As parents, we spend a lot of time thinking about the health effects of our kid’s meals. Have you given the same thought to the containers it travels in? Here are our top picks for non-toxic lunchboxes, bags, and accessories.
Table of Contents
Consider the school lunch. Brown bags were the tradition in years past, but now your child is more likely to eat from a box constructed from cheap, potentially toxic plastics that could leach into the food over time.
Even worse are the environmental effects of the single-use plastic baggies that separate the snacks from each other. Each week, we use an average of 3-9 plastic sandwich bags, which totals over 300 baggies per person per year that are used once before getting tossed away.
Today, parents are waking up to the risk and wastefulness of standard lunch boxes, and manufacturers are taking notice. The best option, obviously, is a lunch box your kids can use easily and that they love. This means involving them in the purchasing process by giving them a few different designs to choose between, ideally ones that are relatively timeless, so you don’t feel the need to switch things up every new school year.
Best single-food accessory
Hands down, the best lunch boxes for both kids and adults are bento-style. Dietitian approved and beloved by parents and kids alike, these lunch boxes have separate compartments for different types of food. So, while you choose what goes in the lunch box (ideally with some input from your child), your child can choose the order in which they eat those foods, giving them the control and agency kids crave.
Check out our top picks for each category below, or scroll further down for more in-depth reviews.
Best Bento Box Style Lunch Boxes
These Japanese-inspired lunch boxes are taking the school world by a storm. They offer easy organizing and portion control through multiple compartments and have hard sides to prevent delicate food from getting crushed. With a bit of instruction, they will work for preschoolers on up.
Highlights: Three different models of absolutely delightful stainless steel lunch boxes that can see your kids from pre-school to college and beyond.
PlanetBox make delightful stainless steel eco-friendly lunch boxes for kids of every age, with Rover, Launch, and Shuttle lunch boxes taking them right through from pre-school to adulthood. So much so, you’ll probably want one of these for every member of the family who works or studies away from home.
As a bento-type box, these lunch boxes are beloved by nutritionists because you can make it fun for kids with different veggies and fruits in different compartments. These boxes are also super easy to clean, by hand or in the dishwasher, with no nooks and crannies where food can fester. Sure, they might seem a little pricier than a cheap plastic lunch box, but one of these could easily see your kid through many years of school and keep them away from phthalates, BPA, PVC, and other chemicals.
PlanetBox lunch boxes are dishwasher safe and have a five year warranty.
For little kids in pre-school and kindergarten, the Shuttle lunch box is a great choice. Stepping things up, the Rover is a little bigger and can see kids through to middle school. Finally, the Launch is the biggest of the bunch, with fewer compartments but enough space to satisfy the appetite of a teen or adult.
The Shuttle makes things simple for smaller children, so as not to be overwhelming. It measures 5 inches by 7.8 inches, accommodates 3.5 cups of food, and has a tall dipping cup you can add into one of the two compartments to increase variety. You can also add in other dishes, pods, and even decorative magnets (free with each lunch box order), as well as a carrier bag, so as to make things more interesting and personalized. There’s even an option to customize the magnets with your own images!
The Rover is the medium sized box, measuring 7.5 inches by 10 inches by 1.5 inches deep. It has five compartments (four main sections and one smaller treat spot), making it a great way to introduce new foods in small amounts. This one fits 5 cups of food and is suitable for kids aged 3 and up. It comes with a Big Dipper and a Little Dipper.
The Launch lunch box measures 7.5 inches by 10 inches too, but is a little deeper at 2 inches and holds 30% more food than the Rover. It is best for kids aged 10 and up and fits 7 cups of food. This one comes with the Tall Dipper and is compatible with PlanetBox’s Satellite Dish to reheat food in the microwave.
And once your littlest kid is done with the Shuttle, you can easily reuse this as a handy container for light meals or snacks on the go.
Highlights: Made from biodegradable material made from resin and wheatgrass, capable of breaking down up to 90% within two years of disposal.
This sustainable lunch box is built from a biodegradable material made from wheatgrass and resin. Though it will break down up to 90% within two years of disposal in a compost facility, it’s both leakproof and dishwasher and microwave safe for exceptional convenience.
The five-compartment design holds over 100-oz, and it comes with a matching spoon and fork that fit within the lid for a fully-contained meal.
Beyond the product, the company itself has a stellar environmental footprint. It has partnered with One Tree Planted to support the planting of one tree in deforested regions for every lunchbox sold.
Highlights: Eco-friendly and totally non-toxic, with bento style layouts but not leakproof between compartments.
LunchBots is a beloved brand for many parents as they make several excellent stainless steel lunch containers. Made entirely with 18/8 steel, making it durable and dishwasher safe, and totally non-toxic, these lunch boxes are practically indestructible (don’t tell your kids).
The Cinco is their largest container and can see your kid through from pre-school to college. This one measures 6 x 8 x 1.75 inches and weighs just 16 ounces. It has five compartments, whereas smaller models like the Quad have four or fewer. There are two larger spaces and three smaller, making it easy to teach kids about portion control and introduce them to new foods. The large sections contain 1.25 cups of food and the small sections 0.5 cups.
These lunch boxes also tend to fit better into generic lunch bags, unlike the PlanetBox which needs a special bag.
The one downside is that the LunchBots range isn’t watertight. That’s the trade-off for it being made entirely with stainless steel. However, if you make sure to rinse and dry veggies and fruits, and use leak proof dip and dressing containers, this shouldn’t be a problem. If you tend to favor foods like chilli, stew, and so forth, the PlanetBox is your better option as the dividers between the LunchBot compartments are not true dividers and liquids will seep through to other compartments.
Highlights: Dishwasher safe, keeps food perfectly separated, and made by a company that’s a certified B-Corp.
This three-tiered bento box design has a 31-oz capacity, meaning it provides plenty of room for an entrée and two side dishes within your lunch. The entire box is dishwasher safe and keeps foods from touching each other before mealtime—no plastic baggies required.
It’s made with food-grade stainless steel and completely free of plastic and silicone components. Note: this means the box doesn’t have plastic gaskets and isn’t leakproof. You can use the box as is or pack it into a soft-sided lunch box for easier portability for little ones. The entire container is designed to be recycled when you’re done with it. The nested tower measures 4.25 x 5.75 x 3.75″, with the bottom section holding just over 2.5 cups, the top section holding 1.75 cups, and the snack container holding 0.75 cups.
As a company, ECOlunchbox is certified B-Corp for meeting rigorous social and environmental standards. The brand tracks its carbon footprint each year and purchases Renewable Energy Certificates to offset the total usage and support clean energy measures.
Likewise, the company pays a green fee to offset UPS shipping emissions that support projects like reforestation, wastewater treatment, and more.
Highlights: Tiffin style lunch stacker with kid-friendly clips!
If you’re looking for more of a tiffin type lunch box, ECOLunchbox offers an easy to use stacking and packing Tri Bento stainless steel tiffin. The three separate layers clip together with kid-friendly clips that can be adjusted for stiffness. Best used for dry and damp foods, rather than liquids and sauces, these boxes are freezer safe and measure 4 inches high with a 5.35 inch diameter base. The lower level can handle 1.75 cups, and the middle and upper levels 1.5 cups.
Highlights: Made by a B Corp, this stainless steel lunch box has a plastic divider and lid but is free from BPA, BPS, and phthalates.
The U Konserve stainless steel lunch box comes in four colors and features a removable plastic divider to keep (dry) foods separate. The plastic divider and lid are free from BPA, BPS, and phthalates, and can be recycled at end of life (they’re LDPE #4). All parts are dishwasher safe (top shelf) and easy to clean.
U Konserve makes a variety of reusable, durable food containers and is a certified B Corporation and member of 1% for the Planet.
Because the dividers are removable, the compartments are not truly separate, meaning they’re not leakproof. As such, this lunch box is best used for, say, a sandwich and salad, with a separate sealed container for dressing.
Kids from around 1st grade onwards can easily use this box, with some initial instruction to avoid food explosions when removing the lid.
Highlights: Stainless steel option that’s affordable without requiring an outer bag.
If you’re looking for a stainless steel lunch box at an attractive price that doesn’t require an outer bag, the To-Go Wear Tiffin fits the bill.
This lunchbox system is inspired by a design from India and makes it possible to travel with both hot and cold food, all while using the lid as a plate. It’s lightweight, simple to clean, and has a self-latching top container which means you can scale it from one container to two for the smaller meal days. In total, you get a 4.5 cup storage capacity.
The company itself has made strides to lower its environmental footprint. To-Go Ware is Carbon Neutral Certified, a member of 1% for the planet, and a certified B-Corp for meeting rigorous performance standards.
Highlights: Much brighter and more colorful than most competitors, and made from 18/8 food-grade stainless steel, silicon, and plastic.
Cheerful and colorful, OmieBox’s are constructed from 18/8 food-grade stainless steel, silicon, and BPA-free, phthalate-free plastic. Adding plastic to this design makes it less sustainable, but it also means that the entire lunchbox is leakproof, an important consideration for little kids.
This lunch box stands out because it utilizes two types of insulation—air and vacuum—to ensure hot meals are served at their ideal temperature. It includes four compartments for over 55-oz of total storage space, and everything is dishwasher safe for easy cleanup. The included bowl also boasts a kid-friendly design that’s wide and shallow for easy access. Kids can carry it to school with the included handle and even label it with their name on the front.
Best Eco-Friendly Lunch Bags
There’s no reason to send kids to school with single-use brown bag lunches this year. Here are some of the best eco-friendly soft-sided lunch bags available.
Highlights: Practical, safe, and made with 100% GOTS certified organic cotton.
Avoid overcomplicating the lunchtime routine by committing to this simple lunch bag. It’s an ultra-practical way to transport food or other products safely, and it boasts double stitching on every seam.
Eco-Bags got its start at an Earth Day event in 1990 and has focused on giving consumers more options for sustainable bags for everyday use ever since. The company is still making strides to minimize its environmental footprint and became B-Corps certified in 2011.
The bag is made from 100% GOTS Certified Organic Cotton that’s food safe and free of bleach and other additives. Best of all, kids can color on it with fabric markers to customize the design to their desires.
Highlights: The brown bag aesthetic you may be on the hunt for in a much more sustainable way.
If you love the brown bag aesthetic, this waxed canvas bag gives off the same vibe in a more sustainable package.
It’s made from ultra-durable waxed canvas and folds down flat when you’re done using it so it can easily get stuffed back into backpacks. Parents love the waterproofing and how easy it is to wipe it down with a damp cloth at the end of the day.
There’s no plastics or potentially toxic compounds to worry about—all this lunch sack contains is cotton, paraffin wax, and natural beeswax.
Highlights: Retro-inspired and made from raw linen and organic cotton, these stylish lunch bags are great for all ages.
These retro-inspired lunch bags work for all ages. This female-owned brand got its start when the founder overcame a drug addiction and felt empowered to help others discover a sense of their own potential.
They are constructed from raw linen and organic cotton and are made in the United States according to sustainable practices. You can choose from soft, child-friendly prints or go the sophisticated route with splatter designs fit for a day at the office.
Best Eco-Friendly Lunch Accessories
The lunch box is just part of the equation for a sustainable school meal. Here are some of the best eco-friendly accessories to add to your lunch packing routine.
Highlights: Double wall vacuum insulated exterior can keep soup hot for up to 8 hours, or a pint of ice cream cold for up to 22 hours.
Klean Kanteen are a godsend for school lunches and just being out and about in the world. Their stainless steel food canisters are double wall vacuum insulated, meaning they’re perfect for hot or cold food you want to stay hot or cold, even after many hours bouncing around in a school bag or picnic bag. The double wall vacuum insulated stainless steel exterior can keep soup hot for up to 8 hours, or a pint of ice cream cold for up to 22 hours.
These containers are also super robust and easy for little kids to open and close, and nothing leaks! If your kid loves cold smoothies, hot soups, yogurt, or chilli, get one of these for their lunch bag. Stat.
Klean Kanteen have been making these beauties since 2004 and offer a variety of insulated and non-insulated food canisters and bottles made with stainless steel. The company is a certified B Corp and member of 1% for the Planet, with more than $1.5 million donated to environmental organizations. They are also partnered with American Rivers, 5 Gyers, and Surfrider Foundation Europe to help reduce plastic waste in oceans and waterways.
Highlights: Reusable, and sturdy enough to withstand the dishwasher, freezer, or microwave.
Keep things contained in the lunch bag of your choice with these silicone lunch containers. They are completely reusable and versatile enough for use in the dishwasher, freezer, and even microwave.
The tight-fitting lids prevent spills, making them suitable even for salads and other messy meals. Best of all, the food-grade silicone protects you from any potentially toxic leaching plastics.
Highlights: Lightweight, free from plastics, and dishwasher safe – the perfect alternative to single-use plastic utensils.
The perfect alternative to single use plastic utensils, and to having your favorite flatware lost at school, this kid-friendly reusable bamboo utensil set by To-Go Ware contains a fork, spoon, and knife. The utensils are stain resistant and dishwasher safe, and because they’re made with bamboo they’re also lightweight, free from plastics, and eco-friendly.
The utensil case is made with 100% recycled PET fabric (from recycled water bottles) and To-Go Ware is a certified B Corp and Carbon Neutral Certified, as well as a member of 1% for the Planet. They also use totally recycled shipping packaging.
Highlights: Compostable and biodegradable wooden flatware that makes for a good alternative to single-use plastics.
It’s not ideal to be throwing away utensils every day, but if your kid is forever misplacing your best cutlery and you want to avoid single use plastics, this compostable and biodegradable wooden flatware set is a good alternative. Also great for camping and parties!
There are 300 pieces in this set, including 120 forks, 90 knives, and 90 spoons. Made with birch wood, these utensils are strong, durable, and compostable, and contain zero plastic, BPA, or chemicals. Go Go Green even use plastic-free packaging.
The downsides are that the spoon is a little flat, meaning it’s hard to eat anything like soup with it; the fork tines are a bit short, making it hard to spear anything successfully; and the knife is, well, not great for cutting anything tough. Still, these will do in a pinch and are far better for the environment and for your family than plastic utensils.
Highlights: Sweat-free and also distinctly absent of PVC, phthalates, lead, or BPA, these sustainable ice packs can keep your food cold in a non-toxic way.
Need a non-toxic ice pack that’s also sweat-free, so your sandwich stays cool but not soggy? These somewhat eco-friendly ice packs from SoYoung are just the ticket.
Measuring 4 x 7 inches, and with cute designs ideal for kids, these ice packs are filled with water and cellulose gum. No PVC, phthalates, lead, or BPA, but the sleeve is polyester (not recycled). They’re easy to clean, with the inner gel pack removable from the outer sleeve. Wash with soap and water.
Comes in a pack of two.
Highlights: No need for single-use plastic wrap with these reusable beeswax wraps that are moldable using the heat of your hands.
Skip the containers altogether at lunchtime with beeswax food wraps from Simple Dwell. They make it possible to keep food fresh without resorting to single-use plastic wrap. Use your hands to warm the wax, and it can mold over the opening of any container to create a seal. Or, fold a wrap into a baggie to store a sandwich and keep it fresh.
Each wrap will last up to twelve months with gentle washing with cold water, meaning each purchase keeps a year’s worth of lunch plastic out of the trash.
Highlights: Made from 18/8 food-grade stainless steel that fits together conveniently for easy storage.
These cylindrical lunch containers are crafted from stainless steel and stack together like Russian nesting dolls for easy storage. They include BPA-free lids for leakproof storage, meaning you can pack liquids in them without worry. Best of all, the unlined 18/8 food-grade stainless steel is entirely safe for little snackers—no phthalates, lead, or PVC.
Highlights: Dishwasher safe, and one of the best reusable options for preventing a soggy salad thanks to the separated compartments.
Start the habit of healthy eating early in your kids with this sustainable salad kit. Multiple compartments make it possible to enjoy everything fresh without any sogginess—just mix everything together when you are ready to eat.
The container itself is made from BPA-free Tritan plastic and silicone gaskets for extra leakproof security. Everything is dishwasher safe, so you can spend less time cleaning up at the end of the school day.
Highlights: Made by a certified B Corp, these reusable snack bags are much more sustainable (and fun) than your standard plastic snack bags.
Make things fun (and more sustainable) for kids at mealtime with these reusable storage bags from Full Circle, a B Corp certified company. Each one is made from recycled BPA-free plastic and is designed to make it through dozens of lunches without showing wear.
They even come with kid-friendly designs, and you can write directly on the bag with dry erase markers to personalize them. Note: these marks will come off with washing.
Highlights: If you need to use a paper bag, If You Care brown bags are some of the most sustainable you’ll find.
If paper is your preferred sandwich bag material, then it’s hard to beat the sustainability of If You Care brown bags. They are made in Sweden from the unbleached pulp of the Scandinavian spruce tree, a renewable resource in the region.
The manufacturing process is 100% chlorine-free to ensure local water systems aren’t polluted, and they include a natural grease-proof barrier that keeps bread fresh for six hours plus. Even so, the bags are completely biodegradable and compostable for a no-waste lunchtime.