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Back-to-school season (and back to the office!) is in full swing, and among all the supply shopping, syllabus signing, and other activities that go into preparation, it can be easy to forget about some of the more basic items on the list. Who wants to think about lunch when there's new shoes and backpacks to buy? Whether you're planning a return to the classroom or in need of a way to keep meals cold for yourself, finding the best lunchbox for your food is a search that shouldn't wait. When purchasing a lunchbox for adults or children, there's a few thing to consider. First, do you want a large lunchbox that accommodates snacks or a smaller one to fit into your bag? Do you want something that has one large chamber or is split into separate sections? Is an easy-to-clean lunchbox a priority? If you're sending it off to school, for instance, you may spend more time cleaning the box than you do packing the meal. One of the final aspects to keep in mind is insulation. Some lunch boxes can be frozen, while others are actually microwave-safe.
A lunchbox can be a worthwhile purchase if you're keeping all this top of mind, but if you pick the first one on the store shelves, then you may find yourself repeating this process next semester. We've collected some of the best ones of 2022 for both adults and children.
1. The Most Durable Option
PlanetBox Rover Classic Stainless Steel Bento Lunch Box - Amazon, $43.74
We'll admit, the cost of this lunchbox shocked us at first, too. That lasted only as long as it took us to dig into the specifics of the PlanetBox. Ultimately, the cost of this purchase can be split over many years, because that's how long this food container is going to last you. It has a solid stainless steel body that's durable and ding-resistant, and the leak-proof locking lid will keep your food from spilling. The Rover is PlanetBox's most compartmentalized option, with five compartments that fit up to a pound of food. Plastic-free, the PlanetBox is totally dishwasher-safe, making it one of the easiest boxes to clean, too.
2. The Best Freezer-Safe Option
PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag - Amazon, $21.99
If you're tired of having to constantly refreeze ice packs (or repeat purchase ice packs that have been lost), the PackIt is a fool-proof solution for your troubles -- because this bag has a built-in ice pack wrapped into the walls. The gel is non-toxic and freezes in 12 hours, and the zip-to-close lid secures tightly. Even with its generous size (it holds up to four liters of food), it also folds itself down flat, meaning it won't take up that much space in your freezer or your bag on the commute home.
3. The Best Insulated Option for Kids
Hydro Flask Insulated Lunch Box - Amazon, $44.95
In recent years, Hydro Flask has extended beyond making incredibly popular water bottles and coffee cups, lending the company's temperature retention know-how to a line of high-quality (and stylish) lunchboxes. Like the bottles, the design of this box is simple: a single chamber that comes in 3 to 5-liter volumes, wrapped by a durable shell body and sealed by a zipper. While we don't like to challenge any toddler to check this claim, this lunchbox is a tough one to bust up. Plus, it's a snap to wipe clean and carries Hydro Flask's signature double-walled insulation and durable design. We also like the comfortable rubber handle.
4. The Best Insulated Option for Adults
YETI Daytrip Lunch Bag - REI, $80
This one may induce sticker shock, but for anyone who owns a YETI cooler, the cost of this makes sense. There are few ice chests on the planet that keep things as cold as a YETI, and the lunchboxes are no exception. Not only is this soft-topped bag highly insulated via the closed-cell foam padding, but unlike the modular coolers, it's hyper-collapsible too. The exterior may be flexible and featherweight, but it's tougher than it looks: it's water-resistant on the outside with a leakproof liner wrapping the interior. The magnetic clip allows you to adjust the height of the bag to your preference and a hook and latch system closes out the chamber.
5. The Best Stackable Option
Lille Home Stackable Stainless Steel Thermal Compartment Lunch - Amazon, $29.99
There's something incredibly satisfying about stacking separate containers together to make a tower of delicious lunch items: and it's easier to store in an employee fridge, too. Lille Home's steel thermal containers have three tiers that can be filled with foods of varying temperatures and are kept individually insulated by silicone dividers. Yes, this means your grapes and fruits can remain chilled while your afternoon soup is kept warm for up to four hours. The three containers vary by size, with the bottom storing 20-ounces, and the next ascending levels storing 10-ounces a piece. It's also convenient to wash because of the rust-free, dishwasher-safe steel body. Slip it in the included carrying sleeve and take it to school, work, or a weekend picnic.
6. The Best Lunchbox for Kids
OmieBox Rolltop Lunch Bag - Amazon, $26.95
This bag from OmieBox is a great choice for kids. For starters, the bright colors are hard to miss, so it's not easy to leave behind in the office, locker, or cubby. It's spacious enough to fit multiple to-go containers and lunchtime items, too: The rolltop bag is easy to fill, simple to collapse, and a cinch to wash. The easy cleaning may be its greatest attribute. Instead of having to wipe the interior clean, the premium PVC-, BPA-, and phthalate-free nylon fabric can be tossed in the machine and freed from all its messes. The extra-long carrying strap over your shoulder is a bonus, too.
And Don't Forget...
Full Windsor Magware Magnetic Flatware Set - REI, $35
What good is a reusable lunch box without utensils to eat them with? If you're the kind who worries about the separation anxiety that comes from carrying your own utensils around, Full Windsor has you covered. This flatware set has a magnetic point of connection that is too fun to leave you forgetting where you left the spoon. As a top-rated product from REI co-op members, these aluminum utensils are the perfect pairing if you're trying to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
(re)zip Lay Flat Leak Proof Reusable Lunch Bag (5-Pack) - Amazon, $19.99
Who needs to be spending extra money on a fresh box of single-use plastics every month? Your personal ethos of waste-not, want-not can be extended to your meal-prepping needs as well. Each one holds 3.5 cups, and the (re)zip bags replace individual plastic sandwich and freezer bags.