Everything about how we eat is changing—from food safety to meal prepping, we're taking a lot more care in how we're eating. And as we're heading back to school and the office, we're putting a lot more thought into how we're doing our midday meals—including transporting them. We picked out some of the best lunch boxes that we trust to handle our food every day.
Read on for more details on our picks plus the honorable mentions.
All of the lunch bags and boxes on this list are insulated, but that doesn't mean they will keep your food cold on their own. With one small ice pack, they can keep your food cool but not cold for up to four hours. If you want to keep your food cold, it's best to use two ice packs.
Known for being at the intersection of fashion and function, Scout’s Ferris Cooler lives up to its reputation. This bag is big enough to hold a large bento and then some and the adjustable strap makes it easy to carry the large load and the water-resistant fabric is easy to clean—you wipe it down and rinse it out without wearing out the cute patterns it comes in. If it’s cold food you’re after, this one can pack two medium ice packs in addition to the large bento.
To buy: $28, amazon.com
This insulated lunch bag is designed for active people—it has an 8-liter capacity, so if you’re hungry, this one will probably work well for you. It's one of our favorite adult lunch boxes because it can hold a variety of containers, including large bento boxes and taller containers. The insulated cooler lining keeps things cold, but there’s also an internal ice pack pocket to keep food chilled on long hauls. Another perk: Burton offers a lifetime warranty. (Full disclosure: Our executive editor's husband works at Burton, but this bag passed muster with other testers.)
To buy: $20, amazon.com
This insulated lunch box is just the right size for carrying everyday lunches. It comes with two small containers for holding things like carrot sticks or fruit salad as well as a small but fierce ice pack—it stays frozen longer than your typical ice pack and is compact enough to fit inside the outside zipper pocket. To buy: $16, amazon.com
This neoprene lunch tote distinguishes itself in a few different ways. It’s a very roomy bag and can hold large items like mason jar salads and water bottles but it can also fit restaurant to-go boxes and bento boxes. On top of all that, it’s also washable, making spills and everyday lunch messes a little less of a headache. To buy: $24.99, amazon.com
The Jansport Lunch Break is lightweight with a simple design that’s easy for kids to handle. It’s just big enough for a sandwich, fruit, crackers and a juice box. True to Jansport’s reputation, it’s well-made, easy to clean and can handle all sorts of lunchroom and playground wear and tear.
To buy: $22, amazon.com
This insulated lunch box is great for kids—the Classic version fits a large juice box or a smaller water bottle in the mesh side pocket so you don't have to worry about cramming everything into the main compartment. It also has a separate outside pocket for utensils or a small ice pack if you need to keep food cold a little longer than usual. The main compartment is well structured with thick walls and the interior lining is made with an environmentally friendly, food-safe vinyl. It's big enough to fit a medium-size container (the size of a sandwich) along with snack packs, but it probably won’t fit a large bento box. The Cold Pack version is a little bigger and has an adjustable shoulder strap for easy toting.
To buy: $18, potterybarnkids.com
Great for adults and kids, the Hydroflask lunch box is like a small suitcase—the hard shell is durable and can be tossed around without being damaged, so you can guarantee your lunch won’t get squished. The small one fits a small bento or two small containers and a small thermos. It also has has a band inside to hold an ice pack in place or napkins and utensils. The large version fits a large bento and has an interior pouch for ice packs and other accouterments.
To buy: $44.95-54.95, amazon.com
While kids love the unicorn on this tote, parents love the quality for packed lunches. Not only is it super spacious and easy to clean, but it also keeps lunch cool—even if it’s a late lunch. It can fit a bento box along with a thermos and has two other compartments for miscellaneous lunch accouterments. The best part of this one is that it can stand up to the wear and tear of a school day even if your kids can’t.
To buy: $8.99, amazon.com