You don't have to be an adult to appreciate elegant design. You don't even have to have finished kindergarten. Why should you sacrifice style and sophistication, just because you're still working on your ABCs?
And so, for the young tastemaker-in-training, we have searched high and low for lunch boxes that marry whimsy and refinement, form and function. Some are bold. Some are playful. Some are, shall we say, zoological. And some will make you a just little bit jealous that you're not the one who gets carry it come Monday.
- Omami Neoprene Lunch Bag, $30 at Amazon: For the budding minimalist, this eye-catching insulated bag makes a sleek lunchtime statement. Distinctive, lightweight, and machine-washable, it's proof that basic doesn't have to mean boring.
- Monbento MB Tresor Banana, $23 at Bento & Co: On trend and exceedingly practical, this color-block bento has tons of space (two small containers on top; one large one on bottom), while the oversized front latch is perfect for little hands.
- Big Apple Buddies Lunch Sack, $15 at Built NY: Soft, durable, and very protective of snacks, these guys guarantee that lunch is never lonely. (Bonus: A buckle on the handle lets you clip to a backpack or stroller for easy carrying.)
- Lunch Box: Nigel the Shark, $34 at Beatrix New York: It is nearly impossible to resist the charms of Nigel, so why try? This whimsically embroidered lunch box is designed with kids in mind, from the heavy-duty stitching to the special zippered pocket on the back.
- Stöh Insulated Lunch Tote, $27 at Milkdot: Bright, crisp, and thoroughly modern, this bag/box hybrid is playful without being precious. Designed to keep food cold for up to six hours (with an ice pack), this one's roomy enough to haul a hearty lunch — but flexible enough to fold flat for easy storage when it's not in use.
- Classic Lunch Robot, $21 at Fluf: Instill an early love of robotics! (It's the future.) An eco-friendly twist on the classic brown bag from the Canadian brand Fluf, this organic cotton lunch sack is reusable, machine-washable, and cool without trying.
- OmieBox, $40 at Omielife: Why can't school lunch be civilized? Perfect for the discerning young palate, this bright, leak-proof bento goes where no bento has gone before: a built-in thermos food jar keeps hot foods hot, while double-walled bento compartments keep cold foods cold.
- Super Good Lunch Sack, $26 at Oré Originals: Hip and understated with an old-school feel, this stealthily insulated satchel turns simplicity into a style statement. Ideal for slightly older kids and the preternaturally sophisticated.
- Zoo Lunchie Insulated Kids Lunch Bags, $15 at Skip Hop: The best thing about childhood is that you can haul a lunch bag shaped like a rabbit and get away with it. Seize the opportunity. Witty, adorable, and easy to clean, these are delightful right down to the animal-specific zipper pulls. (We're partial to the fox.)