Kindergarteners are incredibly opinionated about everything from their favorite My Little Pony to which socks they will be wearing today. While those strong opinions might make the school morning routine more taxing, they definitely come in handy when it comes to testing and reviewing lunch boxes for school lunches. I enlisted my favorite 5-year-old, who will be starting elementary school this fall, to test drive five of the most popular lunch boxes on the market. The results were both surprising and entertaining, with one clear winner. Turns out that moms have pretty strong opinions too.
5. Lunchbots Classic Quad, $24.99
What mom says: This four-compartment stainless steel lunch container is lightweight and durable, but lacks any insulation. With four compartments in the same size, it’s really impossible to send a whole sandwich in this lunch box — although Lunchbots does make larger lunch boxes that would accommodate one. It was relatively easy to clean and stash in the dishwasher.
What Ella says: Inside it has four things. I’d put carrots and macaroni in here. I like that it is easy to open. It doesn’t look so cute, but it does look like there’s an apple on here.
4. Rubbermaid Lunchblox, $10.99
What mom says: These clickable, stackable boxes come with a freezer pack that also attaches to the containers. While they get points for being cute and colorful, I find keeping up with multiple containers (and lids) to be a big pain point for these lunch boxes.
What Ella says: The only thing I like about this one is the Blue Ice block, which you can freeze to keep your lunch cold. Some of these lids are hard to open.
3. OmieBox, $39.50
What mom says: I loved the idea of an insulated box that I could also pack warm soups in this winter, but I was surprised by how heavy the lunch box was for its size. Some trial runs of Ella opening and closing the box also made me concerned that she’d have trouble opening it at school. A couple of uses relieved these concerns and we both loved the removable compartments and that it didn’t require an insulted lunch bag. Sadly, Omie recommends hand-washing all the parts of this lunch box — although the lunch box itsself is top-rack dishwasher-safe.
What Ella says: This lunch box was the hardest to open and close. I like that it’s teal because teal is my favorite color. Sometimes it pinches me. I would put noodles into this lunch box.
2. Planet Box Rover, $59.95
What mom says: This stainless steel bento-style lunch box comes with an optional insulated bag. Ella was in love with it from the day it arrived, but I found the whole thing, especially with the glass compartment inside, incredibly heavy for a 5-year-old. I was pleasantly surprised by how deep the compartments were. This lunch box is dishwasher-safe, but you must remove the decorative magnets before putting it in the dishwasher (ask me how I know).
What Ella says: This was my favorite, no second favorite. I like that it has these pretty stickers (magnets) on it you can change. I liked these little containers in it — this container is for quesadillas or burgers or potatoes or soups!
1. PotteryBarn Spencer Bento Box Container, $16.50
What mom says: This Pottery Barn bento was my favorite container from the whole test — one lightweight piece that can go in the dishwasher. It easily stacks among the rest of our plasticware and it can accommodate everything from a sandwich to snack-style lunches.
What Ella says: I always wanted one of these! Hattie has a lunch box just like this except pink. There’s nothing to take out in it. I wish it had more of these small lids inside.
My Go-To Lunch Boxes
My favorite lunch containers are these super-inexpensive three-compartment lunch containers from Amazon. We have 10 of them, which allows me to pack lunches for a whole week for both my 5-year-old and my 3-year-old preschooler. They are about as low-frills as you can get and I like that. They stack well in our storage drawer and go easily into the dishwasher.