As parents have learned the hard way (guilty!), if you have the wrong lunch box, your kids’ lunch will most likely go to waste. You need a lunch box that’s durable, that won’t leak, that will keep food fresh, and in some cases, prevent different foods from touching each other. Because that’s just an epic parenting and rookie fail.
Thankfully for picky kids and their discerning parents, there’s an abundance of lunch boxes to choose from. You can opt for simple lunch sack that’s insulated, to a top-tier bento box for older kids who can manage to open and close it, to a container that holds food and a water bottle.
With that in mind, here are some of this year’s best and most useful lunch boxes.
Milu Thermos Food Jar with Folding Spoon 15,2 oz / 22 oz Double Wall Insulated Stainless Steel Food Containers Wide Mouth Lunch Box for Hot & Cold Food for Kids Adults Babys - Gray/Orange 15,2 oz
This is one of the coolest lunch situations we've come across, for kids who like a hot lunch. The Milu jar is shake- and leak-proof and can be carried in a backpack or in the enclosed bag.
Pros: This lunch container has stainless steel double wall vacuum insulation so your mac and cheese stays hot all day lunch. Its wide mouth makes it easy to clean, and it can hold anything from stew to chili to rice. The lid can be used as a bowl.
Cons: t keeps your food hot, but not steaming hot.
Give your kid the ultimate balanced lunch with this bento box, which has five compartments portioned for a child’s appetite.
Pros: This bento box gives you plenty of food options, it doesn’t leak, and it’s basically destruction-proof. The removable compartment tray reheats food in the microwave and cleans up easily in the dishwasher.
Cons: The flaps are hard to close, so this is definitely better for older kids.
A great combo of bento box and lunch box, this one has three stainless steel compartments with leak-proof seals.
Pros: It’s a bento box! It’s a lunch box! It’s both. It’s really and truly leakproof. It comes with stickers, for extra fun. And it looks damn good.
Cons: The compartments are small, so this one is better for younger kids with smaller appetites.
If your kid doesn't need quite as many food options, opt for this bento box, which has three compartments.
Pros: The snap-on lid makes this easy for little hands to open and close. It’s designed to separate food for your child for easy packing and eating.
Cons: It’s too small for kids with bigger appetites.
For the tastemaker, there's this work of art of a lunch kit, by Alessi.
Pros: The Alessi lunch box has three compartments: two containers, separated and hermetically sealed by two lids, and a third compartment where snacks can be stored. It is without question the most sophisticated option on this list.
Cons: It’s expensive. And it’s not suitable for messy eaters.
If your child is a fan of hot lunch, pack it in this very cool thermos container.
Pros: This 16 ounce jar comes with a spoon, and keeps food hot or cold for 12 hours.
Cons: The exterior is a tad too thin, so if your liquid is super-hot, you’ll feel it.
This is one of our favorite lunch boxes, because the Box Buddy keeps food cold thanks to its ice-pack, and has a neoprene sleeve for insulation.
Pros: It’s pack and go with this Nalgene lunch box. You insert an ice pack between the two food compartments to keep grub cold, snap it shut, and it’s ready to go. It’s easy for kids to use, too.
Cons: It’s not totally leak-proof.
This bento box has both hot and cold food compartments, to make even the pickiest eaters happy.
Pros: The OmieBox has a thermos inserts so you can pack hot food that won’t make cold fruit all mushy.
Cons: This lunch box weighs nearly two pounds when it’s empty, so beware.
You get the complete lunch set here, of three containers plus an insulated lunch bag to carry them around.
Pros: You get three airtight stainless-steel containers that you can package in a dual pocket bag that is PVC-free, made of high quality neoprene.
Cons: The containers do not keep food hot.
Older kids will dig this Stanley lunch box, made of steel.
Pros: Retro has never looked so good. The Stanley steel 10-quart lunch box has a fully packable lid. It’s got sturdy latches and hinges for extra durability. You can nestle a bottle within the lid.
Cons: It weighs almost four pounds. Yes, four pounds.
No more ice packs, ever. Store the lunch bag in the freezer overnight and its walls will be frozen and ready to keep your food cold.
Pros: It’s so easy for kids to use, plus it really does work and it comes in a ton of cool patterns and colors. It’s made from a nontoxic poly canvas and has a food-safe, water-resistant lining.
Cons: You have to remember to chill it in the freezer. Every night.
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