In this article, you will find the six best lunch boxes for school kids. You will also find healthy school lunch ideas for your kids’ lunch boxes. Four of the lunch boxes are a Bento Box design. While one box comes with an insulated bag and water bottle, one is a food jar, and the other choice is a set of either three or five stainless steel food containers.
When choosing a lunch box for kids, you should make sure that the container has a quality, secure and recloseable lid. If you or your kids want to keep items separate, a Bento Box is a good choice as it comes with section dividers. Many of the bento-style lunch boxes have stacking layers as well, which can help hold more items. Here is the shortlist of lunch boxes that may be perfect for your kids.
*Disclosure: We only recommend products we would use ourselves. This post may contain affiliate links that, at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission.
Healthy Lunch Boxes for Kids at a Glance
- LunchBots Stainless Steel School Lunch Box
- GreenLunch Bento
- DaCool Insulated Lunch Container Hot Food Jar
- TAVVA Stainless Steel Food Containers
- Yumbox Original Leakproof Bento Box
- Meillen Kids Bento Lunch Box
Our Top 6 Lunch Boxes Reviewed
This container is a stainless steel school lunch box with three divided sections to keep items separated. This on-the-go lunch box is dishwasher safe, stainless steel, and eco-friendly. The LunchBots lunch box is a bento box-style lunch box. It is stainless steel and offers a choice of a stainless steel lid or four other colors. The rectangular lunch box is 5 x 6 x 1.75 and is around a half-pound. It is on the smaller side with 4.5 stars rating on Amazon. Loyal users rave about its durability and quality.
This lunch box by GreenLunch Bento holds 6 cups of food, has secure locks, and is 100% crack-resistant. This bento box is an eco-friendly metal container and is 7.25 x 3.5 x 5.5, and is rectangular. It is made of 100% food-grade stainless steel that is PVC-free, lead-free, BPA-free, Phthalate-free, and is 100% non-leaching. The box weighs in at 1.2 pounds. This lunch box is 50% larger than most bento boxes. The stainless steel lunch box holds over six cups of food.
It has three-tiered compartments so that you can separate and store all meals perfectly. There is also a removable snack pod for nuts, individual pieces of fruit, yogurt, sauces, and hummus. You can also use the sections for eggs, cherry tomatoes, or even pasta salad. Besides this, the GreenLunch Bento box has a lifetime warranty.
The DaCool Insulated Lunch Container Hot Food Jar is a 16-ounce stainless steel vacuum seal jar that keeps the contents hot or cold. It comes in five different colors-black, cyan blue, gray, pink, and purple. The hot food jar contains no PVC, is BPA-free, and comprises 304 stainless steel–a food-grade material. It has 4.5 stars on Amazon.
The DaCool food jar has a wide mouth and comes with a stainless steel folding spoon. It is easy to eat from and fill. It is also easy to clean. The container comes with a double lid design, including an outer lid used to hold food. This double lid design keeps the jar leakproof and provides additional insulation. It also has a non-slip silicone base. This food jar keeps items, whether it be soup, spaghetti, or last night’s dinner, piping hot for hours.
The TAVVA Stainless Steel Food Containers are plastic-free and reusable. They come in sets of three, including a 3-ounce small size, 7-ounce medium size, a large 12-ounce size, five in sizes, small, medium, large, 20-ounce x-large, and a 26-ounce xx-large. Tavva containers are leakproof and 100% watertight. They also have a lifetime guaranty. These containers are best if you are looking for separate containers instead of one lunch box. Users love the convenience of having different container sizes that can be mixed and matched however you would like.
The Yumbox Original Leakproof Bento Box has a practical, leakproof design that keeps foods separated, with a tray divided into five compartments. The tray is removable, and the box has a silicone lid that engages with the tray to seal it. It is ideal for younger kids due to its latch that is easy to open and close.
Yumbox’s compartments hold a half cup’s worth of an item, with a separated dip holding section. The box won the Good Design Award for a children’s product, and it has 4.5 stars on Amazon. Yumbox fits in a standard size lunch bag and measures 8.5 x 6.5 x 1.8 inches. It weighs 1.1 pounds, is rectangular in shape, and is available in a rainbow of different colors kids will love.
The Meillen Kids Bento Lunch Box with an insulated cooler bag and water bottle for the younger crowd ages 2 to 7. It is leak-proof and has 4 compartments. The Meillen box has 4.5 stars on Amazon. It is rectangular and measures 11.02 x 6.69 x 2.95 inches. The compartments keep portions separated and fresh and make it easy to pack a school lunch with various items. You can put a cheese sandwich or turkey and cheese roll-ups in one section, while trail mix, greek yogurt, a hard-boiled egg, crackers, and cheese or apple slices can be put in the others.
Kids love having different items to choose from and enjoy having a rainbow of healthy school lunch ideas to choose from in this well-made bento box. Users love the size of the younger crowd. The Meillen Kids Bento Lunch Box, Insulated Cooler Bag, and Water Bottle are BPA-free and carry a lifetime guarantee. It has a satisfaction guarantee and can be tried for 30 days and returned for a full refund if it isn’t the right fit for you. It also comes in fun pink or blue patterns.
What to Keep in Mind when Planning for a Healthy School Lunch
What is the Best Lunch Box for Kids?
First things first…you will need a sturdy lunch box or lunch bag. Most families buy a new lunch box or bag when students go back to school every year. But, even the most convenient box or bag needs a way to keep items hot or cold. Insulated lunch boxes and bags help keep things cold or hot. An ice pack or gel pack will also help with this. To keep hot items hot, a thermos may be the perfect container for you. Packing nutritious school lunches start with an appropriate bag or box.
Plan, Plan, Plan
The first thing that goes into creating a healthy lunch is developing a plan for meals for the week. Kids should be involved in this process and often come up with great ideas of their own. Kids eat meals that they help decide upon. This gives them some ownership and control over their school lunch. After discussing the menu, a grocery list can be figured out. There are plenty of healthy lunch ideas to fill up hungry students’ bellies.
Shopping for Healthy Lunch Groceries
Shopping for groceries for inspired healthy lunch ideas can be a fun adventure. Fresh produce like cherry tomatoes (for kids, these are bite-sized fun) or snap peas bring a pop of color and a snap in the mouth. Sweet potato can be either heated and cooked through and sent hot in a lunch container or made into sweet potato fries or chips.
A variety of fruit to include in a school lunch could feature blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, a bunch of grapes, pomegranate seeds, apple slices, or a salad and are all great choices from a well-stocked produce section. Dried fruit is also a lunch idea that appeals to kids. Kids can try new foods each week.
Protein for Building Strong Muscles
Proteins should also be included, like a hard-boiled egg, deli meat, and black beans. They are all choices that are high in protein and fiber. Cheese, Greek yogurt, string cheese, and almond butter or peanut butter (if allowed at school) all contain healthy amounts of protein.
MOO! Dairy Should Be Included in all School Lunches
The previously mentioned dairy items provide protein and calcium, and Vitamin D, which are both crucial for growth and strong bones. Another item added for more calcium is a dollop of cream cheese on a whole-grain bagel or English muffin. Wheat or whole-grain tortilla chips are also school lunch kid pleasers.
Take It with a Grain of Wheat!
Nourishing and filling whole grains are also key to include in healthy lunch ideas for kids. Whole grains are crucial for a healthy diet. They are filled with minerals like zinc, magnesium, iron, and copper and also have important nutrients for a growing child, like B vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, and protein. Rollups made from whole wheat tortillas and turkey and cheese and filled with a little cream cheese spread and some bell peppers are one of the more popular lunch ideas.
Whole grain bread can be used to make a healthy sandwich made with cheese and lean meat. Whole wheat bagels or English muffins can also be included and topped with peanut butter, almond butter, or seed butter. Check with your school as to the rules for including nuts in a kid’s lunch.
Prepping lunches is key to making successful school lunch ideas come to life. To help make school lunches easier to make, proper preparation is crucial. Eggs should be hard-boiled ahead of time, fruits and veggies should be washed and cut up. This helps make packing lunches much less of a chore. Packing lunches is much easier when meal prep is completed ahead of time. One or two protein foods should be prepared ahead of time. Hummus or tuna salad should be made and mixed.
Pack It In
Pack lunches the night before. Many kids, especially young ones, would love to help put together a lunch box full of healthy favorites. A lunch box for kids should include healthy ingredients lils veggie, protein, fruit, a carb, and some dairy. A bento box-style lunch box is the easiest to use for packing different items.
Bento boxes have dividers to keep different foods separated. A different food group can be placed in each section. Put a protein like meat or beans in one spot. Veggies like cherry tomatoes, sliced bell peppers, baby carrots, snap peas, or cucumber slices can be put in another section. Fruits like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or melon balls can be put in a fruit section. Healthy carbs like whole-wheat bread, grain crackers, or a whole-wheat English muffin pizza are great options.
To maximize the time spent packing lunches, lunches for the whole family can be made simultaneously. Adjust the portion sizes for all family members. Families should be observant and compliant when packing any nut products and following the school or the whole district’s restrictions. Some schools are nut-free, while others allow nut products in specific areas.
When packing a box with a healthy lunch for kids, food safety should always be at the forefront. Many items should be kept cool, so an insulated lunch box or bag is essential. Frozen gel or ice packs can also help keep lunch box items cold.
Healthy, Fun Lunch Ideas For Kids
Families often have fun coming up with original and healthy school lunch ideas. When packing school lunch, what great ideas that are also nutritious will appeal to kids both big and little? School lunch ideas are plentiful, and many items are nutritious and full of minerals that help kids of all ages grow and develop.
Breakfast for Lunch
Kids love eating breakfast for lunch. Breakfast for lunch meals is often the most popular and ordered meals in school cafeterias. A healthy breakfast for lunch is also a meal that can be packed in a lunch box for kids.
A few breakfast options for lunch include mini whole wheat pancakes with pure maple syrup and fresh fruit like blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries.
Turn a naturally greek yogurt into a yogurt parfait, with healthy granola, different berries, almonds, or other healthy items mixed in.
Scrambled eggs mixed with diced peppers and some shredded cheese can be included in the lunch in its compartment or rolled up in a whole grain tortilla to make a breakfast burrito. A veggie-laden salsa can accompany the burrito, and for a sweet addition, a handful of dark chocolate chips can be included in its section.
Make a waffle ‘sandwich’. Whole fruit jam, cream cheese, peanut butter, chocolate chips, or bananas can all be used as filling for a waffle sandwich. Whenever able, whole wheat waffles should be used. Sides of cut-up fruit or a large scoop of fruit salad are great breakfast accompaniments. Ensure that all fruit is washed well and patted dry to ensure that the fruits are clean and dry. Small dark chocolate squares can be included as a sweet treat.
While most kids love a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich, there are many easy to make sandwich alternatives that kids will be happy to see in their school lunches.
Apple ‘sandwiches’ are made by slicing apples horizontally into slices, spreading peanut butter, cream cheese, or almond butter on the apple slices (make sure you blot the apple slices dry before adding spreads to them, or they won’t stick). Then, sprinkle on dark chocolate chips or mini chocolate chips. Nutella is also a spread that kids love. Top with chopped nuts or slivered almonds or serve with just Nutella.
Roll-ups take on a new look and flavor when made with fresh deli turkey and sliced cheese rolled up with a little bit of veggie mayonnaise or hummus. Ham and spinach roll-ups are also a go-to favorite. Fresh ham, fresh spinach, and your choice of healthy sandwich spreads can be rolled up to make a healthy carb-free roll. For a sweeter option, sliced bananas and peanut and almond butter can all be rolled up in a whole wheat tortilla. A side of dried fruit provides more vitamins and minerals and appeals to children due to the sweetness and bite-sized pieces.
Salad Bar Section
A selection of various salads is also a great way to shake up lunchtime. Salads are easy to make and most kids love them.
A garden salad with different types of lettuce that can be store-bought, cherry tomatoes, snap peas, sliced cucumbers, shredded cheese, sprinkled with chopped up dried fruit like cranberries, accompanied by low-fat dressing is an easy go-to. However, there are many other salad options to spruce up healthy lunches.
A healthy egg salad made with veggie mayonnaise and served on large lettuce leave, or as a side by itself, will be a welcome change. The majority of kids like eggs, and hard boiling eggs when prepping lunch items will make a yummy egg salad as easy as 1-2-3. With egg salad, it is best to stay away from store-bought versions. They are typically high in fat and contain high levels of sugar and sodium.
A fruit salad is always an easy and popular choice. Some fruits won’t even need chopping, including berries like raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Sliced strawberries, halved grapes, pineapple chunks, and melon balls can be mixed for a quick, delicious lunch idea.
You can mix pasta salad, veggie,- or gluten-free pasta with pesto or simple mix-ins like peas, a bit of olive oil, carrots, and parmesan cheese. Pasta salads are generally easy to make, easy on the wallet, and require only a few ingredients…and kids love pasta.
Fun and Healthy School Lunches
Any sandwich can be made into a fun sandwich skewer. With this lunch idea, items can be cut into small pieces and slid onto a skewer-there is plenty of both toss-away and recyclable skewers available online. Cut up pieces of toasted bread, cubes of cheese–Monterey Jack, cheddar, or mozzarella, pieces of fruit like strawberries, grapes, pineapple chunks or melon balls, vegetables like peppers, or pieces of baked sweet potato. A healthy protein like fresh turkey or chicken from dinner the night before or slices of meat from the deli can be a wonderful addition to a sandwich skewer. Top the skewer however you want…with a black or green olive or juicy cherry tomato.
A Picnic or BBQ in a Box
Other fun school lunch ideas could include a lunch packed like you would pack a picnic—line sections of the lunchbox with red and white checked fabric or napkins. To make a picnic or barbecue in a box, grilled chicken, a chicken or veggie hot dog, or homemade turkey burgers are good options to include. Potato salad, pasta salad, watermelon slices, mini crunchy carrots or broccoli with ranch dip, and healthy whole grain cookies or build-your-own s’mores with dark chocolate squares, mini marshmallows, and graham crackers are all kid-friendly options that kids will love.
Deli in a Bento Box
Bento boxes are the perfect container to build a mini deli display good enough to eat. Some ideas to put in the Bento sections are cheese cubes, grain crackers, turkey salami or pepperoni, olives-either black or green, orange sections, and cut up whole wheat pitas, or whole grain or spinach tortillas are all great options for a true cafeteria deli experience. Chocolate-covered raisins, or some dried fruit, or trail mix can also be included.
Make It An Easy and Healthy School Year
Healthy school meals are key to helping students focus in school. But, they don’t have to be difficult or expensive. Easy lunches that kids will love can be healthy and fun. When the kids are involved with planning their healthy lunch box, they have more ownership over the menu. Healthy grocery shopping for fresh, quality ingredients can also be an enjoyable experience together. Prepping lunches ahead of time can make crazy mornings a little less crazy.
Research has shown that students who stay active and eat nutritious meals frequently tend to have higher test scores and a longer attention span. They also have improved cognitive function. Hungry children cannot learn. Students who are satisfied with their meal are much more able to concentrate, and in turn, retain the information they have learned.
Good Habits Start Young
Children establish their eating habits at a young age. By providing healthy meals that kids can enjoy, they start building healthy meal habits and learning to eat a more-varied, nourishing diet, which will reach adulthood.