10 Best Lunch Boxes & Bags for Kids in 2020
Give your child something to show off when they sit down to eat. We’ve compiled a list of lunch boxes and bags that are both well-made and well-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.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 35 hrs of research
Includes detachable tether with 50-inch safety leash and carabiner connector
BPA-free lining holds temperatures for up to three hours
Built-in name tag for easy personalization
Durable buckles and zippers built to last
10 Best Lunch Boxes and Bags Reviewed
1. Yodo Dinosaur Insulated Backpack with Safety Harness
Includes detachable tether with 50-inch safety leash and carabiner connector
BPA-free lining holds temperatures for up to three hours
Built-in name tag for easy personalization
Durable buckles and zippers built to last
Interior may be smaller than it appears due to bulky insulation
Harness material is rough and may irritate a child’s neck
Perfect for your toddler on the go, this backpack has just enough space for a midday snack and also provides security to make sure your little one doesn’t get separated during your next busy outing.Read more
This easy-to-clean lunch bag and backpack combo are fully FDA-complaint and food-safe. Both the interior and exterior can wipe clean from stains, food remnants, or marks and air dries in just a few minutes. Front buckles keep the backpack from slipping off of your child when being utilized as a safety harness. A sewn-in name tag makes sure that everyone knows who this adorable dino belongs to, and doubles as an emergency contact tag in case your child ever becomes lost.
A unique lunch option, the Yodo Insulated Backpack with Safety Harness is your preschooler's all-in-one snack solution. This adorable bag features a bright green dinosaur design, complete with spikes. Made with kid-friendly and BPA-free insulated lining, this backpack opens up to easily store warm and cold snacks while retaining their temperatures. Two mesh side pockets allow you to keep drinks at the ready.
This backpack is the perfect lunchbox for your little one’s first days at preschool. It doubles as a toddler harness using a metal carabiner that attaches a 50-inch safety leash. This can help keep your child in sight in crowded situations such as airports or amusement parks while still giving them a sense of personal satisfaction with their "big kid"-style backpack.BENEFITS
2. Skip Hop Zoo Otis Owl
Large inner pocket fits an entire lunch with room to spare
Delightful character face and matching zipper pull details
BPA- and phthalate-free materials
Top buckle handle allows the lunch bag to clip onto a backpack for easy portability
Not machine washable
Some reviewers reported that the insulation began to smell after several uses
The buckle-style handle of this bag is the perfect way to attach your little one’s lunch right to their backpack or even your purse, making sure it’s not forgotten on the way to preschool!Read more
These delightful bags are made of kid-friendly and BPA-free insulated materials that can keep their sandwiches, apple slices, and juice boxes cold for hours. An inner mesh pocket provides the perfect storage space for utensils and napkins, giving your little one an all-in-one lunchtime bag.
Skip Hop Zoo’s Otis Owl lunch box is only one of more than a dozen adorable designs perfect for your preschoolers first lunch away from home. Best of all, the top handle of the bag opens via a buckle-style closure, allowing it to quickly connect to your child’s backpack, jacket, or even around their wrist!
The insulated interior of this lunch box is much larger than other similar styles. Not only is it big enough to fit an entire lunch or several snacks, depending on your child’s needs, but some reviewers even reported being able to store and carry their breast pumping supplies with ample room! The highly detailed characters are sure to spur your little one’s imagination and spark their creativity and pretend play!
3. MIER Dual Compartment Insulated Lunch Box
Well-insulated for hot or cold foods
The handle is completely separate from the zipper section of the bag
Unisex colors and patterns make it appealing to boys and girls
Can hold a huge amount of items
Separate storage compartments
Zipper has a slight gap
There’s nothing that we don’t like about this lunch bag! There is one thing that we love though, and that’s the dual compartments for separate storage of main meals, snacks, and drinks.Read more
With dual compartments your cold food and be kept separate from your hot food, thus reducing the chance of cross-contamination. Designed with a food-safe PEVA lining and thick insulation in both compartments, your child’s food will stay hot or cold for hours. Not to mention, the bottom compartment is perfect for housing an ice pack to further ensure the food stays cold. The all zipper enclosure will prevent any air from sneaking in.
For a smaller but still just as efficient lunch box as their previously mentioned Double Decker lunch box, MIER created the same idea but in a smaller package -- literally! This lunch bag is perfect for kids to bring to school and is a great transition bag for those going into middle school. Color options are unisex which gives kids great options without having a lunch bag that stands out too much, while still giving them all the great features that MIER is known for in their insulated lunch bags. The cooler bag is unique in its vertical design, which has a lower bottom compartment for flat things like sandwiches, wraps, or anything in Tupperware.
This leaves the top compartment free to hold drinks, snacks, utensils, and extra napkins. The bottom also has enough storage to hold a canned drink, while the top is tall enough to fit a full bottle of water standing up and a variety of things in between. The use of storage is fantastic in this bag and truly makes for a great lunch bag for older kids who need more snacks throughout the day. The actual zipper is not attached to the handle, and instead, the handle of the bag comes up and around separately so that it’s nowhere near the opening of the bag. The benefit of this is the reduced risk of the zipper getting stuck on the excess material, and if necessary the bag can be left open and still carried without needing to squeeze the handle together to hold the bag shut.
4. Funny Thermal Neoprene
Thermal; retains temperature for 2-4+ hours
Free of harmful chemicals
Eighteen different designs to choose from30-day return policy
The material has a slight odor; most customers managed to wash it out
With a comfortable handle, soft fabric, and varied designs, this can be a successful purchase for almost any kid (and some adults too!). The fact that it is machine washable and can be thrown in the dryer seal the deal; if there’s a spill or a mess, it’s not a hassle with this tote.Read more
Looking for something that’s going to keep the kids’ lunches hot OR cold? iColor has developed a tote made from Neoprene, vinyl-free, PVC-free material that will help retain the temperature of its contents.
The lunch bag is waterproof as well, so no worrying about damage during rainy days or if you take it out by the pool, or to the beach. There are eighteen total designs to choose from, ranging from a silly face too cute, cuddly animals. If your child’s taste leans a little older than their demographic, there are also sports and fashion-themed choices as well. The fabric keeps food hot or cold for 2-4 hours, but if you throw in an ice pack, it can keep everything chilled for longer. It’s machine washable, easy to clean, and guaranteed not to fade. If you aren’t happy with your purchase, simply return it in 30 days.
This lunch bag is soft, safe, and will keep food warm or cool for a moderate amount of time. Kids will be happy eating whatever nutritious option was packed from home when it comes out of their stylish tote still chilled or toasty.
5. Double Decker Pink Soft Cooler Bag
Tons of storage space
Capable of keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold
Perfect for new parents as a secondary diaper bag
Great first lunch box for kids
Unisex with designs for both boys and girls
The bag may be slightly smaller than how it looks like in photos
The long-term use you’ll get out of this bag makes it a great option for new parents. It’ll be great when babies are first born to store all the things you’d normally forget or not have room for, and when your child is older it’ll double as a great first lunch bag.Read more
We couldn’t write a Top 20 list and not include a lunch box that suitable for new parents! The designers at MIER thought of this as well and have created a lunch bag that also doubles as a diaper bag for new parents, making taking your babies out easier than ever.
The double storage means double the preparedness. We love that this bag features two spaces that can be used for food or other small items while still packing enough snacks to keep you and your child full and happy!
This Double Decker insulated lunch box functions as a normal lunch box, keeping food hot or cold, while also making room for some other parenting necessities such as binkies, extra bottles, tissues, wipes, etc. When you’re not using one of the extra top or bottom storage spaces for food, you can store both hot and cold foods in each, since this lunch bag has the ability to keep both at the proper temperature. The bag is easily carried with the option to have a long over-the-shoulder strap or a cross-strap that makes carrying much easier when you have a baby in your arms. It’s initially lightweight, to begin, with so you can avoid adding an unnecessary weight on your trips out. When your child is old enough, this bag makes an excellent lunch box as well for boys or girls with two different and colorful designs. It’s easy for them to carry and they’ll have a blast fitting extra things in whichever storage space is empty to bring to school or a friend’s house.
6. Stephen Joseph Shark
Roomy design measures 10” x 7.5” x 3”
Waterproof PEVA lining keeps food and drinks cold
Inner mesh pocket and front zippered pouch provide extra storage space
BPA, Phthalate, and PVC-free
Thinner insulation may leak liquid from ice packs and other frozen items
Hand clean only
Baby shark, doo doo doo doo! A fan of Shark Week or of the incredibly popular Pinkfong song, sharks likely hold a special place in your toddler’s heart. Kids of all ages and genders are drawn to these monsters of the deep and they love to embody the biting and thrashing fish in pretend play.Read more
Chemical-free and kid-friendly, this fin-tastic lunchbox is sure to bring a toothy grin to your kiddo’s face every time they use it! High-quality materials ensure that your child’s lunch remains cool until they are ready to eat while also holding up to months of wear and tear. The large interior pocket is big enough to fit most brands of Tupperware with plenty of space of drinks and snacks!
With Stephen Joseph’s Shark lunchbox, your little one can swim away...right into a nutritious lunch! This large bag provides nearly 10 full inches of insulated storage, perfect for keeping snacks and sandwiches cool until lunchtime. A durable polyester exterior ensures that your child will outgrow this lunch bag long before it falls apart!
This adorable lunch box is sure to have your little one attacking their next lunch with fervor!
7. DaCool Lunch Box
Designed with 5 different compartments
Inner tray is microwave and dishwasher safe
Rubber grips makes it easy to carry
BPA and PVC free.
Leak proof partition prevents spills
Some reviewers felt it was difficult to open
Easy to transport, clean, and fill with a variety of foods this lunch box is definitely kid friendly.Read more
All of the materials used in this product are BPA and PVC free. With it being FDA-approved your mind can be at ease as you put your child’s food in each compartment. The plastic material of the outside of the box makes it easy for you to wipe clean and prevent any bacteria from growing.
Heating up your child’s food is super easy as the inner tray can go right inside the microwave. The inner tray is also dishwasher safe making it easy for you to have it clean in no time on those busy school nights. Two tabs on the outside will keep the food secure inside while also preventing any air from sneaking in and spoiling the food.
Designed with 5 different compartments you will easily be able to store a variety of different foods in this lunchbox. The special rubber edges provide your child with a better grip on their lunch box. The lid is equipped with a leak proof partition that will help keep the food inside fresh as well as prevent any liquids from spilling out of the box. When purchasing you can choose between a pink or blue lunch box.
8. Wildkin Lunch Box
Insulated inside will keep food hot and or cold all day
Carrying handle makes it easy to transport
Designed with mesh pocket, elastic bottle strap, and a zippered front pocket
The interior is white not gray as the picture shows
Designed with a handle, your little one can easily carry their stylish lunch box if there is no room left in their backpack.Read more
Not only is this lunchbox safe for your child but it is also environmentally friendly as it PVC,BPA, and phthalate-free.
The insulated inside will help the food keep its hot or cold temperature throughout the day, thus preserving the freshness and taste. With the inside being insulated it is also super easy to clean. Measuring in at 9.75x7x3.25 inches, you will have plenty of room to load your child up with their favorite snacks.
With over twenty different designs and patterns this lunch box is perfect for boys and girls of all ages. The other kids in your child’s class will be too fascinated with the cool pattern to worry about what is inside your child’s lunchbox. The high quality fabric on the outside gives this box a superior level of durability that will allow your child to use it through several school years. Sneak a fun note or surprise snack into your child’s lunch box via the front zippered pocket. The inner elastic tab will keep bottles or ice packs in one place. Store napkins and utensils in the inside mesh pocket.
9. Camouflage Insulated Thermal Lunch Bag
Neat camouflage design
Comfortable handle for carrying
Large enough to carry lunches among other things
Easy to clean
Heavy-duty zipper to make closing overstuffed bags easier
Other design options may be too girly
Neoprene lunch bags aren’t just for girls, and we’ve found one that we’re sure will be a hit. The Youkee Neoprene lunch tote in camouflage is perfect for those boys who think they’re too cool for a lunch bag, but also still love the idea of having homemade meals for lunch. This bag does the trick without looking to lunch-baggy and comes complete with a blue, white, and gray camouflage design that will please any boy, of any age.Read more
The neoprene material keeps food at the correct temperature for several hours while still remaining flexible and soft, which makes carrying these lightweight bags comfortable. The interior space of these bags makes them large enough to hold big lunches including drinks, but also make them a great bag for carrying items, period. The dual-usage makes them a great investment, especially if you have a kid who loves to bring toys everywhere with him or loves sleepovers and needs an overnight bag.
The heavy-duty zipper prevents items getting caught in it upon opening or closing, but is also strong enough to shut the bag closed when it’s at capacity. Because there’s no interior lining when these bags get dirty just throw them in the wash, air dry, and roll up to store away!
Having a lunch bag that’s specifically designed for boys will make their lunchtime woes disappear, especially when they get to carry a bag that’s in full camouflage. These bags are stylish for boys while ensuring their lunches stay fresh. Rather than just traditional green and brown camouflage, this lunch bag comes in shades of blue and that’s unique. In a world of similar boring lunch bags, we like that boys can have the same color options as girls always do.
10. Thermos Soft Firetruck
100 percent PVC-free lining
Polyethylene foam insulation provides superior temperature control
Interactive exterior flaps reveal hose, ax, hat, and ladder when flipped open
Large enough for water bottles and Tupperware together
Hand wash only
Some reviewers reported that the lunch box retained old food smells after several uses
This delightful fire truck is part toy, part lunch box, and all fun!Read more
Made of child-friendly materials, this Thermos brand lunch box contains no PVC, BPA, or phthalates to contaminate your little one’s lunch. Its reusable design to perfect for eliminating disposable waste, providing an eco-friendly and kid-approved lunch storage option.
Designed by well-known purveyors of lunchtime perfection, this Thermos Firetruck lunch box is sure to be a hit with the little firefighter in your life! Its large PEVA-lined interior is easy to clean and big enough to store large water bottles, juice boxes, snacks, Tupperware, and even a Thermos! Closed-cell polyurethane insulation guarantees that your little one’s carrot sticks stay crisp and crunchy from morning until noon without sweating or leaking. The carrying handle is padded for extra comfort and to improve the grip of little fingers. Exterior play elements such as Velcro flaps flip open to reveal firefighting accessories such as a hat, hose, and even an ax! Put out your kiddo’s next lunchtime emergency with this delightful lunch box!
These lunch boxes are available in a variety of styles and designs like Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine and Darth Vader of Star Wars fame, some of which even include light and sound effects!
Criteria Used for Evaluation
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, nontoxic materials, and recyclable materials. For insulation and temperature control, we carefully 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 to the grocery, too.
Other Factors to Consider
We also have to make sure that the product we’re choosing 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.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: How practical are lunch boxes?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
Ultimately, the life of a lunch box rests on two factors: treatment and materials. If a lunch box isn’t properly cared for, it won’t last more than six 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?
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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