When it comes to lunch boxes for kids, the options can be overwhelming. Since they’ll be away from you when they use their lunch box, you want to make sure your child has the best lunch box for their needs and that it works seamlessly.
But where do you start? Should it be insulated? Leak-proof? Good for cold food? Bento style?
It’s a lot to think about, and with all the things moms have to do to get ready for back to school season, we’ve decided to take this one off of your plate.
We’ve searched high and low for the best lunch boxes for kids and have narrowed it down to our five top-rated options. We’ve chosen them to fit a variety of needs so you’re sure to find a lunch box that works well for your kiddo.
How to Choose the Best School Lunch Box
When choosing the best lunch boxes kids in school, remember to think about a few key parameters to make sure you’re getting the right lunch bag for your child’s needs.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Is it insulated?
- Is it leak-proof?
- Is is made from food-safe material?
- Will it be easy for a child to use on their own?
- How durable is it?
- Is it easy to clean and care for?
- Is the price reasonable?
Insulation is one of the main factors you should consider when buying a lunch box. Do you have a child that prefers a nice warm cup of soup for lunch or do they prefer a cold lunch most of the time?
Decide ahead of time which your child would prefer and then make sure that the lunch box you are considering has the ability to accommodate their preferences. Choose something with good ratings for thermal control for hot foods and look for lunch boxes for kids that include ice packs for lunches that need to stay cold.
Kids are rough with their belongings. Remember, they won’t be thinking about walking in a straight line or holding their lunch bag in the perfect position to prevent leaks when they’re on their way to school. With younger kids especially, there’s likely to be a lot of running, jumping and playing going on.
Choose a lunch box that will be able to handle the tips and turns and won’t leak all over their lunch bag or backpack. Older kids will probably be more conscious of how they carry their lunch boxes but it doesn’t hurt to be extra vigilant and get one with a leak-proof design for them, too. After all, no one wants soggy books!
No matter what kind of insulation or leak-proof design you need, the most important feature is safety. Be sure any lunch box meets current food safety standards. This means they should be free from harmful material like BPA and lead and other harmful chemicals.
Ease of Use
All lunch boxes for kids are not created for every age. Some are tailored toward older kids because they may be harder to open. Before buying, check for age specifications so you can be sure your little one will find her cool new lunch box easy to use at school without frustration.
Choose a high quality lunch box that won’t need to be replaced every year. Read reviews, recommendations, and specifications to determine if the lunch box you’re considering will stand the test of time.
If you’re buying a lunch box that is specifically made for younger kids, it should still be durable enough that you’ll be able to get a few years of use out of it before upgrading to a big kid lunch box.
Cleaning and Care
Upkeep is one quality that is often overlooked when parents are considering the best lunch boxes for their kids. Even though kids are the ones that will be using them during school, remember that you will be the one cleaning, prepping and taking care of them at home.
To save your sanity, choose a lunch box that is easy to clean (preferably dishwasher safe), easy to pack, and easy to maintain. Make it easy on yourself, mama. You deserve it.
Price is the last consideration we like to mention because although it can play a part in which lunch box you buy, it shouldn’t be the only factor.
Often times, you get what you pay for and that can mean getting a cheap, poorly made lunch box because it didn’t cost very much or getting a better quality lunch box that cost a bit more but will last for years. That doesn’t mean a higher price always means better quality, though.
Be aware of the specs of the model that you like and be sure to compare them to what you can get from other brands and products to help you determine if the price is right for you.
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Best Lunch Boxes for Preschool and Kindergarten
OmieBox Bento Lunch Box
The OmieBox boasts a unique setup that is designed to keep separate food both hot and cold at the same time. That means packing warm soup in one compartment and keeping yogurt cold in another compartment are now options. It’s leak-proof design is made to keep foods separate within the container. So no more worrying about your child’s food touching and them not wanting to eat it.
Nalgene Lunch Box Buddy
The Nalgene Lunch Box Buddy is a classic lunch box. Unlike bento style lunch boxes, it has no separate compartments inside. Instead it comes with an adjustable ice pack that keeps food cold and that can be configured three different ways within the lunch box to separate food the best way you determine. The Neoprene sleeve acts as an insulator to help keep food cold inside, and the detachable lid is meant to serve as a plate.
Yodo 3-Way Insulated Lunch Bag
This is one cool lunch box for preschoolers. The main compartment is completely insulated so kids’ lunches can stay cool for up to three hours. Each lunch bag comes with a padded easy-access front pocket and can be converted from a lunch bag to a kids backpack to a shoulder bag. Lots of versatility for little ones!
Skip Hop Zoo Kids Insulated Lunch Box
Skip Hop’s line of zoo animals are adorable and functional. Kids will love the fun animal shapes while moms will love the roomy interior pocket that’s insulated to keep food just the right temperature. The inside can be wiped clean easily and the soft mesh pocket holds smaller items in place to keep them from getting lost.
Maped Picnik Leakproof Lunch Box
Maped Picnik lunch boxes are completely leak-proof with compartments to keep food separated. It’s unique design uses the “Helix” lock system so opening and closing the lunch box is as easy as giving the knob a twist. This kids’ lunch box is microwave safe and at 10 inches it’s large enough to carry plenty of food.
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Best Lunch Boxes for Elementary and Middle School Kids
Rubbermaid LunchBlox Kids Lunch Box Set
The RubberMaid LunchBlox kit comes with one large sandwich container, two containers for side dishes and an ice pack that conveniently snaps onto any container to help keep the contents inside cold. What makes the LunchBlox design so innovative is that no matter what pieces you mix and match, they all snap together to save space and keep lunches nice and organized. Each piece can be used in the microwave, the freezer, and all pieces are dishwasher safe.
Note: RubberMaid also has a handy front opening bag that fits these LunchBlox perfectly and allows them to be stacked high if needed. You can choose colors and patterns of this lunch bag here.
New Tomorrow Bento Lunch Box
The New Tomorrow bento lunch box is a highly durable option for big kids. It comes with two 3-compartment lunch boxes that can hold a combined 1 liter of food which is perfect for students with a bigger appetite. Its total seal technology tightly locks the lid in place and ensures there is no leaking within the container between compartments and no leaking on the outside.
PlanetBox Rover Stainless Steel Lunch Box
Planet Rover has made a great alternative to the plastic lunch box. Its stainless steel design there’s no need to worry about food staining the inside or smells being absorbed on the inside of the lunch box. When the lid is removed, it stays attached to the base to keep kids from misplacing it.
This bento box comes with a variety of accessories including the 5 compartment stainless steel lunch box, a lunch bag to carry the lunch box and water bottle (water bottle not included), two small containers with lids to seal away wet foods or liquids so they won’t spill onto other food, and a set of decorative magnets that kids will enjoy decorating the top of their lunch boxes with.
Bonus: Planet Rover’s website allows you to customize the design of your magnets by uploading your own pictures and having them printed and shipped to you! Customize your magnets here.
Simply Spotless Bento Lunch Box
This lunchbox comes with the ultimate customability! It includes two removable trays and two removable compartments so kids can customize their lunch any way they want. With an tight-sealing, yet easy open clasp on front, kids won’t have trouble getting to their food. There’s also plenty of space for those with big appetites.
Fun Life Bento Lunch Box
This bento box is different from the rest because each compartment contains its own lid. This makes it possible to carry liquids like soup or salad dressing while also carrying sandwiches without fear of it leaking. The compartments are interchangeable within the lunch ox or they can be carried individually as a snack container. It also comes with it’s own perfectly sized lunch bag.
Best Lunch Bags for Kids
PackIt Freezable Upright Backpack
PackIt uses a built-in cooler that can be frozen overnight and will be ready the next day to keep kids packed lunches nice and cold. It can be carried as a mini backpack lunch bag or with the handle. This lunch bag folds flat to fit in the freezer and can sit upright when packed to keep food from spilling. It’s truly an innovative lunch bag.
Wildkin Olive Kids Robot Lunch Box
This top-rated lunch bag is has a super roomy, insulated interior. The interior has a strap to hold down a water bottle and is easy to clean with soap and water. Olive Kids lunch bags come in a huge variety of fun colors and patterns you can see here.
Samerio Insulated Kids Lunch Bag
Carry it as a should bag or with the handle, this lunch bag by Samerio is versatile. A wide-mouth zippered opening gives plenty of space for inserting and removing lunches with ease. The interior is insulated, water-resistant and easy to clean and includes a mesh pocket for keeping small things tucked away.
Make this your child’s best back-to-school season yet with a choice from the best lunch boxes for kids list and start the school off right!