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7 Hard-Working Lunch Boxes for the Busy Nurse

Maura Deering, J.D.
Updated September 8, 2023
    Many nurses work long hours and struggle to eat healthy. Whether you're a nurse or buying a gift for one, our guide to the best lunch boxes for nurses can help.
    Nurse carrying lunchbox while walking outsideCredit: Getty Images

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    • Nurses work long shifts, often12 hours or more a day.
    • Shift work can be a barrier to eating a healthy diet.
    • Caffeine and convenient, high-caloric food are the most readily available options in hospitals.

    Long shifts and short breaks mean that nurses are strapped for time and often turn to cafeterias and vending machines for their daily nutrition. A 2020 study on nurses’ dietary behaviors quoted a nurse who had managed to only take two 30-minute lunch breaks over a three-week period. Nurses need healthy food they can eat on the go, and on this score they have an ally: the humble but hard-working lunch box.

    Seemingly humble, anyway. You may associate lunch boxes or other containers with PB&Js and juice boxes. But there’s a new breed of food container, and it’s designed to help time-strapped professionals like you get the most out of limited lunch times. Here’s a closer look at seven highly rated lunch boxes that work as hard as nurses. As if that’s even possible.

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    Not Your Parents’ Lunch Box

    Vintage metal lunch boxes are still out there, cartoon characters and all. But these days, they’re more likely to wind up on display tables at the vintage store than at a hospital cafeteria. Today’s lunch boxes are rooted more in science than superheroes.

    Nurses will appreciate insulated compartments that keep food cold, hot, and separate from each other. The lunch boxes contain specialized storage spaces for all manner of snacks, and most of the top models are packed with handy design features. They’re also easy to clean and maintain, adjustable for comfort and convenience, and as durable as your favorite pair of scrubs.

    Here are our lunch box picks for the busy nurse.

    Seven Top Lunch Boxes and Lunch Bags for Nurses

    Eddie Bauer Lunch Box Cooler

    Description: Eddie Bauer’s versatile insulated lunch box features food-grade PEVA lining with a 600D polyester exterior. A nylon expansion section increases the main compartment to accommodate a six-pack of beverages. Exterior pockets are handy for items that don’t need cooling.

    Dimensions and Specs: 10″ x 8″ x 4.5″ closed, 10″ x 8″ x 6.5″ expanded; zippered front pocket; padded handles; adjustable shoulder straps.

    Cost: $30

    L.L. Bean Expandable Lunch Box

    Description: Weighing in at only six ounces when empty, this container’s main compartment expands up to two inches and features an easy-to-clean lining.

    Dimensions and Specs: 9.5″ x 7″ x 3.75″ closed, 9.5″ x 7″ x 5.75″ expanded; internal mesh pocket for ice pack (not included); zippered outside pocket; handle straps

    Cost: $25

    Mier Adult Lunch Box

    Description: Mier’s lunch box comes in medium and large sizes and includes two separate, insulated compartments. The compartments are leak-proof and easy to clean. Both sizes weigh about one pound unloaded. Mier offers free standard shipping, 30-day free returns, and a two-year warranty.

    Dimensions and Specs: 9.1″ x 7.1″ x 10.6″ medium, 10.25″ x 8″ x 11″ large; front zippered pocket and two side pockets; handles and adjustable shoulder strap.

    Cost: $24 medium, $27 large

    Miycoo Lunch Bag

    Description: This double-decker bag has room for everything but the stethoscope. The thick interior liner insulates and prevents leaks while keeping contents warm or cold.

    Dimensions and Specs: 9.5″ x 8″ x 10.5″ closed, 11″ x 8″ x 10.5″ expanded; large main compartment and smaller upper compartment with interior pocket; dual-compartment front zipper pocket; two roomy side pouches; handles and removable shoulder strap

    Cost: $27

    Opux Flip Top Double Deck Insulated Lunch Box

    Description: Available in several colors and patterns, Opux’s lunch boxes are made with 600D polyester. The two easy-to-lean, spill-proof decks can hold 16 soda cans or separated hot and cold foods. Unpacked, it weighs 13 ounces.

    Dimensions and Specs: 10″ x 7.5″ x 10″; front pocket and two roomy mesh side pockets; handles and adjustable shoulder strap

    Cost: $20

    Packit Hampton Lunch Tote Bag

    Description: The stylish, foldable Hampton lunch bag comes in seven colors and patterns with a wide rectangular base. Packit sells Beto containers that fit into the bag (not included). The easy-to-clean bag features built-in EcoFreezetm technology and does not require separate ice packs. Freeze the bag overnight and pack it so foods can stay cold for hours. Poly canvas materials are nontoxic and PVX-, BPA,- lead-, and phthalate-free

    Dimensions and Specs: 8″ x 10.5″ x 7.5″, folds to a depth of 2.4″; shoulder straps

    Cost: $26

    Yitote All-Purpose Carrying Bags

    Description: Yitote’s bags are made of water- and tear-resistant nylon, with heavy-duty metal zippers and bar tacks at major stress points. Bags are padded with 4mm EPE foam to keep items cold or hot and lined with leak-proof aluminum foil that is easy to clean.

    Dimensions and Specs: 13″ x 5.5″ x 11″; large main pocket, two side pockets that hold 32 oz. bottles, front zippered pocket, and back pocket; four ice packs included; adjustable shoulder strap and handle straps

    Cost: $26

    These versatile, easy-to-clean, and roomy food containers can help you eat more healthily at work. You wouldn’t advise your patients to skip meals — and you don’t have to either.