Ahh, the lunch box: the quintessential accessory that every kid needs in order to enjoy a homemade lunch at school. If there’s one area that’s undergone a silent renaissance, it’s the lunch bag. Don’t believe us? You will, dear reader, you will…
If you went to school in the ‘80s or ‘90s, you probably took one of two types of container for your lunch: the stereotypical lunch box, in all it’s hard-shelled glory, or the slightly-less-glorified lunch bag, which usually sported some kind of wacky design featuring the latest boy-band heartthrobs or cartoon characters.
In 2017, these essential but often-overlooked items are worlds apart from where they used to be. Today, most are well-insulated, made from sustainable materials, and designed to make eating lunches at school cool again.
What’s here: We scoured Amazon for the top-rated insulated lunch bags and boxes to help our readers find the best options for their kids back to school needs. Our focus is on value: considering price vs performance and longevity.
OmieBox Bento Lunch Box
Pinnacle Insulated Leak Proof Lunch Box
Mr.Dakai Stainless Steel Insulated Square Lunch Box
Ospard Stainless Steel Insulated Lunch Box
Ozeri FS3-BL Thermomax Stackable Lunch Box
KOSOX Insulated Lunch Bag (With Shoulder Strap)
Lifewit Insulated Lunch Bag
MIER Dual Compartment Insulated Lunch Box Bag
Goldwheat Waterproof Lunch Tote Insulated Lunch Bag
OUO Lunch Bag Lunch Box Tote Bag
The breakdown: we’ve sorted this top-10 into two top-5’s: five boxes and five bags. Check ‘em out below!
Our Picks: The 5 Best Insulated Lunch Boxes
Our first pick is a lunch box clearly designed from the ground up for kids. Available in three colors – blue, green, and pink – this bento-box style lunch box is a technological powerhouse (really!). Among its best features include its dual zone insulation, allowing you to send your child to school with both hot and cold items.
It’s double walled insulation is a real performer, keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold- perfect for keeping fresh fruits and veggies from losing their crispness. Of course, it’s made from food safe plastics that are BPA-free.
This lunch box was a result of an enormously successful kickstarter campaign and has proven itself to be a great value. Ringing in at a tad under $40, it’s not the least expensive option out there, but we feel that its longevity and hot/cold performance make it worth every penny.
This two-pack delivers a fantastic value. Priced at $22 for a set of two, these lunch boxes are perfect for those with a large family. Their tough hard-shell exterior protects their contents from the rigors of the daily backpack grind.
Available in three color sets – blue/pink, blue/green, and green/yellow – we like the functionality that was thoughtfully built into these boxes. Their high performance insulation is great for trips to school (or the office): they’ll keep hot foot warm for up to 4 hours, and cold food cool for up to 6 hours.
Made from BPA-free materials, and featuring a heat-release valve, these inexpensive lunch boxes are a great addition to any school bag.
Our next pick does away with fancy features and instead focuses on the essentials. The lid features an integrated cutlery storage container, ensuring your kids always have the tools they need to enjoy their lunch (and it comes pre-loaded with a plastic spoon). The rubber sealing ring is high quality and helps prevent leaks and spills.
Available in three colors – blue, yellow, and pink – one of the best features of this lunch box is that it comes in a multi-tier design: stack them on top of each other for a compact, portable, and convenient way to store a lot of food. It also makes storage at home super space efficient.
In terms of performance, this lunch box boasts the ability to keep hot food warm for up to 3 hours, and it can store nearly a full liter of food in the first tier. The best part? The first-tier is only $16, or you can grab a two-tier set for just $22. That’s good value
Our next pick moves away from the traditional “box” shape for a lunch box and instead delivers a novel design that is not only functional, but pretty good looking too (never thought you’d read that about a lunch box, did you?). This stainless steel lunch box comes in three options: single-tier, double-tier, or triple-tier design.
The manufacturer touts the ability to keep food warm for up to 3 hours, but many reviews suggest it does even better than that! If you’re hot to trot and want to guarantee a hot meal, you can add an insulated carrying case to double-down on your insulated potential.
This lunch box is extremely well reviewed on Amazon, and for good reason. Highly recommended!
This double-wall insulated option rings in for a touch under $20, making it awesomely-affordable. This is one of the best picks for families with young kids, as its shatter-proof design is super tough (almost like the designers made sure it was ideal for kids).
Like some of the other options on our list, this lunch box is made from BPA-free materials. It’s also microwave safe and features a silicone valve to prevent microwave mishaps.
This unit is also stackable, making it easy to send your kids to class with a lot of food. It’s stackable nature also makes for easy storage, allowing you to maximize your space.
Pick it up in your choice of three colors: blue, green, or red.
Our Picks: 5 Best Insulated Lunch Bags
This lunch bag comes in six different styles, each sporting a snazzy design. Let your kids customize their lunch! Of course, a good lunch bag needs to do a lot more than just look good, and the KOSOX delivers where it counts.
At under $30 ($10 as of the time of this writing), this affordable option really delivers incredible value. We’re not the only ones who think so, too: out of 185 Amazon reviews, 85% are 4 or 5 stars– wow! It’s not hard to see why it’s so popular: it’s high-capacity design and easy-carry shoulder strap fold flat when not in use, and its excellent insulation helps keep food ready to go for hours.
As a bonus, the PEVA-lined interior is super easy to clean- an essential for the inevitable spills.
If Apple designed lunch bags, they’d probably look something like this. Sure, its all-grey styling isn’t the fanciest, but it’s form over function for this beauty.
It sports a ton of interior space – 9L to be precise – and can store enough food for two or three meals. That may be a bit much for a young child, but for a ravenous teen appetite, it fits the bill perfectly. Plus, it’s integrated external beverage pouch is perfect for storing both cans and bottles.
This bag is more of a bag/box hybrid, with an aluminum interior that is pretty strong and rugged. Combine incredible storage with an easy-to-carry handle and shoulder strap, and you’ve got the perfect solution for when you need to keep a lot of food safe and ready to eat.
Another lunch bag/box hybrid, this lightweight (but super tough) lunch bag is an affordable value-packed option that’s perfect for nearly everyone. The two-compartment design allows you to send your child with a full meal for the day, and the top-compartment is perfect for snacks and fruit.
Like all our picks, it’s made from BPA-free, food-safe materials to ensure the only thing your child receives when using it is the nutritious meal you’ve packed for them. It’s also very well built, using high-quality stitching and piping to ensure longevity and durability. Of course, the interior is designed for super-simple cleaning, too.
This beauty costs less than a couple of fast-food combo meals, and thanks to its thoughtful design and tough construction, it’s earned a great reputation on Amazon (4.3/5 stars averaging over 65 reviews).
Breaking away from lunch box/bag hybrids, we’ve picked a stylish (and feminine) lunch bag that is designed specifically for kids. Its tough construction uses heavy duty stitching and zippers to ensure that it lasts, and its interior is large enough for several storage containers and beverages– perfect for those long days at school.
The detachable shoulder strap makes for easy transportation, and the included clear interior liners detach easily (thanks, velcro!) making for easy cleaning, too. Being well insulated, it will keep the contents cool for several hours (or up to 20 hours if you throw in an ice pack). However, the single compartment design means that all the contents will be kept at the same temperature- take note if you want to send both hot and cold foods.
With over 105 Amazon reviews, and 90% of them 4 or 5 stars, you can feel confident in this investment. At under $20, it’s great value.
This compact lunch bag is among the smaller options on this list, with a storage capacity of 7.5L (our biggest pick, the KOSOX, is 9L). That’s perfect for a lunch, but you may find the space lacking if you want to send your child to school with an assortment of snacks, too. Despite the smaller storage, this is still a great unit.
It features a zippable storage pouch, perfect for a cell phone or other small electronics, and its stylish design means that you won’t have to worry about your child getting fussy about using it. We like the metal zipper since we know it will last longer, and we really like the stretchable material (so you can cram it full without worrying about having troubles closing it).
The best part about this bag might be its price: just $13 (with free shipping from Amazon Prime). As of the time of this writing, the OUO has 59 reviews, with 58 being 4 or 5 stars. It’s a hit- you’ll love it.