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The best lunch boxes for adults

Whether you’re looking for a basic plastic box for storing your sarnies, a bento box with lots of compartments or a trusty leakproof container for transferring liquids, we’ve found you the best lunch boxes to buy this year.

By Gemma Wilcock | Last updated Aug 19, 2021

Packed lunch boxes with food

Ever got to work and opened your bag only to find your salad dressing has leaked all over your things? While there’s plenty of options for lunch boxes out there, some are a lot better than others at keeping your food fresh and intact.

These days, lunch boxes are no longer just a plastic box with a lid (although these are still very handy). They can now help you with portion control, offer extra layers and compartments for storing food and snacks, and come with a secure lid to ensure any sauces or liquids don’t end up dousing your favourite handbag. 

Lunch boxes come in a variety of materials, sizes and designs - from eco-friendly bamboo offerings and large bento boxes to budget-friendly plastic containers. 

To help you whittle down which one you need, we’ve researched the best lunch boxes currently on the market for adults (if you need one for your child, we’ve got the best kids' lunch boxes covered too) and scoured the Mumsnet forums for tried-and-tested recommendations. 

Here are the 10 best lunch boxes you can buy right now.

1. Best overall lunch box: Black + Blum Original Lunch Box

Black and Blum Original Lunch Box

Price: From £14.96 | Buy now from Amazon

“[My] lunchbox is by Black + Blum - yes expensive, but makes homemade lunch appealing.” gerbo

When it comes to lunch boxes, Black + Blum offers top quality, award-winning designs. Their Original Lunch Box is a redesign of their Box Appetit and has everything you could need for a tasty packed lunch.

The main compartment can be used for storing a sandwich, salad or last night’s leftovers, a leakproof sauce pot and a removable inner dish for storing a day’s worth of snacks. The box comes with a fork which can be stored inside or clipped to the outside of the box. 

Made from stainless steel, BPA-free plastic and a silicone seal, the box is leakproof to prevent any sauces escaping and, to top it off, you can use it in the microwave (without the lid), as well as the dishwasher and freezer. 

Key specs 

  •     Material: Plastic and silicone
  •     Capacity: 1L
  •     Weight: 510g  

2. Best budget lunch box: Lock & Lock Rectangular Storage

Lock & Lock 550ml Lunch Box

Price: £3.50 | Buy now from Amazon

“Lock & Lock are the best in my experience (I work in a kitchenware shop).” Hannahthepink

If you simply want a trusty box that will safely store your leftovers, you can’t go wrong with Lock & Lock. While they’re much more basic that the other products on our list, they’re easy to clean, sturdy and most importantly leakproof.

As the boxes don’t come with different compartments, they’re best used for storing one type of food such as a salad, leftovers or a sandwich. The Lock & Lock boxes come with a four-sided lockable lid for 100 percent airtight storage and are made from BPA-free plastic. 

Available to buy in various sizes, they are freezer-, microwave- and dishwasher-safe, and Mumsnetters simply can’t get enough of them. 

Key specs

  •     Material: Plastic
  •     Capacity: 550ml (other sizes available)
  •     Weight: 130g

3. Best bento lunch box: Mepal Take a Break Large Bento Box

Mepal Large Bento Box

Price: £12.89 | Buy now from Amazon

“We like Mepal bento boxes. They look stylish too.” Ricekrispie22

Bento boxes have become popular in recent years as you can fit your lunch and snacks in the same box using different compartments, and Mepal’s Take a Break Large Bento Box manages to be both stylish and functional. 

The rectangular box can be bought in a range of fun colours and has two removable inserts for separating different types of food, as well as a little fork for eating your lunch on the go. The trays are BPA-free, can be put in the microwave and are also dishwasher-safe. 

Key specs

  •     Material: Plastic 
  •     Capacity: 1.5L
  •     Weight: 559g

4. Best insulated lunch box for hot food: Mepal Ellipse Insulated Lunchpot

Mepal Ellipse Thermal Lunch Pot

Price: From £24.32  | Buy now from Amazon

If you have some tasty leftovers you want to take to work, Mepal’s Ellipse Insulated Lunchpot will keep your curries, stews and soups warm for up to eight hours. 

The leakproof pot can also keep food cold for 12 hours. It has two different compartments – one 500ml and one 200ml - so you can take two ingredients separately and is double-walled for holding the temperature, while the outer shell stays dry and cool. 

The Ellipse comes in a range of fun colours and is also 100 percent leakproof - so hot soup will stay firmly inside the pot rather than spill all over your bag.

Key specs

  •     Material: Plastic and stainless steel
  •     Capacity: 500ml + 200ml
  •     Weight: 400g

5. Best large lunch box: Umami Original Bento Box

Umami Original Bento Box

Price: £29.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“…More expensive than others but 100 percent leak proof and good compartment sizes.” Aqua2468

For those of us who like to snack regularly, the Umami Original Bento Box comes with two tiers for packing plenty of food to last a whole day. 

The two 600ml compartments come with a sauce container and movable dividers for keeping food separate or helping with portion control. There’s also cutlery for lunches on the go.

Available in multiple modern colours and designs, it has been made with a silicone seal to ensure there are no leakages and an elastic band for holding the two compartments together. The Umami Bento Box can go in the dishwasher, microwave and freezer, and is made from recyclable plastic, which is BPA- and BPS-free.

Key specs 

  •     Material: Plastic
  •     Size: 1.2L
  •     Weight: 420g 

6. Best stainless steel lunch box for office: Black + Blum Stainless Steel Lunch Box

Black and Blum Stainless Steel Lunch Box

Price: From £23.86 | Buy now from Amazon

This box from Black + Blum is plastic-free and kinder to the environment than plastic alternatives, as well as being multi-functional. Made from stainless steel, it’s been designed so you can use it to securely hold your lunch, cook dishes in the oven, and store food in the freezer. It’s also dishwasher-friendly (apart from the lid and strap) so there’s no having to worry about scrubbing off your old lunch. 

While the box is pricey, it’s very versatile, with a removable divider to keep your food separate, and a vacuum valve and a BPA-free silicone strap to prevent any spillages. We also like that it comes with a stainless steel fork. 

Key specs

  •     Material: Stainless steel and silicone strap
  •     Capacity: 1L
  •     Weight: 460g

7. Best eco-friendly lunch box: BamBox Bamboo Lunch Box/Bento Box

BamBox Bamboo Lunch Box

Price: From £13.99 | Buy now from Amazon

The BamBox is made from natural bamboo, which is biodegradable and one of the fastest growing plants.

The lid comes with a silicone seal for keeping food fresh and preventing leakage (although BamBox don’t recommend storing liquids), and the box is secured with a fabric strap. We love the modern design which is available in a range of colours.

Although the lunch box is not as versatile as other bento boxes and it can’t be used in the microwave or dishwasher, we love that for every lunch box sold BamBox donates 25p to Friends of the Earth.

Key specs

  •     Material: Bamboo
  •     Capacity: 1.1L
  •     Weight: 470g

8. Best salad lunch box: Sistema To Go Salad Box

Sistema Salad Lunch Box

Price: £4.99 | Buy now from Amazon

"I bought a Sistema salad box which helps keep the salad leaves fresh and then you mix all the salad come lunchtime.” ThisMustBeMyDream

Sistema are well-known for making all kinds of reusable products for storing food and drinks, and come well recommended by Mumsnetters. Their BPA-free plastic To Go Salad Box has been designed with multiple compartments to help keep your ingredients fresh and unscathed.

The top tray is removable and securely holds plastic cutlery and a pot for storing your salad dressing, while the bottom compartment houses your salad. The lid has a flexible seal and clips for locking it down to prevent any leaks – and it comes at an affordable price too. 

Key specs 

  •     Material: Plastic
  •     Capacity: 1.1L
  •     Weight: 180g

9. Best lunch box cooler bag: Lifewit 7L Dual Compartment Insulated Lunch Bag

lifewit lunch bag

Price: £9.99 | Buy now from Amazon

For long days out, the Lifewit 7L Dual Compartment Insulated Lunch Bag comes with two sections for keeping hot and cold food fresh at all times. 

The fabric of the bag is water-resistant and durable, and the inside is thermal-lined. The two compartments can fit up to seven litres combined – that’s plenty of snacks and drinks for a day at work or a picnic! The zip opens wide for easy access and there’s a padded handle and shoulder strap with three modes to make it easy to carry too.

Key specs

  •     Material: Fabric
  •     Capacity: 7L
  •     Weight: 300g 

10. Best leakproof lunch box: Yumbox Panino Lunch Box

Yumbox Panino Lunch Box

Price: £25.95 | Buy now from Amazon

“Yumbox. Ours have been going strong for six years.” Feminist10101 

Thanks to the colourful designs, multiple compartments and range of different sizes, Yumbox lunch boxes are a hit with children – however, adults love them too.

The Panino is Yumbox’s medium container with four separate sections for holding a sandwich or salad, sides and a dip, and a moulded silicone lid to make the box leakproof.

It’s great for packing a variety of foods for the day and the sections can help with portion control. The box is compact enough to fit in a lunch bag and comes in a range of fun, colourful designs. Bigger Tapas boxes are also available for larger lunches. 

Key specs 

  •     Material: Plastic and silicone
  •     Capacity: around 900ml
  •     Weight: 490g

How do I choose the best lunch box?  

Closure 

To prevent any unfortunate spills or soggy backpacks, make sure your lunch box has a lid that locks and  a secure seal to ensure it’s leakproof. Some boxes come with a vacuum seal or valve.

Compartments 

If you want a lunch box that will keep your sandwich separate from your fruit and snacks, bento boxes come with different compartments and tiers for separating food groups. This can also help with portion control. 

Transportation

Do you want to be able to easily carry your lunchbox to work? If so, look for a lunch bag that comes with handles and is insulated for keeping your food fresh. Choose from practical totes to stylish handbag designs.

Insulation

If you want a change from taking a sandwich or salad to work every day, thermal flasks can keep hot foods like soups, pasta dishes and stews warm for up to around 12 hours. You can also use them for keeping yoghurts cool.

Storage

For those of us who have an overflowing Tupperware cupboard or are short on shelf space, look for lunch boxes that stack for easy storage.

Cleaning

Think about how easily your lunch box can be cleaned. If you plan to use the box regularly, it may be worth looking for a container that’s dishwasher-friendly.  

What is the best lunch box material?  

  • Plastic – these lunch boxes tend to be the most affordable. Made from polypropylene plastic, they are durable and dishwasher-, microwave- and freezer-safe. They can stain though and will wear over time. Make sure to look out for lunch boxes that are BPA-free.
  • Bamboo – to reduce the amount of plastic around your home, bamboo is a good plastic alternative as it’s eco-friendly, lightweight and affordable. Bamboo isn’t as durable as plastic though and isn’t as leakproof as other materials so this type of lunch box also tends to be handwash only.
  • Silicone – boxes or lids that are made from silicone are good for preventing leakages. Silicone isn’t as durable as plastic but it’s more eco-friendly.    
  • Glass – glass lunch boxes are the more expensive option and better suited for storing leftovers or meal prep at home. They don’t stain easily though or give off any odours and are easy to clean.
  • Stainless steel – stainless steel is the best material for lunch boxes as it’s odour-free, doesn’t stain and is very durable. These types of lunch boxes are also easy to clean, non-toxic and a good eco-friendly option. 

What is the best insulated lunch box for adults? 

If you want to keep hot and cold foods at the right temperature, we think the best insulated lunch box is the Mepal Ellipse Insulated Lunchpot. It has two compartments for storing hot and cold foods separately and will keep food hot for up to eight hours - so you can heat your soup, stew or curry up in the morning and it will still be hot at lunchtime.   

What is the best lunch box for adults?

The Black + Blum Original Lunch Box is the best lunch box for adults. It’s made from high quality materials, with two compartments for storing different foods and a saucepot. It comes with a fork, is 100 percent leakproof and is also microwave-, dishwasher- and freezer-safe.

How we chose our recommendations 

Most of our recommendations for lunch boxes came from Mumsnet users themselves. We searched the Mumsnet forums for posts about which lunch boxes Mumsnetters really rated. We also researched various review sites to find out which lunch boxes performed well across the board. 

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.