The best lunchboxes tried and tested
Save yourself money by bringing a packed lunch to work or school every day with a tried-and-tested leakproof lunchbox
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 2023
- 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 blow-the-budget lunch box: Alessi food à porter, £50
- Most stylish lunch box: Hip Clutch lunch bag, £20
- Best lunch containers for meal prep: Beefeta 6 pack bento lunchbox containers, £16.99
- Best collapsible lunch box: Stojo collapsible lunch box, £19.99
- Best budget lunch box: Sistema salad & sandwich to go, £10
- Best environmentally friendly lunch box: Life's a Beach Stainless Steel Lunch Box, £15
- Best multi-container lunch box: Tatay 5-Piece Urban Lunch Pack with 4 Food Containers, £21.99
- Most Scandinavian-inspired lunch box: Mepal Lunch Pot, 700ml, Nordic Sage, £16.99
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.
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 Amazon (£19.99)
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.
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.
Life's a Beach stainless steel lunchbox
- Available from ProCook (£15)
Best environmentally friendly lunchbox
- Generous 1.25 litre capacity
- Silicone band holds the lid shut for lasting freshness and no leakage
- 10% goes to help keep Britain's beaches and waterways clean
- 1-year guarantee
- Only one compartment
- Not dishwasher or microwave safe
This simple and stylish lunchbox is designed with a generous 1.25 litre capacity. The lunchbox container is made from stainless steel, making it durable. However, it only has one compartment, making it perfect for lunches such as sandwiches, but not great if you want to hold multiple food items. If you wanted a salad for lunch, you would need to store any salad dressings separately to prevent soggy leaves.
The silicone band that holds the lid to the bottom of the container allows for lasting freshness and ensures no leakage when you’re on-the-go. The lid is made of bamboo, which is considered a highly sustainable resource due to its growth rate.
Plus, 10% of the sales on ‘Life’s a Beach’ brand go towards keeping Britain’s beaches and waterways clean, so you’re helping out by not adding to the growing waste of single use-plastic implements, and you’re also investing in finding a solution to the problem.
Tatay 5-piece urban lunch pack with 4 food containers
- Available from Lakeland (£21.99)
Best multi-container lunchbox
- Contains four food containers
- Tough outer fabric
- Twin zips and shoulder strap
- Bag has 3-litre capacity
- Lakeland 3-year guarantee included
- Freezer, microwave (with lid off) and dishwasher-safe
If you’re looking for a lunchbox that could double as your bag, then this urban black lunch bag by Tatay is the one for you. Practicality meets elegance with the woven carry handle and adjustable shoulder strap, making the Urban Lunch Pack effortlessly portable. The mesh pocket holds your cutlery or napkins, while the exterior pocket (with a secure hook and loop strip) keeps your phone or wallet accessible and safe. However, it could be a lot to carry if you’re already sporting a work bag with a laptop.
Inside, there's four robust food canisters. Keep your sweet treats separate from savoury with two 500ml oblong tubs featuring press-on/peel-off lids. Additionally, two 200ml round pots with secure screw-top lids ensure leak-free transportation of your favourite sauces or dressings.
Tatay's attention to detail shines through in the triple-layer insulation, ensuring your lunch maintains its desired temperature. Plus, the tough woven polyester exterior adds durability to your daily companion. Enhance its cooling capabilities by adding a freezer block, so your meals will stay fresh for hours.
Mepal lunch pot, 700ml, Nordic Sage
- Available from John Lewis & Partners (£16.99)
Best Scandinavian-inspired lunchbox
- Can be stored in the fridge or freezer
- The large compartment is microwave safe
- Made from 100% BPA-free plastic
- Can't fit sandwiches
- Lid is very small
Embrace the convenience of the Mepal lunch pot's fridge and freezer storage capabilities. Your meals stay fresher for longer, ready to be heated in the microwave's spacious compartment when hunger strikes. It's not just a lunch container, it's a complete meal solution.
Cleaning up is a breeze with its dishwasher-safe design, making it a perfect fit for busy lifestyles. Whether it's a work lunch, on-the-go meal or picnic, this lunch pot has you covered. An effortless twist reveals a smaller compartment, which is a great way to keep your foods separate and flavours intact. The lid is perfect for holding accompaniments to soup too, such as croutons or dried chickpeas. However, it’s too small to store a separate course, such as a salad.
Crafted in the Netherlands with the highest standards, the Mepal lunch pot is proudly made from 100% BPA-free plastic, prioritising your health and the environment too.
John Lewis & Partners (£16.99)
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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