Give your kids packed lunches they'll be keen to open. We've tested a stylish array of lunchboxes for durability and ease of use with different ages in mind.
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Whether you're packing lunch for a toddler or teenager, make sure you do your research on the best lunchboxes around. Although style and functionality can come down to a matter of preference, top of everyone's priority list tends to be something leak-proof that fits easily inside a school backpack. Trying to get your kids to eat their lunch while you're not around can also be a real struggle, so choosing a lunchbox that looks cool can be an added bonus in encouraging them to eat.
Monbento Tresor kids' bento box
Best bits: Slick design with airtight compartments
Brilliantly designed, this bento box has one main compartment that's ideal for a sandwich or main dish, a separating tray on top, then two smaller containers – ideal 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 gimmicks that are neither efficient nor practical. The dismantling and re-assembling 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.
Best... fun factor
DOIY Sweet Food Truck lunchbox
Best bits: Funky box that will keep kids entertained
With four sealing clips around the lid, this box, cleverly shaped like an ice cream truck, did well in our all-important leak test. It can go in the microwave as well as the dishwasher – although the design may not stand the test of time if subjected to a daily machine wash. The only drawback is that it doesn't have any separate compartments, meaning that you'll have to be quite careful in organising space for each lunch item. We suggest using small Tupperware inside for snacks.
Available from Ocado (£12.99).
Best... easy clean
Joules Munch Bag
Best bits: A plastic tub inside to contain food
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, but 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.
Paperchase Sparkle lunch bag
Best bits: Pretty design with insulated interior
Fans of glamour and glitter will love this sparkly pink number. It doesn't just look the part – it keeps lunch chilled, too. Somewhat larger than a Tupperware box, this one is best carried to school by its handle, which also makes it easier to show off! Similar to many zip-lock lunchboxes, the insulated silver interior is easy to clean with just a quick wipe.
Available from Paperchase (£18).
Best... for toddlers
Skip Hop Zoo Ladybug lunch kit
Best bits: Simple, easy-to-use design
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 Tupperware 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.
Best... for teens
Periodic table bento box
Best bits: Lunch is served in two courses
Here's a lunchbox that a busy teenager will appreciate. Are they bored of sandwiches? It divides into two boxes so there's plenty of space. There’s a moveable divider so you can adjust portion sizes and it's ideal, too, for keeping wet and dry foods away from each other. Plus, there’s a separate section for cutlery, so it doesn't get greasy. It’s a decent size that would fit inside most backpacks comfortably. The periodic table design means science fans will be in their element, but there's a wide range of designs available for boys and girls.
Available from Dot Com Gift Shop (£8.95).
Smiggle squad hardtop lunchbox
Best bits: Two large compartments and a handy carry strap
Among the larger ones we tested, this structured box will transport a big lunch – ideal if your child has after-school activities that may require extra fuel. Both compartments feel rigid enough ;that you won't worry about the contents becoming damaged. However, due to its size, we advise popping sandwiches or snacks inside Tupperware before inserting them into the bag. Both compartments have insulated lining, meaning the contents stay cool for several hours plus. Again, it wipes clean and is available in a range of cool, colourful designs for boys and girls.
Available from Smiggle (£19).
For all of the products mentioned in this review, various retailers have been suggested by our affiliate partner Monetizer 101 and are not suggested or chosen by BBC Good Food. For more information on how these retailers are selected and the nature of our partnership, please read the Monetizer101 FAQ page.
What should I buy?
The options are endless when it comes to kids' lunchboxes. It comes down to their personality and your priorities. Do you want to offer them 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. There is no right or wrong type of lunchbox to buy, but try to make sure you get one that is made without BPA – and one that doesn't leak is crucial.
What we looked for...
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. Those that could go in the dishwasher were 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 was put through our 'leak test' – filled with wet and dry foods, closed tightly shut and then shaken around before being checked for leaks. Any boxes that didn't pass the leak test were disqualified.
How we tested: Over a two-week period, we checked each shortlisted lunchbox against the testing criteria. After passing the leak test, boxes were reviewed based on their unique features.
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This review was last updated in March 2018. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at email@example.com.
Do you have a trusty kids' lunchbox to recommend? Leave a comment below...