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Eating on the Go With Insulated Lunch Bags and Totes

Updated on September 29, 2011

Insulated Lunch Bags and Totes: Why A Brown Paper Bag Won't Do:

Insulated lunch bags and totes aren't just some fashion statement. They offer some real advantages when you won't be eating at home. Of course, being able to prepare your snacks and meals at home rather than eating out can be an economical choice that over time can save several hundred dollars each year. In addition, most of us are sure to make healthier choices when making our own versus visiting a restaurant, fast food establishment, vending machine, or cafeteria.

But in many instances, carrying your lunch poses a few risks. After all, warm foods drop to room temperature and cold foods rise to that point within as little as 15 to 20 minutes. The growth of bacteria and other organisms can start quickly. Having an insulated lunch bag can delay this process by a matter of a few hours, long enough to keep food at safe temperatures until you're ready to eat your next meal or snack.

Face it, sometimes you might even have to skip a meal due to time issues at work or between classes if you don't have something right on hand.

Throwing some food in a plastic bag not only won't keep it at the appropriate temperature but it's also not terribly kind to the environment either. A family can create hundreds of pounds of plastic waste over the course of a year. A simple lunch tote or bag is reuseable and kinder to the environment.

While you may spend a bit more on a good lunch bag upfront, they will also end up costing you less long term than buying disposable bags, either paper or plastic, each week.

On this page you can find some great insulated lunch bags for adults, whether students or professionals, that will do the job and look good too.

Finding the Right Insulated Lunch Bag

The choices are numerous but selecting insulated lunch bags shouldn't be too hard. Here are a just a few things to compare:

  • Portability
    Nearly any insulated lunch bag will offer handles to allow you to carry it easily. However, some offer shoulder straps that allow you to keep your hands free for other things while others have short handles that allow you to carry them like a briefcase or handbag. It's a matter of personal preference.
  • Durability
    To last, the fabric needs to be durable and preferrably water resistant/waterproof. Neoprene is lightweight and easy to clean. It is the fabric used to make wetsuits. Nylon fabrics are another good option, 600 denier or more. A solid bottom or wire frame can make the bag hold it's shape better, but on the other hand, they won't collapse flat for easier storage when not in use.
  • Size and Configuration
    If you want to just carry a sandwich, a small apple, and a small bag of crackers, then most any tote will do. However, if you have larger plastic containers, big water bottles, and so forth, you need to consider the dimensions of the lunch bag and it's various compartments. If you will be carrying both warm and cold foods, you may want separate compartments or a divider for between them.

    If you want to be able to keep an item or two where they are readily available without opening the cold storage, then a front, top, or side zipper pocket may be useful.
  • Appearance
    For some, a simple gray, black or blue lunch tote is fine. For others a fashionable design is more important.
  • Insulation
    Some insulated lunch bags will provide enough insulation to keep food cold for 2 or 3 hours when an ice pack is used. Others offer more substantial insulation and can keep foods at the appropriate temperature for 4 or more hours. While most of these bags require the use of an ice pack, some do have gel liners which allow the bag to be placed in the freezer for several hours and then used without ice packs.

    As mentioned above, some insulated lunch bags offer separate compartments or dividers for keeping warm and cold foods separate. Without this, the bag really only accommodates one or the other at any given time.

Handbag Style

Insulated lunch bags with a "handbag" style can be appropriate for both men and women. It really depends upon the color and design.

This Built lunch tote is small and lightweight but can keep warm foods warm and cold foods cold for up to 4 hours. It is shown here in black but is also available in a cheerful multi-colored pattern. It measures 12" W x 10 1/2" H x 5 3/4" D and provides a large compartment that is sealed with a zipper. The soft grip handles make carrying it easy. This tote folds flat for storage and is machine washable for easy care.

The Fit & Fresh Downtown lunch bag offers extra thick insulation for keeping foods cold and a handbag style design that many women love. It is available in Cocoa as shown here as well as a black and white Zebra design. It measures 9" x 6" x 8", has hand straps for easy carrying, and is built around a wire frame which makes it easy to hold open when loading it up. It includes a roomy main compartment and a convenient front pocket that is perfect for cell phones, keys, and small snacks that you want to be able to access quickly. It comes with a removable/reusable ice pack.

The Sachi Fashion insulated lunch bag is a favorite for women who love handbags. This bag is often mistaken for a pocketbook with fine workmanship and quality fabrics. It is available in a variety of colors and patterns. This bag includes a full insulated main compartment, small zipper pocket that is perfect for a cell phone or keys, and a collapsible handle. It wipes clean with a damp cloth and measures 12" x 6" x 8".

The Built Gourment Getaway lunch tote is lightly insulated and folds flat after use. It is available in a variety of fun patterns and colors and is machine washable for easy cleaning. It's made with neoprene fabric so it's highly water resistant and it has a zip closure to assure your lunch stays in place. It offers soft grip handles for easy carrying and, thanks to the stretchy nature of the fabric, this bag can accommodate items in a variety of shapes and sizes. This tote measures 12.5" x 11.5" x 6.8" and with an ice pack should keep cold foods cold for up to 4 hours.

Available in several colors and patterns, the Koko insulated lunch bag shown here measures 10" x 9" x 4.5". It is made of durable, water resistant neoprene and wipes clean with almost no effort. It has a large main compartment, internal bottle holder, drawstring closure, and handles to carry it like a purse or briefcase.

The Ju Ju Be insulated lunch bag has a 3M Thinsulate lining and Teflon treated polyester outer fabric. It measures 7" x 4.2" x 9". With an ice pack it can keep cold foods cold for 2-4 hours. It has a single main compartment and interior clear zipper pocket. It includes a grab handle, swivel clip hook for attaching to a stroller or something similar, and it is machine washable. This tote is available in a wide variety of colors and patterns.

This is one of the insulated lunch bags that allows you to forget all about the ice packs. It is a Gel lined bag which allows you to carry cold foods after storing it in the refrigerator before leaving home. It should keep cold foods cold for 5-10 hours and is large enough to accommodate a full meal, measuring 8.5" x 5" x 10". It is made of durable polyester and is handwashable. It includes a carrying handle.

Shoulder Strap Style

The insulated lunch bags here allow you to carry them while keeping your hands free.

The Ensign Peak bag can accommodate lunch for one or two people. It measures 9.5" W x 10"H x 6"D. It is made of 100% 600 denier poly ripstop nylon and has a PVC backing making it both waterproof and rugged. It offers 2 main compartments (top/bottom) as well as a large front zippered pocket. The adjustable should strap provide a comfortable way of toting your meal. It is available in black and royal blue.

The Deluxe insulated lunch tote is available in black, navy, red, and royal blue. It measures 13.5" H x 10"W x 10" D and is available in other, smaller sizes. It offers 1 large zipper compartment, a divider to separate warm foods, 1 insulated front pocket with zipper, and 1 front mesh pocket. It has a handle and an adjustable shoulder strap that keeps your hands free.


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    • irenemaria profile image

      irenemaria 6 years ago from Sweden

      I too have one like this. It is so useful to keep the food either warm or cold.

    • Sinea Pies profile image

      Sinea Pies 6 years ago from Northeastern United States

      Some of those totes look nice enough to be a fashion-purse! :)

    • brennawelker profile image

      brennawelker 6 years ago

      Yeah! Very useful hub.

    • profile image

      fashion 6 years ago

      This is informative and useful.Well done.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Nice and useful information. I had never knew about this before. Thanks for writing and share with us. Vote it up!

    • JimmieWriter profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 6 years ago from Memphis, TN USA

      These are nice -- most of the ones I see are to feminine for my manly man to carry to work.

    • Corin profile image

      Corin 6 years ago

      A detailed and useful hub on insulated lunch bags and totes. I remember the time when I went to France to study and all the friends I had there asked me where I got my insulated lunch bags: they found it not only useful, but also fashionable.