7 Best Lunch Boxes for Toddlers and Kids of 2020

Best Lunch Boxes

January 1, 2019

Best Lunch Boxes

A well-designed, functional lunch box makes all that veggie slicing and crust cutting worth it. Best Lunch Boxes

Lunch packing: it isn’t glamorous (especially at 6 a.m.), but someone’s gotta do it. A well-designed, functional lunch box makes all that veggie slicing and crust cutting worth it. Here’s a quick overview of key features to look for in a lunch box:

  • Insulation: Insulated sides help keep perishables cool and fresh until lunch time. But, it’s still a good idea throw in an ice pack, too. These are light and slim and come in a pack of four.
  • Easy access: When kids are at daycare or school, they should be able to open and close their lunch box without help from a grownup. Make sure the zippers, snaps or buckles are designed for little hands so it’s not a challenge to get to the good stuff!
  • Ample space: Some lunch boxes and bags are large, allowing plenty of room for water bottles, ice packs, thermoses and food. On the other hand, bento box styles are usually more compact and designed for smaller portions. Sometimes a combo is your best bet for maximum organization (especially if your little one likes a variety of finger foods). Tip: Pack food in a bento box, and then put it inside a larger lunch box with a drink and other extras.
  • Simple cleaning: Two words: applesauce pouch. Get ready to see your fair share of open, half-eaten pouches when they make a grand entrance back at home inside the lunch box. When things get messy (which they will), a lunch box made with material that can be wiped clean (fabric) or even washed in the sink or dishwasher (stainless steel or plastic) will be your best friend. Because whatever happened in the lunch box doesn’t have to stay in the lunch box.

These are our favorite picks for lunch and on-the-go snacking.

Fun-Sized Friends

Give your little animal a lunchtime pal from Skip Hop Zoo. The collection of Lunchies includes over 25 cute creatures (Ladybug? Monkey? Unicorn? It’s a tough choice!). These soft, lightweight bags hold all the essentials—sandwiches, snacks and drinks. The zipper closure is easy for tots to master, while the insulated interior can be wiped clean after a particularly messy meal (peace out, old yogurt!). This lunch bag is great for daycare, school or even bringing snacks along to the park. Although there’s a small mesh pocket to hold napkins and utensils, there’s just one large compartment for food. To keep lunch organized, pack food in small containers. If you want to stick with the zoo theme, Skip Hop makes water bottles, snack cups and stainless steel food jars.

Additional Specs
Dimensions 9.5” x 7.5” x 9”

Balanced Bento

There’s something about bento boxes that magically get kids to eat their vegetables. (Carrots and snap peas just look more delicious in a tiny compartment.) Families love Yumbox for the pre-portioned tray, which has illustrations in each section to teach kiddos about food groups and remind you to cover all the bases when you’re half-asleep packing lunch in the morning. The 6-compartment Yumbox is great for toddlers and preschoolers who like a little bit of everything, while the 4-compartment version has more room for things like sandwiches and pastas. Although there’s just one lid for all compartments, it’s secure, leakproof and keeps each food bucket separated. Hummus making its way to cheese stick territory? Not a chance. The whole thing is made with food-safe materials and is BPA and phthlatate-free.

Additional Specs
Dimensions 8.5” x 6.5” x 1.8”

Must-Have Modules

LunchBlox food storage containers are a pantry staple. These colorful modules are portioned just for kids and can be configured into the perfect lunchtime setup. There are even different sets for tall or flat lunch bags. Even better, they’re microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe. Aside from connecting them all for bigger meals, the small snack containers are great on their own for keeping crackers, pretzels, yogurt, fruits and veggies safe in your diaper bag. To keep food cool, just snap on the matching “Blue Ice” tray, and you’re good to go.

LunchBlox are also great for parents (yes, you need to eat, too!). The salad kit is especially awesome. It keeps the veggies, dressing and toppings separate so you’ll never have to have a soggy salad at your desk again. Or you can use a snack container for your favorite snacks at the park, instead of getting the last of the Goldfish crackers.

Additional Specs
Dimensions 2 Snack Containers (.5 cup capacity), 1 Side Container (1.2 cup capacity), 1 Sandwich Container (2.6 cup capacity) and 1 Medium Blue Ice (Size: 4.81” x 5.625”x 5.25 when stacked)

Monogrammed Must-Have

Nothing says, “I have arrived” (at preschool or kindergarten) quite like an awesome monogrammed lunch bag. From rocket ships to rainbows, animals to ballerinas, Star Wars to Wonder Woman, this collection boasts a huge range of designs to delight every child. Made of durable, thick polyester, it’ll last through several school years. The interior stands up to wear and tear thanks to the molded PEVA lining (an eco-friendly, food-safe vinyl), while messes can be simply wiped away. Plus, the carrying handle comes in handy for easy toting from cubbies to the lunch table.

A nice perk is the outside mesh pocket for big water bottles and thermoses, which allows a lot more food to fit on the inside. Pottery Barn food containers are a perfect fit, or you can use the storage of your choice. Tuck in utensils and napkins in the little pocket, and your kiddo is ready to chow down.

Additional Specs
Dimensions 8” x 4” x 9”

The Snacker Splurge

What’s one thing you have in common with your kiddo? Neither of you are fun to hang out with when you’re hangry. The Shuttle from PlanetBox is the perfect stainless steel vessel for keeping your favorite on-the-go snacks or small meals at the ready. Although it’s compact, the two compartments (plus one dipper) can neatly fit several foods. Made of stainless steel and silicone rubber, it’s non toxic and dishwasher safe (a win-win!). Aside from being a snack pack, the Shuttle is a great choice for little ones with shorter school days. But if a larger lunch is required, go for the Rover, which has more compartments. PlanetBox lunch boxes are a lot pricier than most other brands, but many parents say a beautifully packed, squish-free lunch that kids actually eat is worth every penny.

Additional Specs
Dimensions Lunchbox: 7.75” x 5.2” x 1.5”; Carry Bag: 8.75” x 6.25” x 3”

Small Wonder

Don’t be fooled by the size. This little bento box fits in a lot of good eats. Although it’s one compartment, you can fill it with a variety of options for little ones to munch on as they please (plus, the easy-to-clasp sides are a breeze for toddlers to open and close on their own). You can also use it for a sandwich, cereal, even hot or cold liquids since it’s airtight and leak-proof. Made from food-grade stainless steel and wrapped in polypropylene, Think Baby Bento is free of BPA, phthalates, melamine and other harmful chemicals. The slim design is great for slipping into a purse, diaper bag pocket or any larger lunch box.

Additional Specs
Dimensions 5.5” x 2.8” x 7.2”

The Sturdy Staple

Roomy, sturdy, affordable, adorable…we could go on and on with all the reasons to love Olive Kids lunch boxes. With tons of bright, cheerful patterns to choose from, there’s a perfect style to complement your tot’s turkey on wheat. A few key features: the large, insulated interior has tabs to keep water bottles and ice packs in place, there’s a front pocket for extra snacks and a carrying handle. Short on kitchen cabinet space? Instead of the lunch box, go for Olive Kids’ equally awesome lunch bag that folds flat for easy storage.

Additional Specs
Dimensions Lunch Box: 9.75” x 7” x 3.25”; Lunch Bag: 10” x 8.5” x 5”
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