Our Buyer’s Guide of the best lunchboxes for school has been extensively researched by our team of experts to make your life just a little bit easier. If it were as easy as simply popping into your nearest store and buying a lunchbox for your child, life would be a breeze. But, through experience, we know in the world of young children, things don’t work as simple as that for various reasons.
That’s why the Cool Kid's Hub Team have undertaken the time-consuming research to save our busy moms from having to search through a confusing maze of products on the market.
Why All the Fuss About Buying the Best Lunchbox for School?
Food technology has changed, raw materials that are used to manufacture lunchboxes have changed. Childhood illnesses have evolved and increased. Children’s dietary requirements have changed. Digital technology has changed the way we shop. The list goes on and on!
So, what makes us think the same lunchbox model that worked well for packing PB&J sandwiches ten or more years ago will work for our current children?
Predictably, all products on the market promise the best features - that is, until your little one tries to open the 5-star-rated lunchbox and fails. Or their lunch is all soggy due to juices of cut-up fruit leaking into the biscuit compartment of the lunchbox, heaven forbid!
So, we are going to present you with the 5 current, most innovative yet practical and affordable lunchbox designs to keep your child’s lunch perfectly safe, fresh, and in place without the need for wasteful plastic wrap.
OUR TOP PICK
The Bentgo Kids Prints Bento-Style Lunchbox comes highly rated by parents and our team of research experts. Because our primary focus is on building your child's health from the get-go, this lunchbox has 5 compartments, ideal for including foods from the five main food groups.
The serving sizes are ideal for toddlers and preschool kids who are known to eat 'with their eyes' and love to see a variety of their favourite snacks. It’s perfect for age groups ranging from 3 to 7 years.
This lunchbox embraces advanced technology that makes it leak-proof with no chance of snacks getting mixed, resulting in a mess and unnecessary waste. We also love that little hands can easily open and close the child-friendly, secure latches.
The outstanding quality of this lunchbox is that it's designed with drop-proof features that include sturdy rubber-coated edges to protect it when your child accidentally drops it (and even, in this case, foods won't mix or leak).
The Bentgo Kids lunchbox currently comes in 12 classic designs ranging from dinosaurs, mermaids, unicorns, sharks, fairies, and many more.
It’s made with food-safe materials, is BPA-free, and weighs 1.25 pounds (0.567 kg).
Length: 8.5in (21.6cm); Width: 6.5in (16.51cm); Height: 2in (5.08cm).
The tray can be removed; it is microwave and dishwasher-safe and comes with a 2-year warranty.
What we liked
- Excellent leak-proof technology
- High-quality, food-safe material
- Rubber-coated edges, sturdy construction for ‘robust handling’.
- Creative, relatable kid-friendly designs
What we didn’t like
- The clasp, though easy for little hands to open and close, may break over time.
Available Lunchbox Sizes:
- Large: L 9in (23cm) x W 6.7in (17cm) x H 1.6in (4cm) (1000ML or 4 cups).
- Medium: L 7in (18cm) x W 5.9in (15cm) x H 1.77in (4.5cm) (720 ML or 3 cups).
- Mini: L 6.9in (17.5cm) x W 4.3in (11cm) x H 1.77in (4.5cm) (540 ML or 2.25 cups).
An exasperated mom designed this lunchbox for other moms who experience the same dilemma in finding the right lunchbox for school. You have a choice of sizes according to your child’s age and appetite and practical add-ons like ice packs and lunch bags at affordable prices.
These Eco-friendly, BPA-free plastic lunchboxes are double wall insulated. The lids are overlaid with silicone and have an easy-grip design for both plastic and stainless steel (as featured) lunchboxes in this range.
Among its best features are the versatility and light-weight, plus they also come in a two-pack. The extra leak-proof 2-compartment box can be used for snacks or cut fruit.
All the lunch boxes come with a fitted spoon and fork, which is fantastic; plus, it also comes in a range of fun styles and colours. While the bottom compartment is dishwasher-safe, the lids should be hand-washed to maintain the leak-proof integrity of the seals.
The large lunchbox may be longer than some regular lunch bags; hence you will need to know the measurements of the lunch bag before buying to ensure the lunchbox fits.
Please note that the stainless-steel lunchbox should be hand-washed ONLY, and the three compartments hold two ⅓ cups perfect for toddlers and preschoolers with small appetites.
What we liked:
- This brand was named ‘Best Value’ in the Bento range by SheKnows Media!
- Well-portioned compartments to support a well-balanced diet.
- Leak-proof lid design and food-safe material.
- Two-pack options and inclusion of eating utensils.
- Over 60 Bento tips plus free recipes from Kinsho’s founder.
- Industry-leading guarantee on all products.
What we didn’t like:
- The leak-proof lids are separate and not attached to the box.
- It has latches on all four sides that little hands need to pry open, and they need to be correctly aligned to seal it after it’s opened.
This Bento lunchbox is a popular choice among parents due to its durability, leak-proof technology, and low cost compared to Bento lunchboxes with similar features.
The primary raw material used is organic wheat fibre which makes it environmentally friendly, free of BPAs and chemical dyes, and comes in 4 colours. This lunchbox is dishwasher and microwave safe but without the lid as the heat can damage the integrity of the leak-proof insulation.
It comes with three practical compartments to keep food separated and includes four latches that tiny hands can easily manage to open or close.
The medium-sized (featured) Miss Big Bento lunchbox is
L 8.6in (22cm )x W 5.9in (15cm) x H 2.2in (5.6cm)
Large: L 9.04in (23cm) x W 6.1in (15.5cm) x H 3.1in (7.8cm)
What we liked:
This lunchbox is made with environmentally-friendly biodegradable raw material
It comes in two sizes (M & L), is excellent for growing appetites, and includes eating utensils.
It's dishwasher-safe (except the lid).
The low price and features set this leak-proof, sturdy lunchbox apart as the best value for money.
What we didn’t like:
We couldn’t find available information about the warranty and returns policy on this product at the time of writing.
RUNNER UP #1
These Bento Boxes come with 4 or 6 compartments, and are made with high-quality food-grade material, BPA-free, FDA-certified, and meet the German Food Commodities Act.
It measures L 7.8in (19.8cm) x W 5.9in (14.9cm) x H 1.8in (4.57cm), weighs 1lb (454g), with 800 ml capacity.
Its versatile, sleek design makes this a perfect lunchbox for packing balanced lunches and snacks for preschool and older kids and will slip easily into a school bag or backpack.
This intelligent design comes with four hinged and two removable compartments that are leak-proof and come in 3 bright colours. Furthermore, the lunchbox is freezer and microwave-safe (without the lid). The container can be placed in the top rack of your dishwasher, but lids should preferably be hand-washed as excessive heat can warp the structure.
This Bento lunchbox comes with a 1-year warranty, 7-day refund (no reasons required), and a 30-day replacement policy, with around the clock customer support.
What we liked:
This lunchbox is made with high-quality material that’s FDA-certified
Its versatile food compartments and sleek design.
It is microwave and dish-washer-safe (without the lid) and can be placed in the freezer.
High quality at an affordable price.
What we didn’t like:
The silicone membrane in the lid that keeps the container air-tight is loose-fitting and needs to be put in place very precisely to seal the lunchbox, which can be a daunting task for preschoolers.
RUNNER UP #2
This little lunchbox comes highly rated by parents for durability, size, price, and versatility. It’s made of environmentally-friendly Wheat fibre materials, BPA-free and FDA registered. It’s well-designed with leak-proof seals in place to prevent spills and cross-leakage of wet foods. (Not suitable for soup).
The size is perfect for young children, and the 3-compartments have space for a full sandwich and two smaller ones for fruit and snacks. It measures L 8.6in (22cm) x W 6.1in (15.5cm) x H 2.16in (5.5cm).
This versatile Bento Lunchbox comes in white and purple with a conveniently enclosed fork. It’s fully microwavable (with the lid open), dishwasher-safe, and refrigerator-safe.
What we liked:
- It’s made with environmentally friendly material, which is FDA-approved
- It’s fully leak-proof and stain resistant.
- You can pop it into the microwave with the lid slightly open to allow steam to escape.
- The size is perfect for slipping into a preschooler or older child's school bag.
- The latch is easy for little hands to open.
What we didn’t like:
- It only comes in 2 colours.
- A customer complained that one of the latches cracked after two months of use.
- We couldn’t ascertain whether it is freezer safe.
Buyer’s Guide to Selecting the Best Lunchbox for School
The Size of the Lunchbox
It comes down to your child's appetite, age, and how many hours they will be at kindergarten or preschool. Before you buy, consider how much food you need to pack and the space and compartments you require to include as much variety as possible. Perhaps space for an ice pack and a water bottle. But beware as too large a lunchbox may also work against you, as it may not fit inside your child's backpack.
Lunchboxes should be made from food-safe material, free of any harmful chemicals or dyes and BPA-free. Environmentally friendly; natural wheat fibre seems to have gained in popularity.
Of course, some parents who are averse to using any form of plastic have the option of buying stainless steel lunchboxes. But these are often heavier and possibly more cumbersome to handle, and it may look too 'boring' for a small child.
It is unique to each child's needs, the age of your child, and features that contribute to the safety and freshness of the food. While various 'snackable' foods are essential to kids, space for an ice pack in an insulated box may be a priority during hot weather. Equally important is for your child to open and close their lunchbox unassisted.
Your Child’s Food Preferences
Some kids refuse to move away from PB&J sandwiches. So you would need a larger compartment for at least two sandwiches and smaller ones for fruit and other healthy snacks. Some lunchboxes have smaller containers to pack yoghurt, dips, peanut butter or sauces that would need space for small containers.
The Cost Factor
Yes, the cost is always a consideration. However, some parents only want a lunchbox that will last a year or buy a few lower-cost ones. Small kids love vibrant colours, and character images displayed on their lunchbox is sure to be a winner! It’s a great way to coerce picky eaters to eat what you’ve packed in their lunchbox.
Sometimes spending between $14 and $25 will surprise you when a lunchbox lasts way beyond your expectations. It depends on whether you adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions and if it’s being hand-washed for more control. How your child handles the lunchbox will also determine its lifespan.
Gone are the days of plastic or foil-wrapped sandwiches for school. With internet shopping, we have a plethora of innovative, well-priced lunchboxes that boast all the features that suit every child's needs. And as a parent, you have the option of avoiding plastic containers and opt for stainless steel or ones made with organic, biodegradable material.
What’s important is that a lunchbox should be child-focused and age-appropriate. It should meet your little one’s food preferences, and the colour needs to be a key consideration as well. Some lunchboxes have a matching insulated lunch bag which may be easier to pop in an ice pack and water bottle.
Competition is fierce among brands, so every parent can afford a moderately-priced Bento box that suits their pocket while having all the essential features of their highly-expensive and over-priced counterparts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are lunchboxes called Bento?
The Bento box has a long history in Japanese culinary culture and dates back more than 1,000 years. The idea was derived from the farmers’ seedboxes, and the multiple compartments were convenient to pack a staple diet comprising different dishes such as rice, fish, and vegetables. The Japanese word Bento comes from Chinese Southern Song slang Biandang, which means convenient!
Different countries across Asia adopted the Bento box adding their indigenous culinary flair in packing a selection of dishes to provide a balanced lunch. However, it went from convenience to luxury in 1912 (during the Taishō period) when the aluminum Bento captured the imagination of nations across the globe. The Bento containers made from polypropylene and extruded polystyrene (EPS) went viral at fast food outlets and take-outs. The negative impact on the environment continues to wreak havoc on global warming and extreme weather patterns globally.
What environmentally-friendly materials are used in Bento Lunchboxes?
Traditional Bento lunch boxes are made from wood, bamboo, food-grade stainless steel, silicone, and food-safe plastic (free of BPA-Bisphenol A, PVC-Polyvinyl chloride, and phthalates).
However, glass is deemed the most versatile and environmentally friendly, followed by stainless steel, wheat, bamboo, and gelatin film. These are all biodegradable and not hazardous to the planet. You can expect to pay more for these Bento lunchboxes.