The days of a packed lunch equating to a sandwich in a brown paper bag are long gone. Today’s lunch boxes for adults allow us to tote a much broader selection of cuisine than we could in years past, thanks to innovative lunch-box designs that can keep food cool or hot for hours.
Adult lunch boxes have larger capacities than lunch boxes meant for children; they are roomy enough for bigger meals and for cool packs that keep food fresh. Not to be confused with the loud colors and designs of children’s lunch boxes, lunch boxes geared toward grownups sport professional-looking styles that are right at home in the workplace.
If you’re looking to bring your lunch to work more often this year, read on to learn more about what to look for when shopping for the best lunch box for adults, and find out why the lunch boxes recommended here are some of the best options on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: OPUX Insulated Dual Compartment Lunch Bag
- RUNNER UP: MIER Adult Lunch Box Insulated Lunch Bag
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Rubbermaid LunchBlox Lunch Bag, Medium, Black Etch
- UPGRADE PICK: HSD Lunch Bag, Insulated Cooler, Thermal Lunch Box
- BEST SMALL SIZE: Bento Boxes for Adults – 1400 ML Bento Lunch Box
- BEST LARGE SIZE: Lifewit Large Lunch Bag Insulated Lunch Box
- ALSO CONSIDER: MDMP Meal Prep Lunch Bag
Features to Look for in the Best Lunch Boxes for Adults
For a lunch box to be useful, it needs to be large enough to hold a complete meal, comfortable to carry, well insulated to keep food warm or cold, and stylish enough for the workplace.
The key to keeping food warm (or cold) from the time it’s packed in the morning until it’s time for lunch is insulation. Most lunch boxes use polyethylene foam insulation, a closed-cell material that is durable, lightweight, and has excellent insulating properties. A lunch box with 5 or 6 millimeters of insulation should be able to keep food cool or warm for up to five hours (or longer when used with an ice pack). Some higher-end lunch boxes feature padded insulation up to 8 millimeters thick. Many lunch box manufacturers line their products with a vinyl foil material to help the lunch box retain heat or cold.
Style & Design
True to their name, many adult lunch boxes are, indeed, box-shaped. They typically unzip on three sides, allowing easy access to the lunch box’s entire contents. Box-shaped lunch boxes work especially well when they are used in tandem with box-shaped reusable plastic food containers. This style of lunch box usually has a shoulder strap and/or a handle so it can be carried easily.
Other lunch boxes are made in a bag design with a single opening at the top, similar to a tote bag. This type of bag isn’t as bulky to carry as a box-shaped lunch box, but it doesn’t fully open and usually has a smaller capacity than a box-shaped lunch tote.
Still other lunch boxes riff on the classic metal workman’s lunch box, which has a large upper section that hinges open from the lower section. The modern version of this design separates the lunchbox’s lid and main body into separate upper and lower compartments. These two insulated compartments allow for two temperature zones–a cold zone for beverages, vegetables, and fruit, and a hot zone for warm meals.
Unlike kids’ lunch totes, which feature bright colors, characters, and fun designs, lunch boxes for adults are meant to look professional, with a sophisticated style suitable for the office.
As with any bags or totes, adult lunch boxes vary in size and carrying capacity. Larger lunchboxes measure about 10 inches long, 7 inches wide, and 10 inches high, which is roomy enough to transport a large meal or several small ones. Smaller lunch boxes are 9 inches long, 5 inches wide, and 9 inches high, enough for an average-size lunch. High-capacity lunch boxes, which are ideal for meal prep, might be as large as 16 inches long, 7 inches wide, and 10 inches high.
By their nature, lunch boxes are portable, and manufacturers design them to be easy to carry. Most feature dual handles: a small handle that allows the user to carry it as a traditional lunch box and a shoulder strap so it can be worn as one would a handbag or messenger bag. Many handles and straps are padded with neoprene and foam, making the lunch box comfortable to carry.
Some adult lunch boxes have convenient pockets that are useful in organizing a meal. Internal mesh pockets and external side pockets are places to store utensils and napkins. Side pockets provide a convenient spot to hold a water bottle.
Some lunch boxes also come with accessories, such as plastic storage containers and ice packs to organize meals and keep them cold.
Our Top Picks
With those key features and shopping tips in mind, we’ve narrowed down the top-rated products. Any of these recommendations for the best lunch box for adults should suit your needs.
This handsome lunch bag features thick insulation, a large capacity, and numerous compartments for organizing, all of which make it an excellent vehicle for packed lunches. At 10 inches long, 7.5 inches wide, and 10 inches deep, this lunch box provides plenty of space for food and ice packs without being too bulky for commutes. Its lower section is roomy enough to hold 10 soda cans or a large lunch, and its upper section is spacious enough to hold three drink bottles or food containers. These separate compartments, which feature thick foam insulation, allow the user to separate hot food from cold beverages.
The OPUX lunch bag has internal mesh pockets for holding snacks and utensils as well as external front and side pockets to stow small personal items and water bottles. It has a convenient handle and shoulder strap, so the user can carry this bag as a traditional lunch box or over the shoulder. A ripstop nylon outer shell adds durability for trips from home to the office. This bag comes in 12 colors; some are professional enough for the office while others are casual enough for the school cafeteria.
This lunch box from MIER sports a thoughtful design and large capacity, making it a worthy choice for hungry commuters. It has two separate compartments, so meals can be kept hot, if need be, and drinks cold. The roomy top pouch is ideal for drinks and snacks, while the large bottom section works well for sandwiches, salads, and other lunch mains. A handy front zipper pocket provides a convenient spot for utensils, napkins, and valuables.
A thick layer of foam lining insulation keeps this lunchbox cool or warm for hours. A soft handle strap and large shoulder strap provide two options for toting this lunchbox, which measures 10.2 inches long, 9.9 inches wide, and 11 inches high. With nine different colors to choose from, this bag will suit numerous tastes. For those who don’t need to tote a whole day’s worth of food, this same lunch box is also available in a smaller size.
HighSpeedDaddy, or HSD, is a veteran-owned and -operated business, so it makes perfect sense that this heavy-duty bag has durable YKK zippers and military styling. With 600-denier polyester construction, this lunch box will hold up to difficult commutes to work as well as rugged camping trips. It has enough capacity to hold six beer bottles or soda cans with a front pocket for utensils or personal items.
With a lining that’s 8 millimeters thick, this lunch box will keep items cool or warm for long periods. Tactical webbing on the back serves as a convenient place to hang keys, a water bottle, or storage pouches. A large hook-and-loop pad mounted on the side is a great place for personalizing the lunch box with patches, while a padded handle and large shoulder strap add comfort while on the move. This lunch bag comes in several military-inspired colors, including black, olive green, camouflage, and khaki. It measures 10 inches long, 6.5 inches wide, and 7.5 inches high.
Rubbermaid’s moderately priced lunch box has ample insulation for keeping food and drink warm or cold. At just 9 inches long, 5.4 inches wide, and 9 inches high, it is easy to tote to and from the workplace but large enough to hold a substantial lunch and an ice pack. The design of this lunch box easily accommodates Rubbermaid’s LunchBlox food containers.
A three-sided zipper offers full access to the lunch box’s interior, making accessing food easier while also making it easier to clean. Thick foam insulation keeps food warm or cool, and a mesh pouch on the flap is a convenient spot for utensils and condiments. A mesh side pouch is the right size for a water bottle, and a top handle and shoulder strap allow for easy transport.
This Japanese bento box-inspired lunch container offers a compact means for transporting lunch. At just 8.25 inches long, 5.5 inches wide, and 2.75 inches deep, this diminutive box fits easily in a backpack or bag. Its 1400 millimeter interior is divided into three separate compartments that accommodate a main dish and two side dishes. A fork and spoon come with the lunch box and fit conveniently into the molded compartments on the top of the lid, which fits tightly on the box with three buckle straps.
With its rigid food-grade plastic construction, this box can safely travel in a full backpack or bag without being crushed. Though it is not insulated, this lunch box is both microwave-safe, making heating up warm meals at the office easy, and dishwasher-safe, making cleanup a cinch.
Big enough to carry an entire case of soda cans, this lunch bag from Lifewit is a worthy choice for those who are toting lunch for two or packing more than one meal for themselves. It is durable enough to hold up to the bustle of morning commutes, thanks to its waterproof and dirt-resistant, 600-denier oxford fabric. The top has a zipper that spans three sides and flips open, which makes it easy access to the bag’s contents. Heavy 6-millimeter foam insulation and a reflective foil lining keep food warm or cold for more than five hours.
We like that the Lifewit lunch bag has a large external pocket and mesh side pockets in which to store utensils, napkins, keys, smartphones, or other valuables. This square-shaped bag measures 12 inches long, 9 inches deep, 9 inches high, and has a 15-liter capacity.
Those who regularly tote lunch for the whole family or feed the entire team at the office will get lots of mileage out of MDMP’s meal prep lunch bag. It measures 16.5 inches by 7 inches by 10.6 inches, and comes with three large containers with buckle seals and two ice packs. A large top compartment holds loose foods like fruits and veggies, while the middle compartment houses the three food containers and two ice packs.
Large side pouches hold water bottles or additional food, while foam insulation keeps everything cool. This lunch bag also comes with a 22-ounce shaker water bottle, which features a separate storage compartment for drink mixes and vitamin supplements. A large padded shoulder strap makes carrying heavy loads comfortable. The bag is made of a long-lasting durable PVC material with YKK zippers.