When I was a kid, my mom got me the best insulated lunch box.
I can’t even find the words to express how much I loved my “black princess on the shore” lunch box. To give you a fair idea, let’s just say I spent so much time gazing at her realistic face while wishing we were friends.
Looking back, I understand that my mom only wanted to keep my food warm, but what she doesn’t know is that she gave me a friend and an undying love for the beach.
So, when we got the chance to research the best insulated lunch box, I jumped on the opportunity to relive my childhood memories. Admit it — you’ve already got your lunchbox in mind. Don’t you? Well, lunch boxes have changed, and you need to know what to look for.
The Adult Quick Guide
Once you get the best insulated lunch box for your kid, you need to know how to use and maintain it properly.
We’re sure you’re already thinking, “It’s a bag that helps food to maintain its temperature, what else is there?” Well, so much else! Let’s discuss construction.
What are insulated lunch boxes made of?
The best insulated lunch box consists of multiple layers for optimum functionality. Typically, they have an outer layer made from versatile plastic like vinyl, or sturdy polymers like nylon or polyester.
Within the middle layer or base, if you will, you will find a thick layer of insulating foam composed of various materials – including polyethylene plastic, thermal fabrics, polyurethane, and other materials derived from polyester fibers.
To enhance water-resistant qualities, the middle layer is often lined atop the insulating foam with materials like foil, plastic, aluminum, or vinyl.
How can I keep my child’s lunch warm?
Many parents and guardians can attest to the fact that it’s easy to pack a cold lunch. That’s why it’s practical and convenient to opt for sandwiches, fruits, vegetables, and other non-perishable foods.
But if you’re interested in the moving toward the hot lunch route or switching it up now and then, consider using a lunch thermos or thermos lunch kit. To use, pack food while hot or put it in the thermos and microwave to make it hot. Fit it into an insulated lunch bag, and you’re good to go.
Make sure only to use foods that can be eaten warm, cold, or at room temperature.
Why put insulated lunch boxes in fridges?
Although your kiddo probably doesn’t have access to a fridge at school, you may be tempted to cool their lunch bag overnight in the fridge in hopes that the cold will persevere longer the next day.
There’s nothing wrong with this strategy, and it will surely help at least a little bit. It might not be as effective as you think, though, because the lunch box’s insulation will work to keep the inside of the lunch box the same temperature as it was when you first put it inside the fridge.
So, what’s the best way to protect cold food inside an insulated lunch box? First, we must understand that the lunch box doesn’t actively cool food – rather, it slows down the warming process. To keep the cold food cold, the best strategy is to put something inside the lunch box that will actively cool food: an ice pack!
Are they machine washable?
As our lives become increasingly hectic, the task of hand-washing can easily become bothersome. It’s no wonder that a commonly asked question regarding insulated lunch bags relates to their compatibility with the washing machine. So, let’s address the query: Can insulated lunch bags go in the washing machine?
We wouldn’t go so far to say that all insulated lunch boxes are machine washable. That’s because, while some come out looking great after a turn in the washer, others fall apart.
Typically, lunch boxes made from high-quality materials maintain their prime condition even after enduring the vigorousness of a machine.
To determine if the lunch box is machine washable, read the product description, or find the manufacturers label inside the product if there’s one. If the lunch box is inexpensive, you can throw it in the washer to see what happens. If you don’t want to risk it, stick to handwashing.
What is the best way to hand wash an insulated lunch box?
If your child’s insulated lunch box isn’t machine tolerable, you have no choice but to clean it manually. To hand wash an insulated lunch box:
- Make warm soapy water and submerge the lunch box in it.
- Use a soft cloth or sponge to scrub down the interior and exterior of the lunch box.
- Rinse thoroughly under a faucet with clean water and pat down with a dry kitchen towel.
- Make sure it air dries completely before using again.
If you can’t submerge the lunch box in water, dampen the soft cloth or sponge and wipe down. This method is also ideal if it needs light cleaning to keep fresh.
How do I keep my child’s lunch box from smelling?
The easiest way to deodorize your insulated lunch box is to dampen a paper towel with white vinegar. Leave overnight and in the morning, wash the lunch box and air dry. Alternatively, you can sprinkle baking soda to neutralize the smell.
Remind your kids to discard wrappers and scraps of food after they’ve eaten.
Now that we’ve explored their usage and maintenance, let’s jump right into the benefits of owning the best insulated lunch box.
It’s More than a Nifty Accessory
People love using insulated lunch boxes for many reasons. Here are a few of the advantages that come with investing in this personal accessory.
The fact is simple. If you use anything but an insulated lunch box, you’ll struggle with maintaining the temperature of your food. While some adults have the luxury of refrigerating their lunch and reheating it later with a microwave at work, most kids don’t.
The best insulated lunch box makes sure that your child’s food retains its temperature for most of the day until its ready to be consumed. You should note that room temperature food isn’t just unappetizing, but dangerous as well.
The FDA recommends that perishable foods left at room temperature for a maximum of two hours be thrown out.
Healthier lunch options
For lunch to be healthy, there’s a high possibility that it consists of fresh, perishable ingredients. And as we all know, fresh foods don’t last as long as canned and processed foods.
This explains why many parents can’t pack healthy meals for their kids as often as they’d like. With the best insulated lunch box, you’ll now have the opportunity to pack healthy lunches without ever worrying if they’ll remain consumable by lunchtime.
Aside from any environmental concerns, one of the perks of investing in an insulated lunch box is that you save a lot of money due to its reusable nature. Although brown paper bags and disposable plastic bags may seem inexpensive, you’ll rack up some severe costs in the long term.
If you have the option to choose between a disposable bag and an insulated lunch box, it’s advisable to opt for the reusable product.
Durability and portability
High-quality insulated bags have sturdy construction to protect the contents placed inside. Due to their insulation and strategically lined foams, they do a better job of keeping food intact than other lunch bags.
Additionally, they have high-quality zips and stitching to withstand frequent usage and cleaning. A cool feature is that they are portable enough to carry alongside other stuff and lightweight enough to fit into larger bags and backpacks.
Before you think about shopping, we want to show you the importance of reading labels and product descriptions.
Toxic Chemicals Found in Some Lunch Boxes
A few manufacturers use chemicals that experts say are dangerous to your kids’ health. If a lunch box contains the following compounds, don’t buy it.
BPA (bisphenol A.) combines with other chemicals to create durable plastics. It’s derived from epoxy resins and polycarbonate plastics; the latter is primarily found in plastic containers, feminine hygiene products, water bottles, and more.
Exposure to BPA may cause various health issues, and as such, the EU and countries like China, Canada, and Malaysia tightly regulate its usage.
The FDA, however, asserts that it’s safe to use at the low levels the United States currently allows.
We believe, however, it’s best to avoid lunch boxes that contain BPA since some manufacturers fail to state the exact quantity in their products. Better safe than sorry when it comes to your child’s health.
These are a family of chemicals that make plastic soft and malleable. Unfortunately, researchers discovered that exposure could lead to asthma, ADHD, breast cancer, type II diabetes, and more.
Phthalates types BBP, DBP, and DEHP, have been banned from toys and lunch boxes permanently due to skin irritation and other health issues in kids.
Other toxic chemicals to be mindful of are PVC and lead. PVC can cause cancer and liver problems in kids. When shopping, avoid products with “PVC” and “#3” labels.
Additionally, researchers explain that lead can travel out of the products into your child’s mouth to cause serious problems.
Lead is a heavy metal. And it can travel to the brain, kidney, bones, and liver. Young kids are more susceptible to lead poisoning, so it’s vital to avoid it altogether. Now, let’s show you how we selected products that are free of toxic substances and heavy metals.
How We Round up Our Picks
We wanted to bring you the absolute best insulated lunch boxes that are highly functional and accessible. So, we combed through several customer and expert reviews to choose those that are food-safe, reusable, and durable.
We also made sure that our picks are lightweight on their own to prevent body aches when packed with food and carried for a period.
You should note that our lunch boxes are free of toxic chemicals and dangerous materials. So, without much ado, let’s discuss the best insulated lunch boxes.
10 Best Insulated Lunch Box for Your Kid’s Meals
If you’re looking for the best insulated lunch box, we’ve got the right picks just for you. Our selection will keep your mind at ease when you’re packing your kid’s lunch or even lunch for yourself.
Even though these products do a fantastic job of retaining temperature, they differ significantly due to their specialized features and design.
1. OPUX Premium Insulated Lunch Box
We love OPUX for many reasons, but primarily for making lunch boxes that people of all ages can use. This particular model isn’t just perfect for packing your kid’s lunch; it’s also the ideal companion for work and other outdoor activities.
OPUX Premium Insulated Lunch Box is leakproof, lightweight, and can hold six cans of Coca-Cola.
It also has reinforced zippers for durability, adjustable hand strap for convenience, and outer pockets for additional space. The manufacturers get extra points for using high-quality 600D polyester and nylon materials to construct this beauty.
The inner layer is PVC and BPA free and consists of high-grade thermal lining that can keep food at an optimal temperature for hours.
2. Wildkin Lunch Box
Wildkin is notable for its bold and creative take on backpacks, duffel bags, sleeping bags, and other accessories. A peculiarity about their products is that their design team plays with bold patterns and themes that appeal to kids and teenagers.
For example, the “Trains, Planes & Trucks” model features its name-sake artwork that is fun and aesthetically pleasing to the eyes.
The first thing you’ll probably notice about the Wildkin Lunch Box is its spacious design, their standard insulated lunch box measures in at 9.75 by 7 by 3.25 inches.
The company used first-rate 600D polyester and nylon materials to make a lunch box that’s PVC, BPA, and Phthalate-free. Currently, there are 18 models available with various themes and patterns.
3. LONE CONE Kids’ Insulated Lunch Box
We can’t discuss the best insulated lunch box without mentioning LONE CONE Kids’ Insulated Lunch Box. Not only does this gem run in two sizes — small and large, but it was also designed with kids in mind.
The product has large zippers a child can operate smoothly, and an adjustable buckle handle that clips to a backpack. It can withstand vigorous handling, so don’t be surprised if it’s still functional after a rough playing session.
LONE CONE Kids’ Insulated Lunch Box is 100 percent food-safe and doesn’t have any of the toxic chemicals we discussed earlier.
It’s machine washable and well-insulated to help food retain its temperature for long hours. If you’re looking for a lunch box that has spacious compartments and a water bottle holder, this model is for you.
4. DaCool Upgraded Toddler School Lunch Container
We have no doubts in our minds when we say that your kid is going to have a blast with this lunch box.
The five-compartment product has FDA approval with zero traces of BPA and PVC. It’s dishwasher and microwavable safe for convenience and leakproof to ensure that the food remains intact without spillage.
Overall, it’s an environmentally-friendly bento box that uses a unique design complete with rubber coating on the edges to keep food safe and fresh for an extended period.
DaCool Upgraded Toddler School Lunch Container runs in 3 colors — blue, green, and pink, and is ideal for children between the ages of 2 and 10.
It’s lightweight, and durable, making it the perfect product for travel, picnics, parties, and other activities. This insulated lunch box is highly-functional and affordable.
5. Lunch Pets Insulated Kids Lunch Box
The best insulated lunch box in the shape of an animal and an adorable kid is the most heart-melting combination ever. Lunch Pets created a line of insulated lunch boxes that have quickly become a consumer favorite.
Each of the four models — HungryPup, Munchosaur, Snackycat, and Yumicorn, are so cuddly that your kid will never leave home without it.
Lunch Pets Insulated Kids Lunch Box has a large thermal pocket with insulated lining to fit various food items or even a standard bento box. It’s a machine-washable lunch box that clips easily to bikes, backpacks, scooters, and other kid-friendly accessories.
We’re certain that you’ll love the fact that it comes with a name tag for easy identification.
6. Keeli Kid’s Lunch Box Pink Unicorn
This one made the best insulated lunch box list for being functional and environmentally-friendly. Keeli Kid’s Lunch Box Pink Unicorn is food-safe, kid-friendly, as well as 100 percent free of lead, PVC, BPA, and Phthalates. It’s durable, sturdy, and easy to clean due to its high-quality 600D polyester.
The insulated lining will make sure that your child’s food is still cold or warm when lunchtime rolls around. With this lunch box, you don’t have to worry about space; it measures in at 10 by 8.25 by 3.4 inches.
Note that the inner lining features tabs for utensils, water bottles, and ice cube packs.
It also comes with a free sandwich cutter, outer zippered pockets, and mesh pockets for convenience.
7. Bentgo Kids Prints Lunch Box
That is a five-compartment lunch box that’s leakproof to keep meals grounded in their sections when on the go. The airtight technology is secure with latches that a child can operate efficiently.
It also features a drop-proof design that makes sure that the lunch box is still intact even after a nasty fall.
The prints lunch box is dishwasher, freezer, and microwave safe. We love it because the compartments encourage parents to pack healthy meals. Apart from its features and undeniable functionality, Bentgo Kids Prints Lunch Box made our best insulated lunch box list for their charitable causes.
For every lunch box you purchase, Bentgo donates a portion to “Feed the Children,” a non-profit that caters to struggling children and their families.
8. Healthy Packers Insulated Lunch Box
As their name suggests, Healthy Packers is a proud advocate of healthy eating and sustainability.
This insulated lunch box is for everyone, not just kids. It’s available in six colors to meet a variety of needs. Healthy Packers Insulated Lunch Box is crafted using eco-friendly materials, which contributes to its durability, functionality, and appearance.
It has a waterproof oxford fabric to give it an elegant appearance and an inner aluminum lining to combat spillage and promote easy cleaning.
Healthy Packers use a unique two-way insulation system to retain the temperature of food for long hours. You never have to eat meals at room-temperature if you invest in this beauty.
We also love that its dimensions of 8.7 by 4.5 by 10.2 inches make it the perfect size of everyone.
9. Skip Hop Zoo Kids Insulated Lunch Box
Like Lunch Pets, Skip Hop produces lunch bags molded after various zoo animals. It features an easy-fasten strap that attaches to backpacks and a well-insulated interior that can hold hot and cold meals.
There’s also a mesh pocket for added space and a name tag for an even more personalized effect.
The easy to wipe interior and friendly designs make it the ideal products for kids. Skip Hop Zoo Kids Insulated Lunch Box is machine washable, however, make sure to set it to gentle cycle. If you’re concerned about ruining it, consider handwashing it with a damp towel and make sure to let it air-dry.
Currently, there are approximately 22 Zoo lunch bag animals to choose from.
10. MIER Double Decker Insulated Lunch Box
This insulated lunch bag could be the poster product for convenience.
You no longer have to choose between a hot or cold lunch or worry about how to pack them properly. The MIER Double Decker Insulated Lunch Box features two compartments for maintaining both cold and warm food items separately.
You can also keep your soda or medium-sized bowls and cutlery in the bottom chamber.
This double-decker lunch bag uses PEVA lining, an eco-friendly material that’s durable, sturdy, and easy to clean. We love that its lightweight and has a 45.3-inch adjustable strap that’s adjustable to fit a 5-year old or worn as a crossbody by an adult.
You can choose from a wide range of colors that include pink flower, dark red, purple, dark gray, and blue.
Before You Pick the Best Insulated Lunch Box
Insulated lunch boxes? Absolutely incredible! It can change the way your child eats in school and give you peace of mind along the way.
When shopping for the insulated lunch box that will meet your needs, always consider the dietary requirement of your child and their interests.
A picky eater who loves trains could willingly eat his lunch because of his love for his lunch bag with train patterns. If you’d like to see how long the lunch bag retains temperature, we advise that you test it out first.
You should also remember to read customer reviews, product specifications, and product descriptions or labels for heavy metals, banned substances, and toxic chemicals like BPA, lead, PVC, and Phthalates.
What has been your experience with using an insulated lunch box? Would you recommend it to others? Share your thoughts below.