Back to School Lunch Must-Haves: Best Lunch Boxes and Accessories


I approach packing lunch much like I approach much of motherhood: I hyper-focus on what I can do to make my life easier. One thing that makes me crazy is not having what I need. I cope by buying supplies that WORK. School mornings are already crazy enough, I need the best lunch bags, best lunch boxes and best accessories I can find. Lunch must-haves make the world (from the hours of 7 to 8:30 am in my house) go round!

When I’m shopping for my lunch box must-haves I’m looking for pieces that are cute while still being durable and functional. I don’t mind spending more for something that will last. I also find that the earth-conscious choice is usually the choice that saves me money in the long run. This is true with top backpack picks, too!

Best Lunch Bags

Selecting the best lunch bag is the first step in a successful school lunch career. There are so many choices on the market it may seem like less hassle just to grab whatever, but the fact is that you don’t have to make yourself crazy to get a lunch bag that is functional, durable, and cute.

best lunch boxes
Our pics for best lunch bags

LL Bean, Lands’ End, and Pottery Barn Kids all put out a variety of reliable and super cute products. While these babies might be a bit more costly the quality means it will last.

Another great choice is these lunch bags by PackIt. They have walls made out of ice pack material which eliminates one piece of equipment for your kids to lose. They come in a variety of styles and sizes.

A Neoprene lunch bag is another excellent choice. I love its versatility and simplicity. The neoprene is an excellent insulator and stretchy so that you aren’t so limited in what you can pack. It’s also machine washable and folds flat. Built is my go-to brand because of it’s durable construction and thoughtful details like this carrying strap, but I also like BYO which offers a great variety of styles and prints. 

           neoprene makes this lunch box extra versatile neoprene makes this lunch box extra versatile

Best Lunch Boxes

The Bento Box

The next item on my list is a Bento Box. The Bento is relatively new to the lunch box crew but its devotees assure me of its place on my list. For those who are unfamiliar, the Bento Box originated in Japan as a reusable lunch dish with a lid and divided compartments designed to hold a single portion meal consisting of a main dish and some sides.

Leading this Bento-style lunch box category is Bentgo. Their bento boxes have 5 compartments, are leak-proof, and offer cute designs and durable outer shells. 

bento style lunch boxes are very popular

Fit & Fresh offers a bento-style lunch box with silicone dividers that can be arranged to accommodate a variety of food and ice packs that can be snapped into the lid. 

another choice for a bento style lunch box by fit and fresh

I love Sistema for my own lunch box. This bento version by them is sturdy and the inner seal on the lid keeps food fresh and prevents leaks. 

this style of lunch box encourages packing a variety of food

More Lunch Must-Haves: Lunch Accessories

Rounding out the list are the little extras that make a big difference in the day-to-day. 

Best Water Bottles for Kids

A water bottle that is cute, durable, leak-proof, keeps water cold, and BPA-free is essential. I love these kid versions of my favorite water bottles. Check out Nalgene on the Fly, CamelBak Eddy, and S’ip by S’well. These brands never disappoint. 

      this water bottle is a lunch box must havethis water bottle is a lunch box must have
this water bottle is a lunch box must have

Reusable Utensils

Repeat after me, “I will not lose any more of my good silverware in the lunchtime void!” Both of these sets are colorful, cute, and cost-effective. Knork brand is virtually indestructible while these ones from IKEA are everything you expect from the Swedish giant (inexpensive and decent quality). 

reusable plastic utensils
Knork forks and Ikea utensil sets.


Reusable Sandwich Bags

Reusable sandwich bags are not only cost-effective and earth-friendly; they are also adorable. I’ve been a huge fan of Bumkins since I discovered their bibs (they don’t melt in the dryer and are so cute!) and these reusable snack bags are every bit as amazing. Meanwhile, the durable silicon of the Stasher brand bags come in lots of different sizes and can be put in the dishwasher. Lunch storage doesn’t have to involve stuffing the landfill!

reusable snack bags
Bumkins & Stashers


Ice Packs

Add a multi-pack of ice packs to your cart (you’ll need several so there’s always a cold one in the freezer). I like these sets from Fit and Fresh. This is a lunch must-have, particularly during the hot days in September. 

ice packs


You’ll also want a package of labels to make sure all your lunch box goodies make it home at the end of the day. These labels are self-laminating meaning they are waterproof and smudge resistant. 

lunch box labels


Looking to streamline the process? You can find my Amazon idea list here with all my picks for best lunch bags, boxes and accessories!

lunch must-haves