As my kids have gotten older, I’ve shopped more for lunch bags for teens, because the lunch box has gotten less and less cool. Which is really kind of sad because, holy cow, there are some super cute lunchboxes out there.
My high school kids were always so happy that they could finally head off campus for lunch, but that can get spendy (and with COVID, lots of schools aren’t letting kids do this anymore). Not to mention, I have a firm policy that I will not pay for fast food when there are way healthier options they can pack and take with them.
So sometimes, rather than carrying an “uncool” lunchbox, they would just skip lunch all together. But after a couple of years of trying to explain that being hangry is actually way less cool than eating lunch, I have found a few lunch bags for teens that my own kids will actually carry with them.
Now getting them to clean their lunchbags? That’s a whole other battle.
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Lunch bags for teens that my own teens like too
Drawstring lunch bags for teens
My daughter is a huge fan of these drawstring lunchbags from Romis Handmade on Etsy. They are good quality and made at her shop in California, so shipping is pretty quick. They actually look like little purses, and once you empty them out they can fold flat or roll up and tuck into a backpack.
They’re the perfect size for a small bento box or what I call “grazing lunch items” (like granola bars, cheese, crackers, a PB&J sandwich). One important thing to consider is that they are not insulated so… not ideal for tuna. But also who is bringing tuna to school? (No offense to you tuna lovers out there).
The drawstring lunch bag above is the perfect size for this adorable eco-friendly Bento Box from Usina Box on Etsy. Let’s be honest, you are never too old or too cool for a bento box. Everything is just stacked so neatly all in one place, and I love that the utensils convert from chopsticks to a fork and spoon.
An insulated lunch bag for teens
If your big kids need to keep food cold during the day, but don’t want a big, bulky insulated lunch box, this O’NEILL Picnic Jack Stripe Lunch Bag from Tillys is a great lunch bag for teens. It is insulated to keep food like yogurt, cheese, deli meat or tuna a bit more chill during the day, but still small enough that once emptied, it will fold flat and fit in a backpack next to books. It’s also a pretty neutral color palette that will blend with the legging and sweatshirt ensemble they’re all wearing right now.
A larger lunch bag for teens with bigger appetites
Many teens head straight from school to sports practice or other after school activities, so a small lunchbox just doesn’t hold enough food for both lunch and after school fuel. This Insulated Waxed Cotton Canvas Lunchbag from Green Is Wise on Etsy checks all the boxes. It measures 9” x 5.5” x 13.5” high (about 9.5” when folded) so it can hold quite a bit, but still fold flat at the end of the school day.
Also, if your teen is just carrying a laptop or Chromebook from class to class, they can stick a pencil inside this bag and hold their laptop in their other arm. Hopefully in a protective laptop sleeve
A “brown paper bag” lunch bag for teens
Nothing says you are too cool for school more than a brown paper bag lunch (and maybe a pair of classic Ray Bans). As our kids are becoming more and more environmentally conscious, this “Brown” Bag Canvas Lunch Bag from Italic Home on Etsy not only looks cool, but says “I care about our environment” too.
Pro tip: if your teen is really prone to losing things like mine is, you can just opt for the recycled biodegradable brown paper bag.
A simple, reusable sandwich bag for teens
If you’ve got a super minimal teen, then a couple of these cool ASOBU reusable sandwich bags for sandwiches and snacks could work. They come in both large and small sizes, along with a clip to keep them all together in your drawers.
However, if your big kid is really not very good at bringing reusable bags back home you can totally grab a box of these compostable sandwich bags or eco-friendly bowls with lids. It’s way more important that they eat than skip lunch because they don’t want to keep track of their lunch bag.