New lunch box designs have thoughtful details and add-ons to make lunchtime more palatable.

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A fun part of back-to-school shopping is the search for the perfect lunch container.

Should it be square with a zip and lots of room for snacks? A smart little purse-like affair? A sack? And what about the pattern? When you’re going to be spending every lunch hour with it, it’s important to get it right.

This fall, there are lots of new designs for students old and young, with thoughtful details and add-ons meant to make lunchtime more palatable.

BENTO BOXES

Bento boxes are big, says Karen Cicero, contributing editor at Parents magazine. Popular for years in Asia, they’re fitted with various-size compartments that keep foods from becoming a pile of crumbs or mush.

And they result in less waste with no more zippered baggies, plastic wrap or foil to pollute the environment.

Bentgo’s colorful, leak-proof bento containers come in several varieties, including the insulated Bentgo Bowl ($15 at bentgo.com), with a silicone-lined snap lid and its own fork and spoon.

Clockwise from top left: Nike Kids’ Lunch Bag, $25; Bentgo Bowl, $15; Emily & Meritt Sack Lunch Bag, $18; Russbe Reusable Snack and Sandwich Bag Set, $8 for four
Clockwise from top left: Nike Kids’ Lunch Bag, $25; Bentgo Bowl, $15; Emily & Meritt Sack Lunch Bag, $18; Russbe Reusable Snack and Sandwich Bag Set, $8 for four

DITCH THE DISPOSABLES

Another environmentally friendly option is Russbe’s Reusable Snack and Sandwich Bag Set ($8 for four at reuseit.com), which comes with two sizes of bag in cute prints. All have leak-resistant double-lock closures, making them a great alternative to plastic bags.

Cicero also likes Packit Freezable Lunch Bags ($20 at packit.com). The whole bag is lined with a gel material, so you can freeze it the night before and food stays chilled all day. There’s a peppy buffalo check and a tie-dye pattern in the collection.

“Our school has a zero-waste policy, so we try to pack most food in a thermos or containers. Snap lids are easiest for the kids to open,” says Toronto mom Amy Tse.

TRENDING TOPICS

Unicorns — surprise, surprise — are trending strongly this year. One Skip Hop Zoo Lunchie Insulated Lunch Bag ($15 at target.com) features a unicorn face with a 3-D horn and rainbow zipper pull.

Other popular patterns? Cute cats, fun food, robots, rainbows and rocket ships. For sports fans, Nike’s Kids’ Lunch Bag ($25 at store.nike.com) is a lunch-size version of its classic duffel bag.

Superheroes are another favorite theme, with the Wonder Woman Insulated Lunch Box ($15 at lunchbox.com) picking up on the movie’s popularity and featuring a fun blue cape on the back.

FASHION FORWARD

Allison Spampanato, senior vice president for product development at Pottery Barn Kids and PBTeen, is betting on the stylish designs of the Emily & Meritt Sack Lunch Bags ($18 at pbteen.com). The bags feature a roll top with a zipper closure, and come in great designs like neon oversize florals and bold black and white stripes.