Aside from finding your kids the perfect backpack, lunch boxes are the next essential for the back-to-school season.

There are so many options on the market that it can be difficult to narrow down, but consider what will help to simplify those hectic mornings when you’re getting everything together. A few key tips to keep in mind: Insulation must be good to keep food cold, it should be practical and easily hook onto the backpack (or in it) so your little one doesn’t lose it, and durable enough to last the entire school yearโ€”or longer!

Related: 11 best reusable food containers for your kidโ€™s lunches

Here are our favorite kids’ lunch boxes for every age from daycare to middle school:

Best lunch boxes for kids

Highlights Space Lunch Tote

Highlights

โ€ข $24.99

Space Lunch Tote

From preschool through elementary, this insulated lunch tote from Highlights offer plenty of (wait for it..) space for the fuel they need to get through the day. It’s made from a wipeable and durable material that even glows in the dark! And in classic Highlights fashion, the more you look at the hidden picture design, more you’ll find.

Yeti Daytrip Lunch Box

Yeti

โ€ข $80

Daytrip Lunch Box

Yes, $80 is a hefty price tag for a lunch box, but hear us out. For one thing, unless your kiddo loses it, you’ll never have to buy another. Also, they could hurl this thing off the top of a mountain and we’re pretty sure it would land unscathed. The firm (but not solid) design keeps food from getting crushed while the insulation power (including a magnetic seal around the edges) keeps food impressively cold for ages. We also love the chunky, no-stick zipper that’s easy for kids to open and close and the fact we can just as easily steal it for our own lunches!

L.L. Bean Flip Top Lunch Box

L.L. Bean

โ€ข $24.95

Flip Top Lunchbox

Leak-proof, stain-resistant and basically designed to survive the apocalypse, L.L. Bean’s Flip-Top Lunchbox is a solid choice for all ages. It’s compact but impressively roomy inside and the flip-top design makes everything easy to access. A mesh panel in the lid keeps ice packs or extra snacks separate, making every inch usable space.

State Bags Lunchboxes

STATE

โ€ข $48

Rodgers Lunch Box

It’s hard to overstate our love for STATE. Between their too-hard-to-choose selection of colors (22 in all this season including super rad metallics!), top-of-the-heap quality and give-back mission, we can’t help but fangirl about the brand to anyone who’ll listen. The insulated Rodgers Lunchbox is sizeable enough for all ages of kiddos and features a generous main compartment, mesh pocket for utensils, a clear window for notes and a detachable divider to keep things organized. If you really want to go all out, you can customize the outside with their name, initials or a selection of fun emojis.

Pair with a matching backpack and your kid will be waiting at the door at 6 am on the first day ready to show off their sweet gear.

OmieBox

OmieBox

โ€ข $44.95

Bento Box for Kids

If your little one is anti-sandwich, preferring hot lunches like soup or pasta, look no further than the Omiebox. The super cool design integrates a removable cold/hot thermos right into the tray and keeps lunch at just the right temp through lunchtime and beyond. (When left out, the thermos section can easily accommodate a sandwich or larger snacks.) Itโ€™s one of the most versatile bentos on the market and with an attached handle on the outside, is a one stop shop for lunch packing! It’s also BPA-free and made from high-quality impact-resistant materials that can withstand the inevitable drops and bumps. And because they thought of everything, the long compartment is designed to fit any brand of box drinks. (Be advised, this one is best for daycare through kindergarten as the portions are quite small.)

Hydroflask Kids Insulated Lunch Box

Hydroflask

โ€ข $44.95

Kids' Insulated Lunch Box

We’ve always loved Hydroflask’s bulletproof water bottles, so it’s no surprise we’re equally smitten with their durable kid-friendly lunch box! Not only does it keep things cold for hours, it also saves them from the dreaded smushed PBJ. (No one likes that.)

Go green lunch box set

Go Green

โ€ข $41.99

Lunch Box Set

Go Green Lunch Box sets take care of all things lunch in one fell swoop. The four-piece set includes a five compartment lunch box, insulated carrying bag, 8 oz. stainless steel water bottle, and a reusable gel freezer pack, which all fit together perfectly. What’s more, inside the bag you’ll find a wipe-off board to write a message for the day and a pocket to stash napkins and utensils. Clearly, they’ve thought of everything.

FlatBox lunch box
$19.99

FlatBox

For picnic lunches, camp and field trips where little ones are dining alfresco, FlatBox doubles as a clean eating surface. The triple-insulated patented neoprene design features heavy-duty auto-locking zippers that allow it to keep food hot or cold for hours and fold completely flat when it’s time to chow down.

Funkins Insulated Lunch Bag

Funkins

โ€ข $22.95

Insulated Lunch Bag

Not only does Funkins have adorable designs your kid will love, but they’re a mom-owned company so they’re exactly what kids need for school. They’re insulated, machine-washable, expandable to fit various containers, and include an interior pocket to hold notes or utensils. Plus, they’re stain, tear and water-resistant and fold flat for storage.

Love Mae Bento

Love Mae

โ€ข $45

Bento Box

These bento-style lunchboxes don’t sacrifice on style or practicality. They’re dishwasher friendly, 100% recyclable, and toxic free. The leak-proof set includes two mini containers to use for dippings or smaller snacks. They also offerย insulated cooler bags.

Pottery Barn Kids Lunch Box

Pottery Barn Kids

โ€ข $24.50

Customized Tote

Ultra-durable, these bags are made to last for years. They’re weather-resistant, have an exterior mesh pocket for water bottles, and sit upright so food or drinks won’t topple over. We love that it can piggyback on otherย PBK backpacksย for easy transportation. Oh, and we highly recommend getting your child’s name monogrammed for the ultimate personalization. Prices start at $24.50.

PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag

PackIt

โ€ข $19.99

Freezable Lunch Bag

PackIt lunch bags fold up up flat and has cooling technology built in so it’s a freezer bag on its ownโ€”no need to remember to pack ice packs, mama! Simply place it in the freezer each night and it’ll be ready to go for your kids’ lunch. The buckle handle clips onto backpacks and it features a zip top to keep everything inside fresh.

Skip Hop Kids Lunch Box

Skip Hop

โ€ข $14.99

Kids Lunch Box

For the younger kids, the Skip Hop Zoo collection features adorable animal designs. They’re roomy, insulated and easy to clean for those inevitable messes. It has an interior mesh pocket inside, great for storing utensils, notes from mama and dad, or napkins.

Bentgo Bento Box

Bentgo

โ€ข $29.99

Kids Bento Box

Bentgo bento boxes check all the boxes. They’re perfectly sized for kid lunches, easy-to-clean, blessedly leak-proof and miraculously manage to keep all food from touching even when banged around in their backpack.

LL Bean Soft Pack Cooler

L.L. Bean

โ€ข $39.95

Soft Pack Cooler

For your little who needs to squeeze a lunchbox into any and every bag, the softpack cooler is ideal. It folds down so you can store it away in the pantry, while still being durable for rough hands. The top handle is easy to grip and the bag is lightweight enough for the smallest of kiddos.

Planet Box

PlanetBox

โ€ข $59.95

Stainless Steel Rover

This stainless steel beauty has multiple compartments for those kiddos who love variety. It also comes with two leak-proof containers for any liquid or wet food (ketchup! yogurt!) you may want to include. The best part is that the design is fully customizable with magnets you put right on the box. Makes it so easy to swap when your kid is done with dinosaurs and wants to move onto emojis. ๐Ÿ˜ And while they can totally tote it on its own, there’s insulated bags to slip it in as well.

A version of this story was published April 7, 2021. It has been updated.