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Whether you’re packing a lunch for your little one or yourself, there’s a good chance that you need to keep it cool and don’t always have access to a refrigerator.

Food that’s meant to be kept cold can lose its appeal and become less appetizing when the temperature increases, and it could be potentially dangerous. That is why we’ve created this guide that’s full of suggestions to keep your food fresh and out of the danger zone.

Carrying Containers

There are a variety of options available on the market that you can either make yourself or purchase so that you can keep your food cold. They play a large part in ensuring that the goodies you pack remain at the temperature they are supposed to be for few hours between packing and eating.

Carrying Containers

1. Insulated Lunch Bags

One of the more popular options is the insulated lunch bag. They come in a broad range of shapes, sizes, and designs. Many of these lunch bags also have lots of space and extra storage pockets.

Typically, they are made of an outer layer, inner layer, and an insulating middle layer that helps with reflecting the core temperature back, so it remains cooler longer.

2. Stainless Steel or Freezer Safe Containers

Purchasing a stainless-steel container such as a reusable bento or any other freezer-safe container works to keep food cold. All you need to do is put the containers in the freezer before you pack them, and they can hold on to the cold for an impressive amount of time.

3. Thermos

Thermos containers aren’t just suitable for keeping beverages hot, but they can also be used for keeping food and drinks cold. They are designed with the proper insulation to ensure food and drinks maintain a temperature that is within the safe zone. The Thermos brand containers are also all free from BPA and lead.

4. Cooler Containers

If you are packing a large lunch that needs more space or packing for more than one person, a cooler could be a better option. They are made specially to provide more space, and the insulation acts as refrigeration of sorts to keep the content cool.

Cooling the Content

Cooling the Content

While using containers and lunch bags that are made to keep the contents cold is smart, that’s only one step when you need to know how to keep lunch box cold. You can use some of these tips to help ensure that the lunch you pack remains cold for as long as possible.

1. Ice or Frozen Gel Packs

Using an ice pack is almost imperative when packing a cold lunch. You want to ensure that it’s frozen, and not just cold.

It works to keep the temperature of your lunch box down while you wait for the time to pass before you can eat. When you use more than one, your food stays colder. These packs are available in most stores and are quite affordable.

2. Frozen Water Bottles

Most people pack a water bottle in their lunch boxes. To maximize it, just freeze a water bottle overnight and pack it in the lunch bag. It acts as a great tool to keep the temperature down, and it’s refreshingly cold and thawed when it comes the time to drink it.

3. Do-It-Yourself Ice Packs

For those of you looking to know how to keep lunch box cold with do-it-yourself methods, we’ve found two simple options for you, and you likely have the materials at home already.

  • Sponge Ice Packs

Get yourself a sponge, a plastic bag, and a glass bowl before starting. You simply fill the bowl with cold water and dunk the sponge into it until it’s thoroughly soaked.

Make sure to let the excess water drip off the sponge first, and then place the fully wet sponge in a ziplock bag. Then, remove all the air from the bag, seal it up, and put it in the freezer overnight.

  • Dish Soap Gel Pack

To create a dish soap gel pack, you need to line the inside of a glass with a ziplock bag, but make sure that the seal is guarded so that no soap gets on the zipper. From there, add approximately ¾ cups of the soap to the empty bag and add in some food coloring if you want to make it colorful.

Make sure to remove all air bubbles from the bag before you remove it from the cup and seal it. After it’s sealed, lay it flat in the freezer overnight. Keep in mind that they won’t freeze to a solid, but to a gel-like consistency that can get reused.


There are plenty of ways to keep your lunch box and the content of your lunch box cold. Sometimes you just need to use your imagination, and other times you need to make a trip to the store to buy the right containers.

Always remember to keep your food out of the danger zone, so you or your kid don’t get sick. The food being eaten should remain below 40F for cold and above 140F for hot. Happy eating!