Lots of us endeavour to take food to work or send food with our children to school for a number of reasons. Firstly, its much cheaper than buying ready made food on the go, it can be more nutritious and you have control of what you or your child eats. Also now with the global pandemic, you have greater control over hygiene. So how do you chose a lunch box from the huge array on the market? It really depends what you are after, whether it’s big enough to fit whole fruit such as an apple, easy to open for little hands, leakproof for liquids, or has integral cutlery. Here are my 6 best reusable lunch boxes of 2020, see my top picks and why.
Black and Blum Bento Lunch Box £15, Amazon
Made from a special plastic (BPA free) with added sea shell powder, so that it feels like ceramic, but without the weight or fragility, this feels lovely in your hand and looks great. It is microwave, freezer and dishwasher safe and includes a little removable sauce pot. It has a silicon seal so the contents won’t leak over your bag.
It comes with a special ‘fife’ which is half fork and knife, but I was less impressed that this is clipped on the outside of the box, and with quite a fiddly rubber clip. It comes with a handy removable divider, but it does meant the two sections are very small.
Although this is quite a small box, which didn’t pass the apple test, it would ideal for an adult for lunch who wants to control their portion sizel. I think it is too fiddly for a small child, so better suited to an adult who would appreciate the design and feel.
Black and Blum: Best for an adult for a small portion controlled lunch
Yumbox Classic £24.95, Amazon
This looks great in ‘jodhpur’ blue, and is easy for children to open. I loved the images denoting spaces for dairy, protein, grains, vegetables and fruit in half cup portions suitable for children up to the age of 8. It is made from BPA and phthalates free plastic, safe for the top-wrack of the dishwasher but not the microwave.
It didn’t pass the whole apple test, but fruit segments could be used instead. Although it is designed to be portion controlled for children, it would be more challenging to fit a sandwich into the compartments.
The lid is designed to be leak proof so that all the compartments remain separate. I think for smaller children this is a great lunch box, but larger children who might want sandwiches or whole fruit might not be so impressed. This was also one of the more expensive options, and I’m not sure it warrants such a high price tag.
Yumbox: Best for smaller children with easy to open, leak-proof lid.
IML Bento Lunch Box £20, Amazon
This is a stylish BPA free bento box with 2 layers. It comes with a cotton lunch bag, and a stand for your phone for eating ‘al disco‘! It is microwavable and dishwasher safe with leak-proof lids. Often multilayer bento boxes use the base of the upper box as the lid of the lower layer, meaning food all over the undersurface of the base of the upper layer. However, both layers have their own lid and feel sturdy. The overall closing mechanism would be easy for little hands, but the suction lids for the layers would be more tricky.
Although the size is generous between the two layers, the whole apple does not fit in. However, it would be ideal for an adult transporting multiple meals, or lunch and a snack, or lunch and desert.
It also comes with integral cutlery (spoon and fork) in the interior of the lid, and I loved this convenience. Some might favour the phone stand but I think this is a bit gimmicky and better to practice mindful eating, focusing on enjoyment and not a screen.
IML Bento Lunch Box: Best for adults transporting meal and snacks or multiple meals
Brigenius Lunch Box £22, Amazon
This is BPA free plastic lunch box that is available in one or two layers and is microwavable and top-wrack dishwasher safe. Shown is the single layered option. It has a leak proof lid, so that the compartments remain separate and dips or yogurt can be placed in the compartments without leaking. It has an integral spoon and fork hidden in the under surface of the lid. The clasp easy to use and would be suitable for small children, however the lid of the layer would be a bit more challenging for very small children, so probably best for school aged children.
The compartments were a decent size, and although the lid couldn’t be closed with the apple in whole, there was plenty of room for sandwiches.
I felt this was similar to the Yumbox, but a better price point, more versatile compartments and has integral cutlery.
Brigenius Lunch Box: Best for adults or school aged children
Sistema to Go Lunch Tub, 2.3 L, £7.49, Amazon
This is a huge, BPA and Phthalate free lunch box that is microwavable, and suitable for the top-shelf of the dishwasher. The large size means that it fits an apple with ease. It has an upper shelf with two smaller compartments with lids so that items can be stored separately. While the overall box is leakproof, only the small compartments on the top layer are sealed but even so they didn’t work so well for me. This means it would not be suitable for dips or yoghurt unless they were in an additional container which there is plenty of room for.
Cutlery is not included. This would be suitable for someone who likes to include whole fruit like apples or bananas, and would mean they don’t get squashed at the bottom of a handbag or school rucksack. The removable tray would easily fit a sandwich, however, the overall size of it is daunting for a single child or adult lunch, and better suited to transporting food for multiple people.
Sistema to Go Lunch Tub, 2.3 L: Best for people who like to transport whole fruit and sandwiches, or perfect for a picnic
Sistema Bento Box To Go, 1.76L, £8.99, Amazon
This is a great sized BPA and Phthalate free lunch box that is microwavable, and suitable for the top-shelf of the dishwasher. It includes a separate pot which could be used for dips or yoghurt, and comfortably fits an apple. It has a removable tray designed for sandwiches, that can be reversed to make a larger single compartment. There are two separate compartments, which are designed for dips and yoghurt but unfortunately they leaked for me.
Cutlery is not included, but this is a really versatile box for adults or children, at a great price point, with an easy opening mechanism for little hands.
Sistema Bento Box To Go, 1.76L: Best bargain lunch box for adults and children alike
The 6 Best Reusable Lunch Boxes of 2020: Summary
I hope that my 6 best reusable lunch boxes of 2020 has answered your questions. These are my best buys:
Best budget buy: Sistema Bento Box To Go, 1.76L
Best buy with integral cutlery: Black and Blum Bento Lunch Box
I’d love to have been able to include a plastic free lunch box, but I’ve just not found one that is leak free. Whichever lunch box you choose, check that it doesn’t contain BPA, and avoid microwaving or dishwashing if plastic. For more information about the risks of BPA see Is Canned Food Safe to Eat.
For more information about Bento style lunch boxes see this article.
Have you read my other health articles such as 6 food combinations that increase nutrient absorption, and what are the pros and cons of low carb diets?