If you need a kids lunch box to pack for your toddler or big kid to go to daycare, preschool, school, camp, or just a day out of the house, these product picks will help you choose from the best of the best!
Kids Lunch Box
I’ve been packing toddler lunches for at least one of my three kids for almost 8 years and I’ve learned a lot about what makes a great lunch box. It comes down to the material you prefer, easy of washing, durability, price, and the sorts of lunches you prefer to pack in terms of temperature.
I am determined to help you choose a lunchbox that will last!
The picks here have been vetted by real kids (and parents) in real life. And I hope that these reviews help you decide which might be the best container to use for your little eater.
Perfectly size for a toddler lunch, this affordable set is made of BPA-free plastic. It nests for easy storage and the top and bottom are easy to wash. The compartments are perfectly sized for toddlers and they are incredibly handy for packing multiple lunches at once—or for traveling!
Best for: Toddler lunches that don’t need to be reheated, making multiple lunches at once (since you get a set of 4)
Price: $12.95 for a set of 4
TIP: When empty, these boxes nest into each other, so they are easy to store in a cabinet.
Best Affordable School Lunch Box: Easy Lunchboxes
These heavy-duty BPA-free plastic lunchboxes are incredibly handy and we’ve been using the same set for at least 3 years now. Plus, they are easy to stack and store, and they’re super affordable. They are fairly large for just a toddler lunch—for a year I used one to pack lunch and two daily snacks all together for a one year old—so I like these for age 4 and up for a sole lunch.
I like to put silicone muffin tin liners in the large compartment to hold different foods. These are also great for a full day of traveling since they hold a lot of food in a compact container.
Best for: Packing a day’s worth of food in one container, lunches for kids (and adults!) 4+
Price: $13.95 for 4
TIP: There are a few copycat versions of the Easy Lunchboxes and they are NOT as good. They leak and break easily, from what I’ve heard, so go with the real brand!
With an insulated 7.5 ounce center compartment to keep cold foods cold and warm foods warm, this is a great option for packing daily lunches with a mix of temperatures. So you could pack warm pasta alongside cold fruit and sides. Scrambled eggs with salad and crackers. Genius!
And on days when you don’t need the insulated part, you can simply remove it and pack a sandwich or whatever you like to put there.
Best for: Packing lunches with some warm food and some cold food, all in one box.
TIP: The pieces of this are easy to remove and clean, so it’s very easy to wash and air dry. You can also get the insulated bag to carry it in.
This small insulated thermos is perfect for pasta, soup, oatmeal, pizza rolls, rice and beans and more. I know that everyone always thinks that thermoses are just for soup, but I’ve actually never once used it for soup! It’s a good size for toddlers (you may not need to fill it all the way for littler ones) and it’s super durable.
Best for: Packing occasional hot lunches, being able to pack a larger portion of the main hot (or cold) food.
TIP: This is available in 8, 12, and 16 ounce sizes.
Best Stainless Steel Lunch Box for Toddlers: Lunchbots Quad
This is perfectly sized for a toddler appetite. It won’t hold foods like applesauce (the lid doesn’t close as securely as my other picks), but it’s otherwise a great option for little eaters. It’s easy to clean and it’s small, so it packs into a backpack, insulated lunch bag, or a diaper bag nicely.
It’s also lightweight, so it won’t weight down a backpack or bag.
Best for: Packing little kid lunches or snacks for on the go.
Best Stainless Steel Lunchbox for Big Kids: Planetbox Rover
I find these popular lunchboxes to be too heavy for little kids, but if you’re looking for a stainless lunchbox to last through elementary school, this is a great option. The different compartments make it easy to pack a few food groups all together too.
It’s an investment, but it’s one you’ll only have to make once!
Best for: Elementary aged kids wanting a plastic-free lunch box that will last
TIP: Find my top picks for kids thermoses here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here’s additional Information about lunchboxes that may help when looking for one to buy.
What material is best in a lunch box?
Stainless steel, BPA-free plastic, and silicone are all good material options that are all easy to wash and care for. Stainless may be the most durable, but it can be heavy and more expensive. This often comes down to a personal decision.
How many lunch boxes do I need to buy?
You really only need one, assuming you plan to care for it well of course! I like the Easy Lunchboxes sets since I find it convenient to have a few extra in case we travel as a family and us parents need packed lunches too. Or if a kiddo looses one of that set of 4, it’s not the end of the world since they are lower cost.
Can these lunch boxes go into the dishwasher?
Yes, though I usually hand wash them since we use them frequently.
Which lunchbox is best for my child who needs to be able to open it on his own?
It depends on his age but the Easy Lunchboxes Snack Box and the Luncbots are both good options, especially for toddlers who need to be able to open their box at daycare or preschool on their own. After that, a kindergartener should be able to open all of these (though if a lid of a thermos is secured on really tightly, they may need to ask a teacher for help.)
Best Snack Containers for Kids Lunches
If you need to send a snack or want to send lunch in individual containers, these are the ones that we’ve found to be the best.
- Bumkins Reusable Snack Bags: These are wipe-clean, machine washable, and endlessly reusable. And the patterns are so darn cute!
- Replay Recycled Snack Stacker: We’ve had one set of these for years and I find them to be so great for taking snacks on the go—and for keeping said snacks from getting smushed in a bag. I regularly use these for my elementary aged kiddo’s afternoon snack.
- Lunchskins Bags: If you want a paper bag, these are awesome. They’re paper and recyclable.
- Beaba Clip Containers: This set is also really handy since the containers stack and hold together. We use them regularly too.
TIP: You can find a full run-down of Snack Containers for kids.
Kids Lunch Box Ideas
I know the biggest challenge of packing kids lunches is the question of what to pack, so these posts will help you will all of the ideas!
If you have a favorite lunch box that’s on my list or not, I’d love to know about it—especially if it’s easy for your toddler to open and close all on their own!
This post was first published June 2016.