Why pick a stainless steel lunch box for kids? Two words: Toxic cocoon.
Have you ever wondered, “Is this PB&J nestled in a Ziploc bag on a hot day safe?”
The answer? Not entirely.
In fact, that “toxic cocoon” scenario can leach hormone-disrupting chemicals into food. More on that later…
Yet, a kids’ metal lunch box doesn’t. They’re safer, can last a lifetime, and preserve food flavor better.
That’s why we researched and tested some of the best steel lunch boxes out there. Below, you’ll find the top 5 stainless steel lunch boxes for kids – reviewed.
But that’s not all.
We’ll first cover why plastic shouldn’t even be an option for kids’ lunch boxes (health risks).
Let’s get started!
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Our Top Picks | Quick Links
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- G.a. Homefavor | Best Leak-Proof Kid’s Stainless Steel Lunch Box | 27oz
- Bklyn Bento | Best Stainless Steel Lunch Containers with Silicone Lids | 1.5 – 21oz
- LunchBots Medium Trio II | Best Metal Bento Box for Small Kids | 20oz
- Clean Lunch’n | Best Steel Lunch Box for Big Kids | 50oz
- LunchBots Thermos | Best Insulated Kids Lunch Thermos | 8oz
Why Stainless Steel Lunch Boxes Should be the Only Option for Kids
What happens when you search for the best stainless steel lunch containers online?
You’re met with a barrage of kids’ lunch boxes, mostly all with plastic parts… Here’s why that’s troubling—
Plastic lunch boxes leach several troubling chemicals when “stressed.” (And no, not “sitting in traffic” stressed.)
Stressed means exposure to heat from hot food or microwaving. Sunlight is another culprit.
Which chemicals leach?
The most notorious include BPA (Bisphenol A) and phthalates. They’re especially troubling for kids, considering bisphenols are hormone disruptors.
Hazards of BPA consumption include:
- Reproductive disorders such as early puberty.
- Heart disease & hypertension.
- Diabetes & insulin resistance.
- Effects on fetal brain development. More specifically, estrogen regulation, which may impact social behavior & cause anxiety.
BPS and BPF are two others to watch out for; you’ll find both in BPA-free plastic.
And, as you’ve probably noticed, most plastic lunch boxes and Tupperware today are BPA-free.
Yet, research from NCBI shows BPS shares many of the same health risks as BPA!
But, there is hope for BPA-free plastic.
Research also shows that “BPS and BPF may have a less harmful impact on health than BPA.”
Here’s the key takeaway: There really are no “safe” plastic containers, but some types are worse than others.
At the end, we’ll cover some tips on identifying any plastic container’s risk level in the future.
But for now, just know it’s essential to swap for stainless steel alternatives – when health is your focus.
So let’s continue with a few buying considerations. Use them to help you choose the best stainless steel containers for your family.
How to Choose | Buying Considerations
Before you decide on your kid’s metal lunch box, consider the following—
Kids are rough on their lunch gear; you need something to handle it.
The container should withstand squeezing into tight compartments and drops on floors. Yet, without flimsy clips or hinges breaking off… And do so for at least one full year.
So, a fully stainless steel lunch box is best. But, it needs to be the correct type of steel (i.e., 300-series – like each container below).
If you want to keep shopping around, read the final section. We’ll cover tips on checking for steel grades.
If you plan to pack nothing but dry snacks, a leak-proof stainless steel lunch box isn’t necessary. But, for anything else, it is.
The container’s design should keep wet foods entirely contained – even when upside down in a backpack.
Everything below except LunchBots (#3) is leak-proof.
#3 Easy to Use & Transport
Lunch boxes for kids should be easy for them to carry, open, and close.
Keep size and shape in mind, too, as it may need to fit inside a backpack, among other school supplies.
Take #1 below (G.a Homefavor) for example—
What separates this container from competitors is its smooth, child-friendly locking clips. The others were too hard to open. And since it’s leak-proof, you can squeeze it into any compartment without worry.
Does your kid carry their lunch by hand?
A metal lunch box with handles on top or a separate insulated lunch bag will suit you well. Shoulder straps are helpful too.
You don’t want to end up packing multiple lunch containers because the one you bought is too small.
Nor do you want a container so immense that food bounces around, mangling itself… Or where you end up wasting food because you overpacked.
Get the proper size for your child’s appetite. And make sure the lunch box can fit into your kid’s bag.
#5 Easy to Clean
Bento boxes riddled with small parts and crevices are more challenging to clean.
Also, those with plastic pieces are often not dishwasher-safe. Or only partially dishwasher-safe.
Yet, simple, 100% stainless steel lunch boxes with open sections are a breeze to clean. Just chuck the entire thing in the dishwasher.
But regardless of design, all 300-series stainless cleans easier than plastic. Its non-porous surface repels all stains and bacteria.
#6 Divided Compartments – Yes or No?
Consider the types of food you’re going to pack—
Is your kid in a “my food can’t touch” phase?
A stainless steel lunch box with compartments is your best bet.
Yet, meals like salad are best in a large, open container without divided sections.
I recommended #4 below (Clean Lunch’n) to get the best of both worlds. It has an adjustable divider that you can set depending on the meal.
Now, I don’t want to bore you to death, only to get your mental juices flowing.
Think through the features you need for your kid’s steel lunch box as we move forward.
Next, let’s start by looking at the top leak-proof stainless steel lunch boxes—
Each unisex option below is a suitable metal lunch box for boys and girls… Just to keep it simple.
5 Best Stainless Steel Lunch Box for Kids | Reviewed
You’ll find several different styles of container below—
First, two leak-proof containers without divided sections.
Then, two containers with divided compartments – one leak-proof, the other not.
And last, a leak-proof thermal food jar to keep food hot until lunchtime.
For each pick, we cover features, benefits, drawbacks, dimensions, and applications it’s best for.
Plus, we’ll link to alternative sizes and sets to accommodate different needs.
Now, most of these bento boxes cost more than their plastic countertops. But think of it as an investment…
You’ll cut plastic exposure and save money on replacing broken junk!
Best Stainless Steel Lunch Box Picks with Leak-Proof Seals
…For school and on-the-go
Have you ever opened your kid’s lunch bag to discover what looks like a crime scene?
If so, one of the following leak-proof lunch box sets is for you.
Not only do they have watertight seals to stop leaks, but they can’t crack like plastic! So, they’re actually more leak-resistant than watertight plastic containers.
Overall, these are some of the best kids’ metal lunch boxes to banish mess.
G.a Homefavor | Overall Best Leak-Proof Lunch Box
Don’t you hate needing to pack containers the perfect way to prevent spilling in your kid’s bag?
With Homefavor’s stainless steel lunch box with leak-proof seal, you can kiss that ritual goodbye—
Simply latch the top, then slip this container into a bag anyway it fits…
Your child’s lunch ends up where it should – in their belly, not painted all over their body.
Plus, the seal locks in odors. So nobody will ask, “what’s that smell?” when your kid brings a hard-boiled egg to school.
And unlike several competitors, kids can open the rugged clips with little effort.
Worried about rough play? Don’t be. Homefavor’s lightweight yet solid 18/8 steel design laughs at abuse.
For cleaning, toss it in the dishwasher to save time. Plus, you can remove the silicone seal for a thorough scrub and worry-free hygiene.
This stainless steel bento box for kids and adults measures 6.4” x 4.5” x 2.3” and holds 27oz of food. Or about 2.2 soda cans. Plenty for hungry kids and portion-controlled adults.
Best for: Use it for sandwiches, salads, rice, juicy fruit, even stew or soup, without concern.
G.a Homefavor covers their steel lunch boxes for kids with a lifetime warranty.
Drawbacks: Not microwave-safe, so you’ll need to use a separate dish to reheat. Or, use this container solely for salads, sandwiches, and chilled snacks.
Looking for a leak-proof, microwaveable alternative?
Check out these containers from Frego. The borosilicate glass, watertight silicone lid, and sleeve prevent breaks, spills, and plastic exposure.
Bklyn Bento | Best Stainless Steel Containers with Silicone Lids (1.5 – 21oz)
Although we’re discussing the best stainless steel bento boxes, have you considered snack containers?
I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of jumbled, mismatched plastic snack tubs and flimsy Ziplocs.
What if one set can do both – be both lunch and snack containers?
That’s what you’ll find in Brooklyn Bento’s stainless steel container set!
You get four handy sizes – all made from 18/8 stainless with leak-proof, *LFGB-certified silicone lids.
* LFGB-certified silicone is of the highest level of safety and purity you can get, surpassing FDA standards.
The largest container holds 21oz, great for sandwiches, salads, and a dozen other uses.
The 2nd largest holds 13oz, great for soup. “You’re welcome,” says the leak-proof lids.
The third holds 7oz, perfect for snacks. And the smallest, 1.5oz, is great for condiments and salad dressing.
Each soft and flexible lid pops on and off easily – perfect for kids. Plus, the lightweight containers couldn’t be any easier to carry in a bag.
Lastly, you can register your warranty on Bklyn Bento’s website after buying. The kind owners will help you out if, let’s say, you lose a lid.
Drawbacks: Not microwave-safe. Again, for small (safe) containers that you can microwave, check these out from Frego.
Best Divided Fully Stainless Steel Lunch Boxes
…For both small and big kids
Now let’s look at two divided metal bento box containers.
Any parent with picky eaters knows different foods absolutely, positively cannot mix.
Well, thanks to the divided sections, the stainless steel lunch boxes below delight even the pickiest kiddos.
You can separate the main entree and sides all in one unit.
As a result, you’ll have one container to clean after work, not several!
But there’s a catch…
The first container won’t prevent leaks. So, it’s best for foods that aren’t too wet. Yet, the second has a tight-enough seal to stop liquids.
LunchBots Trio | Best for Small Kids (20oz)
Trying to ditch the pretzel-filled plastic snack tubs and Ziplocs? Grab this 18/8 stainless steel kids lunch box with compartments instead.
With it, you’ll kiss toxins, busted messes of plastic, and subsequently wasted cash goodbye…
And because of this container’s solid construction, it’ll last virtually forever—
One user couldn’t distinguish between her brand new LunchBots and her older set after 1.5 years of daily abuse. Talk about getting your money’s worth!
It’s low-maintenance, too… Just hurl this thing into your dishwasher, and it comes out shining like new.
But keep in mind; this steel lunch box measures 6” x 5” x 1.75.”
Small, but a great size for young toddlers and compact enough to take anywhere. Just stuff this bento into any small compartment, anywhere it fits.
Best for: Use it as a stainless steel sandwich box (half-sandwich)… Or store fruit, crackers, veggies, pretzels, or cheese cubes while on the go— whether at school, on a hike, or during road trips.
Overall, there’s 11-year’s worth of experience behind your stainless steel lunch box for kids. LunchBots is always a safe buy.
Plus, you can register on their website for a warranty, just in case.
Drawbacks: Not 100% leak-proof. Use this container for finger snacks as explained. Pick anything else on this page for wet food, or check this bento out.
Other sizes & styles from LunchBots: Need something with extra (or fewer) compartments? Able to hold more volume? LunchBots offers a vast selection of styles and sizes in their storefront here.
Looking to buy elsewhere? Check out this similar container on Shades of Green. It’s made from solid stainless steel and silicone, plus it’s leak-proof.
Clean Lunch’n | Best for Big Kids (50oz)
The Clean Lunch’n stainless steel bento box is my favorite. Of course, this brand uses clean 18/8 stainless, so you can ditch cringeworthy plastic and rust.
But that’s not why it’s my favorite. This is—
Clean Lunchn’s versatile 18/8 stainless steel lunch box packs a serious meal! It measures 8″ x 6″ x 2.25,″ and holds 50oz (about 4.2 soda cans-worth).
Use its bento design with adjustable divider to hold an entire sandwich, plus all the fixings and sides… Without needing separate containers or clutter.
Picky eaters? The clever divider keeps food separated. And you can adjust how large or small to make each compartment, depending on the meal.
Worried about leaks? Don’t be. The kid-friendly latches create a tight, leak-proof seal.
So, meals stay secure, even if flung across the room like a frisbee. (But don’t do that.)
For cleaning, simply toss it in the dishwasher and get back to your family.
It’s fridge and freezer-safe, too. So you can prepare meals in advance, take them out when needed, and send your kid out the door.
Best for: This multipurpose container is handy for school lunches (or work lunches for yourself), picnics, road trips, play dates, healthy meal prep, hiking, camping, and much more.
Drawbacks: The only downfall I see is with the removable silicone ring. If you lose it, you’ll lose the leak-proof performance with it.
Looking to buy elsewhere? Here’s a comparable set on Etsy. (It’s 41oz, not 50oz). Choose 1200ml with one divider in the Style dropdown.
Best Insulated Lunch Boxes
…Accessories for hot meals at lunchtime
Is your son or daughter sick of cold sandwiches and Lunchables? A versatile, hot and cold stainless lunch box can help you here!
Use either lunch option below to give your little one the gift of hot meals from anywhere.
LunchBots | Insulated Kids Thermos with Silicone Sleeve (8oz)
When you need a stainless steel (insulated) lunch box for kids, consider LunchBots’ food thermos.
With it, your kid will enjoy hot, fresh mac ‘n’ cheese or soup midday at school without a microwave.
Thanks to the effective triple-insulation, food stays hot for 6 hours and cool for 12.
And a comfortable silicone sleeve wraps the thermos and adds a non-slip grip!
But here’s what really sets this jar apart from the rest—
Most other kids’ steel thermoses have plastic lid bottoms, which is problematic.
Hot steam collects on the plastic, then drops back down into the soup.
Yet, LunchBots uses a complete 18/8 stainless steel design for this well-built jar.
That’s right, a stainless body, inside, and lid bottom. This way, your kid’s soup stays plastic-free.
Side note: The easy-opening lid has a plastic top, but it doesn’t touch the food.
This thermos measures 3” wide x 4” tall with an 8oz capacity— A perfect size for kids or adult portion-controlling.
Best for: Bringing hot soup, spaghettiOs, oatmeal, mac ‘n’ cheese, and cold fruit or yogurt anywhere. Plus, no leaks! Drop the jar in your kid’s backpack without worrying about an epic mess.
Drawbacks: Some users explain that their child’s food stayed hot for only four hours, not six. Yet, air temperature can play a part. So, you may want to pair this jar with a thermal bag to ensure hot food during wintertime lunches.
Other sizes: Get a larger 16oz version from LunchBots here.
Bentgo | Best Insulated Bag for Hot Food (Bonus Accessory)
None of the containers above insulate food – except for the LunchBots’ thermos.
But does that mean your kid can’t enjoy still-hot soup or still-cold fruit in their stainless steel bento box?
Nope. You can pair it with any of the stainless steel lunch containers above! Simply toss hot or cold food in your metal bento, then slide it into this thermal insulated lunch bag.
Bentgo’s bag keeps hot foods hot and cold stuff chilly for 4+ hours.
And is this just a bag? Nope again!
It’s a refreshing beverage or snack on a hot summer day. Likewise, a warm meal on a brisk afternoon that’ll stop shivers dead in their tracks.
Here are some other features I love:
This dual-compartment bag features a roomy main section to nestle lunch containers and ice packs.
Then, a handy mesh pocket sits on top to keep snacks and drinks secure.
And as a further convenience, the easy-access front pockets hold napkins and utensils.
Extra steamy day? Slip an ice pack into the interior mesh pocket to keep food colder even longer.
And you’ll appreciate how comfortable this bag feels! With an easy-carry handle and adjustable shoulder strap, your kid might forget it’s there.
For fast cleaning, wipe your lunch tote clean with a damp cloth. Or, for a deeper scrub, chuck this machine-washable bag in the laundry to save time.
All in all, Bentgo makes one of the best-insulated lunch bags for hot food.
They offer this bag in 10 stylish color options and cover you with a 2-year warranty, as well. Check it out!
Choosing the Best Metal Lunch Box Material | Stainless Steel Grades
Not all stainless steel is actually stainless.
So, if you want to keep shopping around, consider the following— Make sure the lunch box is made from 300-series stainless steel:
The most common types include 304-grade and 316-grade (often written as 18/8 and 18/10).
Usually, you’ll find this information right in the product description online. Or on the packaging in store.
But never assume the bento is 300-series stainless. Here’s why—
Often, manufacturers use cheaper 201-grade steel, which is terrible for food storage.
It can rust, corrode, and leach metal into food, leaving a metallic taste. Plus, 201 can stain, taking on a darkened appearance.
But, sellers don’t always mention the specific types of steel they use, which is troubling… Personally, with any product I sell, that’s one of the first things I advertise.
You WANT people to know that your product is safe…
So, if a seller fails to mention the specific type of steel, assume it’s not 300-series.
You can check customer reviews for complaints about rust, as well.
Here’s the bottom line:
ALWAYS make sure you see Made from, followed by any of these — 18/0, 18/8, 18/10, 304-grade, 316-grade stainless steel — written in the product description.
Not sure if the steel grade listed is 300-series? Google it!
Cough…Or just choose one of the 18/8 steel lunch boxes on this page… cough.
That’s a wrap on the best kids’ steel lunch boxes for school, snacks, on the go, and more.
Hopefully, now you better understand which stainless steel lunch box for kids to choose.
I urge you to take advantage of kids’ metal lunch boxes. It’s a wise choice, not only for your family’s health but for your wallet, too!
P.S. Consider additional tableware accessories like children’s plates, flatware, and drinking cups.
Don’t let these overlooked plastic items undo the progress you’ve made thus far… Instead, visit our non-toxic kid’s dinnerware guide to finish detoxifying your kid’s entire mealtime!
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