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10 of the best kids’ lunch boxes and bags

Stocking up on back-to-school supplies for the new term? Kids will be proud as punch to show off their snacks in one of these top lunch boxes.

By Carol Linfield | Last updated Oct 4, 2021

Kids lunch boxes

When presenting on-the-go snacks to little lunchers, nothing short of perfect will do. How many times have you witnessed tiny hands raid the biscuit tin until they find one that hasn’t crumbled away at the edges or broken in-half? That’s why a good lunch box is worth its weight in gold. As well as keeping tasty treats in perfect form, it will help to keep food fresher for longer.  

From lunch bags to Superhero-emblazoned boxes to old-fashioned tins and modern Bento boxes, there are styles out there to suit everyone. We’ve collated a selection of the best options including recommendations from the Mumsnet forums to help narrow down your search. 

If you’re a packed lunch newbie, the NHS Change4Life website is full of inspiring lunch box recipes and tips to help you pack a braver lunch box, plus invaluable advice on portion size and maintaining a healthy weight in children. 

Whether you’re looking for a lunch box for nursery or school, a treat day out or a summer picnic with friends, we’ll have you packed and ready to go with our recommendations below. 

Here are the best lunch boxes and lunch bags to buy in 2021.

1. Best overall kids' lunch box: Sophie Allport Space Kids Lunch Box

Sophie Allport kids lunch box

Price: £10 | Buy now from Sophie Allport

Made from 70% bamboo, Sophie Allport’s Space Lunch Box is a great option for those wanting to steer away from single-use plastic. And its cute design is perfect for mini space enthusiasts. We love the elasticated woven band that will keep lunch fresh and contained in the event of a sudden dash to the school gates. It’s lightweight but pretty sturdy so it will withstand the dishwasher well. Size wise, it will fit in most school bags and can easily stash the necessary lunch items – think sandwich, fruit and a small yoghurt. It scores top marks from us for its gorgeous space design and for being practical. 

Key specs

  • Size range: 18.5cm x 12.5cm x 6.5cm 
  • Material: Bamboo
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes (top shelf only)

2. Best budget kids’ lunch box: Sistema Lunch Slimline Quaddie

Sistema Slimline Quaddie lunch box

Price: £7 | Buy now from Amazon

"My kids have Sistema boxes, with different compartments. They're easy to wash or stick in the dishwasher. Just carry them in a plastic bag, or inside a book bag if you like a handle" - Taffeta 

"Sistema is a good brand" - AugustAngst

According to Mumsnet users, you can’t go wrong with Sistema boxes. This smaller, Sistema lunch box is BPA-free and comes with a clip-locking system to stop leakage and features four different compartments of different sizes so you can get organised. At less than £7, it’s extremely affordable. It might even be worth stocking up and buying a few if your child is prone to losing things. It’s cheap and reliable and even comes with a 275ml water bottle. It's also safe for use in the dishwasher, microwave, fridge and freezer.

Key specs

  • Size range: 23cm x 16.2cm x 9.6cm
  • Material: Plastic
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes (top shelf only)

3. Best bento box for kids: Sistema Bento Box TO GO 1.65L

Sistema bento box

Price: £7 | Buy now from Amazon

"DS school has requested a small school bag only and this fits along with a drinks bottle inside his school bag" - GigantosaurusRex

"Hard plastic ones are better as you can clean them properly/put them in the dishwasher" - AugustAngst

This Sistema box comes highly recommended for those who prioritise portion control. It also comes with a seal-tight yoghurt pot, which is great news for those opting to buy the bigger yoghurt pots without dread of a serious spillage. You can fill it with hummus without worry too (we promise) and it works well for delicate fruit options that kids often favour, like raspberries and blueberries, so should pass their beady inspection. You can choose from dozens of bright colour options and pop it in the dishwasher, microwave, and fridge at your convenience.  

Key specs

  • Size range: 21.9cm x 18.6 x 7.7cm
  • Material: Plastic 
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes

4. Best cool lunch box for kids: PackIt Freezable and Foldable Lunch Food Cooling Bag

Packit kids lunch box

Price: £25 | Buy now from Amazon

The built-in gel liner in this freezable lunch bag will keep your nibbles cold for over five hours. It’s impressively spacious too and comes in several colourful and vibrant patterns. It also has a long strap for easy carrying. For all its brilliant features, this bag will lose a few points for playground cred. If you have a trend-setting youngster on your hands, then this is probably not the option for you. However, for long stints in the car and days out with the family, this is definitely a bag you can rely on. A worthy investment in our eyes, but one you will almost certainly have to carry. 

Key specs

  • Size range: 21.8cm x 12.7cm x 25.4cm
  • Material: Fabric 
  • Dishwasher safe: No

5. Best kids lunch bag: Joules Munch Lunch Bag

Joules kids lunch box

Price: £15 | Buy now from Joules

"Mine have only ever had bags and we have had no problems - I wipe them every day after school, I have never needed to wash them though, I buy a new one every year" - Yurtgirl 

Lunch bags score highly with Mumsnet users for their easy-to-keep clean, wipe-down design and this munch bag by Joules is no exception. It comes in three nifty designs and is a strong contender for the daily school run – kids should be able to transport it back and forth with minimal fuss. A sandwich or wrap can be stored in its aptly-sized plastic container to help eliminate transporting spillages. Although a good option for school, it is missing a drinks bottle holder on the side so a more fitting option for bigger hands who have mastered carrying their belongings. Its name label should stop any playground disputes. 

Key specs

  • Size range: 19cm x 18cm x 12cm
  • Material: 100% polyester polyurethane coated
  • Dishwasher safe: No

6. Best character kids’ lunch box: Children's Kids Character Lunch Bag Set

Paw Patrol character lunch box

Price: £12 | Buy now from Amazon

This affordable, character-themed lunch bag comes in a range of designs to suit your little one’s most-loved TV show and film characters. You’ll also get a separate sandwich box and a water bottle thrown in for the very reasonable price. Aimed at younger children, this soft lunch box will be the envy of fellow nursery kids and help keep fidgety bums still when dining. It will also help preschoolers take charge of their own lunch as they can zip open and close single handedly. It’s a fun option but with a limited shelf life as kids move on to their new favourites pretty quickly and often don’t look back. We’re thinking of Woody in Toy Story – we’ll say no more. It’s easily kept clean with a damp cloth. 

Key specs

  • Size range: 22cm x 20cm x 7cm
  • Material: Polyester with a PVC front 
  • Dishwasher safe: No

7. Best insulated lunch bag for kids: Insulated Children's Lunch Bag - Choice of Design

Colourful Creatures insulated lunch box

Price: £4 | Buy now from Amazon

"Loads of different designs available and ours have been very hard-wearing. Don't come with ice-packs but easy to buy slim ones separately" - blueberryporridge

"I like the squishy sort for being insulating and not having hinges and clips that break when they are dropped" - erin99

Insulated lunch bags score highly with Mumsnetters because they don’t have clips or hinges that can break when they inevitably get dropped. This Colourful Creations bag fits the bill and boasts some nice eco credentials to boot as the exterior is made from recycled plastic bottles. It’s foldable when empty and is super lightweight. This gorgeous, animal-themed lunch bag offers two options and is foil-lined and insulated so its contents will be kept cool until lunchtime. You can fit a sandwich, a couple of snack boxes, fruit and a small drink inside. Priced at under a fiver, what’s not to like? 

Key specs

  • Size range: 20cm x 14cm x 15cm
  • Material: Plastic, foil, nylon, recycled
  • Dishwasher safe: No

8. Best leak-proof lunch box for kids: Yumbox Classic Leakproof Bento Lunch Box Container

Yumbox classic lunch box

Price: £25 | Buy now from Amazon

"I bought a Yumbox for myself and it's one of my favourite ever purchases. I absolutely love it, easy to clean and the little compartments seal when you close the lid so you can put dressings etc in there without leakage into the other sections. Well worth the money" - Huffletuff

The Yumbox is a hardy lunch box with four sealed compartments that help cater for little palettes' natural eating habits. We know that mini mitts like to delve into a variety of colourful food options and the Yumbox allows the presentation of different foods at pint-sized, healthy portions. Suited to children of all ages, it’s impressively compact, leakproof and BPA-free. Each item has its place and there is zero mixing - ideal for confidently packing yogurts and dips. The transparent insert is removable and dishwasher-safe. Younger children will be able to open its latch in one smooth move and impress their friends in the dining hall with its colourful hip tray design. There are six brightly coloured options – we were dazzled by dreamy purple and misty aqua. 

Key specs

  • Size range: 21.5cm x 16 x 4.5cm
  • Material: Sturdy ABS (outer box), tritan(tray) and silicone (seal)
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes

9. Best stainless-steel lunch box for kids: Skip Hop Zoo Stainless Steel Lunch Kit

Skip Hop Zoo stainless steel lunch box

This stainless-steel lunch box will help the kids organise their lunch in no time. It includes two stackable containers that simply sit on top of each other with plastic clips and snap shut. The hinged lid keeps leaks at bay and there are seven adorable animal designs to choose from – we love the dino and llama options. We’re sold on the kit’s design, its compactness and it’s dishwasher friendly to boot. The design will appeal to young kids but tiny fingers may find the clips a challenge. Children aged three onwards should manage it relatively easily.  

Key specs

  • Size range: 17.1cm x 13.3cm x 5.7 cm
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes

10. Best personalised lunch box for kids: FRINGOO Personalised Kids Lunch Bag 

Fringoo personalised lunch box

A personalised lunch carrier is bound to get the seal of approval and is a great choice if your child needs an incentive to look after it. Fashion forward kids will love choosing from 11 funky designs and all interests are covered, from football to unicorns to French dogs. It’s durable, almost break proof, fully insulated and has a drink bottle holder. It’s big enough to fit all lunch necessities in plus extra snacks. 

Key specs

  • Size range: 21cm x 20cm x 9cm
  • Material: Polyester
  • Dishwasher safe: No

How to choose the best kids’ lunch box 

When choosing a kids’ lunch box, it’s worth thinking about the following:

  • Closure: It’s important to go for a lunch box that’s leakproof. Small fingers are often distracted so there’s little time to think about pending explosions. Look out for a box that locks or offers a sturdy closure.
  • Safety: Ensure the lunch box is BPA-free so food can be safely stored inside. It’s also important that hinges are set correctly to avoid any nasty finger pinches.
  • Transportation: If your child likes to carry their own lunch box, look out for one with a handle, ideally with a water bottle holder too. The lunch box should fit in their backpack with plenty of room to spare.
  • Resilience: Be sure to get lunch boxes that can stand the test of time and survive frequent dropping. It’s also much more cost-effective (and environmentally friendly) to invest in a box that cleans up well and can stand being crammed into tight cupboards.
  • Functional: Check the number of compartments and work out if it’s enough to suit your needs. You also need to ensure that smaller children can open and close their own lunch box with ease. Many fun, character-based boxes tick the boxes for both function and fashion.
  • Storage: Lunch boxes come in all shapes and sizes, but storing them can get problematic if you are hoarding too much Tupperware. Keep an eye out for stackable options – they could free up space in your kitchen if you need it.
  • Easy to clean: A good lunch box is easy to clean. Think about your cleaning preferences, many lunch bags are not suitable for the dishwasher and require wipe-down maintenance. If you prefer to bung things in the dishwasher and forget about them, stainless steel and Bento boxes are reliable choices.

What’s a good size for a kids’ lunch box?

The size of the lunch box will be dependent on how much food you’re planning to pack – work this out first. If you prefer boxes that have divided compartments, plan out which items you’re most likely to stash to ensure they’re going to fit. A good size lunch box will fit all the core lunch items.

What should be in a kids’ lunch box?

NHS guidelines suggest that a balanced lunch box will contain something from each of the following groups:  

  • A starchy food such as bread, pasta or rice  
  • A protein source such as meat, fish, or egg 
  • A source of calcium such as yoghurt, cheese or milk  
  • Fresh vegetables or salad
  • Fruit (including fresh fruit juice and dried fruit)

What is the best kids’ lunch box to buy? 

Sophie Allport’s Space Kids Lunch Box is our overall winner. It’s practical, lightweight, secure and can hold a sandwich or a wrap plus a few key snacks.  It’s fantastic value at under a tenner and it will fit in a backpack with plenty of room to spare. We love the striking space design and that it’s made from bamboo. It will also appeal to many ages as kids are pretty fascinated by space at any age. 

How did we choose our recommendations?

Because we know that there’s nothing like a real recommendation, we first headed to the Mumsnet forums to find out which kids’ lunch boxes parents were recommending and had bought. We then did some research across the wider web, looking at which kids’ lunch boxes had been featured in ‘best buy’ lists across websites, and what customer reviews said about them. Having collated all that information, we then narrowed our list down to the top 10 kids’ lunch boxes on the market. 

Why you should trust us?

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.