Keep your mid-day meal perfectly chilled or piping hot with these fantastic and fun lunch boxes. 

By Deanne Revel and Kimberly Holland
Updated May 04, 2021
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
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best lunch boxes
Credit: Allrecipes Illustration

Whether you're toting a turkey sandwich to work or packing your kids' PB&J each day, you've got to have something to carry your homemade lunches in. Sure, you could reach for the age-old brown paper sack, or even a reused shopping bag if have a spare one. But a reusable lunch box is a much more sustainable way to pack daily meals. (It's also much cuter.) Plus, it actually keeps your food cold, unlike a plain paper bag.

Today's lunch boxes can account for nearly any work or school dining scenario. If you're unable to store your lunch in a fridge before you eat, for example, it's important to not let items get warm. Freezable, insulated cooler bags are the right pick in that scenario. After all, a room-temperature turkey sandwich isn't just sad. It's a health risk.

Does your kid need a lunch box that doesn't look like the other 20 in their classroom? A personalized or monogrammed lunch box is the way to go in that case. And the good news? We have options for all these scenarios and more.

We've rounded up the best lunch boxes in styles that will please everyone in the family, from a trendy Fjallraven lunch box for school to a surprisingly chic Vera Bradley lunch box for the office. Whether you're back-to-school shopping or gearing up for your next day trip, check out our favorite picks and shop the 12 best lunch boxes below. 

Best Lunch Boxes at Glance 

Best Overall Lunch Box: L.L. Bean Insulated Lunch Bag

LL Bean Lunch Box
Credit: L.L. Bean

If you're searching for the best lunch box for kids of elementary school age, look no further than this insulated lunch bag from L.L. Bean. It comes in eight solid colors perfect for girls or boys, and you can even choose to add a monogram to be crystal clear which lunch box is your child's.

Inside, the lunch box has a pocket for an ice pack, and another for keeping small things separated and neatly stored, like snacks or silverware. Outside, the lunch box has one zippered pouch for additional storage and a sturdy handle for easy and comfortable toting. At just over nine inches tall, it's also compact enough to not take up a great deal of space in a cubby or locker.

"Absolutely love this lunch box!!! Monogramming was available which made it that much more special along with the fact of being able to get a matching backpack for a very special little 3 year old to use for her new school," writes one happy L.L. Bean customer.

The best part about this lunch box? It can go and grow with your child as they do. Solid colors are timeless, and L.L. Bean's style never goes out. They may very well carry this lunch box into their high school years, so long as their favorite color doesn't change, of course.

Buy It: L.L. Bean Insulated Lunch Bag, $20; L.L. Bean

Best Kids Lunch Box: Wildkin Kids Insulated Lunch Box for Boys and Girls

Wildkin Kids Insulated Lunch Box Bag for Boys and Girls
Credit: Amazon

If the L.L. Bean lunch box is a bit too serious for your young lunch box carrier, reviewers love these Wildkin Kids insulated lunch boxes for many of the same reasons. They're comfortable to carry, insulated for safe food temperatures, and spacious enough for a water bottle or extra snack if needed. They're also BPA- and phthalate-free.

But the best part is the more than one dozen styles and patterns that can adorn these lunch boxes. The classic multi-color option (picture above) is a winner for sure, but we also really love these adorable owls and these fun butterflies. And if you or your kid like coordinating school supplies, the Wildkin Kids line also makes backpacks and duffel bags to match.

"I love these Wildkin Lunch boxes! They are the perfect size to fit a real water bottle or thermos, sandwich, chips, apples, etc. or a plastic lunch box container," writes one Amazon reviewer. "After 3/4 of a year of school these are still in great shape."

Buy It: Wildkin Kids Insulated Lunch Box for Boys and Girls $25; Amazon or Walmart

Best Bento Lunch Box: Bentgo Kids Durable Leakproof Lunch Box

Bentgo Kids Childrens Lunch Box
Credit: Amazon

If you're looking for a smaller bento lunch box for kids, Bentgo has a colorful option perfectly-sized for school lunches. The box comes in six bright color combos and Bentgo is incredibly durable, drop-proof, and leakproof, which is exactly what you need when you're sending items to school. 

Most bento boxes do not come with a carrying handle, so for convenience, you may want to give your child a carrying tote for their bento lunch box.

"[This] lunchbox with my toddler and it's been amazing. Great portions, never leaks, and super sturdy! It's SO nice to be able to send a lot of different foods and not have to worry about getting a bunch of little containers back," writes one Amazon reviewer.

Buy It: Bentgo Kids Durable Leakproof Lunch Box, $25; Target or Amazon

Best Lunch Box for Teens: Fjallraven Kanken Mini Cooler

Fjallraven, Kanken Mini Cooler Lunch Box for Everyday
Credit: Amazon

Much like TikTok can create viral sensations of recipes and ingredients, teens can turn brands into hip and trending must-have items in a flash just by word of mouth. Such has happened with Fjallraven, particularly the brand's colorful backpacks. But before it earned its Insta-worthy status, the Swedish outdoor company was just known for good quality in the outdoor sports community. And that goes for its coolers, too. So yes, this is one of those items that is worth the buzz and hype because underneath that trendy exterior is a high-quality product that's durable and functional.

With that in mind, the Fjallraven Kanken Mini Cooler is the perfect lunch box for teens as it comes in the same array of colors as the trendy backpacks. Plus, it can take a beating, from lockers to after-school activities and beyond. 

"This is one of my favorite pieces of gear. I use it for school and work right now as it fits perfectly in my messenger bag. The slot for the cold pack works perfectly and it really does keep things cool for the whole day. It's a perfect little lunchbox for the suave adult. Easy to clean as well," writes one Back Country reviewer.

Inside, you'll find a zipper pocket in the top flap that can hold ice packs if food needs to stay cold, or additional snacks if it doesn't. The compact size (it's just over 10 inches tall and eight inches wide) allows for easy storage in a backpack, locker, or desk. Both the exterior and interior fabric are easy to clean and wipe down in case of accidental spills.

Buy It: Fjallraven Kanken Mini Cooler, $50; Amazon or Back Country

Best Heavy Duty Lunch Box: YETI Daytrip Packable Lunch Bag

YETI Daytrip Packable Lunch Bag
Credit: Amazon

Yeti is well known for its insulated coolers that seem to defy reality and magically keep ice frozen for days, even in the hot sun. In the past couple of years, the cooler company has launched into the soft cooler and cooler bag market with some impressive products that keep food cold all day, including great heavy-duty lunch bags.

One of the newest additions to the line of small coolers is the Daytrip Packable Lunch Bag. At $80, it's pricey, but like other Yeti products, it's tough and designed to last for years, even with regular use. This is the perfect lunch box for outdoor workers, sports games, camping, and other activities that keep you in the heat or away from a fridge as it keeps food frosty even in the beating sun. 

"The bag is very stable and made of quality material. It's perfect for what I need for work. With no ice pack, my food for lunch was kept cold until I went to lunch," writes one Amazon reviewer.

A fewer reviewers mentioned that it was a bit too small for some people, so consider what all you typically carry with you in a lunchbox. Stack up a day's lunch, and measure the size to get an understanding of how well this or any lunch box will work for your typical day's food. Yeti has larger bags with the same durable construction.

Buy It: YETI Daytrip Packable Lunch, $80; Amazon or YETI

Best Decorative Lunch Box: Vera Bradley Lunch Bunch Bag

a vera bradley lunch bag with pink and purple watercolor paintings of flowers and hummingbirds
Credit: Vera Bradley

If you want your lunch box to reflect your style and aesthetic taste, look no further: Vera Bradley has a huge selection in a multitude of patterns and prints, from traditional paisley and floral designs to solid colors, each made from recycled plastic water bottles. No matter which type you carry, you're sure to be the envy of the office work fridge.

Each of the lunchboxes is made with an innovative durable material that is water-repellant, light-weight, and somehow still soft and beautiful. The interior is lined with a food-safe PEVA material, and the lunch box features a slip pocket for ice packs.

"We've been very happy with this lunch-box. It's got a nice side-pocket where you can easily slip in an ice-pack to keep things cold. It's a perfect size for bringing a water bottle, a sandwich, and maybe a small tupperware," writes one Amazon reviewer about the Vera Bradley Lunch Bunch Bag. "It's well-insulated and so we were able to bring this on a long car trip and it kept everything cold for 6 hours with no difficulty."

Buy it: Vera Bradley Lunch Bunch Bag, $35; Amazon or Vera Bradley

Best Personalizable Lunch Box: Pottery Barn Kids Mackenzie Lunch Box

pottery barn kids Mackenzie Navy Pink Multi Hearts Lunch Boxes - four navy lunch boxes with pink trim and tiny colorful hearts
Credit: Pottery Barn Kids

If your little lunch carrier has a lot of opinions about what they use and wear, this is the lunch box option for them. Not only does the Mackenzie Lunch Box come in more than two dozen designs and prints (like hearts, soccer balls, and dinosaurs), it's available in four different styles. Each adds a little extra room from the one below it, so you can let your kid pick the style they like, or opt for the one that is most likely to hold all their food, snacks, and drink bottles.

The polyester shell is easy to wipe down and clean if there are any spills or sticky messes. A mesh zippered pocket holds silverware and napkins away from food. For an added touch of personalization, you can add a name or monogram to these lunch totes so your kid will always know which one to grab. And if you like to coordinate lunch boxes with the whole school ensemble, you can order a matching backpack. The lunch boxes are designed to clip right on for easy transport. There are even matching water bottles and containers for hot or cold food.

Buy It: Pottery Barn Kids Mackenzie Lunch Box, from $25; Pottery Barn Kids

Best Lunch Box With Thermos: IVMET 3-Piece Lunch Bag Kit

IVMET 3-Piece Lunch Bag Kit Insulated Bento Lunch Box
Credit: Amazon

If you associate packed lunches with boring cold cuts, it's time to change that. Lunches can include hot soups, pastas, and curries if you have a good insulated food container. This IVMET 3-Piece Lunch Bag Kit on Amazon includes that vacuum-insulated, stainless steel food jar, which can keep food hot for hours.

The bundle also includes a snap-to-lock leak-proof salad container that can hold sandwiches or other foods. And when those containers are packed, they can be stored and carted in the durable cooler bag that is thoughtfully designed with a pouch for utensils and an extra side pocket for drinks. At less than $30, this trio is a steal. 

"Quality product can be used for kid lunches but definitely more adult sized. It's a little pricey but the quality is great and washing it is a breeze, so it's worth it," writes one happy Amazon reviewer.

Buy It: IVMET 3-Piece Lunch Bag Kit, $29; Amazon

Best Insulated Lunch Box: Arctic Zone Titan High Performance Insulated Expandable Lunch Pack

Arctic Zone Titan High Performance Insulated Expandable Lunch Pack
Credit: Amazon

Most of the lunch boxes on this list are insulated to one degree or another, and for most people, a standard level of insulation (and an ice pack) is all that's necessary for keeping food safe in transport or even in storage at a desk or worksite. But if you find yourself needing insulation for extreme situations — outside in the summer, a long shift with no refrigerator access, or long road trips without time to stop for food — you'll want to add this Arctic Zone lunch pack to your shopping cart. This bag is made with the company's SuperFoam insulation and innovative Therma-Flect interior radiant barrier, and it has two ice walls for nearly 360-degree cooling capabilities. To put it another way? It keeps food cold.

The lunch pack's lining is made with Microban, which helps ward off bacteria and bugs that may be carted with your lunch. Even the exterior is made with use and abuse in mind, as the Rhino-Tech material is easy to clean and resistant to stains.

One Amazon reviewer writes, "I bought this for when the cooler is collapsed it will fit into my saddle bags on my motorcycle. It fits really nice. The ice packs are still half frozen after a 10 hour day. It keeps my food and drinks nice and cold."

Buy It: Arctic Zone Titan High Performance Insulated Expandable Lunch Pack, $28; Amazon or Target

Best Freezable Lunch Box: PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag

PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag with Zip Closure, Melon Spritz
Credit: Amazon

PackIt changed the lunch box game when they introduced their freezable bag design that is meant to keep food cool for hours and hours. Inside each wall of the PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag is the company's non-toxic freezable gel. That means you don't have to worry about losing ice inserts again!

Freeze the entire bag (not the food, of course) for 12 hours or more to get the gel frozen solid. Then, take it out, pack it up, and send it with your kids, your partner, or even yourself. All day, the frozen walls and zip-top closure will keep the interior of the bag cold, as well as the food, so you can feel confident packing most food types in this lunch bag. (Some people even use it to carry drinks for kids' games or outdoor concerts.)

When the bag is thawed out, it's easy to roll up for storage. It's also made with a PVC-, BPA-, phthalate-, and lead-free material that's easy to wipe down for cleaning. More than 5,550 Amazon reviewers have tried and loved this freezable lunch bag.

One writes, "My husband loves this lunch bag! It keeps his water bottle and lunch cold from the time I load it at 7am until 12:30 to 12:45pm. He did notice the cooler bag is pretty warm at 5 or 5:30 when he grabs his snack for the drive home, however. I suggested he toss the bag in the freezer after lunch."

Buy It: PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag, $20; Amazon or Bed Bath & Beyond

Best Hard Case Lunch Box: Hydro Flask Insulated Lunch Box

Hydro Flask LBS250 Lunch Box
Credit: Amazon

If you love Hydro Flask water bottles, you'll love the company's lunch boxes. These insulated hard case lunch boxes feature the same quality material and double-layered interior as the larger coolers and cooler bags. They're just shrunken down to a small case that's easy for kids (and adults) to carry. The hard shell case also protects the food inside if you're cramming this into a desk drawer or locker. And if it gets messy, it's all easy to wipe down, inside and out, with a wet cloth and gentle cleaner.

These compact cubes are perfect for road trips, too, especially if you're traveling with multiple children and want to keep their food separate. They keep the peace and keep snacks and drinks easily within reach. 

One Hydro Flask customer writes, "My husband uses this lunch box for work and he loves it. It has plenty of space for his meal, drink, and extra snacks. It is insulated very well and keeps everything cool for hours. The design is great too, because it's a neutral color and the shape makes it easy to carry and store."

Buy It: Hydro Flask Insulated Lunch Box, $55; Amazon or Hydro Flask

Best Budget Option: Fulton Bag Co. Dual Compartment Lunch Bag

Fulton Bag Co. Dual Compartment Lunch Bag
Credit: Target

If the prices on these lunch boxes have been a bit too high for something you fear your kid (or you) might lose at work or school, this budget option is the one for you. This Fulton Bag. Co. lunch bag caught our eye as it features two separate compartments perfect for storing items that should be kept cold away from ones that don't need the temperature control. Need to carry a tall item like a Thermos or bottle of water, you can unzip the divider, and it will fit perfectly.

This lunch bag too is made with Microban, to help prevent bacterial odors and stains , and the interior and exterior are both easy to clean with a spot treatment. A swing clip handle opens up so you can wrap the handle around a bookbag or office bag so you don't have to occupy another hand with this tote. So for $10, you're getting so many of the same benefits as more expensive options on this list.

"I love my lunchbox ! I get so many compliments in the office. I also got my husband the black one to match. Very spacious and good quality," writes one happy Target customer.

Buy It: Fulton Bag Co. Dual Compartment Lunch Bag, $10; Target or Amazon

Best Lunch Box Surprise: Lunch Notes From Me! Riddles & Giggles    

Lunch Notes From Me! Riddles & Giggle
Credit: Amazon

Make your kid's lunch extra special with a surprise note. It's a great way to let your kiddo know that you're thinking of them during the day. If you don't have time to write a note, slip in one of these lunch notes from Amazon. Each card features a funny joke and a riddle to solve. 

Buy It: Lunch Notes From Me! Riddles & Giggles, $3; Amazon 

Neon Talk Bubble Sticky Notes

4A Shapes Sticky Notes
Credit: Amazon

Lunch notes aren't just for kids! Make your significant other smile with a packed lunch complete with a surprise message. These talk bubble sticky notes are perfect for jotting down a funny joke or sweet note. 

Buy It: Neon Talk Bubble Sticky Notes, $7; Amazon 

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