Best Lunch Boxes and Backpacks for the New School Year

$13 at Target

Cat & Jack Bento Box with shark

Cat & Jack Premium Bento Box

A budget-friendly bento-style box

$19 at Amazon

Simple Modern Mickey lunch box

Simple Modern Disney kids' lunch box

A modern lunch box with a retro vibe

$18 at Amazon

Mint green lunchbox with pocket in the front

Amersun insulated lunch box

All the colors and patterns!

Can you believe that the back-to-school season is already upon us? Summer goes by far too fast every year. With the start of the new school year right around the corner, you may be looking for the perfect backpack and lunch box for your kids. These items can help spark excitement about heading back to the classroom, but where to begin? 

Picking out a backpack and lunch box used to be simple. Now, long gone are the days of only having a few Jansport backpacks and tin lunch boxes to choose from. These days the options (and price points) seem to be truly limitless. The good news is that at least lunch boxes have gotten a major upgrade in recent years -- they can actually keep a student's food fresh and delicious all day. 

To make finding the right backpack and lunch box a little easier for you and your child, we picked out some super fun options that can work for kids of all ages. Take a look.


Bento-style lunch boxes are where it's at when it comes to lunch boxes. The nifty compartments are great for making sure blueberries don't get smashed and end up all over your child's sandwich, ruining the entire meal. Plus, a bento-style box will actually stay closed after getting tossed around in a backpack all morning. We are fond of this Cat & Jack option from Target because of the fun shark design, divided main compartment and the fact that most of the parts can be thrown in the dishwasher. It's also more affordable when compared with some other brands.

Simple Modern

This is a great, kid-friendly lunch box, and the fact that it has Mickey Mouse all over it is sure to win over any Disney fans. If your student doesn't love Mickey, don't fret -- this same lunch box comes in over 30 different colors and designs. It can also be easily wiped clean and is big enough to hold plenty of snacks and lunch for school or pool days, road trips, picnics and more. 


While the Amersun is a fairly standard-looking lunch box, it does have a few nice features. I love the front pocket, which can be used to store things separately from the food. My kids use it to store the dirty cutlery so it doesn't make a mess over all their snacks. The insulated main pocket is spacious and, if you use a freezer block, will keep your food cool well into lunchtime.

This box also comes in a variety of colors and patterns. Whatever your kid is into, there's likely a pattern to suit their style.


All of these lunch boxes so far have had some kind of insulation that will allow them to hold temperature well. This four-pack of reusable icepacks can be used to help keep food cool, and because there are four, you'll always have one ready when you need it. 


This colorful bento-style lunch box makes school lunches something to look forward to. Gone are the days of a warm tuna sandwich and dry chips. My daughter loves hers, as it means she can have different, smaller snacks, as well as a nice dip to eat them with.

Sometimes she'll have carrots and celery with a delicious ranch dip. Most of the time though, she gets a chocolate sauce with strawberries and oranges. It's easy to clean, too, and completely dishwasher safe, making it perfect for everyday use.


Not all students are young and need bright colors. If you're an older high schooler or a mature student, you may want to bring your lunch in something a little more sophisticated. This stackable bento box comes with a cutlery set and separate compartments for more adult food, like SpaghettiOs, Dino-Nuggies and... maybe leftovers? I don't know what grown-ups eat, I'm a man-baby who loves baked beans on toast.


Having to buy hundreds of Ziploc-style bags irritates me. I don't like how much waste they produce, and I don't like how much they cost. These reusable silicone zip bags save both money and, because they can be washed clean, plastic too.

I was initially worried the seal wouldn't be as good as on a standard bag, but it works great and keeps my kids' food fresh all day.

Best back-to-school backpacks


Can we all agree that pizza is the best? Now that we've gotten that out of the way, this pizza backpack from Target's adorable Cat & Jack line has to be one of the best backpacks out there. It's bright, it's fun and it's sure to delight every student in the classroom, no matter what age we're talking about. This novelty backpack also has a laptop pocket, great side pockets and is machine washable (in case any real pizza spills on it). There's also an adaptive version and a matching pizza lunch box

Crate & Barrel

If you're looking for something a little subtler, then this simple, sophisticated Crate & Kids backpack may do the trick. We love that it has a water-resistant recycled polyester shell, two big side pockets for beverages, lots of foam padding on the straps (backpacks can be so heavy!) and can be personalized with a name or monogram (for an additional $12). It also has a matching lunch box and water bottle for a complete set.


If you're looking for a backpack for a student who doesn't need all the bells and whistles, this Vans book bag is an ideal pick. It still has an internal laptop case and front pocket with an organizer compartment so school items don't go missing, but from the outside it has the classic, no-frills aesthetic. We love the mellow yellow color featured here, though there are 10 other options to choose from if you're looking for a different vibe. 


Grogu, otherwise known as "baby Yoda," is still a big hit with kids. This fun backpack has plenty of room for your young padawan to store all their books and notes, while the chibi-style lunch box can be detached when it is time to snack. It's around a foot high, so it should be OK for anyone starting full school, though I think kindergartners might struggle a little if it's full.


The first day of kindergarten is a milestone that can affect how your child progresses into their school career. Start it off with some cheerful fun with these cute little animal backpacks. They have several different spaces to store stuff and have mesh pockets on the side for your child's water bottle. They're so colorful and light, I wish I had one when I was a lad.


I hate that this exists. I hate that my child might need one of these someday. But they do exist, and some schools now require them to make it easier to spot weapons. So if your family needs one of these, this is a good one. The stitching is strong around the plastic so it won't come apart, and it has a mesh bag in there for pens and pencils. The straps are well padded too, so at least your kid can be comfortable. 

More back-to-school recommendations 

  • Our Favorite Back-to-School Picks for 2024
  • Great Back-to-School Gifts for Your Teacher
  • Free Apps You Need to Download Before Starting College
  • Best Back-to-School Gear for $100 or Less
  • Best Deals, Discounts and Freebies for Students


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