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8 Best Lunch Boxes for Kids of 2023

Apr 08, 2024Apr 08, 2024

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Everything about this lunch box is easy to use for parents and littles—from how much it holds to the size of the compartments and its utensils. Read More

The Bentgo Chill makes keeping lunch cold a breeze with its freezable layer, and the variety of compartment sizes make it fun to pack. Read More

The OmieBox is spacious and durable, and comes with a removable insulated container for hot foods. Read More

A bento with personality that's easy to pack and easy to use makes this 5-compartment box a go-to for elementary kids. Read More

The whole bag is basically one big ice pack. Read More

Updated August 1, 2023

Kids' lunch boxes are a necessity in every parent's life. Packing lunch day-in and day-out for at least 180 school days is no small feat. Add in summer camps and sports clinics, and you’ve got year-round lunch-packing duties that never seem to take a break.

While getting your kid to eat the lunch you pack may never be smooth sailing, we can help you find the right vessel to pack it in and make lunch prep easier. That’s one less worry on your plate.

We tested an array of kids lunch boxes and insulated lunch carriers over the course of a school year, so we’ve got the ins and outs of what works for everyone—from the littlest preschoolers to more independent, older elementary kids.

The Munchkin Lunch Bento (available at Amazon for $17.84) is a great overall lunch box. If your kiddo needs a box that’s easy to open, or one with lots of compartments for variety, the Munchkin Lunch Bento is exceptional. You can fit a full sandwich in the center compartment, and it’s as close to truly leak-proof as we saw in all of our testing.

For kids who want their cheese sticks to say cold until lunchtime, we like the Bentgo Kids Chill Lunch Box (available at Amazon). It won’t keep all the contents at fridge temperature indefinitely, but it’ll stay cool enough to make it to the cafeteria.

The Munchkin Lunch Bento Box for Kids is easy to pack, easy to open, and easy for little ones to carry.

The Munchkin Lunch Bento is an ideal all-around lunch box for packing a variety of satisfying foods. You can pack a lot into this box, including a full sandwich, and confidently keep it all separated. In our water test, the liquid didn’t leak out of the box at all, and there was very minimal transfer between compartments. We feel confident sending things like yogurt and berries in this box.

The silverware is a very helpful addition, but it doesn’t always stay put on its holders in the lid. If you want to send yogurt or pasta, there’s a chance the utensil may fall into the food on its way to lunch. Accessories are always a loss risk for little ones, so be sure your child knows to put them back in the box when lunch is over.

The Munchkin Lunch Bento only comes in two colors right now, so there aren’t a lot of options for kids who like to let their personality shine in their lunch box choice, but it’s a great value and an even better daily lunch companion.

Easy to open

Fits a standard sandwich

Stainless-steel utensils included

Won't leak

Limited color choices

The Bentgo Chill has a built-in ice pack and holds up to rigorous use.

The built-in ice pack that sandwiches between the bento tray and the exterior box makes this lunch box a winner for sending chilled lunches to school. While it couldn’t keep its contents under 40°F for a full four hours, it kept food out of the temperature danger zone long enough to get to the lunch table.

Maintenance and cleaning are also particularly easy with this lunch box. The freezable layer nests between the interior and exterior layers, protecting it from food. So when the box comes home from school it’s quick to pop out that layer and put it back in the freezer for the next day while the bento tray can go on the top rack of the dishwasher.

Bentgo recommends hand-washing the exterior box to maintain the seal created by the rubber runners. The ice-pack layer is also hand-wash only, but the materials all wash very easily.

Freezable layer keeps food cold


Easy to open

Doesn't hold a standard sandwich

The OmiBox is sturdy and comes with a removable Thermos for packing hot lunches.

The OmiBox is spacious, durable, and versatile. It has three compartments, and a removable divider to create 4 if needed—although that divider went missing pretty quickly during real-life testing. (OmiBox does offer replacements.)Still, the three compartments are generous and you can fit a whole sandwich in the largest one. That compartment is also built to house a removable 8.5-ounce Thermos for hot food, and the Thermos lid is designed to be easier for little hands to open. My youngest struggled to do it solo at 3-and-a-half, but my 5-year-old had no trouble at all.

A removable gasket rims the compartments and adds some protection from contents moving between them, but doesn’t stop it entirely. I wouldn’t feel comfortable sending juicy berries next to a savory sandwich without further protection.

The gasket is easy to remove, clean, and replace, but does create a few more nooks and crannies to clean. The OmiBox isn’t dishwasher safe, but it is made of a slick material that washes incredibly easily, and should the gasket ever break or wear out, OmiBox sells replacements.

This box is at the higher end of the price range we can stomach for lunch boxes, but its durability and replaceable parts mean you’re likely to get multiple years of use out of it.

Convenient compartments

Additional thermal container

Nice design aesthetic

Weak Temperature control

Not leakproof

The Bentgo 5-compartment lunch box comes in stylish prints that kids will love.

Bentgo makes kids' lunch boxes that are durable, easy to use, and best of all—fun! The cool print is my five-year-old’s favorite thing about this box, but my favorite things are how easy it is to pack and to clean.

The five-compartment design is perfect for packing a variety of foods. While you can’t fit a standard whole sandwich in the largest compartment, we found some creative ways to cut sandwiches to make it work.

We found the uniquely sized compartments fun to fill with a variety of fruits, veggies, crackers, proteins, and even pasta salad. And the most petite compartments are the perfect size for treats.

The two-piece design makes clean-up easy—the interior tray can go on the top rack of the dishwasher while the outer shell typically only requires a quick hand-wash.

The only drawback we found is that the lid needs to be pulled forward to close properly, and sometimes little fingers have a hard time with that maneuver.

Easy to clean

Good size for elementary kids

Fun designs

Doesn't fit a standard sandwich

Might be hard for some kids to close

The PackIt Freezable Classic lunch box makes it easy to keep lunch cold for hours.

Pair any of our recommended lunch boxes with this freezable carrier and the lunch you pack will stay cool until it’s time to eat. We love the size, capacity, and durability of this chilled lunch carrier.

The PackIt Freezable lunch box features built-in gel packs that eliminate the need for separate ice packs. Just store the box in the freezer the night before and it’s ready to keep its contents cold for hours.

We love that It collapses down for easy storage in the freezer, and it fits almost all the boxes we tested (except the YumBox). The interior easily wipes clean, and there’s an exterior pocket for little extras.

This carrier also comes in a variety of solid colors or patterns, which means there’s an option for kids and adults alike.

Keeps cold food at safe temperatures

Collapses for easy storage in freezer

Doesn't work for hot foods

The LunchBots Bento keeps lunches fresh and tasty.

The bento-style presentation makes those little foodies swoon and even catches the interest of the most discriminating eater. Essentially, it makes lunch fun.

For a stainless-steel option, we like the LunchBots Bento box. It's lighter and easier to transport than other stainless-steel options we tested, and the durable stainless steel stands up to heavy use without seriously marring the mirror-like shine.

We like the simplicity of the LunchBots Bento box, but there are some things to consider. Even though it's are designed for easy dishwasher cleaning, there are some areas of the LunchBots Bento that need deep cleaning—the dividers are soldered to the interior and therefore edges are exposed and collect particles over time. We found we occasionally needed to use a wooden skewer on those hard-to-reach spots.

With no place to hold on to for opening, it’s natural to brace the container against yourself. This is always a risky situation with kids and food! The lid is also not attached so it could easily be left behind by a distracted child, and it's not leakproof. Lunches with foods like meatballs and sauce will need to be put into a separate insulated container.



Dishwasher safe


Detached lid

Difficult to clean

This cute container is better suited for snacks or paired with other containers such as reusable sandwich bags. The main compartment is easy for the littlest eaters to open, but the small lidded container might pose a challenge.

It coordinates with the entire Spark Style line, including the insulated food jar, stainless-steel water bottle, and new bento lunch box that came out since our testing.

These are geared toward the littlest lunch-takers, in cute designs that are sure to spark joy at mealtime. Most littles would still require some help opening the small containers, but they’re sized right for toddlers and lightweight enough for them to carry.

The LunchBots Thermal container is a great option when you want a separate container for transporting hot foods. When combined with the LunchBots Bento this makes an ideal stainless-steel lunch set.

The LunchBots Thermal container outperformed all the other thermal containers for keeping hot foods at a safe—and tasty—temperature. As with most thermal containers, you should plan ahead and prepare the container—fill with hot water, let it stand while preparing the lunch, then dump the water and fill the container with food. This prep helps ensure lunch will still be hot when it's time to eat.

We love this container for use with warm-lunch options, and it's great for serving leftovers at school. It's also dishwasher safe and holds up to hard use without issue.

Keeps food warm

Dishwasher safe

Rubber ring needs to be hand washed


Hi, I’m Danielle, the Managing Editor of Home & Appliances, and a mom of two littles. Packing lunch has become an inescapable ritual in my household over the past couple of years so I've been on a mission to find the best lunch boxes that suit the needs of both kids and parents. Packing lunches day-in and day-out means we handle these boxes on the daily. If they're frustrating to use or lack features my kids need, it adds struggle to our morning routine. Nobody needs that! Keeping everyone sane, from the kitchen outward, makes all our lives better.

When it comes to lunch boxes for kids, it’s important to us that all the boxes we test be BPA-free, made of quality materials, and are tough enough to pass our real-life kid tests. You won’t find flimsy lunch boxes on this list. Once we selected an array of boxes that fit this criteria, we put them through our testing.

First, we tested each of the lunch boxes in the Reviewed lab to see how long they could maintain hot or cold temperatures. We filled each lunch box with the same material we use to test refrigerators, with a temperature sensor embedded inside. We let them sit for four hours at room temperature and then looked at how long it took for the temperatures to rise above 40 degrees, which is the lower end of the bacteria danger-zone. The warm containers were tested with hot tomato sauce and meatballs, and temperatures were measured to see how long the lunchboxes maintained a safe, above 90-degree temperature.

We checked for leaks by pouring water inside one compartment of each lunch box, then closed it and shook it around to mimic the jostling a lunch box would get in a busy grade schooler's backpack. We especially wanted to see if compartments maintained separation, or if juicy foods would seep over and turn sandwiches soggy.

Once the lab testing was finished, we tested each of the lunch boxes in the real world, with real kids. We packed a variety of foods into each lunch box, packed them into insulated lunch carriers with an ice pack, and sent them to school. We noted durability, wear and tear, and surveyed the kids about how they liked using each box.

While parents may not think about the food safety aspect when purchasing a lunch box, it’s vital for lunch containers to have enough insulation to be able to maintain cold temperatures for a few hours, especially when lunch involves some sort of meat, dairy, or other food item that spoils quickly.

Insulated lunch boxes can only do so much to keep food at whatever temperature they started at. An ice pack is needed to keep the ambient temperature from rising too quickly. An insulated bag does not act like refrigeration, nor does it bring the air temperature inside to the food-safe level, even with an ice pack.

Reusable lunch boxes, especially if they're metal, can be really heavy for little kids to carry. Preschoolers have smaller appetites and don't need to be weighed down by a giant, unwieldy lunch box, but older children may need one of the larger options that can hold more food.

An insulated soft bag does not protect the lunch’s heat. If you want your child to be able to enjoy warm foods for lunch, you'll need to invest in an insulated lunch container that's better equipped to keep foods hot.

Kids who commute by bus, or on subway trains or city buses need to be able to have their hands free to scan Metro cards and hold on to rails. Choosing a lunch box or lunch bag that fits inside their backpack will help keep their hands free—and reduce the risk that they'll leave their lunch sitting on a bus seat or subway turnstile.

Real talk: kids are prone to losing things. If you have a child who consistently misplaces their lunch box and you find yourself buying replacements on a bi-monthly basis, it probably doesn't make sense for you to spend a lot of money on a lunch box. Opt for a more affordable choice that you're comfortable (possibly) having to replace a few times.

Lisa Lawrence

Contributor / Photographer

Passionate about art and anything hand-made, Lisa Lawrence is a mother, photographer, & writer in Los Angeles. After graduating from UCLA with a Bachelor’s in English she worked at a middle school for two years helping kids to find their voice.

Danielle DeSiato

Managing Editor, Kitchen & Appliances

Managing Editor, Kitchen & Appliances. Danielle has a B.S. from Syracuse University and a AAS in Culinary Arts from Newbury College. Previously, Danielle was a Test Cook and Associate Editor at America's Test Kitchen, as well as a freelance recipe developer and food writer. She’s the mom of two boys and loves making pizza on Friday nights.

Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.

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