We set out to fully research and find the best lunch bag on the market. After 33 hours of testing five top lunch bags to see how they performed regarding their size, ease-of-use, durability, and how well they insulated,we determined our top pick to be the Art of Liv’n’s, Art of Lunch, Lunch Bag. Not only is it stylish, but it performs flawlessly.
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Lunches Around the World
Have you ever wondered what the world eats for lunch? Americans tend to pack either a sandwich or salad with a snack and a drink. But what about other cultures – what do they eat? Let’s take a look at a few other countries and see what they’re having for lunch…
Great Britain – The United Kingdom is famous for their Fish and Chips (“Chips” being what we in the USA call French Fries), and they are a mainstay lunch for many Brits. In fact, Brits love their Fish and Chips so much that it was one of the few food items that weren’t rationed during World War II.
The‘chips’ portion of the Fish and Chips originated in France or Belgium(according to the BBC),and the fried fish was brought to Britain by Portugal and Spain over 150 years ago.
Fish and Chips are traditionally served wrapped in newspaper with tartar sauce, ketchup, and salt and vinegar – sometimes along with a side of mashed peas. Anyone hungry for takeaway?
Japan – Japan’s traditional lunch is called a Bento Box, and it is a simple, small lunch with white rice, a small piece of fish or meat, and one or more of a variety of pickled vegetables. They are traditionally served in a compartmentalized box or lacquered container.
Bento Boxes can be quite ornate and are often wrapped in cloth which not only serves as the carrying bag but as the placemat. They are mostly prepared at home and can be quite a high art in Japan as the styling of the food can be as important as the food itself. The boxes are traditionally made of lacquered wood and often have stackable compartments inside. Today, kids’ Bento Boxes can be seen in every school and often feature cartoons and popular characters such as Hello Kitty.
Mexico – We all know that Mexico loves a fiesta! Mexicans are one of the few remaining cultures in the world that take the time to enjoy a break in their day and gather. Mexico’s traditional lunch fare includes the Cemita which is a sandwich stacked high with everything you need to feed your cravings: meat, panela cheese, avocado, pickled onions, and salsa. The meat can range from beef to carnitas, to pickled pig skin. You will easily find these sandwiches being sold by street vendors, in markets, and even by popular restaurants. Dig in when you’re next in Mexico!
India – India also serves it traditional lunch in a stackable container called a tiffin that is made of cylindrical aluminum and is fastened with a handle. Tiffin lunches are most popular in Mumbai and are often eaten by schoolchildren and workers who stay out for lunch versus coming home for a home cooked meal.
Tiffin lunches are homemade meals that have a life of their own regarding the manufacturing and delivering of each. Each tiffin contains a set of numbers and colors that the delivery workers, called dabbawallahs, can read and understand to know exactly where the tiffin is to be delivered. It is an amazingly complicated system that is a wonder to see. Rarely do any of the hundreds of thousands of tiffin boxes go missing or arrive late.
Tiffin lunches in India most often contain typical Indian foods such as dosas, chapattis, curries, and/or rotis along with dhal (lentils), rice, and traditional meats.
Once the food is eaten, the tiffin boxes are collected and delivered back to the company to be washed and used the next day again.
How We Selected
Did you know that there are literally tens of thousands of lunch bag models and styles to choose from?We knew that we wanted to pick five of the most popular lunch bags out there to be our top contenders that we could thoroughly test.
But how should we begin narrowing our choices?
We started by choosing lunch bags that were already well-liked by consumers. We didn’t want to waste our time testing a bag that had bad or negative reviews, so we stuck with those that already had at least a 4-out-of-5-star rating. Well, this narrowed the field quite a bit, but we still had OVER 1,100 from which to choose!
We knew that a good lunch bag would need to be big enough to hold both an average-sized lunch as well as few plastic freezer cubes. Especially if it wasn’t built with insulating fabric or waiting for you in the fridge. Knowing this, we filtered out the smaller-sized bag options as well as some of the very big options since these didn’t think these extremes would be popular for the average person.
We read through pages and pages of online sites as well as food blogs to see what insight they could give us into what makes a great lunch bag.
In the end, we loved the advice that many sites gave, including the Journal of Pediatrics which points out that insulation and cooling are critical in warding off food borne illnesses – especially when it comes to kids’ lunches.
How We Tested
We tested our lunch bags by making sure they could easily fit an average-sized lunch as well as a water bottle. Next, we picked them up to see how comfortable they were to carry. We wanted to know if it could fit comfortably in our hands while we were holding other items and could we easily fit it in a backpack or satchel?
We wanted to find the perfect size.
Also, we tested to see how well they insulated our food. Did the bag come with special insulating fabric, or did we need to add ice packs when we packed our lunch?Both methods are critical to keeping our food safe to eat.
Finally, we considered durability. We wanted the fabrics and zippers to be strong since we knew that most of these bags would be used every day. Along with this came warranties. We wanted to know which companies fully stood by the quality of their product.
Important Features to Know
|Art of Lunch||Nicole Miller||Noosa Life||Fit and Fresh||InsigniaX|
|Dimensions||12.5 x 6.5 x 11.5 inches||1.5 x 11 x 9 inches||13 x 12.5 x 6.5 inches||9 x 7.8 x 6.8 inches||8.4 x 6.3 x 9.1 inches|
|Weight||7.2 ounces||8 ounces||8 ounces||1 pound||8 ounces|
|Warranty||Lifetime Guarantee||1-Year Limited||No Hassle, 100% Money-Back Guarantee||1-Year Limited||No Hassle, 100% Money-Back Guarantee|
What We Liked
- We liked that the Art of Lunch’s artwork was designed by artists around the world and that a portion of the proceeds of each artist’s bag sales goes back to a project that they’re passionate about.
- We liked that the Noosa Life bag offered an all-black option because so many of the other brands only offered bright, and busy patterns which we know wouldn’t appeal to everyone.
- We liked how the Nicole Miller Lunch Bag could be zipped all the way open down the sides to open the bag wide, making it easy to reach everything inside. This feature also made it super easy to wipe out the inside to get it good and clean.
What We Didn’t Like
- We didn’t like that the Fit and Fresh lunch bag could be a bit hard to close if we filled it to the top while packing. Because of its hinged design, the zipper pulls the bag together at the top while zipping it closed. We found ourselves having to rearrange our food if we wanted to zip it closed fully.
- We didn’t like that the side mesh pockets of the InsigniaX seemed like they could stretch out over time. We tried to be careful not to shove too much stuff into them, but we could see how it would be very easy to keep all the things you want to get to quickly on the outside of the bag.
- Because the Noosa Life and the Art of Lunch’s bags are not insulated, we needed to find room to add ice packs to the bag. Not too big of a deal, but it’s definitely something we wanted to think about.
Although lunch has historically been a relaxing and leisurely time of day, it has increasingly become a quick stop that includes fast food and instant lunches. Hopefully, the above guide on the best lunch boxes will help inspire you to pack a healthy meal for lunch that will both satisfy your cravings, and feed your body. Not only will you find yourself feeling healthier if you pack your lunch, but your wallet will be fatter too!