16 Honest Reviews of the Most Popular Stainless Steel Lunchboxes

16 Honest Reviews of the Most Popular Stainless Steel Lunchboxes

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Inside: The best stainless steel lunchboxes for your child and gritty honest reviews to go with them. You’ll be able to make your decision confidently!

I paused, my thumb hovering over the “buy now” button – on a $24.99 preschool lunchbox. “It’s too much,” I told myself.

Then again, I had to send food in something.

“What if it’s junk?”

I threw the phone on the bed.

Fast forward 4 years. I’ve time-tested so many boxes I can actually provide you with unbiased pros and cons about the best stainless steel lunchboxes for kids (and a few plastic ones too)!

You don’t have to go in wondering what can go right or wrong. I’ll tell you!

I’m into lunchboxes because I have to send lunches with my kids and they can help picky eaters eat better. If you need help with a picky eater, I’ve got a free child feeding guide that will help you.

Ready for the most honest lunchbox reviews you’ve ever read?

Related: Get your picky eater on the road to eating more foods with BetterBites

1. 2 Compartment Oval Stainless Steel Lunchboxes

Two double compartment stainless steel lunchboxes

Hands down this is the best value stainless steel box there is out there. When I bought it in 2016 it was $8.99. Guess what? It’s still $8.99.

Dude, you can buy 2 at this price so you can have a dirty one in the sink and a clean one to pack (or wait, just me with the sink full of dishes?).

One difference. A few of mine (yeah, I have lots of them now) had little latches on the side to hold the lid on, but those aren’t available for purchase anymore.

I love filling one side with fruits and veggies from my free veggie exposure shopping list and menu template, and filling the other with the “main dish.”

Pros:

Easy to pack. This box was durable. Never had any issues with the inside. Handled dings and drops really well.

Cons:

Leaks liquid. If you get one with latches, the latches slowly bend overtime and eventually become loose. That said, my lid always snugged on (is that a word?) and we never had an issue. Sometimes I felt better putting a rubber band around it.

The one I have without latches hasn’t had any issues. The lid still snugs on years later, no rubber band required.

Volume: 2.5 cups
Good for: preschool, kindergarten, snack
Leakproof: No
Dishwasher safe: Yes
Cost (November 2020): $8.99
Other fun things shown in the picture: Panda Food Picks, Stem Food Picks, Silicone Baking Cups, Veggie Cutters
My purchase experience: I purchased several. When the latches broke I contacted the company and asked for 2 replacements. They sent me the new model with no latches.

Overall lunchbox rating: 4 stars for value, longevity, and simplicity

Related: Real Easy Weekdays – easy nut-free weekday lunches

2. The Tiniest Stainless Steel Lunchboxes

One open stainless steel lunchbox with a green outer sleeve

This is the tiniest rectangle bento box. Why did I buy it? Because I won “the 3yo with the tiniest appetite” lottery. If you have a kid that’s not eating, you and I can be friends. I wanted him to have a bento-style presentation and that requires a full box. Enter the need for the tiniest lunch box.

He outgrew this lunchbox pretty quickly, but 4 years later we’re still using it for snacks.

Pros:

Long life. Both of the boxes I purchased are fully functional 2 years later – lid and box. And that, in a home with young boys, is a feat. My hat’s off to the manufacturer. Leak proof.

Cons:

Seal in the lid gets grimy. I’m not a fan of fussy stuff like taking the gasket out of lids to clean them, but that needs to happen now and then if you put it through the dishwasher.

Volume: 1 cup
Good for: snack, preschool (light appetite)
Leakproof: Yes
Dishwasher safe: Yes
Cost (November 2020): $14.99
Other fun things shown in the picture: Dip Container, Food Picks, Star Shaped Cutter
My purchase experience: Purchased 1, purchased a second box because I liked the first one a lot.

Overall lunchbox rating: 4 stars for value, small size, and longevity.

Related: Real Easy Weekdays – easy nut-free weekday lunches

3. Stacking Oval Stainless Steel Lunchboxes

two 2 compartment stainless steel lunchboxes that stack

I thought I would love these because they are a lot like my classic oval lunch boxes. With this set, the bottom oval latches to the top oval to keep them together. I think this would work in other families and cultures. For our family, it just. Didn’t. Work.

Pros:

Long life (maybe because we never used them).

Cons:

Long side latches make it hard to store. Top container is a lid to the bottom container, so you have to use them together if you want the bottom one to have a lid.

It’s much too much food for my kids, so I used the top ones alone, or used it to pack my husband’s lunch. My husband’s lunch bag isn’t tall enough though, so I quit using it. Long latches seem vulnerable to falls, normal wear, and an engineer-leaning child who likes to take things apart.

Volume: 4 ¼ cups combined
Good for: 2 meals/snacks for preschooler or kindergartener, 1 meal for adult
Leakproof: No
Dishwasher safe: Yes
Cost (November 2020): $20.97
Other fun things shown in the picture: Silicone Baking Cups
My purchase experience: A company gave me two sets. I didn’t buy more.

Overall lunchbox rating: 1 star for whole system, 4 stars for the top container (see first review).

Related: Real Easy Weekdays – easy nut-free weekday lunches

4. Lunchbots Mini 2 Compartment Stainless Steel Lunchboxes

Mini stainless steel lunchbox with divider

I do like to play favorites with my lunchboxes. This is mine. This tiny little snack box that feels sooooo smooth and classy in my hand.

Yes, I do spend too much time packing lunch and thinking about how lunchboxes feel in my hand, thanks for asking.

Pros:

These little guys slide nicely into backpack pockets and lunch bags. I love the size. I’ve had them over 1 year and my boxes show little sign of wear and tear. We have had zero issues with them. Lids still close tight.

Cons:

A regular-sized homemade muffin does not fit. I have to cut it in half and lay the sides next to each other. Seriously. That is my con.

Volume: 1 Cup
Good for: snack
Leakproof: No
Dishwasher safe: Yes
Cost (November 2020): $18.99
My purchase experience: I contacted the company and asked them to send me 4 samples. They did. But then I bought another one to replace one my kid lost – that’s how much I love them. Of course as soon as it showed up, the missing 4th one showed up (it had been missing a year).

Overall lunchbox rating: 4 stars for classiness, small size, quality, aesthetics.

Related: Real Easy Weekdays – easy nut-free weekday lunches

5. Lunchbots 3 Compartment Stainless Steel Lunchboxes

These are great. Same high quality and classy feel of the mini Lunchbots, but larger.

Pros:

The size is practical. The quality is very high. This brand churns out quality. It’s a good amount of food for a young kid. The layout is visually pleasing with 3 compartments.

My boxes are over a year old and show limited wear and tear (which in my house – with 2 energetic guys – is…bravo!) The lids still fit snug. I know people who have had them for multiple years and the lids still fit snug. I never worry the lids will come off.

Cons:

The compartments are pretty deep. So, it can be easy to send too much food if you don’t think about it. If you fill up a smaller compartment, it’s nearing a half cup of the item. Make sure your kid really will eat a half cup of raw carrots before filling.

Volume: 2.5 cups
Good for: preschool, kindergarten, big kid snack
Leakproof: No
Dishwasher safe: Yes
Cost (November 2020): $24.99
Other fun things shown in the picture: Flower Sandwich Cutters, Leaf Food Picks
My purchase experience: I contacted the company and asked them to send me 2 samples. They did. I then later purchased 2 more because they were so practical and we were using them more regularly.

Overall lunchbox rating: 4 stars for classiness, quality, aesthetics.

Related: Real Easy Weekdays – easy nut-free weekday lunches

6. Lunchbots 5 Compartment Stainless Steel Lunchboxes

5 compartment stainless steel lunchbox

More Lunchbots quality here, but this box is huge. We don’t use it much for lunches, but we do use it for family-size snack boxes with dried fruit, nuts, etc.

Pros:

The size is adult-lunch large. The quality is high as with all the lunchbots boxes I’ve purchased. We’ve had it for a year and it’s relatively brand new, we haven’t used it much though. Lid fits great.

Cons:

In terms of size, it’s not appropriate for a small kid, it’s just too big. It may work for a kid with a very large appetite.

That said, the 2 larger compartments do not fit a sandwich. They also don’t fit a half sandwich, or 2 quarters of a sandwich, or triangles. So, if you ever do sandwiches on “normal” bread, this box will bring you back to your high school geometry struggles. If you aren’t sandwich people, you may love it.

Volume: 4 cups
Good for: kid with very large appetite, adult
Leakproof: No
Dishwasher safe: Yes
Cost (November 2020): $41.99
Other fun things shown in the picture: Silicone Baking Cups, Animal Food Picks
My purchase experience: I asked the company to send me 1 sample. They did. I have not purchased more.

Overall lunchbox rating: 2 stars for appropriateness for kids and oddly sized compartment, although note, the quality is very high.

Related: Real Easy Weekdays – easy nut-free weekday lunches

7. The Fanciest Schmanciest Stainless Steel Lunchboxes: Planetbox Rover

5 compartment stainless steel lunchbox

If you follow lunch accounts on Instagram, images of the Planetbox Rover will find you. And it is GORGEOUS. I was drooling from the beauty of it the first time I saw it. Until I saw the price. Then I was drooling because my mouth was stuck open from shock. (Then I went and patted my $8.99 stainless steel box.)

Eventually, I decided to take the plunge because they were so highly recommended and I did, after all, run an Instagram lunch account. Seemed like a decent business purchase.

We use this box often in real life and in Instagram life. I sometimes even use this for myself. I mean, it is still gorgeous after all.

Pros:

My kids were thrilled beyond belief that they could pick out the magnets for the top. This was a huge selling point. One of my kids really loves the box, the other really loves that he has one like his brother.

The quality is high. The layout is my favorite of any lunch boxes aesthetically and it’s fun to pack. I like that it comes with 2 round leak-proof containers. They really are leak-proof and that is impressive.

Cons:

The biggest one for me is most of the latches stopped latching within a year. I have friends who have NOT had this issue, but I’ve had it happen for 3 boxes, so it’s annoying to me. The company offers new latches for purchase, but I don’t feel like I should have to make any more purchases to keep the box going after the initial eye-popping price.

Sometimes I put a rubber band around our Rover and sometimes I put it in a sleeve to keep it closed.

The magnets show a lot of wear after 3 years (and a few unauthorized trips through the dishwasher).

Volume: 4 ½ cups (when full packed)
Good for: kindergarten, elementary, plus
Leakproof: Round containers included with purchase are leak-proof
Dishwasher safe: Yes
Cost (November 2020): $80.74
Other fun things shown in the picture: Small Animal Veggie Cutters
My purchase experience: I purchased 2 on my own on sale. The company then sent me two more.

Overall lunchbox rating: 2.5 stars for quality, layout, and ease of packing, but price and latch issue bring it down a star and a half for me.

Related: Real Easy Weekdays – easy nut-free weekday lunches

8. Stainless Steel Bus Plate with Lid

stainless steel lunchbox with lid and 5 compartments shaped like a bus

If your kid is into busses and divided plates, this may be your winning ticket.

Pros:

Doubles as a plate and a lunchbox. It’s cute. Super cute, and durable.

Cons:

I don’t have confidence in the lid. It doesn’t always keep the food in the sections if swung around in a backpack, and well, it just seems like it could come off. I like 100% confidence that lids will not come off in my kid’s backpack. Also, it’s hard to find a container to put the plate in, so it’s really best for at home use (although I’ve sent it to school 2 or 3 times).

Volume: a little less than 2 cups
Good for: preschool or kindergarten lunch
Leakproof: No
Dishwasher safe: Yes (Lid is not dishwasher safe)
Cost (November 2020): $19.99
Other fun things shown in the picture: Veggie Shape Cutters
My purchase experience: We were given 2 as a gift by a relative.

Overall lunchbox rating: 2 stars for quality and fun, but missing 2 for lack of confidence in lid and impractical size for lunchboxes/backpacks (4 stars if you’re just looking for a fun stainless steel plate for at home use).

Related: Real Easy Weekdays – easy nut-free weekday lunches

9. Ecolunchbox Splash Box Stainless Steel Lunchboxes

Open stainless steel lunchbox with lid

This box is exactly what it’s called. A stainless steel box. So if you’re looking for something that is leak proof and will be a box forever, this is your box. It comes with a silicone lid.

Pros:

It’s sturdy. The box is stainless steel. The lid is silicone and is leakproof. Because of its simplicity, it will last years, through many stages.

Cons:

3 cups of food in one container is a lot. This is hard to pack for a small child because the box is so big. I had some success using silicone muffin cup liners inside to put several things in, but then there was so much space at the top, everything fell out of the cups during transport. We haven’t used it much because of the depth of the box. It’s too tall for just a sandwich. For adults, it could be good for salads. It can’t be reheated in the microwave and isn’t insulated, limiting the lunch options for adults.

Volume: 3 cups
Good for: bigger kid or adult
Leakproof: Yes
Dishwasher safe: Yes
Cost (November 2020): $26.99
Other fun things shown in the picture: Panda Rice Molds
My purchase experience: We were given 1 by the company, did not purchase more.

Overall lunchbox rating: 2 stars – although it’s high quality, the size just doesn’t work for us.

Related: Real Easy Weekdays – easy nut-free weekday lunches

10. Hybrid Plastic and Stainless Steel Thermos Lunchboxes

green stainless steel lunchbox with thermos insert

The Omiebox has some unique features. It’s mostly plastic, but has a stainless steel insulated container inside the box. There’s a lot going on with this box. It can be used to keep foods warm and cold. It can also be used to keep some foods cold and other foods warm.

Pros:

It’s unique. If you have a small child that likes warm food and needs something easy to open (most of the time – read below), this is it. You can also put the whole lunch into one box – the thermos is included. My kids also like the handle that makes it like a carrying case.

Cons:

The lunchbox has a very large volume. So, even a lot of food looks like a little bit of food and you may easily overpack lunch and waste food without thinking.

Also, and this is the big one, I know several people who have had issues with the thermos getting stuck shut. The thermos somehow vacuum sealed shut and the child and teacher were unable to open it – so the child couldn’t eat the main part of their lunch.

I personally have not had this happen, and we’ve been using ours for 3 years, but it’s worth knowing.

Also, it’s a royal pain in the watermelon to clean. There are two gaskets, lots of parts, and some of it is dishwasher safe and some of it isn’t. We use it sparingly for this reason, but still pull it out for warm ravioli lunches or warm soup.

Volume: 3.5 Cups (All 4 compartments combined)
Good for: lunch
Leakproof: Yes
Dishwasher safe: Some parts
Cost (November 2020): $39.50
Other fun things shown in the picture: Dip Containers, Silicone Baking Cups
My purchase experience: I purchased 1, then I was given 2 by the company (I have kept 2 and given away 1).

Overall lunchbox rating: 2.5 stars for uniqueness, ability to keep things warm, but balanced difficulty with cleaning and reported problems with opening it.

Related: Real Easy Weekdays – easy nut-free weekday lunches

11. Yumbox MiniSnack Non-Stainless Steel Lunchboxes

green non stainless steel lunchbox with dip container

Yumbox has a series of hard plastic lunchboxes that we’ve tried out.

Pros:

It’s a great size. It is good for a preschool or kindergarten snack. May even work for younger elementary snacks. And is initially leak-proof.

Cons:

Sometimes kids don’t re-latch it properly, so if you put something soupy in it, like yogurt, the leftovers may get all over the backpack on the way home.

Also, we’ve noticed our other Yumboxes have become less leak-proof over time. Finally, the silicone coating that makes it leak-proof does pick up odors.

Volume: ¾ cups (large well) / ⅓ cup (small well)
Good for: small snacks
Leakproof: Initially, but maybe not after wear and tear
Dishwasher safe: Yes, but silicone coating picks up dishwasher soap odors
Cost (November 2020): $21.99
Other fun things shown in the picture: Animal Food Picks, Spoon
My purchase experience: I was given 1 by the company, I purchased 3 more.

Overall lunchbox rating: 3 stars for practical size and ability to be sort of leak-proof.

Related: Real Easy Weekdays – easy nut-free weekday lunches

12. Yumbox Original Non-Stainless Steel Lunchboxes

dark blue non stainless steel lunchbox with 6 compartments

This Yumbox is one of my kid’s favorite lunch boxes. He’s really into it.

Pros:

It’s a good size for kids who like snack-type lunches. There are 6 different compartments that are small. The price is somewhat better compared to other bento-style lunch boxes.

Cons:

Sometimes kids don’t re-latch it properly, so if you put something soupy in it, like yogurt, the leftovers get all over the backpack on the way home. Also, after 2 years of use, this box leaks for us. Finally, the silicone coating that makes it leak-proof does pick up odors, so we can’t wash the outer box in the dishwasher. That makes this box more high maintenance.

Volume: 2.5 cups (combined) + dipping well
Good for: lunch
Leakproof: Initially, but not after wear and tear
Dishwasher safe: Yes, but silicone coating picks up dishwasher soap odors
Cost (November 2020): $29.99
Other fun things shown in the picture: Rainbow Paper Baking Cups
My purchase experience: I have 2 of this kind and I know at least 1 was given to me by the company. I can’t remember if I purchased the second one or if the company gave me that one too.

Overall lunchbox rating: 3 stars for practical size and kid-friendliness, but also isn’t leak-proof long term and picks up odors.

Related: Real Easy Weekdays – easy nut-free weekday lunches

13. Yumbox Panino Non-Stainless Steel Lunchboxes

light blue non stainless steel lunchbox with 4 compartments

This Yumbox is the same size as the original, but only has 3 compartments.

Pros:

It’s a good size for kids who like a sandwich and 3 small sides. The price is somewhat better compared to other bento-style lunch boxes.

Cons:

Sometimes kids don’t re-latch it properly, so if you put something soupy in it, like dip, the leftovers get all over the backpack on the way home. This box picked up odors from a mediterranean salad early on for us and has had a funny smell ever since. We don’t use it much for that reason.

It is still leak-proof, but the one we use regularly is not leak-proof after 2 years.

Volume: 3 cups (combined) + dipping well
Good for: lunch
Leakproof: Initially, but not after wear and tear
Dishwasher safe: Yes, but silicone coating picks up food odors
Cost (November 2020): $29.99
My purchase experience: 1 was given to me by the company. I did not purchase more.

Overall lunchbox rating: 2.5 stars for practical size, but also probably isn’t leak-proof long term and picks up odors.

Related: Real Easy Weekdays – easy nut-free weekday lunches

14. Oxford Brick Non-Stainless Steel Lunchboxes Set

non stainless steel lunchbox set with lego block lids

Okay, this one is not stainless steel, but it is is the absolute cutest set for kids into Lego(tm) or blocks or building.

Pros:

It’s fun! If you have a picky eater who is “blah” on lunch, and you want them to have more interest, this box may help. The smaller containers are great for small sides.

The latches have worked long-term for us, and the fun factor lives on for several years now (we don’t use the box every day).

Cons:

The larger container is very deep. While this works for traditional Bento styles that are rice-based, it can be tricky to pack a sandwich. It can also be tricky to store.

Volume: 2 cups in the big container and 1/2 cup in each smaller container for 3 cups total
Good for: lunch
Leakproof: No
Dishwasher safe: Yes
Cost (November 2020): $19.99
Other fun things shown in the picture: Long Toothpicks
My purchase experience: We were given 2 sets as a gift from a relative.

Overall lunchbox rating: 3 stars for being fun and a durable set, even if being more difficult to pack.

Related: Real Easy Weekdays – easy nut-free weekday lunches

15. Foogo Stainless Steel Thermos

stainless steel lunchbox thermos

Sometimes you just need a thermos to keep something warm.

Pros:

Probably one of the best thermoses on the market for kids. I read a blog post once (wish I could find it), where a mom measured the temps of hot water in various thermoses over the course of the day and this was the winner. Of course, I didn’t do all that testing myself, but I did buy the thermos. It’s been durable and keeps foods warm.

Cons:

It’s hard to open for young children.

Volume: 1 ¼ cups
Good for: lunch
Leakproof: Yes
Dishwasher safe: Yes
Cost (November 2020): $17.99
Other fun things shown in the picture: Spoon
My purchase experience: I purchased one and we’ve had it for 4 years, I plan to purchase another one for my other kid this winter.

Overall lunchbox rating: 4 stars for being a high quality durable product.

Related: Real Easy Weekdays – easy nut-free weekday lunches

16. I Don’t Want to Spend on a Stainless Steel Lunchboxes

stack of plastic 3 compartment lunchboxes with rainbow lids

I get it! You’re not into stainless steel. In that case, you can still get easy-to-pack lunch boxes made of plastic! My husband and I used these for years before we had kids and wanted to pack super fast, economical lunches for ourselves.

Pros:

You don’t have to cry if your child loses one. Easy-to-pack. Lightweight.

Cons:

Can warp over time. We did have to replace them semi-frequently.

Volume: approximately 4 cups
Good for: lunch
Leakproof: Yes
Dishwasher safe: Yes (may depend on your dishwasher settings)
Cost (November 2020):
My purchase experience: I purchased many of these pre-kids and we used them for several years.

Overall lunchbox rating: 2.5 stars for practicality and cost, but lack of durability.

What Should I Put In The Lunchbox?

If you also need help feeding your family 3 meals and 2 snacks a day, including sending lunches to daycare, preschool, or school, Kids Eat in Color® Real Easy Weekdays is a complete meal system to help make feeding your family easier.

That’s a wrap on my super honest lunchbox review. Turns out I did end up spending that $24.99 on a lunchbox, and I’m so glad because now you can make an informed decision before you spring for anything!

Download: FREE Veggie Exposure Shopping List & Meal Planner

collage image of 8 stainless steel lunchboxes

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