A lunch box, also known as a lunch pail or lunch kit, is a container designed to transport food, typically to school or work. They come in a variety of materials such as plastic, metal, or fabric and may include features like insulation, multiple compartments, or carrying handles.
- 1 Best lunch box for office
- 2 Best lunch box for men
- 3 Best lunch box for kids
- 4 Best lunch box to fit in backpack
- 5 How we picked and tested
- 6 How do I choose the right lunch box for me?
- 7 How do I keep my food fresh in a lunch box?
- 8 How do I clean and care for my lunch box?
- 9 Can I pack hot food in a lunch box?
- 10 Can I pack perishable items in a lunch box?
- 11 Do insulated lunch boxes work?
- 12 Is stainless steel better than plastic lunch box?
- 13 Is insulated lunch box good for health?
- 14 How long can you keep food in a insulated lunch box?
Lunch boxes offer a practical and convenient way to pack your own meal and can help save money and encourage healthier eating habits by avoiding expensive and often unhealthy restaurant food. They also provide an eco-friendly alternative to disposable containers or bags since they can be used repeatedly.
There are several types of lunch boxes to choose from, including bento boxes, insulated bags, and metal tins. When selecting a lunch box, consider your individual preferences and requirements, such as whether you need to maintain the temperature of your food, ease of cleaning, or eco-friendliness.
The 15 Best Lunch Boxes of 2023: Our Top Picks
|Best Lunch Box for Work||Bentgo Classic|
|A classic option||Bento Bite Dual from TAKENAKA|
|A large lunch bowl||Bentgo® Stainless|
|A streamlined lunch bowl||Stackable Lunch Container|
|A smaller classic lunch box||W&P Porter Plastic Bowl Lunch Container|
|A bigger, stylish bag||Hydro Flask Lunch Bag|
|A classic large lunch box||Coleman Soft Cooler Bag|
Below, we listed the best lunch boxes for adults in 2023. Options include bento lunch boxes, insulated lunch boxes and more.
Hey there! You’ve got 8 different colors to choose from for your stackable lunch box, which is not only BPA-free but also safe to use in the microwave. The box comes with three portions, so you can easily pack different types of food without worrying about mixing them up.
This eco-friendly lunch box is made with food-grade materials and even comes with nesting containers that help you save space. The top container has two compartments, each capable of holding 3/4 cups of food, while the bottom container can hold up to 2 cups of food.
You can use this lunch box in the microwave, dishwasher, and even in the freezer. Just make sure to avoid putting the center divider in the dishwasher or microwave. And the best part? The top container can be easily nested inside the bottom one for convenient storage.
What we’d use it for: The Takenaka Bento Bite Dual is great for carrying a small sandwich and a few sides, like fruit or chips. It’s also ideal for carrying a meal that includes discrete components, such as rice, a rolled omelet, salad, and dumplings.
Why it’s great: Among the bento boxes we tested, the Takenaka Bento Bite Dual was the best size and shape for packing bigger lunches with multiple fixings. It comes in a rainbow of trendy colors. And with its clean lines and simple design, the Takenaka strikes a good balance of being cute without being too twee. This company makes bento boxes in several styles, and the Bite Dual was the roomiest we tried, thanks to its two tiers and deep top compartment. These sections are perfect for packing a lunch with various foods that you want to keep separate until it’s time to eat. The Bite Dual is solidly built, and it survived our drop tests.
A great bento box should be able to separate different types of food, and that’s exactly what the Bite Dual does. The top tier is more spacious and even has a removable divider that’s perfect for separating toppings or sides. However, it’s important to note that the divider isn’t meant for liquidy foods.
For the top tier, we recommend packing noodle dishes with toppings such as dan dan noodles. You can easily nestle the noodles on one side and use the divider to separate the garnish of peanuts and scallions, which can be added just before eating for that extra freshness and crunch.As for the bottom layer, we suggest packing a refreshing vegetable side dish like a cucumber salad. The Bite Dual makes it easy to pack a well-balanced and delicious meal.
The Bentgo Stainless lunch box features a silicone seal on the lid that keeps your food, such as salads and sandwiches, fresh when you’re on-the-go. To open the lunch box, you just need to release the venting valve on the lid, and voila! You’re ready to dig in.
For added convenience, there’s an optional divider that provides a second compartment for creating versatile meals, making it an ideal container for packing healthy and balanced foods.
The Bentgo Stainless lunch box is crafted from top-quality stainless steel and food-safe silicone, making it stain and odor-resistant, as well as BPA-free. It’s a sustainable alternative to plastic, too. Just keep in mind that the stainless steel is single-walled, meaning it won’t keep your food cold or hot for an extended period of time. But, when used in combination with our Bentgo Ice Packs and insulated Bentgo Bags, you can keep your food fresh for longer.
With an extra-large 54 oz salad bowl, this container is perfect for packing up to 4 cups of healthy fruits and vegetables when you insert the compartment tray for easy portioning.To keep your food fresh on the go, the container features an airtight lid with a rubberized sealing ring and locking clips. It’s also BPA-free and safe to wash on the top shelf of your dishwasher.
The included 4-compartment tray provides even more versatility for packing your perfect salad. It features one large 10-oz compartment and two smaller 5-oz compartments, which are perfect for fitting your favorite toppings. Plus, the tray also includes a leak-proof 3-oz container that’s just the right size for salad dressing.
The Porter Bowl is a game changer made from high-quality BPA-free plastic and silicone. Its durable plastic base is wrapped in top-notch protective silicone, and the plastic lid is secured with a silicone snap-strap.
The ceramic version of the Porter Bowl features a sleek minimalist design and muted hues that add a touch of elegance to your everyday routine. With this reusable bowl, you can cut down on single-use plastics and feel good about it.This roomy bowl has a one-liter capacity, making it perfect for packing everything from big salads and grain bowls to pasta and veggies. The Porter Bowl is a stylish and practical choice for any meal on-the-go.
The lightweight insulation of this container will keep your food fresh for hours, making it perfect for meals on-the-go.The fully-lined interior with welded seams makes it easy to wipe clean, ensuring that your food stays fresh and your container stays hygienic. The exterior fabric is both abrasion- and water-resistant, adding to its durability and convenience.
This container is FDA food grade and BPA-free, which means it’s free from toxins and you can use it without worrying about any health risks. It also features a large exterior pocket and a zippered interior pocket, perfect for stashing utensils or other small items.Measuring at 9.5” H x 11.8” W x 6.3” D, this container is the perfect size for all your meal-packing needs.
Also read:The 9 Best Heating Lunch Boxes for 2023
The zippered main compartment of this container is designed to keep your food and drinks cold. If you’re packing it with ice, you can use the hard plastic liner that comes with it. If you’re using ice substitutes, the liner isn’t necessary.The shoulder strap is adjustable for comfortable carrying, so you can take your lunch with you wherever you go.
In addition to the main compartment, this container also has a front zippered pocket, two side mesh pockets, a dry storage pouch, and lid bungees for added storage. These compartments are perfect for stashing utensils, napkins, or any other small items you may need throughout the day.
Best lunch box for office
What We Like
- Maximum, long-lasting insulation
- Easy-clean interior
- Four fun color options
What We Don’t Like
- Doesn’t include a longer strap for carrying
We selected this lunch box as the best overall choice because of its versatility, medium size, and trusted brand reputation for durability and insulation. If you already use Hydroflask’s reusable water bottles to keep your drinks cold, you’ll be happy to know that their lunch boxes feature the same powerful insulation. Hydroflask’s Large Insulated Lunch Box has two layers of insulation to keep your food chilled for hours. This lunch box is built to last and can handle countless outings, just like the brand’s signature bottle.
The lunch box comes in four different exterior colors, and we love the bright sunflower hue. The fully-lined interior is easy to clean and features a zippered pocket for storing utensils and an ice pack.
What We Like
- Leakproof design
- Easy to clean
What We Don’t Like
- Exterior scratches fairly easily
When it comes to packing lunches for kids, bento boxes are an excellent option because they offer different compartments for packing a variety of foods. This particular bento box has five compartments, making it very convenient. The largest compartment is perfect for a small sandwich, three mid-sized compartments work for everything from cheese puffs to fruit to carrot sticks, and the small round one is great for dips or sauces. What’s more, it doesn’t leak between compartments or from the box itself.
Our tester used this bento box to pack lunches every day for a week for her 5-year-old son to take to school, and both parent and child were pleased with its performance. The rubber sides make it extra durable and drop-proof, although it does show scratch marks. It’s also easy to clean because the removable inner tray is dishwasher safe, and the outer shell can be wiped down easily with no crevices that trap food.What’s most important to your child is the variety of colors and prints available. You can even mix and match the removable inner trays if you decide to buy more than one. Additionally, the inner trays are microwave and freezer safe.
Best lunch box for men
What We Like
- Leak-proof bottom
- Lots of pockets/compartments
- Shoulder carrying strap
What We Don’t Like
- Can only be spot-cleaned
- Won’t hold an upright bottle
The MIER Adult lunch box is a versatile and spacious choice that is perfect for a beach day or a picnic. It has two large main compartments that provide ample space to store your hot and cold items separately.
According to our testers, this lunch box is capable of holding a full day’s worth of food, and even more. One of our testers was able to pack multiple water bottles, canned seltzers, food storage containers filled with leftovers, and a full-sized tub of hummus inside it. The lunch box also features exterior compartments with unique functions, including a cardholder, and the tear-resistant oxford fabric exterior comes in various patterns to choose from.
What We Like
- Large interior
- Features bottle holder and utensil compartment
- Fits Rubbermaid or Tupperware containers
What We Don’t Like
- Containers not included
- Limited insulation
You don’t need to break the bank to get a great lunch box, and the Rubbermaid LunchBlox Lunch Box is a prime example of that. Our tester gave it high marks for its practicality, including a spacious interior with a BPA-free lining, separate compartments for utensils and a water bottle, and a detachable shoulder strap and padded handle for easy carrying. And the best part? It’s very reasonably priced.
Our tester found the LunchBlox to be impressively lightweight, and her son had no trouble carrying it around. While it does have just one large compartment, you can easily pack foods separately. It’s designed to work with Rubbermaid LunchBlox food containers (which you can buy separately), but you can also use any containers or bento boxes you already have on hand.
Best lunch box for kids
What We Like
- Built-in freezable gel liner keeps foods cold for hours
- Folds flat for storage
What We Don’t Like
- Gel liner adds weight (but no ice pack needed!)
This bag really impressed us with its ability to keep its contents below 40˚F (a crucial temperature for perishables) for a whopping five and a half hours during our lab test, all thanks to its freezable gel liner. Just pop it in the freezer the night before, and it’ll be ready to go in the morning. Plus, it conveniently folds flat, so it won’t take up too much space in your freezer among your other frozen items.
When it comes to packing, you’ll have plenty of room to work with – this bag is super spacious. And if you need to carry it around, it even comes with an optional long strap. Best of all, it’s available in a wide variety of fun colors and patterns, including some brand-new options for 2023.
What We Like
- Freezer-, dishwasher- and microwave-safe
- Nice and compact
What We Don’t Like
- You may not be able to chose the color online
- Drink has to be packed separately
For less than $12, this bento box is a steal. It features removable trays that fit snugly together to form a lightweight and compact container, perfect for packing your child’s lunch. With the ability to hold a sandwich and four sides, you’ll have plenty of options to keep your little one satisfied.
The set also comes with a handy round piece that has a screw-on lid, perfect for keeping up to 5 ounces of yogurt or fruit salad contained. And when it’s time to clean up, you can rest easy knowing that every piece is dishwasher safe, making it super convenient for daily use. The outer box even has a secure closure to keep everything in place during transport.
Best lunch box to fit in backpack
- It’s entirely leak-proof. This box features an 18/8 food-grade stainless steel base alongside a plastic lid with an insulated silicone seal. This helps it lock in freshness and any spillages that might occur inside.
- The Kid Basix comes in three sizes. This is great because it lets you pick which one you want based on your food intake. The small or middle size will be great for your kid, while the biggest one is pretty much enough to feed the average adult.
- Washing lunch boxes can be a pain, but luckily the Kid Basix is made to be 100% dishwasher safe, meaning that when you’re done with it you can just put it in the washer and forget about it.
- While it does come in multiple sizes, all of these have only one compartment, which can be a significant downside to some. If you’re planning on storing multiple kinds of food in the lunch box, you might want to sleep on this one.
The Kid Basix is made with children in mind, although it can help adults. The box has a sleek, grey design with a colored lid. This helps it not stand out too much while still maintaining a good visual identity.
Also read:The 8 Best Electric Lunch Boxes of 2023
- It offers one of the best temperature isolations on this list. It maintains the temperature pretty much perfectly for up to 6 hours. After that, it’ll still maintain an “acceptable” temperature for a few more hours. If you’re looking for a lunchbox that can last you the whole day, you need to look no further.
- The company is very transparent about the building materials. Both the interior and exterior are made from rustless SS304 steel, which is BPA-free and retains no flavor or scent. It’s also very easy to hand-wash.
- The bag is entirely spilled and leak-proof. Each of its stackable compartments comes with heavy-duty silicone seals that help lock in any fluids that might otherwise escape.
- It features multiple compartments, which lets you keep a variety of foods within it without them mixing. This is great if you’re thinking of bringing one lunch box to, say, a family picnic.
- The cylindrical design isn’t very space-economic in a backpack, so you might want to sleep on this one if you carry a small one.
- It’s not made to be washed in a dishwasher. Luckily, it’s very easy to wash by hand, although this might present an issue to some customers.
The Little Home has a great, gender-neutral design. If you’re looking for a lunchbox for the whole family, then this might be the one. It also comes with a convenient guarantee, so if you’re dissatisfied with the lunchbox, then you should just shoot the company an email and get a hassle-free refund.
How we picked and tested
For this guide, we tested lunch boxes for adults, focusing on bento boxes, lunch bowls, and insulated lunch boxes and bags. What makes these lunch boxes “adult” is mainly their larger size, but of course, anyone can use them. We also have a guide to the best kids lunch boxes.
Regardless of the type of lunch container you use, it should be durable, stain-resistant, and easy to clean and store. For our 2023 update, we also looked for lunch boxes and containers that make eating lunch feel a little more special. That’s subjective, of course, but we appreciated lunch vessels that came in a range of fun and classic colors and that had extra touches like built-in utensils. We also appreciated thoughtful design elements, including rounded corners, which make containers easier to eat from and make them feel more like a dish than a container. That said, many people prefer to use regular glass or plastic containers to transport their lunches to and fro, and the distinction between “what is a container” and “what is a lunch box” isn’t always obvious. If you prefer a container, we’ve covered them in depth in our guide to the best food-storage containers.
Over the years, we’ve learned that lunch vessels come in all shapes, sizes, styles, and materials. And the best one for you may vary day to day, based on the type of meal you want to pack. Whether you choose a bento box, a lunch bowl, or an insulated lunch box depends in part on what you want to pack and whether you have access to a fridge. Because the categories are so different, they each merit their own criteria. This is what we looked for in the models we tested:
Bento boxes and lunch bowls
- Both should have multiple compartments for packing various components of a meal.
- The walls between the compartments should keep foods from mixing together.
- For the bento-style boxes, we looked for containers that had either separate compartments with individual lids or a single lid that sealed the entire box.
- Though most containers we tested don’t claim to be leakproof, we still tested to see how well they contained pure liquids, as well as thicker, saucier foods.
Insulated lunch boxes
- They should hold many elements of a lunch, and they should provide more space for packing drinks and snacks all in one vessel.
- Insulated lunch boxes should keep food cold without refrigeration. So they need to be large enough to hold multiple ice packs, too. (Ideally, they should have a mesh pocket on the interior lid for holding an ice pack in place.)
- We looked for bags with adjustable straps and short handles for easy carrying.
Who should get these
When your lunch box is fraying at the seams or starting to smell less than fresh, or your bento box is becoming dinged or scratched, it’s probably time for a new one. But you can also get a nice lunch box just because you want one. Some of the lunch vessels we tested in 2021 look and feel like an accessory, such as a purse or a tote, or a well-designed dish that could be just as at home on a dining-room table as in an office cafeteria.
Ultimately, your lunch box of choice depends on your storage needs and what you’re eating that day. For adults who work in locations where access to refrigeration may be limited, a durable, insulated lunch box is a must for holding ice packs and keeping foods at safe temperatures. Smaller lunch boxes will be best for keeping meals like a sandwich or a container of pasta salad cold. And larger lunch boxes can act as personal coolers, holding enough food for a meal, as well as many snacks and drinks to consume throughout the day.
If you’re packing multiple prepared dishes, bento-like containers are ideal for keeping different parts of your lunch from mixing together. A roomy lunch bowl with a separate dressing container will ensure your salad remains crisp. And this type of vessel will allow you to add different elements of your meal—like crunchy seeds for salads or parmesan shreds for pasta—right before you eat, so everything stays fresh and vibrant.
You may also want to supplement your lunch box with food-storage containers. You can use these to pack separately the components you’ll combine later on (some smaller containers will even fit inside our insulated small and large lunch box picks).
Frequently Asked Questions about Lunch Boxes
How do I choose the right lunch box for me?
When choosing a lunch box, consider your needs and preferences. For example, if you want to keep your food cold or hot, look for an insulated lunch box. If you want a lunch box that is easy to clean, consider one made of plastic or silicone. If you want a more eco-friendly option, consider a lunch box made of materials like stainless steel or fabric.
How do I keep my food fresh in a lunch box?
To keep food fresh in a lunch box, consider packing perishable items in an insulated container with a cold pack. You can also pack non-perishable items like crackers, nuts, and dried fruit to round out your meal. Avoid packing foods that have a strong odor, as they can affect the taste of other foods in your lunch box.
How do I clean and care for my lunch box?
To clean and care for your lunch box, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Many lunch boxes can be washed by hand or in the dishwasher. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or scrubbers, as they can damage the surface of your lunch box. If your lunch box is insulated, be sure to dry it thoroughly before storing to prevent mold and mildew from growing.
Can I pack hot food in a lunch box?
Yes, you can pack hot food in a lunch box, but you will need to use an insulated container to keep the food hot. You can also pack a hot food container with a heat source, like a hot water bottle or a heat pack, to keep your food hot until lunchtime. Just be sure to follow food safety guidelines and only pack food that is still hot when it’s time to eat.
Can I pack perishable items in a lunch box?
Yes, you can pack perishable items in a lunch box, but you will need to take some precautions to keep the food safe. Use an insulated container and a cold pack to keep perishable items cold, and consider packing items that don’t require refrigeration, like sandwiches, wraps, and fruit, in a separate compartment to prevent cross-contamination. Be sure to follow food safety guidelines and only pack perishable items that are still fresh when it’s time to eat.
Do insulated lunch boxes work?
Yes, insulated lunch boxes can work to keep food hot or cold. They are designed with insulation materials, like foam or a reflective lining, to help maintain the temperature of the food inside. Insulated lunch boxes work best when used with a hot or cold pack to help maintain the desired temperature.
Is stainless steel better than plastic lunch box?
Both stainless steel and plastic lunch boxes have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Here are some factors to consider when deciding between a stainless steel or plastic lunch box:
- Durability: Stainless steel lunch boxes are generally more durable and long-lasting than plastic ones. They are resistant to scratches and dents, and are less prone to damage from accidental drops or rough handling. Plastic lunch boxes, on the other hand, can become scratched or cracked over time, and may not withstand rough treatment as well as stainless steel.
- Eco-friendliness: Stainless steel lunch boxes are more eco-friendly than plastic ones because they are reusable and can be used for a long time. Plastic lunch boxes, on the other hand, are made from a non-renewable resource and are not biodegradable, so they contribute to waste in the environment.
- Ease of cleaning: Stainless steel lunch boxes are generally easier to clean than plastic ones because they are non-porous and don’t retain stains or odors as easily. Plastic lunch boxes, on the other hand, can be more difficult to clean because they can harbor bacteria and may retain stains or odors.
- Insulation: Some stainless steel lunch boxes come with insulation to keep food hot or cold, but they may not be as effective as insulated plastic lunch boxes. Plastic lunch boxes are generally better at retaining heat or cold, and may be a better choice for packing perishable items that need to be kept at a specific temperature.
Is insulated lunch box good for health?
Insulated lunch boxes can be a convenient and practical way to transport and store food, and they can help keep food at a relatively stable temperature until it’s time to eat. However, it is important to follow food safety guidelines when using an insulated lunch box to ensure that the food you pack is safe to eat.
Here are a few tips for using an insulated lunch box to keep your food safe:
- Use an insulated container with a cold pack to keep perishable items cold. Perishable items like cooked meat and dairy products should be kept at 40°F or below to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
- Pack non-perishable items, like sandwiches and wraps, in a separate compartment to prevent cross-contamination.
- Avoid packing foods that have a strong odor, as they can affect the taste of other foods in your lunch box.
- Follow food safety guidelines and only pack perishable items that are still fresh when it’s time to eat.
How long can you keep food in a insulated lunch box?
Insulated lunch boxes are designed to help maintain the temperature of the food inside, but they are not intended to keep food at a specific temperature for an extended period of time. If you are packing perishable items that need to be kept at a specific temperature to remain safe to eat, it is best to follow food safety guidelines and consume them within a certain time frame.
For example, perishable items like cooked meat and dairy products should be kept at 40°F or below, and should be consumed within 2 hours if kept at room temperature or within 4 hours if kept in a cooler. If you are packing perishable items in an insulated lunch box, it is important to pack a cold pack to help keep the food at a safe temperature, and to consume the food as soon as possible after it has been packed.