The Best Clean & Nontoxic Lunch Boxes and Bento Gear in 2021

non toxic lunch boxes and stainless steel water bottles

This article is inspired by a member of our Creative Green Living Community Group who sent me a personal message asking about healthy lunchbox supplies that don't have sketchy chemicals like lead, phthalates, PVC, etc. 

This is a pretty popular topic every year in August and September as families get ready for back-to-school shopping so I wanted to put together an easy guide with all of my lunch gear favorites in one space. 

If you are looking for the best non-toxic, eco-responsible lunch gear all in one place, you've found it!

To make it even easier to shop, I have referral links below so you can buy the items on Amazon or other retailers!

If you aren't already an Amazon Prime member, Amazon is offering a Free 30 day trial for Amazon Prime for Creative Green Living readers. It includes free 2-day shipping.

Best lunchboxes for kids, teens and adults! Bring your lunch to work or school in a nontoxic, reusable lunchbox using one of these healthy storage container options. #creativegreenliving #lunchbox #bento #nontoxic #zerowaste

A note about Creative Green Living product guides: 

We ONLY include products one of our writers have hands on, real life experience with.

Some websites just cruise through Amazon and look through anything that might be a good fit and add it to a list of products you might be interested in.

If a product is on this list, that means I or a member of our staff have used it personally and think it's worth buying!

That said, sometimes manufacturers change how they made things between when I tried it and you bought it. 

If you ever purchase an item from a Creative Green Living product guide that disappoints you, please let me know.

If you are a marketer, PR agent or work for a brand who makes products you think would be a good fit for this guide, please contact me for more information on submitting samples for testing and possible inclusion.

Which lunch boxes are safe?

Lunchboxes we consider safe and free of concerning elements are:
  • lead free
  • phthalate free
  • microban free
  • avoid or minimize food coming in contact with plastic
While glass lunch boxes are great for adults, for the sake of standing up to the kinds of wear and tear kids dish out, we tend to chose stainless steel or fabric containers for children.

Are aluminum lunch boxes safe?

While aluminum is an easily recycled material, so it gets marks for sustainability in that regard, we prefer not to use aluminum containers when we're picking things to come in direct contact with food.

For a non-toxic, durable metal lunch box, choose stainless steel instead.

Are stainless steel lunchboxes safe?

Yes! We love stainless steel. 

You don't have to worry about stainless steel leaching bisphenols like BPA and BPS (this is a problem with many plastics) or shattering like you would with glass.

Will a stainless steel lunchbox keep food warm?

While most stainless steel bento boxes won't keep your food warm, you CAN add a stainless steel insulated container to your child's lunch box to keep foods like soup or chicken nuggets warm!


Best Insulated Lunch Box

Bontology soft sided lunchbox with cats

Soft, insulated lunchboxes from Bentology are not only free of sketchy ingredients like phthalates, BPA and lead (lead is a surprisingly common ingredient in the liners of lunchboxes!) - but it's super durable. 

There is a small outer pocket, which works great to separate snack time food from lunchtime food (if your school has both!).

The inside of the lid has a velcro pouch, which is the perfect place to keep an ice pack. 

They also come in TONS of fun designs from llamas to unicorns, dinosaurs to space, mermaids and more. You kid will be sure to find a lunchbox they love.

Best Nontoxic Bento Boxes & Containers

Our everyday workhorse of a bento box is from Lunchbots

Lunchbots boxes come in a few different sizes and divisions - from one big box (called the Uno) to as many as 5 spaces (called the Cinco). 

They are made out of stainless steel so are both nearly indestructible and dishwasher safe.

It's important to note that Lunchbots boxes are not leakproof, so they are best for dry foods like sandwiches, veggies or any of the bentobox lunch combos I suggest here.

If you need a leakproof box, the Splash Box from ECOlunchbox is another great choice. 

The lid is made from silicone - not plastic - and is easy for kids to grip to open. 

This is a great choice for packing wet food like orange slices or fruit salads or even just whole sandwiches. 

They come in a three cup (shown) or one cup capacity - both of which are waterproof, leakproof and dishwasher safe.
My choice for round bento containers for sauces and dips, etc are these nesting boxes from ECOlunchbox

The lids are plastic-free silicone and they are sketchy ingredient free. 

These boxes are leak-proof so they are good for packing sauces and juicy items.

When lunchables became all the rage with the first graders at my son's school, we picked up this five compartment stainless steel lunch box for him to take instead. 

The only downside to this one is that the lid is made of plastic. 

However, because the food is generally sitting in the compartments and not on the lid, we decided we were ok with it since this box looked the most like the lunchables his friends were getting.

Insulated Containers for Hot and Cold Food

For keeping food hot of cold, I think the Klean Kaneen insulated jars (available in 8oz and 16oz sizes) are awesome. 

It keeps food hot for about 3 hours but cold for closer to 6 so it's perfect for bringing yogurt or even ice cream without having to mess with an ice pack.
If you want to bring more than 8 ounces of a hot or cold dish - like soup or a smoothie with you - the Klean Kanteen insulated water bottles outperform the small insulated containers (I think this is because the lid on the water bottle is better insulated than the small container lid). 

If I put ice water in mine, 24 hours later it will still have ice cubes floating in it! 

For warm items, expect it to keep hot items like tea, coffee and soup hot for about 6 hours.

Best Nontoxic Water Bottles

For basic, non-insulated water bottles with a sport lid, the Kid Basix Safe Sporter is my favorite (they also have a great straw/sippy cup for toddlers!). 

All of Kid Basix' products are lead, cadmium and phthalate-free. 

I love that the silicone band in the middle makes it easy to hold on to as well.

Another great option for non-insulated water bottles is Klean Kanteen. The sport lid as shown here is great for kids but they have tons of other lid options as well!

If your kids prefer an insulated bottle with a straw, we like the EcoVessel Frost bottle

The insulation is great and will keep your ice from melting all day long. 

When the straw top is closed all the way, it is leakproof. 

Just practice with your kids to make sure they know how to close it all the way - because if it is only a little closed, it will leak.

Best Reusable Snack and Sandwich Bags

Lunchskins: best nontoxic and reusable sandwich bags
Made from the same material as professional frosting/pastry bags, these cute bags from LunchSkins another great reusable bag option. Wash them in your dishwasher and allow to air dry.

If you need something waterproof or you want to pop something in the freezer for later, these silicone bags from Stasher are great.

They do say you can cook in them sous vide style but I am personally very hesitant to cook in silicone. I think they are fine for toting anything cold or room temperature around, though!

Nontoxic Flatware or Silverware for Lunch Boxes

I personally like to just bring a normal stainless steel metal fork or spoon from home in my lunchbox. (This Nuby set is great for small kids like preschoolers or kindergarteners)

If you have a kiddo (or spouse?) who isn't responsible enough to make sure their regular silverware gets home, though, these tiny bamboo sporks from Bambu are great. 

I wash them to reuse them (when they do make it home) but if it gets lost, it's not a big deal and I can just pop another one into their lunchbox the next day.

We have pretty good luck with the sporks making it home most of the time, so a pack of 24 seems to last us all year with some leftover.

I hope you found this post informative! 

If there is a category of items I missed that you want to know more about, please reach out to me on social media (Facebook and Twitter are great). 

I have been trying different reusable products in my home for more than a decade and would love to help you find items that meet your needs!

If you are a brand and want to submit product samples for consideration, please reach out to me here.

About the Author:

Carissa is a lifelong crafter and mom of two creative boys. Her goal is to empower families to make easy projects and healthier choices that are beautiful and delicious! 

The owner and lead writer at Creative Green Living, she is an award-winning writer and most recently won the ShiftCon Media "Best Green Lifestyle Blogger" award in 2019.

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