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These top-rated adult lunch boxes make packing your food fun and easy

Nutritionists share factors to consider when buying a lunch box, like size, style and insulation.
Nutritionists said there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to lunch boxes — it’s a matter of personal preference and the type of food you pack.
Nutritionists said there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to lunch boxes — it’s a matter of personal preference and the type of food you pack.Corkcicle; Amazon; Yeti

When it comes to choosing a lunch box, “there’s no one-size-fits-all,” says Lisa Young, a nutritionist and professor at New York University’s health science department . The best lunch box for you largely depends on the types of food and drinks you prefer. 

SKIP AHEAD Lunch boxes and bags | Bento boxes | Lunch box accessories | How to shop for an adult lunch box

Whether you’re bringing your lunch box to the office or school, experts agree that packing your lunch is a great way to assist you in eating more affordable, healthy meals. “Utilizing ingredients in your kitchen or repurposing leftovers for lunches can be a helpful way to save time and money, as well as cut down on food waste,” says Lindsay Wengler, a registered dietician at Olive Branch Nutrition in New York City. “Preparing your own lunch provides control over the ingredients in your meals, allowing you to eat foods that you enjoy and that make you feel good instead of scrambling to find something you want to eat while also saving on delivery fees and the cost of takeout.”

We asked experts how to choose an adult lunch box and, based on their guidance, found highly rated options that range in size, style and price range.

Our top picks

How we picked top rated adult lunch boxes

To pick the lunchboxes for adults, we looked for highly rated options that had at least 500 reviews and over a 4-star average. We also kept the following factors in mind: 

  • Size and style: Your lunch box is all about personal needs and preference, says Young. Bento boxes, which have multiple small compartments, can be great if you want to focus on portion size, says Young, while larger bags and boxes allow you to fit more in them. 
  • Insulation: Is there a fridge at your office or school to stash your lunch? If not, prioritize an insulated lunch bag. “Insulation is very important in reducing foodborne illness if your food is perishable and outside of refrigeration for longer than 2 hours,” says Wengler.  So, experts say to prioritize lunch boxes and bags that offer insulation. All of the bags we chose also feature an interior pocket that allows you to slip in an ice pack for added cooling power. It is worth noting that bento box style lunch boxes do not offer insulation — however, our experts pointed out that many of them will fit in the boxes and bags we chose. 
  • Durability: Lunch boxes get tossed in bags and car trunks, may fall on the floor, get spilled on and get used daily. Because of this, it’s important to buy one that is durable and made to last, says Young. So, we prioritized stain resistance materials that tend to hold up for longer periods of time like polyester, vinyl and plastic.

Highly rated lunch boxes for adults

Below, we recommend a handful of highly rated adult lunch boxes and bento boxes that range in size, style and insulation, all factors experts recommend considering.

Lunch boxes and bags

Corkcircle Baldwin Boxer Lunchbox

Corkcircle’s lunch box features a main compartment for storing food and beverages, as well as internal and external pockets to hold smaller items or an ice pack. The lunch box has a double zipper closure and comes with an adjustable loop on the top to hold a water bottle or canteen. Corkcircle says the lunch box comes with a premium food-safe lining that insulates food. You can buy the lunch box — which has a 4.8-star average rating from more than 500 reviews on Corkcircle — in colors and patterns like turquoise and black camo.

Yeti Daytrip Lunch Bag

Yeti’s Daytrip Lunch Bag is built with the brand’s Coldcell Flex Insulation, which it says can keep food cold or warm. (The brand also uses its Coldcell Flex Insulation in the Hopper Backflip Soft Cooler, which we recommend in our guide to coolers.) You can fold the top of the bag over and adjust its size by sliding the closing hook into one of the loops. The Daytrip Lunch Bag has a 4.7-star average rating from more than 2,000 reviews on Amazon.

PackIt Freezable Classic Lunch Box

According to PackIt, you can fully freeze this lunch box before filling it with food and beverages — freezable gel is built into the walls of the bag, helping to chill what’s inside. The lunch box is collapsable and features a wide zip opening as well as an exterior zip pocket. It also has a buckle handle so you can attach the lunch box to bags or backpacks. PackIt’s lunch box comes in colors and styles ranging from black to tie dye sorbet, and it has a 4.7-star average from more than 2,200 reviews on Amazon.

Tibule Insulated Lunch Bag

This lunch bag has a top handle, as well as an adjustable strap that allows you to sling it over your shoulder. It is triple insulated, allowing food to stay warm for up to four hours and cool for up to eight hours, according to the brand. The bag has an inner mesh pocket, a zippered front pocket, a sleeve back pocket and a mesh side pocket. Tibule also says the polyester outer fabric is water resistant and easy to clean. This bag has a 4.6-star average from over 35,000 reviews.

Bento boxes

Bentgo All-In-One Stackable Bento Lunch Box

Bentgo’s bento box  bento box is composed of a top container with a lid and a bottom container — they are separated by a divider that houses an included set of utensils. The top container is split into two compartments that each hold 3/4 cup of food — the bottom container holds 2 cups of food. Both containers are dishwasher- and microwave-safe, according to the brand, and for compact storage, they nest inside each other. The bento box comes with a sealing strap to hold the containers together, or you can use the containers individually. You can buy Bentgo’s bento box in a variety of colors like khaki green, slate and purple, and it has a 4.4-star average rating from more than 45,000 reviews on Amazon.

ECOlunchbox Three-In-One Classic

This dishwasher-safe modular bento box from ECOlunchbox is made from stainless steel and has a three-piece nesting design to keep different foods separate. The top section has a 14-ounce capacity, the bottom section has a 12-ounce capacity and the snack container has a 5-ounce capacity. The bento box has a 4.5-star average rating from more than 1,200 reviews on Amazon. One thing to note is that ECOlunchbox’s bento box is not leak-proof, according to the brand.

Jeopace Bento Box

The Jeopace Bento Box has three compartments to separate foods. The bento box comes with utensils that fit inside the box, and it has a leak-proof seal, according to the brand. The container is microwave- and freezer-safe, but the brand recommends you hand wash it. You can buy this bento box in colors like purple, champagne and more. It has a 4.6-star average rating from more than 3,300 reviews on Amazon.

Grub2Go Premium Bento Lunch Box

The Grub2Go bento box comes with two stackable containers, each of which is split into two compartments. It also has a removable divider that you can use to hold the included utensils as well as an airtight silicone-lined bamboo lid with integrated ventilation. The bento box is microwave-, freezer- and dishwasher-safe, according to the brand, and it comes with sauce containers and a drawstring bag. Grub2Go’s bento box has a 4.5-star average rating from more than 3,000 reviews on Amazon.

Helpful lunch box accessories

In addition to lunch boxes and bento boxes, experts say it may be helpful to have a handful of accessories on hand to make packing, eating and transporting your lunch easier. We included a few highly rated options below.

Porter Utensil Set

Reusable utensils are a sustainable alternative to single-use utensils, says Shelby Yaceczko, an advanced practice clinical dietitian with the Center for Human Nutrition at UCLA Health. If your lunch box or bento box doesn’t come with utensils, Porter’s Utensil Set includes a dishwasher-safe stainless steel fork, knife and spoon. The set comes with a silicone carrying case available in multiple styles like mint, blush and more. Porter’s Utensil Set has a 4.7-star average rating from more than 680 reviews on Amazon.

OXO Good Grips Prep & Go Leakproof Silicone Squeeze Bottle

Young suggested buying a set of small containers to store condiments like dressing, hot sauce, ketchup and more if your lunch box or bento box doesn’t come with them. OXO’s silicone squeeze bottles, which are available as a set of two, flip inside out to allow for a more thorough cleaning and feature a wide-mouth opening so they’re easier to fill, according to the brand. The squeeze bottles can hold up to 2.3 ounces of liquid and come with leak-proof lids. They have a 4.5-star average rating from more than 2,000 reviews on Amazon.

Healthy Packers Ice Pack for Lunch Box

The lunch boxes we recommended above are designed to keep food cool with built-in insulation, but if yours doesn’t offer this feature or you want to keep food cold for a long period of time, experts recommended purchasing an ice pack. These reusable ice packs are slim so they don’t take up too much space in your lunch box, the brand says. You can buy them in a set of four, six, eight or 10 and they have a 4.6-star average rating from more than 26,00 reviews on Amazon.

How to shop for an adult lunch box

Which lunch box you choose will be based on your personal preferences — some people prioritize function while others put more thought into style. However, Yaceczko says it’s important to keep in mind the foods you eat and how much storage space they’ll need. She also recommends considering how long your food will be in your lunch box before you eat it. Below, exactly what experts recommend you consider when shopping. 

Style and size

Adults mainly use either lunch boxes — also referred to as lunch bags — or bento boxes for packing their lunch. Each product offers its own benefits.

“Lunch box” and “lunch bag” are often used interchangeably to refer to the case that holds containers and foods when transporting them to work or school. Lunch boxes and bags can be helpful when you need to pack multiple containers, sandwiches, snacks and beverages. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes to accommodate different needs and are usually built with a tight seal to keep everything inside, like a clasp, buckle or zipper.

Bento boxes have multiple compartments, sometimes of varying sizes. “This provides you with several benefits if you pack multiple types of food and can help you save space by packing in an all-in-one container rather than using multiple containers for your food,” says Yaceczko. Young also notes that the compartments in bento boxes can guide you when portioning out food — you can put vegetables in the larger section and grains in the smaller one, for example. Some bento boxes are also oven- and microwave-safe, which makes reheating food easy. You can meal prep directly in bento boxes, too.

Some people find that using a lunch box and bento box together is best for them, says Yaceczko. You can prepare your main meal in a bento box and then throw it in a lunch box along with snacks, a beverage, napkins, utensils and other accessories if needed.

Insulation and material

It’s important to consider what material a lunch box is made from because this often dictates the level of insulation it offers, says Yaceczko. For example, she says lunch boxes designed to keep food warm for a prolonged period of time are often made from stainless steel.

Many brands list the estimated amount of time their lunch box is designed to keep food and beverages at a certain temperature, which can help you narrow down your options. “Many models can safely keep your food at temperature for up to five hours — however, if you eat lunch after this period, you may need to consider additional methods to ensure your food is safe to consume,” says Yaceczko.

If you have access to a refrigerator at the office, finding a lunch box that keeps food cold may not be a must for you. But if you don’t, Yaceczko recommends purchasing a model built with cooling capabilities — you can put some lunch boxes in the freezer before you use them, for example, essentially turning their walls into ice packs. You can also buy a reusable ice pack to put inside your lunch box, which works to chill food.

Meet our experts

At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

  • Lisa Young is a nutritionist and professor at New York University’s health science department.
  • Shelby Yaceczko is an advanced practice clinical dietitian with the Center for Human Nutrition at UCLA Health.
  • Lindsay Wengler is a registered dietician at Olive Branch Nutrition in New York City.

Why trust Select?

Zoe Malin is an associate updates editor for Select on NBC News.

Bethany Heitman is a contributor at NBC Select and a journalist who regularly covers topics like beauty, home and lifestyle. For this story, she interviewed two nutritionists to gather their guidance on what to look for when shopping for adult lunch boxes.

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