Choosing a lunch box for your child

It shouldn’t be tricky should it? I mean choosing a lunch box should be like a two second task right? It’s just a lunch box, aren’t they all the same?

No – they aren’t and after many years of buying lunch boxes I can honestly say there are the good, the bad and the terrible.

Here are a few things to consider when buying a lunch box for your child.

Is it going to be easy to clean?

In all honesty sorting out lunch boxes is not my favourite activity. They can often be a bit grim, but generally it’s nothing a microfiber cloth and some anti-bacterial spray can’t sort out.

One thing that can help speed up this process is using smaller plastic tubs inside the lunch box for anything liquid, gooey, watery or a potentially a bit messy.

Now, whether your child manages to put the lid back on before closing up their lunch box after lunch is another matter.

When I started doing this we would loose a small plastic tub a week. I think children were maybe getting mixed up, or forgetting them etc. We’ve managed to get around this by moving to personalised snack boxes. They are bit of a novelty, the boys love them and I can pop in bits of chopped up ham, cheese, sausage, cucumber and so on without it making a mess of the rest of the lunch box. These are really easy to clean and the personalised option is an added bonus. You can see all the designs over at Happiness is a Gift.

Can it survive being dropped or thrown about?

You must have seen this at school on the yard both before and after school, lunch boxes getting thrown about left, right and centre, being dropped in frustration by children, or by accident by over loaded parents.

This means lunch boxes need to be robust. I once made the mistake of buying one of my children a plastic Thomas the Tank Engine lunch box. It had a carry handle and a space for the water bottle. It looked cute but it was totally impractical as the first time it was dropped (accidentally) it smashed to pieces. Since then I’ve always bought the soft sided bag-like lunch boxes.

These give plenty of padding to what’s inside the lunch box, so if you use a smaller plastic tub for things like pasta, chopped up ham or sausage, cucumber etc, that will survive the drop.

Is it big enough?

Is your child a big eater? What are you likely to give them in their lunch box? All things to consider when trying to decide on a lunch box, as this will impact on the size of lunch box you decide on.

They don’t want to be taking a suitcase of food to school with them, but equally you want to be able to fit enough in, and you don’t want it popping open.

Is it leak-proof?

The downside of the fabric lunch boxes is that they aren’t leak-proof, by the end of the school year I do find they are ready for the bin after the battering they’ve taken during the year.

Using smaller leak-proof containers inside a fabric lunchbox can help with this.

Do you have any lunch box tips to share? Let us know in a comment below.


  1. Bentos or bento boxes are a type of food container that originated in Japan. They are often described as Japanese lunch boxes, but that’s only part of the story. Bento is a whole artform surrounding packing meals to-go. Typically, bentos feature during lunch time, especially in schools.

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