Why buy a lunchbox? The question really should be – why not buy a lunchbox? If you regularly take lunch to work, or pack one when you’re on a day trip, they are infinitely superior to wrapping your sarnie in foil or using a single-use sandwich bag. Insulated lunchboxes will also keep food cooler, safer temperatures for longer; great for picnics or chilled bottles.
Using a lunchbox is better for the environment, will save you money in the long run, and avoids the annoyance of squashed sandwiches. You don’t have to think about borrowing your kid's Star Wars lunchbox either – there are lots of stylish or just plain effective options for adults.
The options are endless when it comes to buying the lunchbox itself, so it comes down to your priorities. Do you want variety at lunchtimes and need a box with different compartments? Or perhaps space inside your bag is limited, and you need something slimline.
There is no right or wrong type of lunchbox to buy, but try to make sure that you get one made without BPA – and one that doesn't leak is crucial. Read on to discover our best lunchboxes. For over 400 buyer’s guides, visit our product review section and find reviews of reusable coffee cups, water bottles (or personalised water bottles) and more.
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- Best lunchboxes at a glance
- Best lunchboxes 2022
- Which lunchbox should I buy?
- What we looked for in a lunchbox
- Best overall lunch box: Black + Blum stainless steel lunch box, £28
- Most user-friendly lunch box: Tefal MasterSeal To Go food storage 1.2-litre lunchbox, £14
- Best no-nonsense lunch box: OXO Good Grips on-the-go lunch container, £23.03
- Best blow-the-budget lunch box: Alessi food à porter, £50
- Most stylish lunch box: Hip Clutch lunch bag, £22
- Best lunch containers for meal prep: Beefeta 6 pack bento lunchbox containers, £18.99
- Best collapsible lunch box: Stojo collapsible lunch box, £23.50
- Best budget lunch box: Sistema salad & sandwich to go, £8.29
- Best bento box: Mon Bento MB original green English garden bento box, £37.90
Black + Blum stainless steel lunchbox
Best overall lunchbox
- Stylish with great features
This lunchbox is really cleverly designed. It's stainless steel, with a brightly coloured silicone strap (we had an orange one, but it also comes in blue or green). The strap also holds a stainless steel fork on the outside of the box. There's a removable divider that slides up and down to make two compartments of whatever size you fancy.
Unusually, you can put the base section in the oven. It's also safe to use in the freezer, so when not pressed into service as a lunchbox, it can be used for freezer meals. However, it's not microwaveable, and is only partially dishwasher-safe (the lid and strap should be handwashed).
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The box is lovely to look at and despite having no clips, is leakproof. It seals with a valve that you open and close. We packed a salad and liberally drizzled olive oil over it before turning the lunchbox upside down and swinging it about a bit, but it didn’t leak a drop.
We also checked to see if it was big enough for a sandwich. It needed to be cut in half, but the box was tall enough for the sandwich halves to be stacked on top of each other. There was room for a small salad too.
Tefal MasterSeal To Go food storage 1.2-litre lunchbox
Most user-friendly lunchbox
- Good size
- No individual lids on compartments
This multi-compartment lunchbox is designed for flexibility. There's one large compartment and two smaller ones. All of these sit inside the main box, so you can remove some or all of the compartments if you want a bigger space.
The whole lunchbox sits on a plate, which helps stop crumbs getting all over your keyboard when you’re eating at your desk. The box is sealed with four long clasps, and a very broad strap keeps it together.
The lunchbox passed our drip test admirably, with not a drop of olive oil seeping through – living up to the '100% leakproof' claim on the packaging. It also comes with a 30-year guarantee for good measure.
It ticks all the boxes, as it’s BPA-free and is safe to use in the freezer, microwave and dishwasher. We fitted a sizeable homemade roll in the main compartment, with carrot and dried apricots in the other two. It’s easy to open and close, and the lime-coloured compartments, plate and seal are eye-catching too.
OXO Good Grips on-the-go lunch container
Best no-nonsense lunchbox
- Extremely practical
- Not the cheapest
Sometimes you just want something that is effective and solid without worrying too much about the style. This box has a deep main bowl which can easily house a large roll or salad.
There's also a removable shallow top layer for a sandwich, biscuits, carrot sticks or anything else you fancy, so you can keep your food separate.
The clear lid has four clasps to lock it, and the green seal – which can be removed for washing – provides a splash of colour.
Alessi food à porter
Best blow-the-budget lunchbox
- Converts into a mini bag so you can easily carry it separately
- The price tag
This oval-shaped bento box has a big main compartment and two smaller ones. The main one, though not broad enough for a whole sandwich, is plenty tall enough to fit two sandwich halves stacked on top of each other.
You secure it with a band, and, very cleverly, a silicone handle which can be wrapped around it so it can be easily carried.
The seal is really tight – if anything, it’s hard to remove the lids – and nothing escaped from it.
We tried the grey model (it also comes in red and light blue) and overall it’s very stylish, with subtle Alessi branding on the box and strap. We liked the matte main compartment, which contrasted nicely with the glossy central section.
Hip Clutch lunch bag and cutlery set
Most stylish lunch box
- Separate pot for salad dressing
- Best suited to salads, not sandwiches
A lunch box that doubles up as a stylish accessory? That is the aim of this ‘clutch’ style lunch bag with a neat handle. Available in smart jade or dusty pink, this round bag comes with a cutlery set and handy mini lidded pot for salad dressing.
The deep, round bowl makes it most suited for taking salads and leftovers to work instead of sandwiches. The matching cutlery slots into the inside of the lid and is covered with a leather-look strap. It has a generous capacity, although this and it’s unusual shape means it would be quite bulky in a handbag or tote bag.
It is dishwasher safe for easy clean up and boasts eco-credentials too, being made from ocean-bound plastic.
Beefeta 6 pack bento lunchbox containers
Best lunch containers for meal prep
- Handy multipack
- Spares for going in the dishwasher
- Suitable for adults and kids
- Microwave and dishwasher safe
- Lid is not as secure as other lunch boxes
If you are making lunchboxes for the whole family each day, this handy multipack makes it easy. Coming in a set of six colour-coded containers, you can make a couple of lunches at once and also have some in the dishwasher as the week goes on. This is also great if you like meal prep at the weekend and make all the lunches at once to store in the fridge.
The containers are divided into three compartments: one larger section for sandwiches and two that can be used for fruit or snacks. The lid divides by these sections too, to help keep elements separate. If adults are using the containers, they are usefully microwave and freezer safe, so handy if using them for taking leftovers to work. Kids will be best putting these containers within a lunch bag or box which will have to be purchased separately.
Stojo collapsible lunch box
- Available from Oliver Bonas (£23.50)
Best collapsible lunch box
- Collapsible for easy transport home
No more lugging home bulky lunch boxes with this sleek, collapsible model. Available in pastel blue or pink, this round design has ridged edges that fold down flat when empty to save space. Great if you’ve got plans after work and don’t want to carry a big lunch box in your bag.
When fully extended, the bowl has a generous 1100ml capacity. The round shape means it is best suited to transporting leftovers and salads rather than sandwiches. It is held in place by four clasps to prevent leaks.
Oliver Bonas (£23.50)
Sistema salad & sandwich to go
Best budget lunchbox
- Well designed to fit two different lunch foods
- Not the most stylish
With a generous 1.63-litre capacity, this box is surprisingly compact. There's a deep main section that's plenty big enough for a good-sized salad, and a removable top section for a sandwich. We also found it worked the other way round, with a large roll in the main section and a few carrot and cucumber sticks in the top.
The box is secured with four small but effective locking clasps, and we liked that the bright pink contrasted the clear box.
It's deep, so it won't fit into the smallest of bags, but the shape means it wouldn't take up too much cupboard space. It's also highly practical, as you can put it in the microwave, dishwasher and freezer.
Mon Bento MB original green English garden bento box
Best bento box
- Cleverly designed
- On the pricey side
Made in France, this chic box oozes style, but it has hidden features too. There are two equal-sized boxes, one green and one white, with individual lids and a pretty green top lid. One compartment has a small removable section which can hold something small like raisins, and it doubles up as a divider. The box is held together with a grey strap.
In addition to scoring high on the looks front, we awarded this top marks because, unusually for bento boxes, you can use it in the microwave and it’s airtight too. You just pull the silicone flap in each section to reveal a steam hole, making it suitable for the microwave.
We tried packing salad with olive oil and turning it upside down for an hour, but nothing came out. The box can also be used in the dishwasher and freezer. With a one-litre capacity, it holds a decent amount too.
First of all, think about what you will use it for. If it’s just for a sandwich, you don’t need to worry too much about leaks, but if you like a salad with dressing, it’s important to find one that is airtight.
Capacity is important – how big is your average lunch? Larger boxes will hold more substantial lunches, but also take up more space in your bag.
Fancy a sandwich, salad, and some fruit too? If you don’t want it all mixed up together, search for one with compartments. Some of the boxes in our sample had adjustable dividers so you could move them around to make the compartments work for you. We also tested bento boxes, which often have two or three completely separate containers.
Some lunchboxes are insulated, so if you tend to have lunches that need to be kept cool, opt for one of these.
Do you like taking leftovers to work? If you want to take last night’s curry to the office, find a lunchbox that can go in the microwave.
Lunchboxes vary considerably in price. Our sample ranged from £1.50 to £44.
Finally, think about style. If you’re going to use it every day, you might as well find a lunchbox that you find attractive. You might prefer a no-nonsense, rugged lunchbox, or you might prefer a model that’s so sophisticated, you become the envy of the office. Do you want one with a pretty pattern, or a see-through box so you can gaze hungrily at its contents?
No leaks: We filled each box with salad and olive oil before shaking and turning them upside down. We also put the boxes in bags and swung them about as we walked before checking them for leaks.
Clever features: Does the box have removable compartments, keep your lunch cold, or come with a knife and fork?
Easy to use: No one wants to waste precious lunchtime minutes wrestling to open their lunchbox. We checked for easy-to-open clasps and smoothly opening boxes.
Size: We looked for lunchboxes that were big enough to hold a grown-up lunch, and gave bonus points to ones that managed to do that without being too bulky.
Style: We were pleasantly surprised by how attractive some of the lunchboxes were and awarded marks for this.
Value for money: There was a big price range, but the most important question was whether the boxes merited their price tag.
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