Kitchen & Cooking

12 products you need to pack the best lunches this year

You’re better than a sad salad.

12 products you need to pack the best lunches this year Credit: Amazon / Dash

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Bringing lunch to work or to class every day can add some serious stress to an already busy routine. But the incentive is major: Packing your own meal can save you a large chunk of change. According to USA Today, Americans spend nearly $3,000 per year on restaurant takeout—averaging $53 per week.

If you’re dreading the task of planning lunches or the idea of eating the same things every day, we can help. We’ve tested and researched some of the best products to help you pack delicious and balanced meals for lunch. These simple gadgets can go a long way in changing how you approach lunch—and cooking in general.

Egg Cooker
Credit: Artpritsadee / Dash

This egg cooker with a cult following takes the timing stress out of making eggs.

Many of us like to add some sliced hard-boiled eggs to our salad to balance the greens with protein, but cooking eggs can be daunting and time-consuming. This best-selling egg cooker—that we actually love—is a great solution for getting the perfect eggs in your lunchbox. In addition, it makes poached eggs and other delicious egg dishes much easier.

Get the Dash Rapid Egg Cooker on Amazon for $18.57

2. A reusable silicone sandwich bag to help you go green

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Reduce your plastic waste by switching to reusable sandwich bags.

These cute reusable sandwich bags not only make your lunch more appetizing, but they also prevent you from producing more single-use plastic waste. Our favorite sandwich bag from Lunchskins features kitschy patterns and a velcro seal, maintaining the food’s freshness. You also don’t need to worry about keeping it clean since it’s dishwasher-safe and quick-drying.

Get the Lunchskins Reusable Sandwich Bag Set of 2 on Amazon for $11.99

3. An aesthetically-pleasing bento box to pack a colorful and nutritious meal

Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

I packed lunch using this cute bento box for a year and I'm still in love with it.

If you’re ever intrigued by photogenic Pinterest bento pictures, you’re not alone. Many people are jumping on the bento bandwagon, and not just for an Instagram post—bento really helps with portion control when eating. I used this bento box for a year and the well-built lunch container has held up in shape and performance. The divided layers allow me to pack cold and hot dishes at the same time, expanding my lunch options.

Get the Monbento MB Original Bento Box on Amazon for $36

4. Multipurpose beeswax wraps for sandwiches and snacks

Bee's Wrap
Credit: Bee's Wrap

These beeswax wraps are great alternatives to plastic.

Wrap your cheese, fruits, and bread in these washable food wraps that keep your food fresh wherever you travel. The wraps are made of organic cotton, sustainably-sourced beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin. Together, these materials create a malleable food wrap that can be used again and again. They’re so versatile that you can use them for covering food containers, leftover produce, and casserole dishes.

Get the Bee’s Wrap Assorted 3 Pack on Amazon for $18

5. A mini Crock-Pot that helps you skip the microwave line

Mini Crock-Pot
Credit: Crock-Pot

The mini Crock-Pot can both store and heat up your lunch.

It’s approaching lunchtime and your stomach insists that you take a break. You go to the break room and the brutal reality hits: There’s a massive line of food containers in front of the only microwave in the office. This portable food warmer can help you avoid the line. It fits enough food for an adult-sized lunch and features a spill-proof lid that locks everything in securely.

Get the Crock-Pot Lunch Crock Food Warmer on Amazon for $24.97

6. A set of glassware that keeps your lunch leak-free

Credit: Glasslock

The leak-proof glassware is great for packing soupy foods.

If you’ve ever packed soupy leftovers for a work lunch, you have probably found yourself in situations where the food somehow leaked and completely destroyed a book, a wallet, or whatever other precious contents were in your bag. These glass containers can seal your lunch airtight so you won’t have to worry about liquids escaping. The set comes in different sizes that cater to your storage needs. They’re also oven-, dishwasher-, and microwave-safe.

Get the Glasslock 18-piece Assorted Container Set on Amazon for $39.99

7. An ice pack to keep your food fresh

Ice Pack
Credit: Cooler Shock

These ice packs can keep your food and drinks chilly in the middle of a hot summer.

Keeping your food cool at all times is essential for making your lunch safe to eat. These inexpensive ice packs can turn your lunch bag into a cooler instantly. One Amazon reviewer claims the ice packs “kept my bottled water cold in the middle of an Arkansas summer for two days." The iron-seal packs leave no mess in your cooler, as their durable material prevents any leakage when the ice melts.

Get the Cooler Shock Freeze 3 Packs on Amazon for $23.95

8. A cute panda mold that cuts sandwiches and rice balls

Sandwich cutter
Credit: Amazon

Add some fun to your lunch sandwich using this cute panda sandwich cutter.

Even the pickiest eaters won’t say no to an adorable panda-shaped sandwich or onigiri (rice ball) in their bento boxes. This user-friendly tool helps me fix a quick snack or a main dish with minimal effort, and it's perfect for getting kids excited about school lunch.

Get the MXY Rice and Sandwich Mold on Amazon for $16.45

9. A meal kit subscription that keeps you motivated to cook

Credit: Home Chef

Try a meal kit subscription to up your lunch game.

Our cooking editor spent three months testing the most popular meal kit subscription boxes and found that Home Chef came out on top. With consistently excellent recipes, high-quality ingredients, and a good variety to satisfy most dietary needs, Home Chef checks all our boxes. If you dread the grocery shopping and meal prepping that goes into packing lunch, give a meal kit a try.

Subscribe to Home Chef

10. An Instant Pot that makes the perfect cooking assistant

Instant Pot
Credit: Williams-Sonoma / BBC Food

An Instant Pot is great to have if you're interested in meal prepping.

If you’re not adventurous enough for meal kits or simply don’t want to commit to a subscription, a multicooker might be a better choice to get your meal prepping done easily. We tested the most popular pressure cookers and multicookers and the winner, the Instant Pot Ultra, scored the highest for its ease of use, versatility, and excellent cooking performance. If you’re new to the world of Instant Pot, you’ll soon discover an Instant Pot can do so much more than you thought. Follow our guide on freezer-friendly meal-prepping tips and make the most out of your Instant Pot purchase.

Get the Instant Pot Ultra 10-in-1 Multicooker on Amazon for $109

11. A portable lunch cooler for flexible storage

Lunch Cooler
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

This spacious lunch cooler can keep food and beverages chilly.

Packing a cold lunch is challenging on hot summer days. We tried out different lunch coolers in our roundup and our top pick, the Coleman 9-Can Soft Cooler, excelled at every task we threw at it. Its carrying strap, removable hard-liner, and extra storage options make it a great lunch bag for adults. This cooler, both with and without the hard lining, is big enough to store quite a lot of food. It fits at least two or more plastic containers, and more than two sandwich bags.

Get the Coleman 9-can Soft Lunch Cooler on Amazon for $16.06

12. A set of glass straws for your midday caffeine boost

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Our favorite reusable straws are durable, pretty, and environmentally-friendly.

These straws made their way through our long, science-driven testing process, which involved dropping them on concrete (please don’t do that) to come out on top in our reusable straw roundup. Why reusable straws? As our sustainability queen explained, single-use paper straws are just as bad as plastic because they’re not recyclable. She now leads a plastic-straw-free life—and you can, too.

Get the Hummingbird Glass Reusable Straws on Amazon for $18.99

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Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.

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