20 Best Lunch Boxes & Bags for Kids in 2018

If you ask almost any kid what their favorite subject in school is, you’re likely to get some variation of “recess,” or, better yet, “lunch.”  Lunchtime presents a break in the monotony of classes and a time in which children can freely socialize and play. In order to get your child through all of the focused demands of academia, it’s important that they are eating a healthy, balanced diet.  And while many schools offer lunch programs that fulfill exactly that requirement, there’s nothing wrong with packing a lunch the good old fashioned way.

Give your child something to show off when they sit down to tuck in.  We’ve compiled a list of lunch boxes and bags that are both well-made and rated, in addition to being fun and stylish.  Kids love showing off their own personal passions, hobbies, and favorites, be they animal or television character. The selection below spans options for all genders and ages, in addition to considering the necessary size and protection a parent looks for when shopping for lunch pails.  Whether you need something roomy, insulated, colorful, or lightweight, we’ve got you and your family covered. We did the easy part–you still have to pack it.

Last Updated: August 24, 2018
Angela
By Angela:

This page has been updated to reflect the most recent information regarding the best lunch boxes and bags for kids in 2018. We added brand new products that all have high ratings and good reviews and removed the ones that were unavailable. We also included detailed information about every product that will help you make the best choice.

Our Top 3 Picks

PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag
  • PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Cooling Technology
  • Price: See Here
Bentgo Kids Lunch Box
  • Bentgo Kids Lunch Box
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Leak-Proof
  • Price: See Here
Skip Hop Owl Lunch Bag
  • Skip Hop Owl Lunch Bag
  • 4.3 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Water Resistant
  • Price: See Here

Criteria Used in Evaluation of the Best Lunchboxes, Bags, and Containers

We wanted to be certain that we brought you the best available lunch boxes for your children. When evaluating lunch boxes for this Top Ten List, we kept three key factors in mind to achieve that goal. As always, we considered safety to be of the highest priority. We go more in-depth on safety in the criteria below, but a general overview of the safety features we look for is kid-friendly plastics, non-toxic materials, and recyclable materials. For insulation and temperature control, we careful judged and compared how well each and every lunch box maintained the temperature of the food. And, finally, we judged the materials of the lunch boxes for strength and resistance in the durability section of our criteria. Though each product scores highly in all of these aspects, some score much higher than others. This method is how we determined our list order, but please carefully read each list entry to identify which lunch box is best for you and your family.

Safety

As mentioned previously, we mainly looked for safe plastics and non-BPA materials in the lunch boxes. BPA is not inherently dangerous in small doses, but prolonged exposure can lead to certain health risks. We also looked for companies that produced lunch boxes from either recycled or environmentally conscious materials.

Insulation and Temperature Control

A lunch box isn’t really a good lunch box if it can’t keep your food fresh all day. Insulation and temperature control is super important to the safety and practicality of lunch boxes, so only lunch boxes that scored highly in these areas made into onto this list. Some lunch boxes on this list are better suited for cold food while others are better suited for hot food.  This, of course, leaves the decision up to the consumer for what they truly need.

Durability

What good is a lunch box if it only lasts you a few months? To protect your wallet, we looked for lunch boxes that scored high in durability. For this, we looked specifically at the materials used in the lunch boxes and the relative strength of those materials. Though some lunch boxes score higher in durability than others, all the lunch boxes on this list will last you for years with proper care.

What Determined the Top Lunch Boxes, Bags, and Containers in Our List

Choosing cool lunch boxes for our kids should not be a problem as long as we know what they want. Unfortunately, this is often not enough. We also have to make sure that the product we’re going to choose for our children is made of the safest materials available. We don’t want chemicals to be leaching into the food of our loved ones because that would simply be unsafe. That is why we tasked our researchers to search for food containers specially designed for kids that are made of only the safest materials possible. Generally, what we were looking for were portable food carriers and storage units that are free from phthalates, BPA, PVC, lead, and formaldehyde as well as other chemicals that can undermine the safety of the food that we prepare for our loved ones and put our kids at risk for the development of certain health conditions associated with these harmful substances.

We then tasked our research team to evaluate the design of each of the plastic lunch boxes for kids that have initially passed our “safety” parameters. First and foremost, the product must have a built-in mechanism which will help keep the temperature of the food stable. Also, if the product comes with a variety of pockets or smaller storage compartments for eating utensils and other small stuff, then these will be factored in.

Once the safety and design issues have been secured, we then focused on the aesthetics. While we don’t expect insulated lunch bags to be similar to those from Prada or Louis Vuitton in terms of fashion styling, they should nevertheless look like ordinary lunch boxes for kids. We want our kids to feel proud of their bags so they will be more motivated to bring it to school. Besides, we believe we can also use these lunch containers for kids especially when we go out for a walk or even to the park or maybe even hit the gym. At least, we’ll have a ready supply of truly refreshing drinks and highly proteinaceous food to help burn our calories.

Lastly, we also considered what Moms and Dads are saying about these cool lunch boxes. It’s one thing to recommend a product based on a quasi-objective assessment of its features and characteristics. It’s an entirely different thing to listen to what others have to say.

All in all, this is how we eventually came up with our list of amazing lunch boxes for kids.

Ensuring Our Kid’s Nutrition

Optimum nutrition is necessary for optimum child growth and development. However, one of the most common complaints by parents is having kids who are very picky eaters. This can undermine his or her nutritional status leading to growth and developmental issues such as stunted growth, decreased physical energy, metabolic abnormalities, and cognitive impairments.

But how do we ensure optimum nutrition for our kids if they are quite choosy? Here are some tips.

  • Don’t force or bribe your child to eat his or her meal or snack. This will only lead to a power struggle. A better approach is to give your kids smaller yet more frequent feedings.
  • Always serve snacks and meals at roughly the same time of the day to establish a routine. You can provide fruit juices or even milk during these times but make sure to give them water in between.
  • Make your child’s meals and snacks appetizing to look at. Learn from Japanese moms who really make it a habit to decorate the food they give to their children. Let them eat with their eyes. In time, they will be devouring the whole plate.
  • Be very patient when introducing something new. You can start by talking about the different colors, shapes, textures, and aromas of food.
  • Enlist your child’s assistance in preparing his or her food. This way, he or she will be more than willing to try out his or her own creations. This is applicable when going in the grocery, too.
The Bottom Line

Nutrition is important in life. With our top 10 amazing lunch boxes, you can also help ensure your kid’s optimum nutrition by adding a new element in the way he or she looks at food.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How practical are lunch boxes?

A:  Lunch boxes are extremely practical, especially in today’s society. To ensure your children are getting healthy lunches that they’ll love, most parents pack their child’s lunches. Lunch boxes are also very practical for adults. To avoid the temptation of fast food, working individuals can pack their own, healthy lunches.

Q: How can I get my child to start using lunch boxes?

A: Children are very good with habits, so good in fact that it’s challenging to break them out of their routines. If you can just get your child to incorporate lunch boxes and packing lunches into their everyday life, then they will keep to that habit forever.

Q: What technology keeps lunch boxes at the perfect temperature?

A: Lunch boxes that have temperature regulation typically use insulated plastics and fabrics to keep food at the right temperature. Some lunch boxes even have designated compartments for hot and cold foods to keep them separate and at the appropriate temperature.

Q: What materials are lunch boxes typically made from?

A: Typically, children’s lunch boxes are made with compound plastics and vinyl. These aren’t as sturdy as the tin or aluminum variety typical of adult lunch boxes but are still extremely sturdy.

Q: What are some safety concerns with lunch boxes?

A: Lunch boxes, overall, are very safe products for both children and adults. If you can, look for lunch boxes that are BPA free and made from recyclable materials. This supports environmentally conscious companies.

Q: Besides storing food, what else can a lunch box be used for?

A: If you want to get creative with your lunch boxes, here are a few suggestions. Plastic lunch boxes with multiple compartments can be used as craft kits on the go for your little ones. Pack them up with colored pencils, markers, and paper for a portable art studio. Fabric lunch boxes that can be frozen work as a mini cooler on the go, great for small camping trips or field trips

Q: How can I properly clean a lunch box?

A: Plastic lunch boxes, unless otherwise stated, should be cleaned with warm water and dish soap. Some can be cleaned in a dishwasher, but the packaging or website in which that lunch box comes from must explicitly state that. Fabric lunch boxes are a bit trickier. Typically, the interior of fabric lunch boxes is a cleanable plastic, but it’s the exterior that needs special attention. To avoid staining, follow the special instructions given with the lunch box. If you cannot find special cleaning instructions, check the manufacturer’s website.

Q: How large should a lunch box typically be?

A: Lunchbox sizes depend on those using them and for what purpose. Typically, children between the ages of 2 and 5 don’t need a huge lunch box. And the largeness of a lunch box can actually divert from the lunch boxes overall convenience.  So, as far as lunch boxes are concerned, smaller is typically better.

Q: How long should I expect a lunch box to last?

A: Ultimately, the life of a lunch box rests on 2 factors: Treatment and materials. If a lunch box isn’t properly cared for, it won’t last more than 6 months. But, if a lunch box is properly cared for, it can last for years and years. Typically, hard plastic lunch boxes don’t last as long as fabric lunch boxes due to wear and tear in dishwashers. But, if you know the proper way to clean your hard-plastic lunch boxes, then those too can last for years.

Q: Will my child ever outgrow a lunch box, or is there an appropriate age for lunch boxes?

A: Lunch boxes are for everyone. Whether someone is 5 or 50, they could always use a lunch box. Now, a child might outgrow a certain style of a lunch box, but overall lunch boxes are a great way to control and maintain a healthy diet.

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Sources

  1. Corey Kagan Whelan, Is Your Child's Lunch Box Safe? , Online Article,
  2. Admin, How Much Should You Pack In Your Child’s Lunch Box?, Online Article,
  3. Danilo Alfaro, Lunch Boxes and Lunch Bag Safety, Online Article,
  4. Admin, Keeping , Online Article,
  5. Eleese Cunningham, RDN, Keeping Your Lunch Safe, Online Article,