Ahh, back to school. The heady smells of crisp notebook paper and waxy crayons are in the air, which means it's time to figure out where your kiddos' lunch will be served out of when it's time to put those pencils down and beeline toward the cafeteria. Here, we rounded up 12 top-rated picks for kids of all ages, from of-the-moment-but-really-useful bento boxes to easy-to-carry top-handle bags.
Eco Lunch Pack at Garnet Hill, $19.95
Above: Crafted of recycled-PET fabric, this eco-friendly lunch pack is PVC-, lead- and phthalate-free. Available in 11 Garnet Hill signature patterns (that coordinate with the brand's matching backpacks), there's also a personalization option for an additional $6.
LunchBots Bento Trio Large Stainless Steel Food Container at Amazon, $38.99
If lunch boxes had superlative contests, bento lunch boxes would unanimously be voted "Most Popular Kid in School". Great for cold lunches (like sandwiches, fruit, pasta salads and the like), parents and kids alike seem to love these pre-portioned containers over using disposable plastic bags. The downside is this is not water tight, so avoid liquids.
Bentgo Kids Leakproof Children's Lunch Box at Amazon, $27.99
Another bento box, but this time with a water-tight seal. Rated best lunchbox for preschool-age kids by The Sweethome, this is available in blue, green and purple. The interior compartment trays are removable and can be used in the dishwasher and microwave, though one downside is it has no handle for easy transport.
OmnieBox Bento Lunch Box with Insulated Thermos at Amazon, $39.50
Got a kiddo that likes noshing on hot and cold goodies during lunch time? Consider the OmnieBox in one of the five available colors. It has a stainless steel, vacuum-insulated thermos with an easy to open lid in one compartment (which you can remove if necessary) for hot foods, and three other compartments (one with removable divider) for your cold options. Though on the pricier side, customers on Amazon love it, rating the OmnieBox with 4.3 stars out of nearly 1,000 reviews.
Soyoung Insulated Canvas Lunch Box at Nordstrom, $30
An exterior slip pocket for drinks, a name tag insert, insulated interior, removable liner for easy cleanup, top handle and optional shoulder strap all make this sweet lunchbox perfect both for your little one and you. Soyoung is a hip Canadian company with a large selection and many U.S. retailers.
Gear-Up Marled Stripe Navy Dual Compartment Lunch Bag at PB Teen, $19 (on sale)
Keep heartier items like drinks and sandwiches in containers zipped away from snacks that are prone to crunching with this dual compartment lunch bag. Be sure to check out PB Teen's large assortment of prints and colors of this style lunch bag here.
Embark Personal Lunch Bag - Gray Geo Print at Target, $6 (on sale)
Keep your child's lunch upright and insulated with this budget-friendly option from Target. Some highlights include an exterior front slit pocket for napkins or silverware, easy-to-wipe interior lining and an zipped interior mesh pocket to keep things separated (also perfect to hold an ice pack).
PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag with Zip Closure at Amazon, $17
If you don't want to mess with separate ice packs again, check out this freezable lunch bag with its built-in freezable gel. Available in 31 colors and patterns, it's roomy enough to fit a sandwich, snack and a 12 oz drink, and folds up to 8"x5"x2" when not in use.
L.L.Bean Lunch Bag at L.L.Bean, $24.95
This large lunch box is great for older kids (and adults!) who want more space for lunch and snacks (or who have after-school activities they need to fuel up for). An internal mesh pocket is perfect for small snacks, flatware, napkins and ice packs.
Pretty Handy Insulated Lunch Bag at Amazon, $13.99
Another one for the teenagers+, you'll have plenty of space for food in this top-handle felt-insulated lunch bag. Easy to wash and dry, stain-resistant, non-toxic and BPA-free, the only concerns you'll have with this one is what snacks to pack.
Rubbermaid LunchBlox Kid's Flat lunch Box Kit at Amazon, $11.44
If you already have the lunchbox itself covered but are looking for reusable ways to separate food, this flat lunch bag kit (also available as a sandwich kit) includes leak-proof, kid-friendly containers and an ice tray with notches for everything to tuck neatly onto. All pieces are BPA free, which makes these microwave-, dishwasher- and freezer-safe.