Give your kids packed lunches they’ll be keen to open. We’ve tested child-friendly 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 leakproof 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.
The options are plentiful, but your choice ultimately comes down to personality and priorities. Do you want to offer kids a 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.
Read on to discover our recommended buys. For more practical buyer’s advice, visit our review section.
Tyrrell Katz kids lunchbox, £9
A cheerful, classic lunchbox for younger children
Available in a range of colourful prints, with sweet (and informative) illustrations to appeal to every small-child obsession from dinosaurs to unicorns, this is a practical but fun choice for nursery or school. There’s a divider to keep fruit or vegetable sticks away from the main section, which is large enough to hold a sandwich and has a slightly ridged surface to keep food in place. The side clips are easy to open, but remain securely shut while in transit.
Sass and Belle bento box, £5
A compact stacking lunchbox that’s ideal for junior school
Two stackable compartments and a divider to keep lunch elements separate plus a fork and spoon tucked under the lid make this a nifty and attractive space-saver. Whilst one section is deeper than the other, neither is hugely roomy, so it’s best for relatively modest appetites. Other designs are available, including funky flamingos and Japanese-inspired cartoon animals.
A Little Lovely Company lunchbox
A neat, neutral lunchbox
Easily fitting inside a backpack, this no-fuss, compact-but-sturdy lunchbox from Dutch brand A Little Lovely Company features a simple design. The two parts sit one above the other, keeping wet and dry foods well apart, with a silicone seal to protect against leaks. A coordinating small insulated flask is also available.
Yumbox Panino lunchbox
A well-proportioned bento-style box to suit older kids
American brand Yumbox produces a range of bento-style lunchboxes, with the Panino version accommodating a sandwich or larger portion of salad alongside three smaller sections for items such as fruit, veg sticks and a dollop of dip or a few nibbles.
When the box is closed, the various parts are separated by silicone seals, although an oily salad did slightly leak into another section during our test. Less heavy and clunky than some boxes of this type, and with slightly less restrictive sections, the Yumbox includes a removable illustrated tray and is stylish enough to suit older children.
Monbento Tresor kids’ bento box, £17
A slick lunchbox with airtight compartments that’s ideal for teenagers
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 gimmicks that are neither efficient nor practical. 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.
Joules Munch bag, £16.95
A simple lunch bag in fun colours and designs that’s easy to clean
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.
Skip Hop Zoo Ladybug lunch kit
Easy-to-use bento box that’s perfect for toddlers
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.
Periodic table bento lunchbox, £9
A stackable lunchbox that allows a meal to be 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.
There’s also 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.
What to look for when buying a lunchbox
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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