need to use your own food storage containers- unless you invest in a lunch box that allows for stackable storage, or imitates it.
This is important if there is no fridge at your work or destination but can still be helpful if you’re thinking about taking your food container elsewhere. Having insulated lunch bags will keep your food cold and therefore give your dinner a longer life, since bacteria won’t be able to settle so quickly and multiply. Not to mention that the result is a fresh sandwich, that is much more appealing!
You’ll want a lunch box that ideally will last at least a year, whether that’s the academic year for your kids or just one to take with you to work. Grab a lunch box that has been created with a heavy-duty material that will remain sturdy enough to last with daily use, for an extended period of time.
- Handles and straps
Just like the material, the handles and straps of your new lunch box will need to be tough enough to handle everyday use, trips and daily commutes, without getting in the way or breaking down over time. They should be strong enough to hold your lunch without any issues, too and remember that all of the weight will be placed on the area where the handle is attached to box itself.
- Ability to contain spills
There’s nothing worse than opening your bag, only to discover your drink or yogurt has made a mess all over your work, as well as the rest of your food. If you like to bring along liquids, be sure to find a lunch box that is airtight, or waterproof either as a whole or with a storage compartment designed to hold liquids.
You’ll need to clean up your lunch box regularly, so be sure to grab one that is washable. At the very least, it needs to have the ability to be handwashed, although dishwashing is a huge benefit- if more than a little rare.
Hard-sided lunch boxes will be considerably easier to clean, should something happen in your lunch box, but you’ll likely find that many soft-sided lunch bags will have a soft plastic or foil that is just as easy to wipe down.
Young kids will always go for a lunch box with characters they love on the front, which will go a long way to convincing them that what’s inside is lots of fun. For adults, however, there is usually less choice- although you can still find some great options that are stylish or have a novelty design on the sides in adult lunch boxes, if you so choose.
Why You Should Use a Lunch Bag
Having a lunch box for the office means you’re not dictated lunch times or stuck with the same stuff your office kitchen wants to present as a warm lunch, every day. It’s all about being able to make food that you enjoy and eating it when you deem it appropriate.
Keeping your lunch cool and fresh is one of the biggest reasons many people choose not to bring in their own lunch. However, if they knew that it was super-easy to keep their food fresh and delicious- simply by choosing the right lunch containers- their minds would soon change.
In particular, insulated lunch boxes will keep the cool air in the container, which means your food will last twice as long as it would without the insulation, so it’s much better to invest in an insulated lunch bag.
- Health and wellbeing
Having control over your own dinner means that you’re much less likely to buy unhealthy foods in the heat of the moment. Instead, you can focus on filling your lunch box with healthy alternatives, which will have a greater effect on lifting your mood and keeping your body happy and healthy.
- Save money
Buying your lunch on-the-go can almost triple your spending within a week, whereas having control over your lunch allows you to search for cheaper alternatives, while you’re in the supermarket. You’ll also be less likely to impulse buy while on your lunch break, which will help both your waistline and your wallet.
Different Kinds of Lunch Boxes
- Bento boxes
The iconic bento lunch box is rising in popularity again and can be seen everywhere from your local store to Pinterest. They were originally designed to hold food for warriors who would March for extended periods, without weighing them down with unnecessary add-ons. They have firm walls and are a little trickier to store, when not in use.
They were created to hold simple portion sizes of a variety of food, making them leak-proof and lightweight, while giving soldiers all they needed to be at their healthiest. These days, bento boxes are used all over the world to hold many different types of food, although they still have their roots in providing portion sizes to users.
- Lunch bags
If unlined with harder layers, these lunch containers tend to be a little more flexible and fold down well to fit pretty much anywhere, when not in use. They can also be worn in the same way as you would with many other bags, such as the backpack, depending on the style chosen. On top of this, they tend to have a greater variety of styles available, as many cater towards younger people, whereas bento boxes are usually designed as an adult lunch box.
- Cooler bags
Very similar to lunch bags, the lunch cooler bag is flexible and can be easily stored when not in use. The main difference between a cooler bag and lunch bag is that there is an extra lining within the bag, which is used as an insulator- keeping hot food hot and cold food cold, throughout the day.
Unfortunately, the flexibility of bags means that they’re less likely to be waterproof and/or airtight when compared to bento boxes or lunch boxes. However, if you choose a bag large enough, you can often negate this by using both lunch boxes and bags, together.
Tips for Using a Lunch Box
- Mix and match bags and boxes to find the best combination for you. You can also find flasks that work for holding soups and various liquids, which you can then place inside your lunch container, to ensure that you receive the benefits of airtight containers and lined bags.
- Always follow hygienic preparation methods, such as cleaning the area before making sandwiches or chopping items, and washing your hands so that your food remains as fresh as possible before eating.
- The best time to pack your lunchbox is the night before you’re due to start work. Add everything you’d like in your dinner container, then place in the fridge overnight before taking it with you when you travel or go to work.
- If your bag or box isn’t insulated, freeze a bottle of water and place this in the container before you leave in the morning. This will keep everything as fresh as possible and keep your lunch cool.
- Don’t try to clean your box with baby wipes or tissues, as some lunch bags will be coated with antimicrobials, and you will simply be moving the dirt around the box. Instead, use simple dish soap and warm water when hand-washing.
- Use your lunch box to it’s full abilities- adding extra fruit and veg in those added compartments to make for a healthier lunch AND snacks.
Lunch Boxes Buying FAQ:
Q: Can I Pack Wet Foods in My Lunch Container?
A: You can absolutely pack any liquids or wet foods in your container- just be sure to grab a lunch box that is airtight and/or waterproof, so that any spills can be contained within the area placed and you don’t end up with yogurt all over the rest of your dinner.
If you don’t have a suitable lunch box, combine your box with an insulated flask, which will help you cut down on waste, as well as being great for holding wet foods until dinner time.
Q: Can I Pre-Pack My Lunch Box the Night Before?
A: Yes- in fact, this is possibly the best time to pack your lunch box, as you won’t be hungry after dinner and therefore will be less likely to add sugary foods and drinks, which can make you healthier in the long run. Simply get everything together the night before and add to your fridge before going to bed to maintain freshness.
If your bag or box isn’t insulated, you can always freeze a bottle of water overnight and add this to your refrigerated food in order to maintain its freshness throughout the day, until you’re ready to use it.
Q: Can I Put My Lunch Container in The Microwave or Freezer?
A: This depends on the material of the lunch bag or box that you’re using. Bags and boxes that are lined with insulation are a definite “no”, as are many lunch bags or lunch boxes that contain foil or metallic outers, or possibly contain gel.
In order to get the best answer for this, you should always check with the manufacturer, to ensure that your new item is safe to microwave and/or freeze. If you aren’t sure, then you would do well to stick with food items that do not require microwaving or freezing, as avoiding these is a much safer precaution to testing it!
Q: How Do I Clean My Lunch Bag?
A: The method you should use to clean your lunch bag depends on the material used. If the sides are firm, this can make things a lot easier but the general guidelines for cleaning your lunch box are as follows:
- Shake away any excess crumbs or dirt that has been left inside the bag, over a bin.
- If you see anything stuck to the sides, dislodge these to make sure your bag remains empty (use a spoon if you don’t fancy using your fingers to pick up these delights)
- Some boxes and bags might be suitable for a dishwasher- but you would do well to check this is the case with your lunch bag before trying this out. If this is the case, you can add these hard-walled lunch containers to your next wash as normal, paying attention to heat guidelines given by the manufacturer.
- If you aren’t able to run your bag through the dishwasher or notice there is still grease left over after a wash, then give your lunch box a wipe with warm, soapy water.
- You can also sprinkle some baking soda inside your lunch box to get rid of any unpleasant smells or stubborn stains, before wiping with warm, soapy water again.
Remember to NEVER use chemicals or cleaning sprays inside your lunch box, as these can leave a residue which may be harmful to the person who is eating their lunch from this container.
Our Top Pick
A veritable Swiss Army Knife of the lunch box world, the insulated lunch box from ThinkFit is possibly the most versatile option around. With 6 different storage containers, all of which fit perfectly inside the many compartments and pockets, you have the option to bring along food for multiple days at a time, or simply bring along a feast-for-one, when you really want to push yourself.
Made with heavy-duty materials that are designed to last through the daily commute, for a lifetime, this is a lunch bag that will keep your food as fresh as you feel. The handles are double-stitched so you don’t need to worry about splits or problems as you carry a weighty lunch around, and the material is double-insulated to keep everything as fresh as it could possibly stay.
It’s not hard to see why we chose this lunch bag from ThinkFit as our top pick, especially when you consider the hundreds of happy customers who have given this an overall rating of 4.7/5 stars online. This is currently available at a great price, so grab yours before word really gets out about how great this lunch box really is.
- How to Select a Lunchbox, WikiHow
- Why your kids should use a bento lunchbox this year, She Knows