Ice packs come in all shapes and sizes and vary on how long they’ll keep food chilled. Find the best one for your lunch packing needs and learn how to use it right below.
All the ice packs recommended have been tested and picked based on community feedback.
Do Ice Packs Work for Lunch Boxes?
Adding an ice pack inside the lunch bag is one of the best ways to keep the food inside the lunchbox fresh for hours! It helps regulate the temperature inside the bag and keep it cool, so the food in the lunchbox remains at a safe-to-eat temperature and stays fresh.
How to Choose an Ice Pack
With so may options available, there are some key features to consider when selecting an ice pack. They are:
- Size & fit: make sure the ice pack will fit inside the lunch bag in addition to the lunch box and other foods. Or an all-in-one bag!
- Material: ice packs should be sturdy, won’t leak or break easily, and filled with non-toxic materials.
- Chill time: look for an ice pack that stays cool for a minimum of 4 hours.
- Easy to clean: spills and sticky messes happen so look for one you can wipe down easily.
- Reusable: look for an ice pack that will last through the school year or longer.
Best Ice Pack for School Lunches
Do You Put the Ice Pack on the Top or on the Bottom?
The best place to put an ice pack is near the food you’re trying to keep cool. So, whether you place it on top of the lunch container or under it, there’s no right or wrong place to put an ice pack as long as it’s there.
If your lunch bag has a lot of items, you can stand it up against the back wall as well or in between the foods. The bigger the ice pack, or having more than one, the cooler it will keep the temperature inside the bag.
If keeping foods like meat, cheese, or yogurt chilled is a concern, place them close to the ice pack or consider wrapping them in a flexible ice pack.
How Long Can Lunch Stay Good with an Ice Pack?
When you put an ice pack inside a lunch bag, you add a layer of temperature control for your food. Most ice packs will keep the food inside the lunch bag chilled, at or near the temperature when you packed it, between 4 and 6 hours, without it going bad.
You can also pack your lunches the night before and transfer them from the fridge to the lunch bag with an ice pack night before.