The Best Lunch Box for Non-Squashed SammiesThe Best Lunch Box for Non-Squashed Sammies

The Best Lunch Box

Or how to make sure you’re always well fed at work.
Sarah Idle
Words by 
Sarah Idle
Updated 
Dec 23, 2020
Category -> 
Kitchen
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At a glance

We all need something to make our work days a bit more bearable. Whether that’s a person to whinge about your boss with, a decent coffee machine or a cute office dog. But we all know the real secret sauce to work success - a regular stream of food and drink. 

The best lunch box not only keeps you well-fed and well-hydrated. It also stops your sammies from getting squashed and survives being smashed around in your work bag, or your kid’s school bag. Plus, once you’re done with it, it’s easy to clean and store. Here’s our guide to the top lunch boxes in Australia, pulled from hours of research and virtual window shopping.

How we picked

When it came to the best lunch boxes, we knew we were in for a tough time. No CHOICE testing, no ProductReview.com.au insights. Which isn’t surprising really. Especially if you’re shopping for a lunch box for kids and their only priority is having their favourite character on it. 

We had a quick look to see what our overseas counterparts, like the Wirecutter and the Spruce, reckoned. But a lot of their picks weren’t available in Australia. So, we decided to do some virtual window shopping instead, digging out the Australian lunch box brands that produce top quality products that delight Aussies.

The 8 best lunch boxes in Australia

How we picked

When it came to the best lunch boxes, we knew we were in for a tough time. No CHOICE testing, no ProductReview.com.au insights. Which isn’t surprising really. Especially if you’re shopping for a lunch box for kids and their only priority is having their favourite character on it. 

We had a quick look to see what our overseas counterparts, like the Wirecutter and the Spruce, reckoned. But a lot of their picks weren’t available in Australia. So, we decided to do some virtual window shopping instead, digging out the Australian lunch box brands that produce top quality products that delight Aussies.

Best for most -> PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag

PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag

There are many reasons to love the PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag. But the biggest one for us is that it doesn’t need an ice pack. Thanks to its freezable gel liner, you simply throw the whole thing in the freezer, then grab it and go. Which means no wasting valuable lunchbox space with an ice pack - and more room for food. It reckons it keeps stuff cool for up to 10 hours.

Not only does it look great, coming in a range of colours and patterns, it’s practical too. Like the carry handle with a buckle, which you can clip onto a bag, bike or pram, making it ideal for parents, workers or kids. Or the zip that keeps in the cool, dry air, combined with a velcro tab for extra security, to keep your lunch chilled. We really love that it folds into itself when you’re not using it. This is great for storage. Plus, you can keep it in your car or bag for when you grab any last-minute groceries. 

It’s made of durable poly canvas with a food-safe waterproof lining, which is easily wiped clean. RRP $49.95 it’s not the cheapest option but it should last.

Choose this if…

You want a soft, foldable lunch box that doesn’t need an ice pack to keep your stuff cool.

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Best for budget -> Coleman 9-Can Cooler Bag

Coleman 9-Can Cooler Bag

If your biggest lunch box consideration is price, you’ll love the Coleman 9-Can Cooler Bag. It’s just RRP $16.99. Which is a little price for a big cooler bag. As the name tells you, it holds a huge 9 cans (that’s around a 15L capacity). That’s enough for your lunch, plus snacks, plus drinks, plus ice packs. It measures 28cm (h) x 24cm (w) x 19cm (d) so it’s not the most compact lunch box option. But it’s a good choice if you’re working somewhere remote without a nearby fridge. 

However, it is soft and somewhat squishable. (Although a removable hard plastic liner helps keep it rigid.) It comes with an adjustable carry strap and shoulder pad to make lugging it around easier. It has extra storage too. Like the front zippered pocket, 2 side mesh pockets and bungee cords on the lid for strapping stuff to (newspaper for the commute, anyone?). 

Unzip the lid and inside you’ll find a food safe, antimicrobial PEVA liner that’s clean to wipe clean.

Choose this if…

You want to spend less than $20 on a soft lunch box cooler bag with loads of room, especially if you’re working somewhere remote.

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Best bento for kids -> Bright Star Kids Bento Lunch Box

Bright Star Kids Bento Lunch Box

Let’s face it, kids can be picky eaters. Which is why a bento lunch box is a good choice. You can fill it with multiple tasty things. (Some of which they might eat.) We reckon kids will love the Bright Star Kids Bento Lunch Box.

Made of sturdy plastic, it should survive your kid’s backpack and the playground. It’s got 3 compartments for filling with goodies. It comes with a reusable spork so they can dig into stuff like salad, rice or pasta. (Although there isn’t a dedicated place for the spork to sit so it may float around.) Note that it’s not designed to keep food cool - you’ll need to pop it into a lunch bag with a cold pack to do this.

It has 4 clips to keep the lid securely on but it’s still easily opened by little hands. It can be thrown into the dishwasher for easy cleaning. The best bit is that it can be personalised. There are so many bright, kid-friendly designs that you can personalise. This includes different colours. You can also add your child’s name to the lunch box, in your choice of font. This might help ensure they don’t lose it. Maybe.

It costs $29.95 and comes from a proudly Aussie-owned family business.

Choose this if…

You want a personalised bento lunch box for kids.

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Best bento for adults -> Ever Eco Bento Box

Ever Eco Bento Box

Fed up of the same ol’ sammies each day? We hear you. Meet your new lunch bestie - the Ever Eco Bento Box. Capable of holding 1,400ml, there’s plenty of room for your sammie, or sushi, or veggie sticks, or nuts, etc. 

It comes with 1 removable divider, which you can position wherever you want (or take it out to make 1 large compartment). With it in, you’ve got 2 compartments to fill with goodies. It has 2 stainless steel clips to keep the lid on securely. Although Ever Eco is keen to point out it’s not leakproof. You’ll need to buy leakproof mini containers to store dressings and dips. But we like that it has a great range of accessories to customise this lunchbox to your needs. 

It’s made of premium, food-grade stainless steel. This makes it durable and easy clean - it’s dishwasher safe. It costs $49.95 and Ever Eco is an environmentally conscious Aussie company with a great vibe.

Choose this if…

You want a bento lunch box that’s definitely not for kids.

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Best for kids -> Little Lunch Box Co

Little Lunch Box Co

If your kid really wants the latest superhero lunch box, but you can’t bring yourself to spend money on one, a lunch box from the Little Lunch Box Co might be a good compromise. Bento boxes, they come in a huge range of kid-friendly designs, from unicorns and glitter to dinosaurs and sharks.

The boxes feature thick walls, to help contain the food. In the Bento 2 and 3, there’s a removable and adjustable divider for good flexibility. (The Bento 5 has no removable divider.) All of them have a child-friendly latch to keep stuff safely inside. They’re all dishwasher safe too and made of durable BPA-free plastic. 

They start from $29.95 and the Little Lunch Box Co is Aussie owned and operated. 

Choose this if…

You want a kid-friendly lunch box in a good range of modern designs.

Best for adults -> Mealami Unisex Meal Management Bag

Mealami Unisex Meal Management Bag

The Mealami Unisex Meal Management Bag is a serious lunch box for adults. It ain’t for kids. One reason for this? The $199.95 price tag. Ouch. Let’s back up a bit. It’s expensive but it comes with everything you need for waste-free lunches. This includes 2x 800ml BPA-free plastic containers and 1 ice pack. It also looks beautiful thanks to its timeless design (they’re proudly designed right here in Oz).

It’s also got a smart design. This includes a separate insulated compartment for your lunch that’s got an easy clean waterproof lining. It’s also got a zippered mesh pocket for the ice pack (so it can’t go travelling around) and a velcro bottle holder. The point of the Mealami is that it replaces all other bags you might take to work. Because it has tonnes of storage. Like a laptop slot, 1 external side pocket and 1 external back zippered pocket. Phew. 

To make carrying it easy, it has a detachable and adjustable shoulder strap. It’s made of durable vegan leather, so it’s animal-friendly. While 4 metal legs on the bottom keep it looking sharp, not scuffed. 

Choose this if…

You want to invest in a serious lunch bag that’s going to replace all your work bags.

Best stainless steel -> Seed & Sprout Stacker

Seed & Sprout Stacker

Sometimes, 1 container just won’t cut it. Enter the Seed & Sprout Stacker - a double layer lunch box, made of stainless steel. One layer has a permanent partition, the other doesn’t, so there’s lots of flexibility. Each layer holds up to 500ml.

Stainless steel is a great insulator and it’s also stain-, smell- and rust-resistant. Plus, it’s dishwasher safe. Making it easy care and easy clean.

It’s RRP $43 and is proudly designed by Seed & Sprout in Byron Bay (although it’s made overseas).

Choose this if…

You want a 2-layer stainless steel lunch box.

Best cooler bag -> Hydro Flask 8L Lunch Tote

Hydro Flask 8L Lunch Tote

The Hydro Flask 8L Lunch Tote is a cooler bag that doesn’t look like a cooler bag. It looks like a super modern and slick tote bag. If looks are important to you, this could be a winner. Especially thanks to the 4 modern muted colours it comes in. Bonus, it’s waterproof so will survive a rainy commute.

Lightweight, it folds into itself when you’re not using it. So, it’s easy to store or keep in your bag / car for impromptu grocery-grabbing. The built-in insulation should keep your lunch cool for at least 4 hours, especially if you use an ice pack. The inside is fully lined, with welded seams, so cleaning up is simple with no places for crumbs to hide. 

It’s got handles for easy carrying or throwing over your shoulder, plus a zippered pocket for essentials. It can also stand up by itself, thanks to the robust base. With a 8L capacity, it’s generously sized for your lunch plus snacks and drinks. It’ll set you back around $70.

Choose this if…

You want a modern and stylish cooler bag that’s ideal for work and weekends.

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