Back to school or just on a day out, these boxes, bags and cases will keep lunch and snacks fresh and ready to eat. Some are on the large side so may need an extra Tupperware box or two inside to keep things separate, others come with dividers and compartments. Whichever design you plump for though, they all help in the battle against single-use plastics.

We chose lunch boxes and bags that at least gave a nod to a more sustainable way of life – either they’re made from recycled plastic bottles, or they encourage less use of single-use plastics. They’re all leak-proof and easily washable, as well as being free from any plastic nasties.

We tested them in a variety of situations, from simple snacks in the park to big group outings to the beach, and all at least fit in the basics of a sandwich and a snack.

The design options are endless, so we’ve included everything from unicorns and dinosaurs to plain stainless steel, meaning there’s something for all the family here, not just the kids.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Stephen Joseph dinosaur bento box: £6.98, Becky + Lolo

Simple, straightforward and a great price, this bento box wins because its divider, unlike many, isn’t fixed – meaning you can easily move it to where suits, and it stays in place well. We also like this Stephen Joseph box because the clips are big enough for little hands to open and the fun dinosaur design is printed on a clear lid, so you can see what’s inside. Big enough for a sandwich and some chopped fruit or veg, it’s BPA-free and microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe.

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3 Sprouts bento box – lion: £9.99, Dotty Hippo

Unlike the Stephen Joseph bento box, this one from 3 Sprouts has fixed dividers, but as it’s bigger, we don’t mind as the three compartments are good useable sizes. Leak-proof and with easily manageable clips, it also comes with a clear lid for inspecting the contents. Also available with an owl, fox or deer on the lid, it’s BPA- and phthalate-free and microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe.

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Skip Hop zoo lunchie – unicorn: £14, Amazon

Skip Hop does it again – the functionality of its zoo collection always pleases us parents, and our little testers always love the friendly characters. This lunchie bag is no exception – insulated and a decent size. Its handle clips together, so it can be attached to other bags/handles, and is compatible with the rest of the Skip Hop range. It’s BPA- and phthalate-free.

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Fringoo kids lunch bag – unicorn blue: £13.99, Fringoo

A slightly different design to the others, this lunch bag is made from insulating neoprene and feels more like a handbag than a lunch box. With a zipped main compartment and smaller pocket on the front, there is plenty of space for a day’s worth of food. With both an adjustable clip-on shoulder strap and a carry handle, there’s a greater chance your little one will be happy carrying it for longer.

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Frugi pack-a-snack lunch bag: £15, Frugi

Made from three recycled plastic bottles, the Frugi pack-a-snack lunch bag comes in three fun prints. Foil lined with foam inserts, it’s insulated enough to keep food fresh until at least lunchtime. There’s a small, uninsulated, zipped pocket on the front and just one simple carry handle on the top. Inside in the large single compartment, there’s space for a water bottle, a sandwich and a piece of fruit.

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JoJo Maman Bebe insulated bottle & food bag: £6, JoJo Maman Bebe

Simple and straightforward, JoJo Maman Bebe’s insulated bag is a staple for many a parent. It folds flat when not in use and is surprisingly roomy and well insulated once unzipped. This works for storing everything from baby bottles to toddler lunches and more. Available in two prints – stars or floral.

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Fresk bamboo lunch box: £13.45, Bebeco

We love the texture of this bamboo lunch box, and the pretty animal illustrations (either whale, squirrel, giraffe or swan) are really cute too. Inside, there’s a little tub with a lid which is a good size for carrot sticks or chopped up fruit. Ideally sized for a sandwich, the only let down is the thick elastic band used to keep it closed – it’s too tight and strong for little hands to pull off. Bamboo isn’t safe for the microwave, hand washing is recommended, and it’s BPA- and phthalate-free.

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Smash nude food movers mini rubbish free lunch box: £7, Amazon

A brilliant idea, this lunch box removes the need for any further packaging. Our little tester didn’t seem to mind that there wasn’t any fun characters on it, and instead loved playing with the latches and tubs. The main compartment comes with a removable “sandwich seatbelt” to keep the bread in place, then there’s space on top for further food. The second compartment comes with two screw-top tubs, ideal for chopped fruit or veg and a dip. It’s also BPA-free.

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ECOlunchbox 3-in-1 stainless steel lunchbox: £32, Little Green Home

A fantastic plastic-free option, this stainless steel box has plenty of retro and eco appeal. Three boxes that fit into one, it’s a snug fit for a standard loaf of bread-sized sandwich – but that’s a good thing as no further packaging is needed. The clips are manageable for little hands but our tester struggled to pull the boxes apart. A great investment set for older kids, it will last and last.

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Polar Gear avengers classic lunch bag: £8.79, Polar Gear

A large insulated lunch bag, this offering from Polar Gear has just one compartment, a carry handle on the top and a name label on the bottom. It's durable and big enough to fit a couple of smaller Tupperware boxes or a box and a water bottle. It appealed to our little tester both for its size and the detailed Avengers picture.

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Pink Lining child lunch box – pirates: £15, Kiddies Kingdom

This well-designed bag its available in pirate, puffin, ice lolly or unicorn designs that include a print on the rear and a smart embroidered picture on the front. Inside the large insulated, wipe-clean compartment there’s an elastic band to hold a water bottle in place, and a mesh pocket to hold cutlery or keep some food separate. It comes with a detachable shoulder strap as well as a clip-on carry handle, so there’s plenty of options for transporting it.

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Smash insulated lunch bag & 500ml bottle – unicorn: £12, Amazon

This was a huge hit with our young tester, mainly for the reversible sequins on the lid that provided hours of entertainment for her, seeing if either a unicorn or a rainbow will appear. The bag is insulated with an antibacterial lining, and also comes with a bottle holder on the side, along with a 500ml bottle to put in it. There’s just a carry handle on the top, but it’s BPA and phthalate-free.

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The verdict: Kid’s lunch boxes

The Stephen Jones dinosaur bento box stands out for us – at a great price, it’s well designed and does everything we need it to. If it’s a lunch bag you’re after, either the Skip Hop or Pink Lining bags are solid options and will hold more than the bento box. For a sustainable investment, it’s got to be the ECOlunchbox.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.