Is your goal for 2020 to bring your lunch from home more often? If so, you'll need a stylish and functional box that will protect your food and keep it hot (or keep it cold!) and fresh until you're ready to eat. Alternatively, you might be after something sturdy to make sure your toddler or child's meal is secure in their backpack on the way to school. Whoever you're buying for, it's essential to find a container that will meet your requirements for compartment and portion control size, material and budget.
That's where we come in! To help you decide on the right lunch box for your lifestyle, we've created a buying guide that covers all the important factors you should consider. Plus, we've compiled a list of our favourites to buy at Amazon, eBay, and John Lewis, from trusted brands like Sistema, SHO, and Mepal. Whether you'd prefer an insulated stainless steel flask set for adults, a kid-friendly plastic tub with a matching bag, or an eco-friendly glass container for meal prep, we've got options aplenty!
Choosing a new lunch box is about more than just how it looks – you should also consider factors like the materials used, the box's capacity, if it has insulation, and whether it comes with any useful extras.
First things first, you'll need to decide on the right material to suit your lifestyle. Each material has its pros and cons, depending on the kind of food you want to store and whether it'll need heating up, so let's run through them. We'll also include whether each recommendation on our list is microwave or dishwasher suitable to make choosing even easier!
Plastic is a durable material which is usually suitable for use in both microwaves and dishwashers, so it's an ideal choice if you like to take leftovers to work or school but don't fancy scrubbing away at the sink afterwards.
As it's also very lightweight, it won't make your bag too heavy – even if you like to bring several meals worth of food or snacks! Just make sure that the lunch box you select is made from BPA-free plastic, to ensure that it's free from potential toxins and safe to eat from.
Lunch boxes made from a metal like stainless steel are great at keeping your snacks cool until lunchtime; they're a real life-saver in the summer for food like salads and fruit! They're also much sturdier than other materials, so will survive even a long day of travelling.
However, this type of container is not suitable for the microwave – you'll need to opt for a different material if you want to reheat leftovers, or go for an insulated metal food flask instead.
Glass is an eco-friendly material which is safe to use in both the microwave and the dishwasher, as well as a traditional oven. Plus, it's non-porous and therefore isn't affected by whatever food you plan to store inside it (whereas plastic can become stained over time or may absorb food odours).
Unfortunately though, glass is heavy and breakable so we don't recommend it as an option for children or anyone who plans to take their lunch on a long hiking trip!
The capacity of most lunch boxes is measured in millilitres (ml), with the recommended adult portion sizes being 600 ml for women and 900 ml for men. If you're trying to lose weight, knock about 100 ml off these sizes and make sure you incorporate plenty of healthy foods into your meal. On the other hand, those refueling after exercise may need a little more, so can be adjusted as you see fit.
For children, 400 ml is recommended for those aged 3-5, and 600 ml is ideal for those aged 6-11. You'll want to make sure that you include a variety of fruit and vegetables as well as protein and carbohydrates, to keep tummies full until dinner time!
No microwave or refrigerator when you're away from home? No problem! An insulated container will keep your lunch hot or cold all day, until you're ready to dig in.
Whilst it might be a little bulky in comparison to a regular lunch box, we're certain that the convenience factor means you won't mind it taking up extra space in your bag.
To make lunch on the go even easier, some containers have added extras. These include a carry bag, a flask for your favourite drink, or reusable cutlery like a spork which saves you packing a spoon or fork from home. Keep an eye out for these additional items if you want to get even more out of your purchase!
Now that you know which features to look out for when choosing a lunch box, it’s time to run through our favourites. From kid-approved insulated containers to stylish glass tubs, we've got something for everyone!
|Extra Features||Bag, flask|
|Extra Features||Folding spoon|
Lock & Lock
Stainless Steel King Food Jar with Folding Spoon
Microwave Medium Soup Mug
Zoo Insulated Food Jar - Bee
Ovenglass Square Container - Clear, 750 ml
Campus Lunch Box
3 Piece Lunch Bag Set - Blue
Vacuum Insulated Food Flask - Ocean
GoEat Space Saving Lunch Box - Green
Disney Frozen Elsa Insulated Lunch Box
|Features||Everything You Need for an ...||Inexpensive and Incredibly ...||The Stylish Way to Store Meals||Small, Affordable, and Spor...||Sturdy and Suitable for Any...||Perfect for Keeping Picnic-...||Easy to Clean, with an Appe...||Ergonomic and Totally Spill...||A Compact Container for San...||A Must-Have for Frozen Fans|
|Material||Stainless steel||Plastic||Stainless steel||Stainless steel||Glass||Plastic||Plastic||Stainless steel||Plastic||Stainless steel|
|Capacity||450 ml||656 ml||800 ml||325 ml||750 ml||750 ml||-||400 ml||-||709 ml|
|Extra Features||Folding spoon||-||-||Spork||-||Spork||Bag, flask||Spoon||-||-|
Now that you've started thinking about the best way to keep your lunch fresh, why not check out some of our other food storage articles? As always, our recommendations will suit a variety of needs and budgets!
Whether you're after something that'll keep your salad cool for hours or a container that you can heat up tasty leftovers in, we hope you've found our lunch box recommendations useful. Now you know which features to look out for, we're confident that you'll find the perfect container to store your favourite snacks!
Author: Nicola McClements
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