Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle: Packing a Lunch

Hi Belle,  

I was wondering if you have any suggestions for cute, professional lunchboxes.  I’ve been on the hunt for awhile and can’t seem to find anything professional and insulated.  

Thanks again for your blog! Kay

I never had the patience to pack my own lunch, or the will to get up 20 minutes early to make it.  But if I had, I would probably have just tossed it in a brown paper bag and stuck it in my purse.  That’s one of the pros of liking large handbags (see: Minkoff MAB and Biennial Satchel).

I did find an insulate lunch container disguised as a paper bag that was kind of fun.  I see a lot of staffers carrying those neoprene BUILT lunch boxes, and they’re fairly professional looking.  And I sort of adore this pale mint lunch bag for its happy colors and clean lines.

But since I don’t carry a lunch, I don’t really know what makes a good one beyond aesthetics.  So hopefully, some of your fellow readers have some suggestions that will help you, since I know there are a lot of frugal ladies out there who bring a lunch.



  1. Liz says:

    Vera Bradley has cute lunch boxes that a lot of people use! You can chose a toned tone print.

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  2. CH says:

    I just toss mine in a small Baggu (I think the size is called “Baby Baggu”). It's not insulated or anything, but it's easy to fold up and tuck in my purse at the end of the day, so I don't have to carry an extra bag to happy hour ­čÖé

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  3. Rachel says:

    Personally, I use and Igloo Mini-Tote. It's on the larger size for a lunch box, but as I usually have leftovers in tupperware, I found I needed something bigger. They come in a variety of patterns and you can find them in a variety of stores. I picked mine up at the local grocery store.

    Also, I found this one on the Igloo site. It might as well be a purse.

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  4. helixy says:

    @Liz – I would just like to point out that you suggested something Vera…here, of all places.

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  5. ss says:

    I am a teacher so I HAVE to bring my lunch. I found a cute one from HomeGoods. The brand is FitFresh. It is a cute print, insulated material on the inside, plastic loop handles, and came with a little tupperware-style container too!

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  6. melissa says:

    costco sells one called KOKO that looks like a purse and is insulated. I love mine!

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  7. ss says:

    i found it here–i have a different print but the same bag! $15.99 here…can't remember what I paid.

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  8. KA says:

    I have the Built BYO Rambler lunch bag from Target and love it. Fun patterns, easy to clean, and it folds down small when you're done- well worth the $10.

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  9. Trista says:

    Why does your lunchbox have to be “professional” at all? Are your clients going to see your lunch? This is one thing in which I favor function over form. My lunchbox has to be big… I carry a big salad, sometimes a small sandwich, and at least two snacks. I just bought a $6 from Wal-Mart that's black and purple and clearly states “lunchbox.”

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  10. Carol says:

    I have a nice olive-colored lunch tote from Barnes & Noble. It's a little plain but it does its job well. Surprisingly it holds a lot for a small-ish looking tote– you might be able to fit 2 tupperware containers and a soda can in there. Best of all, it only cost $8!

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  11. Steph says:

    I bought the Tory Burch lunch box of the Target/Neiman Marcus collab on super sale. It's garnered quite a bit of compliments! Not too big and fun pattern.

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  12. Emma says:

    The Built neoprene totes are awesome because they're washable! Commuting with lunch can get messy, so I love that I can just toss mine in the washing machine.

    I'm not big on lunch totes having “cute prints.” Bringing lunch isnt glamourous, and whimsical chevron isn't going to change that.

    I want to be taken seriously despite being domestic enough to pack my lunch, so my bag is solid black. It's nondescript but effective.

    (I'm not opposed to having cutesiness in my life, but I just don't want my bosses to think that my lunch box looks like their elementary-aged children's. Cutesy in a grown-up way is ok when appropriate. Cutesy in a little-kid way gives the wrong impression to the higher-ups.)

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  13. K says:

    I will second Koko lunch boxes! Mine is kind of a suiting-like herringbone pattern and can hold breakfast/lunch/two snacks.

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  14. A says:

    I use a small LL Bean Boat & Tote – its handy because if something spills you can just throw it in the washing machine!

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  15. R says:

    I like my “Flip and Tumble” since it's easy to toss in my handbag on my way home.

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  16. Carlene: Healthfully Ever After says:

    I think you need to work backwards for this question. What do you pack most often? If you often pack greek yogurt or a salad, you want some sort of minor insulation to keep it safe to eat. Or think about the largest container you pack things in. I personally love a British/Indian container called a Tiffin. It's a tall stacking cylinder that is usually stainless steel. It's classic.

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  17. N says:

    I just throw my tupperware in my giant purse. But if you're going to do this, use a ziploc, not a brown paper bag, because your lunch will leak at some point.

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  18. sarah says:

    I use the small Lululemon bag that bunch of women (and men too apparently) use to carry their lunch. It's not professional per say, but I've never felt awkward toting it to and from my office. Plus, it's easy to wash and fold up.

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  19. Nancy says:

    For lunchbags, I go more for function over form, and I think the Pack It lunch bag is great::

    The bag itself is freezable (stick it in the freezer overnight) and keeps food cold for up to 10 hours. It's great for any cold foods you want to bring and keep refrigerated throughout the work day. It also has a handle and is easily foldable, which makes transporting too and from work much easier as well.

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  20. M-C says:

    Leak-proof (or at least leak-resistant) is a very good idea. Washable is a good backup to that. For that reason, I like the look of the fake paper bag. But the size really depends on what you're used to bringing.

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  21. AVV says:

    I would also recommend the Built NY lunch bags; I have one that's the diffusion brand from Target and one regular Built NY. The neoprene is easy to clean, insulates, and contains spills well. They also stretch nicely if you have awkwardly sized containers, like a yogurt cup and Tupperware with leftovers, that would be a challenge to fit in a regulation-sized lunch tote. Since I work at a university our office is business casual, and having a cute navy polka dot lunch bag makes the task of schlepping my lunch to work a little more fun.

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  22. GL says:

    These suggestions are great! I work in a male dominated field (engineering) and as an entry level engineer, I want to seem professional at all times and a lunch bag with childish patterns just doesn't cut it sometimes. Normally I wouldn't mind, but because I struggle with the image of a “young, inexperienced engineer,” I want to make sure I don't send off the wrong silent signals. Thank you ladies!

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  23. SJ says:

    I got a Built lunchbag for Christmas and I absolutely love it! I walk to work and the neoprene is great because I don't have to worry about spillage in my work bag. I've already had to wash it but I just threw it in the washer, which is way better than the “wipe with damp cloth” bag I had before.

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  24. AC says:

    I second the Tory Burch for Target lunchbox suggestion! It was a part of the Neiman Marcus for Target pop-up collection, so if it's no longer at your local Target I'm sure you can find it online somewhere. Last I checked it was discounted, so get one soon before it sells out! The print is a blue/green/black geometric print, and is fun yet professional. It's also insulated and has an easy interior that you can wipe for spills. The collection also featured a matching thermos, although the thermos is very tall/narrow and only fit in the lunchbox diagonally (took lots of squeezing). But anyways, I recommend it! Super cute and great for work. I love mine! I was originally going to order a customized one from Etsy (a second option! very cute ones on there), but this one was definitely cheaper and fit my taste.

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  25. Kristen says:

    Not a lunchbox exactly, but if you like to bring in leftovers to microwave, I would suggest the lunch crock ( I got this for Christmas and I love it because my food does not leak out of it and I don't have to wait in line to use the microwave during lunch. I just plug it in at my desk in the morning and it's warm for lunch–you can't smell the food until you open it up to eat it, so that is a bonus too. I carry a small tote and a purse to work (otherwise I would not have room for my library book), and I just set this in the bottom of my tote.

    January 25, 2013/Reply
  26. GR says:

    I've found a cute lunch bag from World Market a few years ago. I don't know if it was intended as such, but it is the right size and plastic lined, so easy to clean in case of a spill.

    January 26, 2013/Reply
  27. SG says:

    I use the REI “Go Box” cooler in size large. You can put an ice pack in it, and this will keep frozen meals frozen and cold salads very cold til you eat lunch. There’s no room for a drink, but I throw that into my bigger bag (along with the lunch box). It kind of looks like a laptop case. And it never leaks or spills; fits well into backpacks or larger totes.

    February 27, 2013/Reply