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, here are the best of the best. These lunch boxes will last, are easy to clean, and have a range of price points to fit your budget.
Kids Lunch Box
I’ve been packing toddler lunches and big kid lunches for at least one of my three kids for almost 10 years, and I’ve learned a lot about what makes a great lunch box. It comes down to the material you prefer, ease 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 so you can make the most out of your purchase.
The lunchboxes here have been vetted by real kids (and parents) in real life and have been tested for an entire year of school lunches (or more) to ensure they hold up to normal kid usage.
I hope that these reviews help you decide which might be the best container to use for your baby, toddler, or elementary-aged kiddo.
(I have a whole separate post on baby lunch boxes, too.)
Best Little Kids Lunch Box: Easy Lunchboxes Snack Boxes
Perfectly size for a toddler lunch, this affordable set of 4 is made of BPA-free plastic. They nest for easy storage, and the top and bottom are easy to wash. The bento-box-style compartments are perfectly sized for toddlers, and they are incredibly handy for packing multiple lunches at once—or for traveling!
(This is also a great baby lunch box or a snack container for kids.)
Best for: Toddler lunches that don’t need to be reheated, making multiple lunches at once (since you get a set of 4)
Price: Under $13 for a set of 4
Best Affordable School Lunch Box: Easy Lunchboxes
These heavy-duty BPA-free plastic lunch boxes 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 1-year-old—so I like these for age 4 and up.
They’re great for kindergarten lunches.
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: Under $14 for a set of 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!
Best Insulated Bento Box: OmieBox Bento Box
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, for example.
And on days when you don’t need the insulated part, you can simply remove it and pack a sandwich or whatever bento-box-style lunch you’d like to put there.
Best for: Packing lunches with some warm food and some cold food, all in one box.
Price: About $45
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.
Best Leakproof Lunchbox: Bentgo
These come in the cutest designs, have handy compartments to make packing lunches easy, and are super simple to wash—the divided insert is removable! They also come with a 2-year warranty, which I love as reassurance that you’re getting your money’s worth.
Everyone from my toddler to my oldest elementary-age kiddo loves this box. They even have a model that fits an ice pack so the lunch box stays cold.
Best for: Packing a mix of foods together in one easy container.
Price: About $30
TIP: The brand makes lunch bags, too, which is handy if you’re needing to send lunch with an ice pack to keep it cool.
Best Insulated Kids Thermos: Lunchbots 8-Ounce Thermos
This small insulated thermos is perfect for pasta, soup, oatmeal, pizza rolls, rice and beans, and more. I know everyone always thinks 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.
Price: About $25
TIP: This is available in 8-, 12-, and 16-ounce sizes so you can choose the one that works for your kids.
Best Stainless-Steel Lunch Box for Baby and 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 weigh down a backpack or bag.
Best for: Packing little kid lunches or snacks for on the go. This is a great baby lunch box, too.
Price: About $30
Best Stainless-Steel Lunchbox for Big Kids: Planetbox Rover
I find these popular lunch boxes to be too heavy for little kids, but if you’re looking for a stainless-steel lunch box 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 as far as the cost goes, but it’s one you’ll have to make only once.
Best for: Elementary-age kids wanting a plastic-free lunch box that will last
Price: About $60
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
You really only need one per child, 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.
Yes, though I usually hand wash them since we use them frequently.
It depends on his age but the Easy Lunchboxes Snack Box and the Lunchbots 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 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-age 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 with all of the ideas!
- 25 Toddler Lunch Ideas for Daycare
- 80 Healthy Lunch Ideas
- 50 Healthy Recipes for Lunch
- How to Meal Prep for Lunch
- 15 Easy Bento Box Lunches
- 10 Easy N0-Cook School Lunches
TIP: If you need a lunch bag to keep your packed lunch cool, check out this post with my picks.
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.
What is the best way to keep these cool? Is there a recommended insulated lunch box that fits the real easy lunchboxes?
All of these insulated bags except the Skip Hop one work well with the Easy Lunchboxes: https://www.yummytoddlerfood.com/best-insulated-lunch-bags-for-kids/ Just add an ice pack and you’re good to go.
Hello! Do you have any advice for a JK kid who has 2 nutrition breaks? We pack 2 lunchboxes right now, but it seems so heavy and bulky. Thanks!
Depending on which foods you’re packing, you could do one larger lunchbox with everything in it or one lunchbox and two snack containers or a few snack containers. Or two of the Easy Lunchboxes or Lunchbots Trios would be smaller and less bulky than a full size lunch box (and you could use them for years for regular lunches after)
Hi, I’m trying to figure out which lunchbox (and snack containers) will be easiest for my 3 year-old to open by himself. I don’t need it to be insulated. Do you have advice on this? Thanks!
The Bentgo one is pretty easy to open and it is fairly leakproof in our experience so you have a range of options with what to pack. The lunchbots one is super easy to open but it is not leakproof so no wet things like applesauce or fruit cup or yogurt would work in it. I’d practice at home with him, but my 2 year old can unlatch the Bentgo and just needs some help remembering where to put his hands so it stays flat when he opens the rest (that’s hard to explain but I hope it helps!)
I love lunch boxes and love seeing the designs on them for the children to choose from. Thank you for this list of lunch boxes.
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Any experience with Bentgo boxes?
Not personally but I have heard good things!
Try these 9 innovative and healthy lunchbox ideas to make lunch-packing a pleasurable and fun-filled exercise!
In preparation for preschool, I just posed this question to a group of FB friends. Everyone uses the Pottery Barn lunchbags with inserts. I wonder how they are…. Ditto the bento boxes like Yumbox. We have and like the Lunchbots now, though I wish the lid was hinged, too. This school is weirdly glass-free (but they reheat on regular plates). I just want to find the one perfect thing and use it forever….!
Interesting. I don’t know anyone who uses the Pottery Barn one, though it looks a lot like a regular Planet Box. Do they actually serve the food on plates at the school? Meaning that she doesn’t eat out of the lunchbox? If you just need something to get the food to school, I’d probably go with the Easy Lunchboxes since they are affordable and durable…I would think that she’d have a lot of feelings about the bag that lunchbox goes in once she gets to elementary school, so I’m not sure I’d place too much emphasis on that aspect at this point.
They take the food out, reheat on china, and put it back in the original receptacle. Haha, whatever happened to tinfoil and saran wrap, ya know? I want a system! LOL.