When it comes to choosing a lunch box, “there’s no one-size-fits-all,” says nutritionist Lisa Young, a 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 — these inform your ideal lunch box size and style. Whether you’re bringing your lunch box to the office or school, experts agreed that packing your lunch is a great way to ensure you’re eating healthy meals on busier days, whether in the office, at school or while commuting.
“Packing your lunch puts you in control of your nutrition at that mealtime,” said Shelby Yaceczko, an advanced practice clinical dietitian with the Center for Human Nutrition at UCLA Health. “It allows you to cater to your dietary preferences, choose foods and snacks [that] fit your current health goals and often is a cost saver compared to eating out.” We asked experts how to choose a lunch box and, based on their guidance, found highly rated options that range in size, style and price range. Nutritionists also recommended accessories to simplify packing, transporting and eating your food.
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’s lunch box features a main compartment for storing food and beverages, as well as internal and external pockets to hold smaller items. 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 purchase the lunch box — which has a 4.8-star average rating from more than 400 reviews on Corkcircle — in a variety of colors and patterns like turquoise and black camo.
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 4.4-star average rating from more than 1,500 reviews on YETI.
Modern Picnic — a women-owned brand — offers a variety of insulated lunch bags, including The Luncher. It boasts a vegan leather exterior available in styles like Black Faux Crocodile, White Bamboo, Nacy and more. The inside of The Luncher is insulated and features an interior pocket, interior utensil slots and a back pocket. The lunch bag also has a handle and a removable strap, as well as a magnetic closure and gold hardware. The Luncher has a 4.8-star average rating from more than 180 reviews on Modern Picnic. If you’re looking for a larger lunch bag, the brand also offers The Large Luncher.
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 10,700 reviews on Amazon.
Bentgo’s 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 also use the containers individually. You can purchase Bentgo’s bento box in a variety of colors like Khaki Green, Slate and Purple, and it has a 4.5-star average rating from more than 29,900 reviews on Amazon.
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 is available in two lid designs — blank or pearls and dots — and it has a 4.4-star average rating from more than 700 reviews on Amazon. One thing to note is that ECOlunchbox’s bento box is not leak-proof, according to the brand.
I purchased the Jeopace Bento Box for my own lunches because it features three different compartments to separate different 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 purchase this bento box in colors like purple, champagne and more. It has a 4.6-star average rating from more than 2,500 reviews on Amazon.
The GRUB2GO bento box comes with two stackable containers, each of which is split into two compartments. It also features 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 2,300 reviews on Amazon.
Helpful lunch box accessories
In addition to lunch boxes and bento boxes, experts said 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.
Yaceczko said reusable utensils are a sustainable alternative to single-use utensils. 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 Cream Terrazzo, Mint, Blush and more. Porter’s Utensil Set has a 4.7-star average rating from more than 400 reviews on Amazon.
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 make cleaning easier 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 1,300 reviews on Amazon.
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 purchase them in a set of four, six, eight or 10 and they boast a 4.6-star average rating from more than 19,900 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 said it’s important to keep in mind the foods you eat and how much storage space they’ll need. She also recommended considering how long your food will be in your lunch box before you eat it. Below are all of the factors experts said to consider when shopping for an adult lunch box.
Style and size
Adults mainly use either lunch boxes — also referred to as lunch bags — or bento boxes for packing their lunch, experts said. 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,” Yaceczko said. Young also noted 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, experts said. 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
Lunch boxes are designed with a variety of materials, from fabric to stainless steel. Yaceczko said it’s important to consider what material a lunch box is made from because this often dictates the level of insulation it offers. For example, she said 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,” Yaceczko said.
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 recommended 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 purchase a reusable ice pack to put inside your lunch box, which works to chill food.