Best adult lunch box for food on-the-go

You'll be prepared for a busy day ahead when you've got your meals packed into one of these adult lunch boxes.

Adult lunch box

by Rosie Floyd |
Published on

Whether you're heading to work, going on a day trip or simply fancy eating your food alfresco, an adult lunch box will keep your meals and snacks organised. After all, if you have your food prepared in advance inside a lunch bag or box, you'll have something tasty to eat on hand, even if your day gets busy, meaning you'll be less likely to pick up additional snacks that are usually more costly and less nutritious compared to what you may have at home.

When you picture a lunch box, you may have the image in your head of a brightly coloured, cartoon-adorned bag that wouldn't look out of place in the hand of a school child. Lunch boxes for adults are a much more sophisticated option. Think modern and sleek Bento boxes and bags in more muted colour palettes. They also tend to have separate compartments and additional removable tubs so you can keep sweet and savoury apart, or dry foods away with wet foods to ensure everything stays fresher for longer.

Best adult lunch box at a glance:

Best overall adult lunch box: BLACK + BLUM Microwavable Stainless Steel Lunch Box – view on Amazon UK
Best adult lunch box for leftovers: Brabantia Large Lunch Box – view on Argos
Best adult lunch box for salads and sandwiches: Sistema To-Go Salad & Sandwich Lunch Box – view on John Lewis

It can be tempting when you're out and about to just grab a 'meal deal' from a local supermarket or café, but these are often ultra-processed and can lure you into buying more food than you originally wanted. Bringing in your own meals in an adult lunch box can help you stay more informed about your food choices and promote better health, as well as save you money in the long run. If you're wondering what to pack in a lunch box for adults, we asked nutritional therapist Dominique Ludwig for her advice and some healthy lunch ideas in our FAQs section.

No matter if you're a fan of cold sandwiches and salads or love some leftovers for lunch, we've rounded up all the best adult lunch boxes that will help your food stay fresh until it's time to eat.

Best adult lunch box

Best overall adult lunch box

BLACK + BLUM Microwavable Stainless Steel Lunch Box
Price: $21.95

Leakproof with an airtight vacuum-sealed lid, the BLACK + BLUM Microwavable Stainless Steel Lunch Box will keep your lunches fresher for longer and give you peace of mind that you're not going to end up with food spilled in your bag. Once you remove the lid, this box is oven and microwave-safe so you can get last night's leftovers piping hot again in no time.

Customer review: "I'm getting rid of all my plastic food storage after reading how dangerous it can be, especially the older it gets and the more scratches or cuts appear on the surface. I have some silicone food storage boxes, which are ok but tend to collapse as you press on the clip lids to close them. Then I these Black & Blum stainless steel boxes, which after glass is considered the next safest material for food storage. I love that they stack easily inside one another when not in use, that they are lighter than glass (which I'd found too heavy and un-stackable) and aesthetically these are a pleasure to look at and to use. They're pricey, but I'm expecting they will last for years."

Pros

  • Leakproof and airtight vacuum-sealed lid lock
  • Microwave/oven safe (excluding lid)

Cons

  • There's nothing to separate food inside so while great for meals, not so good for storing individual lunch elements

Best adult lunch box for leftovers

Microwave and freezer safe, this Brabantia Large Lunch Box is great if you want to heat up last night's dinner for your lunch or store any leftovers away for future lunches. The lid is fitted with clips to make sure it stays locked tightly, with a secure click closing to ensure there's no spillage. It's durable and made of long-lasting materials, which can be completely recycled when it's seen better days.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Microwave and freezer-safe

Cons

  • No customer reviews

Best adult lunch box for salads and sandwiches

Sistema's To-Go Salad & Sandwich Lunch Box is designed to have two separate compartments to offer a divider between your salad and your sandwich to keep the bread from getting soggy while the easy-clean lid helps food to stay fresher for longer. This box is safe to use in the dishwasher on the top rack, in the microwave with the lid open or in the fridge and freezer.

Pros

  • Keeps food separate for freshness
  • Made of phthalate-free and BPA-free polypropylene

Cons

  • No customer reviews

Best eco-friendly adult lunch box

Another option from Sistema, the Ocean Bound Ribbon Lunch Box is made using recycled plastics to help decrease the plastic waste that poses a risk of polluting the ocean. As it's a range designed to help the waterways, it's available in Teal Stone and Mountain Blue colourways that are inspired by oceanic and natural hues. It features an easy-locking lid, removable compartments and a mini pot to keep your lunch organised.

Customer review: "I bought this to hold a sandwich and either fruit or veg sticks for my lunch. Perfect size and great quality. I like that it uses recycled plastic too."

Pros

  • Made using recycled plastics
  • Removable compartments

Cons

  • Comes in two colours, but it's not possible to select a specific colour

Best adult lunch box for liquids

Keep hot food warm for up to six hours and cold food chilled for up to seven hours using the Citron Insulated Stainless Steel Food Jar. Best used for liquids such as soup, it has a leak-proof lid with a silicone lining to stop accidental spills and inside you'll find a removable food divider to keep things separate if needed.

Customer review: "Having this item has been great! I’ve been using it to keep mainly my lunch hot for work. My food is made at 7am, I then travel an hour to get to work, working in retail doesn’t always mean that you take your break at a set time, meaning there are times where I have taken my lunch at 2pm and my food is still warm! I’ve not had a product that has kept my food this warm for this long before. So happy that I’ve found it. I have ordered the larger sized one and cannot wait for it to arrive!"

Pros

  • Great for hot and warm food
  • Leakproof lid

Cons

  • Better for liquids rather than solids

Best layered adult lunch box

Two layers and three compartments make up the OITUGG lunch box and it allows you to store different types of food separately. The bottom layer is 800ml so you can put a full meal prep inside, the second layer is 750ml and features a divider inside to help you organise your snacks and then there's another compartment on top where a fork and spoon are kept so you'll have everything you need in one place come lunchtime.

Customer review: "Purchased to take salads to work, it's ideal to keep food items separate with enough space for my lunch, no leaks yet after several uses to all good up to now."

Pros

  • Different layers and compartments
  • In-built cutlery storage

Cons

  • Includes fork and spoon but not a knife

Best bento lunch box

Ideal for work lunches, food-on-the-go, and picnics, this lunch box from Mepal is a Bento-style box so it includes a removable box to keep meals separate, or you can take it out and store larger sandwiches inside and snacks, such as fruit or cheese, in the separate box. It's made from 100 per cent BPA-free plastic and contains a little fork inside, too.

Customer review: "Looks great and a nice colour. Feels really good quality and the two clips on the outside are very secure. The flexible lid for the tub inside is secure and feels good to handle"

Pros

  • Removable Bento box and different sections for food organisation
  • Made from BPA-free plastic

Cons

  • Main case and lids aren't microwavable so not ideal for lunches that need heating up

Best stackable lunch box

With three separate containers for your main lunch and snacks that can be stacked on top of each other, the Bugucat Bento Lunch Box is easy to carry around with you. As each part can be disassembled, it means that clean-up is straightforward and simple. It also has another layer for cutlery storage, which also doubles as a phone holder so you can watch things on your mobile while you eat.

Customer review: "Actually really like this. Has stopped me lugging various bits of Tupperware to work. Super compact and neat. Strong, good quality and clips really sturdy. Love the cutlery compartment and fork has a serrated edge too to act as a knife. Sauce pot a great extra and divider really handy to separate things. Size is perfect. Would repurchase."

Pros

  • Plenty of compartments
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Some reviewers have said it was smaller than they expected

Most stylish adult lunch box

Make a statement at lunchtime with this beautiful Sara Miller Orchard Bamboo Lunch Box. Designed with a stunning orchard-inspired print, it's ideal for someone looking for a lunch box with a bit of wow factor. It's made from fully compostable bamboo fibre to make it more of a sustainable option. It has a capacity of 570ml and is secured with a fushia-coloured elastic band.

Customer review: "This is a beautiful bamboo sandwich box, very neat and services it purpose. Easy to clean and looks lovely. Much admired by work colleagues."

Pros

  • Beautiful design
  • Fairly deep

Cons

  • Bamboo lid is handwash only

What are the best lunch boxes for adults?

The best lunch boxes for adults all depends on what type of lunches you like. We think the best overall lunch box on our list is the BLACK + BLUM Microwavable Stainless Steel Lunch Box. It’s microwave safe so you can easily heat up any leftovers and it’s leakproof, thanks to its airtight vacuum-sealed lid. If you like to bring in lots of different elements to your lunch as well as snacks, you’ll want to look for a lunch box that has separate compartments to stop food from touching. We’d recommend the Sistema To-Go Salad & Sandwich Lunch Box or the Mepal Bento Lunch Box for dividing your food.

FAQs

We asked nutritional therapist and the founder of nutrition and lifestyle programme, Renew, Reset, Recharge, Dominique Ludwig, all about what to put in a lunch box for adults so you can have a nutritionally balanced, healthy lunch that will leave you feeling full and satisfied after eating it.

What to pack in a lunch box for adults?

To avoid ultra-processed "meal deals" and stay informed about your food choices, bringing your own meals is the best option. It can save you money and promote better health. Buying lunch out may lead to fewer healthy choices and increased consumption of processed foods. Meal deals often tempt us into buying more than planned, with pre-packaged options usually being highly processed.

Dominique recommends thinking about protein, fats, and fibre, also known as the PFF method when you start to plan what you're going to eat and build your meal on this basis. She says to include the below foods:

Lean proteins

Protein not only fills us up but also provides our body with amino acids. Proteins are vital because they form building blocks in our body, so we need to consume them in our food. Our body craves proteins, so it is important to have them at every meal. Aim for a portion of meat or fish that is around 100g and top up with plant proteins, such as edamame beans, chickpeas, lentils, or tofu.

Vegetables

Vegetables are a fantastic source of nutrients and fibre, but they also contain plant compounds known as phytonutrients, which can act as powerful antioxidants in the body. One of the main advantages of vegetables is that they are packed with fibre. This creates an obstacle course in our gut that slows down the release of energy from our meals, keeping our energy levels stable for longer and making us less likely to snack. Choose three to ten different vegetables for your packed lunch and choose as many different colours as possible.

Healthy fats

Natural healthy fats are vital for the health of our brain and nervous system and are present in all our cell membranes. Fats nourish our bodies and keep us full up. If we are still hungry after our packed lunch it is usually because it is lacking in protein, fibre, and fats. Healthy fats are ones that come from natural sources and have not been processed, found in foods such as nuts, seeds, avocado and olives.

Whole food carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fibre, but are more of a top-up than the star of the show. Refined carbohydrates such as white rice, bread, pasta, and wraps contain fast-release carbohydrates and sugar, which can spike our blood sugar levels and wreak havoc with our afternoon energy levels. It is therefore important to add healthier whole food varieties as they contain more fibre, are less processed and don’t spike our blood sugars in the same way as refined. Good choices of these include oat cakes, quinoa, sourdough bread and wild rice.

What is a healthy lunch box for adults?

If you want to avoid the afternoon slump, Dominique says you need a balanced lunch box. This means that it is the right proportions for your body, metabolism and biology.

She suggests your lunch box should be filled with these guidelines:

• 1/4 filled with protein-based foods.
• 1/2 filled with vegetables, whether cooked, raw or as a soup.
• 1/4 filled with whole food carbohydrates.
• A serving of natural, healthy fats, such as olives, avocado or extra virgin olive oil dressing for example.
• Top with three things to add interest and diversity to your lunch, like seeds, nuts, hummus, sprinkled feta etc.
• Add some fruit for dessert, opting for ones that have lower natural sugars, such as berries, apples or pears.

According to Dominique, making sure your lunch box carefully balances proteins, natural fats, vegetables and carbohydrates can do the following:

• Increase our energy levels and productivity
• Keep our blood sugar levels stable
• Leave us feeling satiated so we don’t need to snack on sugary drinks and snacks in the afternoon
• Helps us to maintain our weight more easily

When we eat a meal that is properly balanced, our appetite and need to snack reduces, meaning we are less likely to snack between meals.

Meet the expert

This article contains expert advice from Dominique Ludwig. MSc Nutrition, Nutritional Therapist mBANT, CNHC, AFMCP. Founder of the nutrition and lifestyle programme Renew Reset Recharge, Dominique has over 30 years of experience as a King’s College, London qualified nutritionist and almost 20 years as a nutritional therapist. She works globally and is the secret weapon of many high-profile clients and A-listers.

Rosie Floyd is a Pets, Homes and Garden Product Writer for Yours, specialising in home appliances, décor and furnishings, as well as all things dogs. After completing her Journalism & Media degree from Coventry University back in 2015, she started her career writing about must-visit holiday destinations, moving on to creating content around outdoor living and garden buildings, before joining the team at Bauer.

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