The 16 Best Kids’ Lunch Boxes for Fun and Nutritious Meals on the Go

The Bentgo Lunch Bag set is our top pick for lunches anywhere

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Remember how cool you felt walking into the school cafeteria with your favorite superhero lunch box? You can replicate that same feeling and get your kids excited about eating their meal with the right gear—and we’re here to help. In addition to the “cool” factor, we’ve taken into account important features such as insulation, how easy they are to clean, and durability to create our list of the best lunch boxes for kids.

Reviewed & Approved

The Bentgo Kids Lunch Bag Set comes with a lunch container, lunch bag, and four ice packs to keep lunch fresh all morning long. For a budget-friendly option, we recommend the Opux Premium Insulated Lunch Box

“As with most products geared towards kids, lunch boxes should be durable, easy to clean and easy to transport,” says Cristie Besu, a certified sports nutritionist and founder of Eat Me Guilt Free. Our list includes a variety of designs and features to guarantee that your child will want to carry their lunch box around proudly and that its contents will stay fresh and safe throughout the day. We carefully considered design, material, ease of use, size, ease of cleaning, and value when reviewing products.

From the cutest school bus lunch box for toddlers to teenage-approved designs, here are the best lunch boxes for kids of all ages.

Best Overall: Bentgo Kids Lunch Bag Set

4.7
Bentgo Kids Lunch Bag Set

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Lunch container, bag, and ice packs included

  • Adjustable buckle handle and carrying strap 

  • 2 D-hooks on front of bag

Cons
  • Can be heavier than other options (all 3 together)

This six-piece set from Bentgo earns our top spot because it includes essential items for lunchtime: a multi-compartment lunch container, lunch bag, and four matching ice packs. Available in a variety of stylish designs, like unicorns and rocket ships, the Bentgo lunch bag is lightweight and doubly insulated, so lunches stay fresh all day long. An exterior zippered pocket holds napkins or utensils, while ice packs fit inside the interior mesh pocket. 

For a hands-free option, the lunch bag also features an adjustable carrying strap for crossbody or shoulder portability. Plus, two D-hooks on the front of the lunch bag allow it to attach to a backpack with ease.

Material: Stainless steel, plastic, and silicone | Cleaning instructions: Hand-wash only, dishwasher not recommended

Best for Toddlers: Bluboon Insulated Lunch Bag

Bluboon Insulated Lunch Bag

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Adorable design options

  • Two-way zipper

  • Inner mesh pocket

Cons
  • Dirties easily

This lunch box will be the talk of the lunch table thanks to its adorable designs, including school bus and police car options. A two-way zipper makes it easier and faster to pack and take out food, and a zippered front pocket keeps other items safe and sound. There is a side pocket on the exterior, while an interior mesh pocket is an ideal place for ice packs. Plus, the interior aluminum lining is easy to clean, BPA-free, and allows food to stay cold or hot until it’s time for lunch.

Material: Polyester | Cleaning instructions: Hand washing preferred

Best Budget: Opux Premium Insulated Lunch Box

OPUX Premium Insulated Lunch Box

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Adjustable clip-on buckle 

  • Variety of patterns/colors 

  • Front and side pockets 

Cons
  • No interior pocket 

  • No protection for delicate items (outside is soft)

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly lunch box without skimping on quality, you’ll love this insulated lunch box from Opux. It features a front pocket to hold utensils or snacks, and a side pocket provides a spot to keep beverages. There’s also a detachable hand strap so the lunch box clips to a backpack for easier portability. 

The lunch box is made with polyester and nylon, and it features reinforced zippers to ensure durability. A thermal leak-proof lining on the inside keeps food and drinks hot or cold.

Material: Polyester and nylon | Cleaning instructions: Wipe inside down with damp cloth

Best Bento Box: Omie Bento Box

4.2
Omie Bento Box

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Stores hot and cold food

  • Leak-proof

Cons
  • Thermos may make other food warm

The OmieBox comes with a removable thermos compartment that can be used to keep foods like pasta and soup warm for up to six hours. For cool foods like sandwiches, you can remove the leak-proof bowl and use the removable rectangular compartment. It also has three other divided sections that can house fruit, crackers, and other snacks.

The box completely disassembles for easy cleaning. It is top-rack dishwasher-safe, but the brand recommends hand washing. It's made of stainless steel and food-safe plastic and silicone that's free of BPA, phthalates, vinyl, lead, and PVC.

Material: Stainless steel, plastic, and silicone | Cleaning instructions: Hand-wash only, dishwasher not recommended

Best for Big Kids: Art of Lunch Insulated Lunch Bag

Art of Lunch by ARTOVIDA

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Insulated

  • Machine washable

Cons
  • Small interior

The maker of these fun neoprene lunch bags partners with artists around the world to create unique, stylish designs. The thick neoprene material keeps food fresh and insulated for up to four hours, and they’re easy to store at home or in your bag after lunch.

They lay flat and can be thrown into the washing machine to clean. Also, while these bags are on the smaller side, they still have enough room to hold a water bottle along with lunch.

Material: Neoprene | Cleaning instructions: Machine washable

Best Tote: Hydro Flask Insulated Lunch Tote

HydroFlask Tote

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Coated fabric is waterproof

  • Zippers are water-resistant

  • Insulated interior

Cons
  • Opening on the smaller side

  • Bag is small for larger tupperware

Kids who like a tote-style lunch box will love this pick from Hydro Flask. It features waterproof coated fabric and water-resistant zippers, so it will last through multiple grades. A collapsible exterior allows for easy storage when not in use, and an insulated lining keeps lunches fresh all day long. And, parents, caregivers, and kids will all appreciate the free-standing base for easy packing and unpacking.

Material: Coated fabric (specific fabric not listed) | Cleaning instructions: Wipe clean

Best for Cold Food: PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag

PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag with Zip Closure

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Keeps food cold

  • Roomy

Cons
  • Not ideal for hot food

This lunch bag keeps food cold for up to 10 hours. Instead of worrying about ice packs, simply fold the bag up and put it in the freezer overnight. The patented freezable gel is built right into the bag. The zip closure ensures it keeps all contents inside cold. This bag is large enough to hold a sandwich, a drink, and some snacks.   

Material: Polyester and polyethylene vinyl acetate (PEVA) | Cleaning instructions: Thoroughly wipe or hand-wash the interior, spot clean the exterior, and dry completely before freezing

Best for Elementary School: Pottery Barn Kids Mackenzie Glow in the Dark Lunch Box

Mackenzie Blue Dino Glow-In-The-Dark Lunch Boxes

Courtesy of Pottery Barn

Pros
  • Can be personalized

  • Organized compartments

Cons
  • Not machine washable

Toddlers will love the cool designs on this lunch bag. It glows in the dark and you can even get their name embroidered on it. It has a fun pattern and features a water-resistant exterior and an interior that is easy to clean.

To save space inside, the water bottle holder is on the outside. The bag also includes a removable ice pack that fastens inside. Even better, Pottery Barn has a full collection of lunch boxes and accessories to complete the lineup.

Material: Polyester | Cleaning instructions: Spot clean with damp, white cloth

Best for Teens: CZYY Waxed Canvas Lunch Bags

Waxed Canvas Lunch Bags Brown Paper Bag Styled

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Simple design

  • Adjustable size

Cons
  • No handle

Getting a teenager to take a lunch box to school can be a challenge. We like these waxed canvas lunch bags because they have the look of a brown bag, but are durable enough to withstand spills. They can be cleaned with a damp cloth or rinsed with water.

The height can be adjusted and the bag is quite roomy—it can fit a water bottle and lunch with snacks at its tallest point.

Material: Cotton, paraffin wax, all-natural beeswax | Cleaning instructions: Hand wash with damp cloth, but do not soak or use soap

Best Thermos: Thermos Foogo Food Jar

Thermos FOOGO Food Jar

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Small enough for lunch box

  • Good for hot and cold food

Cons
  • Only for single food item

Most kids don’t have access to a microwave or refrigerator while at school, so having a reliable thermos can be a make-or-break at lunchtime. The insulation technology in this thermos keeps contents cool for up to seven hours and warm for up to five hours.

The 10-ounce capacity is a good size for children and the rubber lid is easy for little hands to open and close. To maximize heat retention, warm the thermos with hot tap water or boiling water before putting your lunch entree in it. 

Material: Stainless steel | Cleaning instructions: Hand wash (preferred), or top-rack dishwasher safe

Best Insulated: Lands’ End Kids Insulated Soft Sided Lunch Box

Lands’ End Kids Insulated Soft Sided Lunch Box

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Keeps lunches cold for five hours 

  • Can be customized 

  • Leak-resistant interior 

Cons
  • Only one zipper

  • Short handle

When you send your kiddo off to school with their lunch box, you want the food inside to stay fresh until lunchtime. This lunch box from Lands’ End keeps lunches cold for five hours with an ice pack (not included) thanks to an insulated, leak-proof interior. An elastic mesh pocket on the side holds water bottles, and a webbed clip handle attaches to backpacks for easier transportation.

The lightweight lunch box is made from durable polyester that’s safe for spot cleaning only. You can choose from 13 different colors and designs, and you can also personalize the lunch box with a name, monogram, initials, or embroidery with the thread color of your choice.

Material: Polyester | Cleaning instructions: Spot clean only

Best Drawstring: DreamStudioNewYork Drawstring Tote Bag

DreamStudioNewYork Drawstring Tote Bag

Courtesy of Etsy

Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Insulated interior

  • Handmade

Cons
  • Too small for some containers

If you’re not a fan of zippers, you’ll love this lunch bag that opens and closes via a drawstring. The lunch bag is lightweight, handmade with canvas, and available in four color options, like peach, orange, lemon, and avocado. The interior of the lunch bag is insulated with aluminum, so you don’t have to worry about food going bad before lunch.

Material: Canvas | Cleaning instructions: Not listed

Best Vertical: FlowFly Kids Insulated Lunch Box

FlowFly Kids Lunch Box

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Zippered front pocket 

  • Clip-on buckle handle 

  • Insulated interior 

Cons
  • Mesh side pocket is small

  • Difficult to unzip around corners

This lunch box has dozens of stylish and unique patterns for kiddos to choose from, like colorful macarons or an under-the-sea theme. It is made from durable polyester and features an insulated lining to protect food.

A zippered front pocket provides space for a sweet note or surprise treat, while a mesh pocket on the outside is a handy spot for water bottles. Plus, a clip-on buckle handle allows for no-hands carrying through the hallways.

Material: Polyester | Cleaning Instructions: Spot clean

Best Double Decker: Thermos Kids Dual Lunch Box

Thermos Kids Dual Lunch Box

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Easy-to-clean liner

  • Padded handle

  • Both compartments are insulated

Cons
  • Zippers could be stronger

The top and bottom compartments on this lunch box from Thermos provide plenty of space for lunches and other treats. Both compartments are insulated to keep food and drinks fresh until the bell rings for lunch. A padded handle makes holding and carrying the lunch box more comfortable. To clean the lunch box, simply hand wash it.

Material: Polyester | Cleaning instructions: Wipe clean interior, hand wash exterior

Best for Preschoolers: Kinsho Insulated Lunch Bag

Kinsho Insulated Kids Lunch Bag

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Two compartments

  • Insulation in both compartments

  • Front pocket

Cons
  • On the smaller side

With two compartments, the Kinsho insulated lunch bag provides plenty of space for snacks, drinks, and lunch. An upper level holds snacks and drinks, like the included 16-ounce water bottle, while the bottom section is ideal for lunches and other goodies. A pocket on the front provides a space to pack utensils, and there are five cute designs to select from.

Material: Stain-resistant fabric (not specified) | Cleaning Instructions: Not listed 

Best Expandable: L.L. Bean Expandable Lunch Box

L.L. Bean Expandable Lunch Box

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Expands 2 extra inches

  • Zippered outside pocket

  • Easy-to-clean interior lining

Cons
  • L.L. Bean monogram is small

  • Zipper catches corner when expanding

This insulated lunch box from L.L. Bean is durable enough to last for many years, even in the hands of a child. We love the expandable option that gives you 2 inches of extra room when you need it. The internal mesh pocket fits an ice pack and the smooth plastic interior is easy to clean.

Material: Pack cloth | Cleaning instructions: Not listed

Final Verdict

There aren't many options on the market that can really compete with the flexibility of the Bentgo Kids lunch box (view on Amazon). Your child can enjoy snacks and a main course all in one place without worrying about their food mixing into a mess.

For a simple option that can store all of your child's food while keeping it cool throughout the day, the L.L. Bean Expandable (view on L.L. Bean) is durable and will last throughout the school year.

How We Selected the Best Lunch Boxes for Kids 

We chose the best lunch boxes for kids by researching reviews from customers and competitors, and studying the features of more than 30 products on the market. We considered design, size, features, ease of cleaning, ease of use, age recommendations, and type of lunch box when deciding our picks.

We also consulted with Cristie Besu, a certified sports nutritionist and founder of Eat Me Guilt Free, and DJ Mazzoni RD, MS, CDN, CSCS, a New York-based registered dietician, for more information. Additionally, we reviewed guidance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on food safety basics, including best food storage practices.

What to Look for in Lunch Boxes for Kids

Size

Before buying, think about how much room you’ll need for your child’s food items. If you want to be able to fit a bento box, an ice pack, and a water bottle inside a lunch box or bag, you will need a larger option.

However, a larger lunch box may be too bulky for kids to carry and tough to fit inside a backpack or locker. Typically, older kids can get by with a smaller lunch box as they don't need to pack several snacks for the entire day, while toddlers may need an option that can hold breakfast, lunch, and snacks.       

“Ultimately you want to get something that caters to your child’s eating habits while also making your life simpler,” explains Besu. “I like the LunchBots brand, which has different size options that can be easily tucked into your child’s current favorite themed/color lunch box. Those tend to be changed out yearly but these containers will last for a while. Bentgo is another popular brand. They are made from BPA-free plastic and come in fun colors.”

Functionality 

What works for someone else may not work for your family, depending on what you typically pack for your child’s lunch. A bento box style gives your child lots of snack options, but doesn't work well for perishable foods. An insulated box with room for an ice pack is better if temperature is a high priority for you.

It's also important that your child can open and close all their lunch and snack containers independently. Be sure to show them how, and practice at home before they bring the lunch box to school.

Cost

A single lunch box that can last a whole school year is important for some families, whereas others may prefer to have a few reusable boxes. Most options are priced between $20 and $25, but there are a few great budget-friendly choices available as well.

Material

Mazzoni recommends a plastic-free lunch box if possible, adding that there are other options for families who want to go plastic-free. “Silicone, stainless steel, and aluminum are all safe options. The chemicals that make plastics soft, called plasticizers, can leach into food and developing bodies are especially sensitive to them,” he says. 

You’ll also want to make sure that the lunch box is easy to clean. “While food doesn't typically interact with the inner lining of a lunch box, kids are messy, so it's best to assume it will,” Mazzoni says. Additionally, he recommends avoiding a glass-style lunch container. “While this is an eco-friendly option, it presents too much of an injury risk were the child to drop it.”

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the best way to sanitize a lunch box?


    A lunch box can be sanitized by taking out all the food and wrappers, and then wiping it clean with warm, soapy water. Let air dry before filling it again. Some lunch boxes can also go in the dishwasher or even be laundered in the washing machine. Check the label for washing instructions, as ideal cleaning methods vary among products.

  • How often should I replace a lunch box?

    You may want to replace a lunch box when it begins to look dingy and/or shows signs of wear and tear. Additionally, if you see signs of mold or rips in the lining, It's time to toss that box and get a new one.

  • What are the best things to pack in a lunch box?

    The best things to pack in a lunch box are those that can sit out for several hours without spoiling. Insulated lunch boxes are especially helpful because they can extend the time food can stay fresh inside. “Insulation is always a plus, because it can be hours between the time lunch is packed and when your child will be eating it,” Mazzoni says. “Insulated lunch boxes reduce the risk of food-borne illness due to bacterial overgrowth.” Be sure to read the lunch box label to confirm how long it will keep food warm or cold. 

    Besu is also in favor of insulated lunch boxes. “I personally like to have the option to keep things warm or cool, so I would opt for one with insulation.” As for storing her lunches, she opts for specific containers. “I am a big fan of the bento box style containers with dividers because it’s an easy way for me to portion out food. There are several on the market made from different materials. I tend to gravitate towards the ones made from metal as they do a better job of insulating, are easier to clean, and last longer—not to mention it’s one less piece of plastic.”

    Items like fruit, nut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips, pretzels, crackers, dried fruit, and jerky all keep well.

Why Trust Verywell Family

Deanna McCormack is a writer, copywriter, and creative consultant who specializes in beauty, parenting, and lifestyle products.

Additional reporting by

Katrina Cossey is a commerce writer for Verywell Family with nearly eight years of experience under her belt. Katrina’s background in journalism began at an Emmy Award-winning news station in Oklahoma before she obtained her B.A. in professional media. Her love for service journalism and helping others led to her commerce writing role, which allows her to research and recommend the best products for families, pregnant people, and kids of all ages. When she’s not writing and researching, you’ll likely find her outdoors with her husband and their thrill-seeking toddler son.    

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Keep Food Safe! Food Safety Basics. Food and Safety Inspection Service of USDA.

  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Back to school meal prep as easy as 1, 2, 3.