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Back-to-school season is almost here, which means you may want to start stocking up on supplies and learning essentials to help your child succeed throughout the year. Though many schools don’t send out supply lists until later in the summer, one thing you can buy now to pair with your child’s backpack is a lunch box, which can help keep their food at a safe temperature and make it easy for them to transport everything. Below, we rounded up some top-rated kids lunch boxes, bento boxes and food containers across popular and Select reader-favorite brands.
To help you narrow down your options, we rounded up some highly rated lunch boxes and bags for kids that feature child-friendly designs and insulation that can keep food and drinks cold for hours (most recommend using ice packs, which are typically sold separately).
With two layers of insulation and a 3.5-liter capacity, this lunch box from Hydro Flask is designed to keep food cold for hours, according to the brand. It has an interior band designed to hold utensils and an ice pack, and it comes in kid-friendly colors like Iris (a shade of purple), Grasshopper (a bright green) and Geranium (a bright red). On Hydro Flask’s website, the lunch box boasts a 4.8-star average rate from over 200 reviews.
This soft-sided lunch box from L.L.Bean, which makes some of our favorite backpacks for kids, has a spacious interior with a 5-liter capacity. The brand says the lunch box’s internal mesh pocket can hold an ice pack to keep your child’s food cold throughout the day. It comes in a variety of colors, including green, neon pink and teal, and for an additional charge, you can also add a monogram to the front of the lunch box to ensure your child knows which pack is theirs. It has a 4.4-star average rating from more than 800 reviews on L.L.Bean’s website.
With a 4-liter capacity, the rectangular bag can hold sandwiches, snacks and more, and the brand says it’s triple-insulated to keep food fresh. Depending on your child’s preferences, there are dozens of patterns to choose from, including a fun unicorn pattern and a dinosaur theme. This patterned lunch bag has a 4.8-star average rating from more than 1,300 reviews on Amazon.
This PackIt lunch box can be flattened and placed inside the freezer overnight to help the walls — which equip non-toxic cooling gel — stay cold enough to help keep food and drinks cold for hours, according to the brand. In addition to a soft-sided zip interior that can hold a kid’s bento box and a 12-ounce drink, the lunch box sports a slim exterior zip pocket that can hold ID cards, napkins, wipes and more, and its buckle handle lets your child clip it onto their backpack, PackIt says. Available in over a dozen kid-friendly patterns, the lunch bag has a 4.7-star average rating from more than 11,200 reviews on Amazon.
A fun option for astronauts in training, this lunch box features an out-of-this-world galaxy pattern. According to the brand, the PVC-free lining is easy to clean, and the closed-cell foam insulation is designed to keep food cold. This lunch box also has two separate zippered compartments stacked on top of one another so snacks and drinks can stay separate from fruits, vegetables and sandwiches.
If you’re looking for a splurge option, this lunch bag from YETI uses the same rubber foam insulation as many of its soft-sided coolers to keep food cold (though ice packs are sold separately). It’s equipped with a magnetic Thermo Snap closure to ensure a consistent temperature, and the size of the bag can be adjusted using its hook-and-loop grid, according to the brand. Available in five colors, the bag has a 4.4-star average rating from nearly 1,500 reviews on YETI’s website.
Bento boxes and containers can keep your child’s food compartmentalized and prevent a giant mess when they’re at school. Both bento boxes and containers can be used on their own or inside a lunch box — since most are not insulated, it’s better to put them inside a lunch bag.
Bentgo makes some of our favorite bento boxes for adults, and its Bentgo Kids line can be a great option for your little one. This highly rated bento box, which boasts a 4.7-star average rating from over 36,700 reviews on Amazon, has five compartments with ideal serving sizes for kids ages 3 to 7, the brand says. The tray is both microwave-safe and dishwasher-safe, according to Bentgo, and you can choose from more than a dozen designs, including Safari, Unicorns and Space Rockets.
To match its lunch boxes, Simple Modern offers a variety of kid-friendly bento boxes with fun patterns and characters ranging from princesses to dinosaurs. The box is dishwasher-safe and has five divided compartments that are removable for easy cleaning, according to the brand. This box has a 4.5-star average rating from over 200 reviews on Amazon.
The 3 Sprouts bento box has three compartments designed to hold kid-sized food portions. According to the brand, it’s leakproof and both dishwasher- and freezer-safe, plus microwave-safe without the lid. If you want to create a matching set for your child, 3 Sprouts also makes a Lion Lunch Bag, Lion Sandwich Bags and Lion Snack Bags.
If you prefer to meal prep at the beginning of the week, this bento box set comes with seven reusable containers, each of which has three compartments for snacks, sandwiches and more. The plastic containers are microwave-, freezer- and dishwasher-safe, though the brand says they’re not entirely leakproof, so it’s better to use them for solid foods that won’t spill. On Amazon, the Youngever Bento Lunch Boxes have a 4.7-star average rating from more than 1,100 reviews.
This more eco-friendly option from Pottery Barn Kids is made from BPA-free recycled plastic. It’s dishwasher-safe and equips five compartments to keep food organized and separate. It also comes in a range of bright colors, including Light Pink, Lavender and Gold Glitter.
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Mili Godio is an associate reporter for Select on NBC News.
Morgan Greenwald is a senior editor for Select on NBC News.
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