Top Lunch Boxes for School, Work, and Beyond.
Why wait until dinner to savor yesterday's delectable leftovers? You can save time and treat yourself even earlier by packing them for lunch with a reliable lunch box. Not only will you enjoy your favorite foods at work, school, or during a picnic, but you'll also save money and contribute to environmental preservation by using a reusable lunch box or bag instead of disposable options.
Despite popular belief, lunch boxes are not only for kids. Adults can also benefit from stylish, grown-up lunch boxes that cater to their specific needs. When selecting a lunch box, it's crucial to prioritize insulation, water resistance, and leak-proof qualities. Based on our research and testing, we recommend Hydroflask's Large Insulated Lunch Box, which comes in fun colors and boasts two layers of insulation, ensuring that your food remains chilled for hours. Additionally, the easy-to-clean interiors, zippered utensils pocket, and icepack compartment make it a convenient and practical option for any lunch packer.
Our favorite color is the bright sunflower hue that exudes happiness, but the brand offers three other color options to choose from. Hydroflask has a good reputation for its durability and insulating technology. This lunch box, which is of a medium size, is ideal for adults or kids and is a perfect match for the brand's reusable water bottles. One drawback, though, is that it doesn't come with a longer strap for easy carrying.
Price at time of writing: $44Materials: Stiff nylon | Compartments: Single, with netted compartment in lid | Size: Small (9.25 x 9.25 x 4 inches), Large (12 x 10.5 x 4 inches)
Our Favorite Features
- Leak-free base
- Multiple pockets and compartments
- Convenient shoulder strap
- Available in a variety of patterns
What Could Be Better
- Requires spot-cleaning
- Cannot accommodate upright bottles
The MIER Adult lunch box is a versatile option that can serve as a compact cooler for a seaside holiday or picnic. Its generous capacity comprises two spacious main compartments that offer sufficient storage space for both hot and cold food.
Our comprehensive evaluation revealed its suitability for storing food for an entire day. This stylish lunch box accommodates multiple water bottles, canned beverages, leftovers packed in food containers, and even a large tub of hummus. It also has outside pouches that serve unique purposes, including a cardholder. The exterior's oxford fabric is impressively tear-resistant and is available in attractive designs. Our food remained chilled throughout the day, even with an ice pack tucked inside, a testament to the insulation's effectiveness.
Price at time of publish: $35
The Spruce Eats / Sharon Lehman
Materials: Polyester exterior | Compartments: Two (upper and lower) | Size: 10.25 x 8 x 11 inches | Additional Info: Both upper and lower compartments are insulated
What We Appreciate
- Trendy and fashionable design
- Effective insulation inside
- Multiple compartments to hold utensils and other items
What We are not fond of
- May not easily accommodate larger-sized meals
- Quite expensive
Do you think lunch boxes are just for kids? Think again! Modern Picnic has redefined the concept with their fashionable and functional lunch boxes, which look like luxurious designer handbags you would find in a high-end store. The brand, established and run by women, offers the classic lunch bag called The Luncher in an array of vivid colours, featuring a faux crocodile leather exterior that gives this mealtime essential a contemporary edge.
This bag is not just visually appealing, but also practical, with effectual insulation on the inside ensuring that the food stays cold for long periods. Cleaning is a breeze with only a quick wipe down needed. Inside the bag are compartments for utensils and more, and closing the bag is easy with its magnetic snap closure.
Price at time of publish: $160
Materials: 100% animal-free serpentine leather | Compartments: Multiple, with loops that hold utensils | Size: The bag measures approximately 8.5 x 10 x 6.5 inches with room for a salad, sandwich, and small snacks.
Our top pick for a versatile and convenient meal option is an electric lunch box. Designed to keep food hot without a microwave or oven, this handy device is perfect for those on the go. Our favorite design features two heat-resistant tiers for storing food and a sleek white and brown color scheme. The handle ensures easy transport, while the plug-in functionality means you can keep your food warm at your desk or workspace.
Made with durable and food-safe stainless steel, these vintage-style lunch boxes are a must-have for any mealtime setup. Featuring a double-layered construction, they're ideal for holding sandwiches and salads or other snacks. The two clicks lock securely, making sure that your food stays fresh for hours. Though leaving them damp might cause rust, these stylish lunch boxes are dishwasher safe and come in a pack of two to suit all your mealtime needs.
Price at time of publish: $38 for electric lunch box and $22 for metal lunch boxes
Materials: Our lunch boxes come in two variations, medium (6.25 x 4.5 x 2.5 inches) and large (7 x 5 x 2.5 inches), both crafted with top-quality stainless steel for durability and longevity.
Compartments: Our lunch boxes contain either one large, roomy compartment or two strategically divided sections for optimal organization and easy access to your lunch and snacks.
When it comes to lunch boxes, there are plenty of options on the market. However, after conducting extensive research and thorough testing, we have narrowed down the top contenders.
Our top recommendation is the Hydro Flask Insulated Lunch Box, which offers maximum insulation, an easy-clean interior, and four color choices to suit your personal style. It also features a single compartment with netting for packing your food and keeping it securely in place.
For those on a budget, we recommend the Rubbermaid LunchBlox Lunch Bag. This option offers a roomy interior and a removable shoulder strap for easy carrying. The cushioned handle also ensures comfort during transportation.
When looking for a lunch box, it’s important to consider certain crucial features. First and foremost, you want a lunch box that is leakproof or water-resistant, so that in case of a spill, the mess will be contained and won’t damage your car or office.
Insulation is also a key consideration. Our lunch boxes boast exceptional insulation, which will keep your food at the desired temperature for hours. Additionally, food-safe linings are another crucial feature to look for to ensure that your food stays fresh and uncontaminated.
To maintain the desired temperature of hot and cold foods, it’s essential to separate them. Investing in individual insulated containers or small, reusable freezer packs can also enhance your lunch box’s efficiency.
Finally, we recommend lining each food container with two layers of paper towels for insulation and using aluminum foil to wrap your food. This low-tech solution will keep your food at a consistent temperature until you’re ready to enjoy it.
Essentially, a "bento" pertains to a certain type of lacquered box in Japanese culture. However, in the world of lunchboxes, a "bento" commonly indicates that the container has sections, along with a self-contained carrier featuring onboard utensils and a lid that's designed for transport.
To keep your lunchbox and gear sanitary, it's vital to consider the specific type you own. First, carefully read and adhere to the instructions provided by the manufacturer. It's also wise to err on the side of caution and clean lunchboxes and associated gear by hand whenever possible.
Keep in mind that even items that are safe to place in a dishwasher can become warped under severe heat. If this occurs, the container's lid will no longer fit properly. Additionally, the insulating fluids in certain types of containers may leak out if the seal expands, resulting in a messy situation. If your lunchbox boasts a fabric exterior or thin lining over the inside insulation, you should just wipe it down and spot-clean it as needed, unless the manufacturer suggests machine washing.
Always clean your lunchbox and gear after each use, and let it air out until it's completely dry inside. If you keep a closed up container with moisture inside, mold is likely to develop.
An electric lunchbox is essentially an insulated case featuring internal coils that heat up to warm the food inside. You can find variations with plugs for either home current (110- or 120-volt) or car/camper (12- or 24-volt) outlets. Some options even allow you to choose between either type of plug. Always refer to the manufacturer's instructions for details on how to heat your food, whether to remove or keep any exterior carriers or covers, so that you can enjoy a warm lunch.
Jamie Cuccinelli, a writer who enjoys producing content on wedding, lifestyle, and home décor topics, garnered a wealth of experience through her past work as an editor of Brides.com and various other websites including MyDomaine and The Spruce. Her expertise extends to crafting a beautiful wedding registry, outfitting well-stocked kitchen cutlery drawers, impeccably curated linen closets, and thoughtfully designed home aesthetics. After years of living in New York City on a tight financial budget, she's also a pro at packing homemade lunches. In fact, a disastrous situation involving a leaky brown paper bag that soiled the contents of her tote bag prompted her to swear off anything but the most "leakproof" lunch boxes.
Catherine Russell, the editor who updated this article, is a writer who specializes in creating and editing content related to food, culture, home, and garden products. When Catherine was a child, she loved spending time in her Grandma's kitchen, where she discovered how to make everything from scratch, including an array of baked goods, roast dinners, and delicacies. Her extensive work has appeared in a range of national publications, such as Bon Appetit, and in various film and video projects.
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