The options are plentiful, but your choice ultimately comes down to personality and priorities. Do you want to offer kids variety at lunchtimes and need a box with different compartments? Or perhaps space inside your child’s backpack is limited and you need something slimline, or even with its own handle for carrying separately to school and back.
There’s no right or wrong type of lunchbox to buy, but try to make sure you get one that’s made without BPA – and one that doesn’t leak is crucial. Need a water bottle too? Check out our best personalised water bottles for ones that won’t get lost in the playground.
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- Best kids’ bento box: Monbento kids lunchbox, £18
- Best budget kids’ lunch bag: Rex London lunch bag, £4.95
- Best kids’ compartment lunchbox: 3 Sprouts lunch bento box, £13.82
- Best kids’ lunch bag: Joules Munch Bag, £16.95
- Best lunchbox for toddlers: SkipHop lunch kit llama, £14.29
- Best compact lunch bag: Sass & Belle Alma narwhal lunch bag, £6.16
- Best lunch box and bottle set: Mepal spring flowers bento box and bottle, £20.99
- Best lunch box for extras: WisaKey children’s bento box, £16.99
- Best all in one bento box: Meider lunch bento box, £12.99
- Best divided lunch box: Smiggle kids rainbow print lunch box, £18.50
Monbento kids lunchbox
Best kids’ bento box
- Compact size
- Efficient and study design
- Can be personalised
- Removable pots could easily be lost
Brilliantly designed, this bento box has one main compartment that’s ideal for a sandwich or main dish, a separating tray on top, and two smaller containers – great for snacks such as fruit, nuts or crisps. They all slot neatly on top of each other and seal tightly inside an efficiently sized tub that locks on both sides.
It feels sophisticated for a children’s lunchbox, steering away from inefficient gimmicks. The dismantling and reassembling of each container takes a bit of getting used to, so perhaps it’s best suited to older children. Otherwise, make sure you sit down together and show them how to use it.
It also has a customisable little window on its lid for popping pictures behind, accessible below a see-through spinner. Spec-wise, the box is BPA-free, microwave-safe and dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning.
Rex London lunch bag
Best budget kids’ lunch bag
- Made from 50% recycled materials
- Foldable when empty
- Being a bag, you still need a kids’ lunchbox for holding sandwiches
Testing revealed that few are immune to the smile-inducing power of a happy sloth design. This lunch box will appeal to all ages. But in case your child is an exception to this statement, lots of other designs are available from the Rex London brand.
This foil-lined lunch bag will be fought over and is insulated to help keep its contents cool until lunchtime. You can easily fit a standard sandwich box, two small snack boxes, a piece of fruit and a small water bottle inside here so it’s a practical size for visiting for snacks throughout the day.
The recycled material used in this lunchbag is equivalent to one average size plastic bottle, which is a nice eco credential.
3 Sprouts lunch bento box
Best kids’ compartment lunchbox
- Three compartments for sandwiches, snacks and little surprises
- Dishwasher-safe in top shelf
- Moisture could leak from a small compartment into its other sections
This is an endearing lunchbox with three compartments that packs in practicality. There was a slight plastic smell on opening, but this disappeared after being washed with warm soapy water.
The box itself is BPA-free and safe for putting in the top rack of the dishwasher so an initial blast in there without the lid would be ideal.
Its dividers are immovable but you can easily fit a sliced-up apple and a whole satsuma peeled in just one of the small sections.
We slotted a yogurt and chocolate into the other, whilst a chunky-filled sandwich filled the main section.
It seals well and has clips on all sides, meaning it would take a fair amount of shaking around inside a school bag. With a variety of designs to choose from, this is a nice children’s lunchbox.
Joules Munch Bag
Best kids’ lunch bag
- Simple to use
- Colours and designs to choose from
- Easy to clean
- No external holder for drinks bottle
From British designer Joules, this decently sized zip bag comes in a range of colours and fun designs with a wipe-clean interior. Not only that, inside you’ll find a handy plastic container, aptly sized for carrying a sandwich or wrap.
Although limited in terms of compartments, this lunch bag does exactly what’s required – transporting food and drink to and from school without messy spills.
Available from Joules (£16.95)
Skip Hop Zoo Llama lunchbox
Best lunchbox for toddlers
- Easy to use bento lunchbox
- Removable inner compartment
This cute lunchbox is perfect for toddlers or younger children as it can be opened and closed easily and isn’t complicated by too many features or compartments. You could, however, insert extra containers to keep snacks separate from sandwiches.
We wouldn’t recommend you put anything liquid inside as the lid isn’t the most secure – the clips holding it in place (in the shape of two large flowers) unclip very easily, which, of course, is so that little hands can open it.
Sass & Belle Alma narwhal lunch bag
Best compact lunch bag
- Compact design
- Useful inner pocket
- Smaller capacity than tall bags or boxes
- Won’t fit a water bottle
For a narrow lunch box that will fit easily into a school bag or rucksack, this Sass & Belle lunch bag is perfectly designed. It has a wide zip that unzips the whole top section, enabling the lunch bag to sit flat on the table. There is space for a sandwich and snacks, although the flat shape means it can’t fit a water bottle inside (it is 8cm high).
There is a handy net pocket in the lid for keeping cutlery, a napkin or more snacks secure without getting squashed by other items rolling around. The fabric handle is short but comfortable to hold. The compact design also means it is lightweight to carry and squashes flat when empty.
The colourful and fun narwhal design will appeal to both boys and girls.
Mepal spring flowers bento box and bottle
Best lunch box and bottle set
- Includes a matching water bottle
- Tray is removable from the box
- Includes fork
- Not microwave safe
Pretty and practical, this lunch box set is slightly more expensive than other designs we looked at, but does come complete with a matching water bottle.
The box itself is a generous size with a 750ml capacity. It is versatile, with a bento box-style tray that can be removed if you don’t need the individual compartments. If you do, the tray divides into three sections to keep sandwiches and snacks separate. It also comes complete with a fruit fork. The water bottle has a unique press button functionality to drink from and a 400ml capacity so that it is not too heavy to carry.
There are multiple patterns to choose from, from this pretty floral to a blue and white underwater scene or animal print younger kids will love.
It is worth noting that unlike many other lunchboxes we looked at, this model is not microwave or freezer safe so not compatible with heating up leftovers at home or on the go when visiting friends or family.
WisaKey children’s bento box
Best lunch box for extras
- Versatile for lots of different lunch options
- 3 separate compartments
- Microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe
- Includes lunch bag
- Easy for kids to lose the extras
- Younger children may not like the double ended cutlery
For a complete lunch set that does it all, the Wisakey bento box fits the bill. The unique ‘cat ear’ box is made up of three separate compartments so sandwiches and fruit or yogurt can all be stored without getting soggy. The two smaller boxes have lids so can be removed and used individually. The set also includes a spoon and fork, which are both double ended to be a fruit fork at the other end and clip into the lid of the box.
We liked that this comes complete with an insulated lunch bag to transport it all in that matches the cat design. The boxes are also microwave safe if reheating leftovers at home, and dishwasher safe for easy clean-up. They are made of recyclable BPA free plastic and have a clever valve alongside kid-friendly latches to close the box, to be completely leakproof.
The set is available in either blue or pink. Both colourways come with the grey cat design lunch bag.
Meider lunch bento box
Best all in one bento box
- Practical all in one design
- Three colours to choose from
- Large compartment is narrow for sandwiches
- Younger children may struggle with the buckle openings
If you have kids who hate when different foods touch on a plate, this simple bento box is a great lunchbox to get them started with a packed lunch. Instead of having multiple containers and compartments that could get lost, this is made up of one tray divided into four compartments. It is BPA free and can be used in the dishwasher and microwave. It is available in blue, green or pink.
There are 3 roughly equal-sized square slots and one long rectangular slot. This rectangular design would be great for pasta salads, leftovers such as chicken or skewers, or crackers and cheese, but may be impractical for sandwiches unless cut into fingers.
There is a slot in the lid for cutlery and the lid mirrors the design of the compartments on the tray, to keep each section fresh and prevent scents travelling. The lid is secured with a clasp on each side, as well as a rubber ring to make the box leakproof.
Smiggle kids rainbow print lunch box
Best divided lunch box
- Practical hybrid design
- Matching school accessories available
- Lots of patterns to choose from
- Wipe clean
A hybrid shape between tall lunch bags and flat box designs, this practical lunch box is split into two compartments. The smaller top zipped pocket has a label for writing your child’s name and relevant contact details if the lunchbox is lost, and is useful for keeping morning snacks in.
The larger base compartment is practical and wipe-clean. It won’t fit a water bottle inside but will fit a juice box and plenty of food for lunch. It has a simple double zip to open and comfortable short fabric handle to hold.
A water bottle, backpack and pencil case are all available in matching prints for a complete new school year set.
We tested a representative range of children’s lunchboxes and scored them against the following criteria:
BPA-free: the lunchbox, especially if it contains plastic, should be completely safe to store food inside.
Size and storage: we searched for boxes of all shapes and sizes to suit different needs, excluding anything that seemed a poor use of space.
Cleaning properties: we looked for boxes that were easy to clean. Dishwasher-safe was preferable, but for those that weren’t, we made sure they could be cleaned easily by hand.
Aesthetics: a lunchbox allows your little one to express their personality, so we looked for boxes with a bit of character and style. Any additional features such as cutlery, separate compartments, or cooling packs were also taken into consideration.
Leak test: every lunchbox must withstand the jiggling
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