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The ultimate school lunch box

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Back to School
Back to School

Last year’s lunch box is looking pretty ratty, huh? Maybe you never got around to digging out the Cheeto crumbs either. No shame. It’s a new year, new you. Well, okay, the year is still the same but you can just buy a new lunch box and feel really great about life for a second.

Back-to-school time fills us with optimism. Hope for the future. And hope for the best deals for the ultimate school lunch box. We know you want to send your kid off in style. Cool lunch boxes can be unique and stylish, or just basic and practical. But how do you decide what will actually make it home on the bus?

There are three important criteria. #1: The age of kid. Can they open it? Can they carry it? #2: How much food they need. Do they have a hollow leg? Are they snack-centric? And #3: Where they fall on the stuff-destruction scale. If your kid is a literal T-rex, you may want to buy two to make it through the school year with minimal damage. Sorry.

Best kid lunch box

Best kid lunch box

This insulated lunch box is flat, so it can contain a bunch of different brand’s interior lunch box. It has a little mesh pocket to hold an ice pack to keep your kid’s Lunchable from congealing into a gross mass of yuck.

If you have more than one child, fear not! This option comes in lots of patterns and colors so your unicorn lover will be happy, and so will your “I’m too cool for patterns wait I like that iridescent one” kid. Best of all, the lunch box slips right into a backpack and is nice and flat, instead of turning your kid into a Quasimodo look-alike. Or making them carry it like Alex P. Keaton and his briefcase.

You’ll definitely want to pick up a couple of flat ice packs to toss in the freezer. Keep in mind that these aren’t a total substitute for refrigeration, but will help to keep things cool throughout the morning. Since the ice packs are flat, they are easy to fit into a full lunchbag and won’t interfere with how many Teddy Grahams you can shove in.

Stainless steel lunch box

Stainless steel lunch box

This steel lunch box is durable and large enough for a bigger kid. It holds up to daily use and is a total winner. It’s main downside is that the segments inside are not leakproof. They’re more of a guide. So you’ll need to pack a sealed applesauce cup instead of just dumping some in from a large jar. The stainless container fits nicely into a flat insulated lunchbox but it would hold up to being shoved into a backpack.

We admit that it’s pricey, but compared to flimsy Tupperware or disposable sandwich bags, it’s worth it. Unless your kid is a chronic loser-of-lunch-items, go for it. They clean up perfectly in the dishwasher and stay nice-looking for years.

Kids lunch box alternative

Kids lunch box alternative

Some schools are banning lunch boxes this year, because they may be another way to carry germs between home and school. The old-school paper lunch sack is the perfect lunch bag option. Get creative and pick up a colorful marker set so you can personalize your kid’s humdrum paper sack lunch with a new smiley face every day. (Okay, or an animal or rocketship or whatever if you actually have drawing skills!)

If you have to use completely disposable lunch supplies, wax paper sandwich bags are an eco-friendly alternative to plastic sandwich bags. They are perfect for dry snacks like chips or dried fruit and come with little stickers to seal them. We love that a non-plastic choice exists for disposable lunch options.

High-end lunch box for adults

High-end lunch box for adults

After buying the kids fresh supplies, most adults want a little back-to-school love for themselves. If you’re tired of lugging your lunch in an old Cool Whip container taped with masking tape, you’re in the right place. This adult lunch box contains separate containers (to keep your salad toppings from getting soggy) and a little spill-proof dressing container.

And, okay, this is marketed as the perfect salad lunch box, but we think you will be better off putting chips in the bottom and dips and other chip accoutrements in the top section. Like a classy chip antipasto platter. You’ll thank us later.