Bringing your lunch to work is a great option no matter what type of job you work. A handy lunch box makes transporting food and drink easy, convenient and healthy. Most importantly, bringing a lunch box to work everyday will save you money.
Construction workers cannot get by with just any lunch cooler for work. You need a heavy duty lunch box to stand up to the rigors of the jobsite. You also need the best insulated lunch box that keeps your lunch cold and fresh throughout the day, even in the hot sun. So throw out your paper sack, you are not a kid anymore, and let’s take a look at some of the best men’s lunch boxes for work.
In a hurry? Jump to the 10 Best Lunch Boxes for Men Working Construction.
The Best Lunch Box Design for Construction Workers
A well-built lunch box for construction workers should:
- Be tough. A good heavy duty lunch box for work should be able to withstand being knocked around or dropped without seriously damaging the lunch box or your sandwich, chips and drinks.
- Have a tight seal. A lunch container with a tight seal will be able to keep out dirt and dust. Having a tight seal on your lunch box will also help keep your food and drinks cooler longer.
- Be large. A good lunch bag needs to have room to store your lunch, a few snacks and enough drinks to get through the day. But you shouldn’t need need a dolly to transport it.
- Have a high cold rating. A high cold rating (a lunch cooler with good insulation) ensures your food stays at a cold enough temperatures so it will not spoil. The best insulated lunch box will keep your food cool enough so that it does not become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.
- Be on ice. By using an ice pack or freezing one or two of your drinks, your lunch box should keep your food cold for 10-14 hours. Even many of the best lunch boxes and lunch bags do not come with an ice pack, so be sure to factor that into the overall cost of the lunch cooler.
As you can see, there are many factors that make the best lunch box “the best.” Not every lunch box will fulfill every category and you may need to make a tradeoff on something or another. For instance, perhaps you want a lunch box with good insulation as opposed to one that’s really large. So, weigh these factors and think of what is best for you, then choose the best lunch box that fits your criteria.
Top 10 Best Men’s Lunch Boxes for Construction Workers
1. Carhartt Deluxe Lunch Cooler – Best Lunch Bag Overall
Since 1889, Carhartt products have been known for their quality and durability and this Carhartt Lunch Box is no exception. This is a soft-sided, heavy duty men’s lunch bag with strong YKK zippers. It’s the perfect men’s lunch bag for the job site. In fact, it’s one of the most popular lunch bags for construction workers.
It has a separate insulated pouch on the top (for a sandwich) and an uninsulated zippered compartment in the front (for utensils and condiments). Thick insulation keeps food cold in the main compartment and the 1200 denier heavy duty polyester outer shell repels light rain effortlessly with its Rain Defender technology. This lunch box is also triple-stitched to hold up even under the most extreme conditions.
As far as colors, it comes in classic Carhartt Brown as well as camouflage, grey, blue and black. Carrying the lunch bag is easy with this lunch box’s comfortable shoulder strap (strap is not removable).
This insulated adult lunch bag measures 10″ x 9″ x 7″ and can hold up to six cans.
Overall, this is the best lunch box for workers. Not too expensive, decent size, weatherproof and extremely durable. It also looks great and won’t be the kind of lunch bag you’re too embarrassed to bring to the job site.
Looking for a vertical Carhartt lunch cooler instead? Designed to accommodate up to six 12-ounce bottles, this classic men’s lunch box for work by Carhartt includes a main compartment, zippered condiment and utensil pocket and a mesh outer pocket that perfectly fits the free 20-ounce Carhartt water bottle (included with purchase).
2. Klein Tools Tradesman Pro™ Tough Lunch Box (17 qt.) – Most Popular Lunch Box
The Klein Tools Tradesman Pro Tough Box is a robust lunch cooler that is perfect for keeping food and drinks cold during even the hottest work days. In fact, this hard-sided lunch box is one of the most popular for construction workers looking for a heavy duty lunch box.
This orange and gray lunch box even looks like it was built for the construction site. It has that mean and rugged look that seems to say, “Don’t mess with me.”
This hoss can even support up to 300 pounds of weight. How many other guys do you see using their lunch box as a seat?
Highly durable and well-made, the large 17 qt. (16.1 L) compartment can hold quite a few items of varying sizes and the smaller section in the lid is ideal for smaller items. This lunch cooler keeps food cold for up to 30 hours, however, no ice pack is included.
It also comes with a durable seal, lock function on the front (it can fit a Master Lock or similar lock) and a nylon belt for transporting. Lots of features and high quality, you cannot go wrong with the Tough Box lunch box.
Overall, this is one of the best lunch boxes for construction workers. With a construction lunch box look and a high level of durability, you’ll be the envy of the jobsite.
3. Stanley Heritage Lunch Cooler (7 qt.) – Best Classic Lunch Box
If you are looking for a rugged lunch box that’s not too large, the Stanley Heritage Lunch Cooler may be just what you need. The handle and lid also feature a convenient way to lock in the 1.5 Qt Stanley thermos (which comes included with the cooler).
Crafted of durable dark green plastic, the lid doubles as a lunch tray. The stainless steel thermos holds 1.5 quarts, is appropriate for both hot and cold beverages, and will keep either one at just the right temperature for up to 24 hours.
The advantage of this lunch cooler is its convenient size that measures 16″ x 9″ x 13″. The Stanley keeps food cold for up to 16 hours. There are two storage compartments (7″ x 8″ and 7″ x 4.25″) for separating items and the cooler is double wall foam insulated.
The model may be discontinued by the company which could potentially cause warranty issues in the future (they’ll replace it with a similar lunch box instead). This is something to keep in mind, but not necessarily a dealbreaker.
If you want a classic lunch box with the latest insulation technology, this is the best lunch box for you.
Still have a desire for that old school brown lunch bag? Don’t worry. They now make the classic paper sack in an upgraded insulated and reusable form. Pretty slick, right? Check it out here.
4. Husky Weather Resistant Insulated Men’s Lunch Box – Best Value Lunch Box
The Husky Lunch Box is made out of 600 tuff spun denier which both water-resistant and weather-resistant. This men’s lunch box is built just like their tool bags, tough and heavy duty. And for a “soft sided” lunch cooler, it’s impressive how sturdy it is. Also, it’s easy to carry. The top handle feels great when holding it and the shoulder strap feels natural and comfortable.
The inside is ten-and-a-half inches high, tall enough for a Gatorade, and padded with thick high density insulation. It holds up to 12 cans and keeps food cold for 10-12 hours with an ice pack. It’s also leakproof and easy to clean. It keeps foods either warm or cold too, depending on your preference. It’s also food safe, as well as BPA and lead free.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s an insulated front pocket, for keeping foods either hot or cold. With two insulated pockets you could keep a few hot pockets or a warm sandwich up front and your cold drinks in the main compartment. On the back, there’s a zippered compartment for napkins and condiments.
The two side pockets are much larger than what you usually see on a lunch box of this size. In fact, the side pockets are perfect for holding a thermos on both sides, even at the same time.
The zippers are high quality and the build is what you expect from Husky. Zippers are heavy duty and even the shoulder strap has metal clasps to clip it on to the sides of the lunch box. With this kind of construction, this lunch box will easily hold up well for years. There’s also a 3-year limited warranty for added security.
What more could you ask for in a lunch box? A great job by Husky and one of the best lunch boxes for an affordable price, especially for this level of quality.
This lunch box measures 9.2″ x 7.5″ x 10.5″.
5. HSD Tactical Lunch Box – Best Tactical Lunch Bag
If you are looking for a way to support a veteran, the HSD Tactical Lunch Box is a good choice. This isn’t your kid’s lunch box, it’s a well-built, heavy duty tactical lunch bag for adults.
While it is not made out of Kevlar, it is made out of high-grade military materials such as 600 denier waterproof polyester. It also has high quality YKK zippers, that usually come on more high-end lunch boxes. But this lunch box comes at an affordable price.
The heavy duty, reinforced handle makes carrying the lunch bag easy, but it also comes with a removable and adjustable shoulder strap just in case. It has a large convenient front pocket (7.5″ x 4.5″) for utensils and condiments as well as mesh sides and a mesh inner-top. On the back there is MOLLE / PALS webbing which is nice for attaching extra storage or clipping items such as your keys.
This lunch box is insulated with thicker than average foam (8 mm foam instead of 5 mm foam) and a thermal lining. On average, with an ice pack added, this lunch bag should easily keep your food cold 10-12 hours. Lastly, the lunch cooler is phthalate, formaldehyde and lead-free.
If you’re looking for a good tactical lunch box, this is the best lunch box on the market.
This lunch box measures 10″ x 7.5″ x 6.5″ and holds up to 6 cans.
Compliment this lunch box with a Titanium Utensil Set and carrying case. 100% titanium utensils and comes equipped with a carabiner so you can hang the utensils off the rear webbing of the lunch box. Or, maybe you prefer stainless steel instead.
Similar to the HSD lunch box above, the DBTAC tactical lunch bag is its bigger brother. Instead of holding only six cans, like the HSD, this can hold up to 12 cans in total.
One other major difference is that it has a leakproof liner and a removable plastic insert, which can even be bought separately and replaced, if needed. It can also be bought to put inside another lunch box of similar size.
Like the HSD, it is made of military grade materials and is equipped with the MOLLE webbing on the back as well. Its exterior is made of military grade 600D fabric with reinforced stitching. The exterior is waterproof and extremely durable.
There is a large front compartment that is designed to hold condiments and utensils, however, it is big enough to fit an iPad if you needed to. It also has a velcro loop panel the you could use to put unique velcro patches (it comes with a black US flag patch). There are two mesh side compartments for a phone, keys, tools, small flashlight, or whatever you see fit.
There’s also a large, foil-lined main compartment measuring 10.5″ x 7.5″ x 7″. It is reinforced with extra thick PE foam to keep your food ice cold. On the top of the main lid there is a spot for an ice pack that is secured in place with a zipper pouch.
The only oversight is the fact that the ice bag up top can melt and then it drains down onto your food. There are several creative fixes for this but the easiest is just using some plastic wrap over top of the plastic liner that sits below.
The lunch box also comes with a convenient and easily removable carrying strap as well as a heavy duty handle.
The is the second best lunch box in the tactical category. It’s slightly lower quality than the HSD lunch box but offers a lot more room and the inner liner is a huge plus.
This lunch box measures 11.5″ x 8.0″ x 8.5″ and it also comes with a one year warranty.
7. Milwaukee Packout Jobsite Lunch Box – Best Features
The Milwaukee Packout jobsite lunch box is not only good-looking, it is built tough and is extremely durable, perfect for the construction site. Of all the lunch boxes on this list, it has the toughest exterior by far. It also has the thickest insulation for a soft-sided lunch box. There’s even a molded base on the bottom that is impact-resistant, and also compatible with other Milwaukee Packout products.
The first thing you’ll notice about this lunch box is how heavy duty it is for a soft-sided lunch box. On the exterior is 1680 denier (1680D) ballistic material, the toughest lunch box exterior you’ll come across online for soft-sided lunch boxes. (Even the Carhartt can’t compete with its 1200D). It also has extremely sturdy heavy duty zippers and all metal hardware throughout the lunch box. The material on the outside is also “no sweat,” so you don’t have to worry about condensation leaking all over the place. The impact-resistant bottom is also perfect for the jobsite.
On the side is a handy bottle opener that also doubles as a clip for your tape measure. On that same side, there is a large pocket for larger tools (like pliers) and three small pen pockets for pens, pencils or similar shaped tools. On the opposite side is an even larger pocket is available for tool storage. In the front, there’s a “tech pocket” for storing an iPad, your wallet and keys, or condiments and utensils.
When you open up the cooler the first thing you’ll notice is just how thick the insulation is. What you’re seeing is Milwaukee’s double thick insulation. Milwaukee claims that this lunch cooler will keep your food cold for up to 24 hours, but more realistically you’ll be able to get 10-16 hours of cold with a few ice packs or when completely filled with ice. Inside it holds up to 21 quarts. Additionally, the liner is leakproof and easy to clean as well.
There’s also a compartment on the top lid of the lunch box. This spot is most appropriate for storing a sandwich, chips and other items such as utensils and condiments. It conveniently zips shut so and is all mesh so if you need to keep some food cold, like fruit, it’ll stay cold too.
A great feature on this lunch box is the removable shoulder strap. Not only is the strap built extremely tough, it also features metal clips to easily put the strap on or take it off. With the strap off, there’s a convenient top handle for easy carrying, just like a toolbox.
While there is a lot to like about this lunch box, there are a few cons. The lack of a pocket for a thermos is a bit of drag, however, it’s possible you could find a thermos that’s sized to fit into one of the tool pockets. The only other con is that this is soft-sided and not hard-sided, though it does have the hard bottom, which is nice.
All in all, a top-notch lunch box and the type of quality you would expect from Milwaukee.
This lunch box measures 13″ x 13.77″ x 14.96″.
Check out some other Milwaukee Packout products.
The Arctic Zone “Deep Freeze” Lunch Box lives up to its name with its radiant heat barrier technology, which reflects heat to keep your lunch cold. It’ll easily keep cold throughout the workday, even if you happen to be working overtime.
With its patented flip open design this lunch box feels more like a toolbox and a lunch box combo. Its moss color also gives it that nice manly look (though it does come in blue and white as well) which makes you feel good holding it too.
Inside it features a hard body liner that is FDA approved and food safe. The lining also protects against bacteria and mold. The liner makes this lunch box easy to clean and also makes this lunch box leakproof as well.
The lining also has a separator which separates the top and bottom portion so you could put a sandwich up top and other larger items below (including your ice pack). Alternatively, you can load up the bottom and put the ice pack on top.
The exterior of the lunch box is made of what’s called “Rhino Tech” material which is abrasion and puncture resistant. It is also resistant to water and stains as well. There is one large front pocket for holding condiments and utensils, as well as a small front pocket that can be used for storing keys, a wallet, or pocket knife. There is also a mesh pocket on the side for storage use as well.
It also includes an adjustable strap that makes this lunch box easy to carry, however, the strap may be too short for some users (especially if you are a big guy). It holds up to nine cans on the inside but it also comes in a 16 can, 30 can, and 48 can version as well. Each version looks exactly the same with the same configuration, just in a different size.
Although this is a hard body lunch box, it isn’t designed for extremest rugged worksites like the Klein Tools ToughBox or the Stanley boxes, but it’ll do the job. If you don’t need to beat it around too much, this is one of the best insulated lunch boxes, and it will keep your food cold all day.
This lunch box measures 17.75″ x 10.25″ x 10.25″.
Looking for a vintage stainless steel lunch box? The Stanley Classic Lunch Box is an updated version of the iconic manual laborer’s lunch box from the 1950s. Domed in shape, it is designed to hold the Stanley stainless-steel insulated thermos or mug.
Crafted from heavy-duty steel, this lunch box comes with manufacturing-grade hinges and latches. It also comes with a lifetime warranty.
This lunch box measures 13″ x 6.5″ x 10″ and holds 10 quarts. It also comes in Hammertone Navy.
Add-on items for the Stanley Classic Lunch Box:
Every guy knows the classic red and white Igloo cooler. Well, the Igloo Playmate Industrial Cooler is that cooler’s older, stronger and better-looking brother.
The 14.8-quart Playmate lunch box is an updated version of the original red and white model. This version has a black and silver textured exterior. It is even made of impact-resistant plastic so is sure to handle even the toughest job sites.
The lid is easy to open and provides effortless access to the contents. The large storage capacity ensures that it can hold many containers (holds up to 26 cans). This is the perfect size to keep your food cold for a 12-hour shift.
This lunch box measures 14.5″ x 10.84″ x 13.75″.
If you prefer the classic men’s lunch box by Igloo, aka the standard red and white Igloo lunch box, you can get the classic style as a 7-quart lunch box or a 16-quart lunch box. Both of which are proudly Made in the USA.
Best Lunch Boxes for Work: Best Runners-Up
Shaped like a toolbox, the Igloo Outdoorsmen lunch box is one of the best lunch boxes for construction workers. In fact, its hardtop design and crushproof front pocket makes it rugged enough for even the toughest jobsites.
It’s even equipped with MaxCold insulation, with 25% extra foam, to ensure that your lunch will stay cold throughout the entire workday. If that isn’t enough, it also has a leakproof design which means you don’t have to eat any more soggy sandwiches.
The Igloo Outdoorsmen also has a ton of storage. Its top compartment is designed for dry storage, so you don’t have to worry about your dry goods getting wet. It also makes sense to have the dry goods up top and towards where the sun is beating down. The mesh lining is nice for air circulation, but this does hinder the ability to store heavy items up top.
Although this men’s lunch cooler looks small, the main compartment is actually really large and can hold up to 22 cans. Workers love the insulation on this beast, with just one ice pack you can keep your food cold all day long. And don’t worry about getting everything else wet around you, the inside is leakproof as well. The inner liner also keeps your food from spoiling with its anti-microbial technology. And it’s easy to clean, just wipe it down with a wet cloth with some mild dish soap.
The zippered front compartment, in addition to being crushproof, is also perfect for condiments and eating utensils. It’s also fully insulated so you can store food and drink there too. A lot of guys like to put their sandwich in the front compartment with a small ice pack, chips in the top compartment, and drinks inside with a larger cold pack.
This lunch box comes with an adjustable shoulder strap which is designed for extra long length to make the lunch cooler easy to carry. The shoulder strap is also removable, so if you’d rather carry it around like a man, you can do that too.
This lunch box measures 11″ x 10.25″ x 11.25″.
2. Coleman Soft Lunch Cooler (30 Can Capacity)
Coleman is well known for designing effective lunch coolers for cold storage and the Coleman Soft Cooler is no exception. The soft outer shell houses a hard plastic liner for added strength and durability. It also had welded seams to ensure against leakage.
The lunch box’s liner is easy to clean and germ resistant. The inner liner also resists odors, molds and mildews. Both the soft and hard liner are also FDA approved as being food safe.
This lunch container will keep your food at the right temperature for 8 hours or longer (with an ice pack). The Coleman soft cooler also has side and front pockets for extra lunch necessities. The shoulder strap can be adjusted for use as a lunch box handle.
This lunch box measures 12.2″ x 9.65″ x 13.78″.
Not only is this camo lunch box ideal for storing your food at work, the Igloo Realtree Camo Box is perfect for hunting as well. This soft-sided polyester lunch container comes with a rubber handle, removable shoulder strap and hard top which makes it virtually crush-proof. Whether you drop it out of a tree stand or a steel beam 3 stories high, this lunch box is sure to survive.
This lunch box has ultra-thick insulation that keeps food cold for 2 days, but only when ice packs are added. The antimicrobial interior is spacious and there are even two added pockets on the outside for your convenience. There is also a top hatch for easy lunch box access. This lunch box also contains a removable inner liner that’s easy to clean and leak-resistant.
This lunch cooler measures 14″ x 11.25″ x 13.5″.
The Mier Insulated Lunch Bag is a professional-looking lunch bag that stands up well to the competition while coming in cheaper than any other lunch bag on the list. What makes this a great lunch bag for construction workers? Two things: durability and functionality.
Its durability comes from its tough polyester exterior and leakproof bottom interior. Most lunch bags at this price are not leakproof. It manages this through its heat-welded seams, something a construction worker can appreciate. The liner is a PEVA food-grade liner.
The best part of this lunch bag is its double-decker functionality. You can store hot foods up top and keep the cold foods below (where the leakproof liner is). This is great for guys who want to bring a hot sandwich to work (like a meatball sub) and keep their drinks cold at the same time.
It also has a removable shoulder strap, top handle, front compartment for condiments, and two side pockets. There are also nine color options available.
This men’s lunch bag measures 9.45″ x 7″ x 5.5″ (top compartment) and 9.45″ x 7″ x 4.7″ (bottom compartment).
This lunch bag comes with a two-year warranty.
If you are looking for a simple, basic and affordable men’s lunch box, the Outdoorwares Insulated Lunch Carrier is a great choice. It’s leakproof, lightweight, and can hold a lot of food and drinks.
Rather than having compartments like most lunch boxes, the Outdoorwares lunch box has space for four separate food trays with lids. It also has as extra room in the top and pockets for drinks and other items. The trays (sold separately) are microwave, freezer and dishwasher safe too. Each tray is 8.5 x 7.5 x 1.9 inches.
It comes with a comfortable shoulder strap as well as four compartments. The side compartments on the sides hold up to six drinks in total and keep them cool. There is a mesh top for holding utensils and condiments. With ice packs, this cooler is appropriate for keeping your food cold for an 8 hour shift.
This lunch box measures 17″ x 9″ x 9″.
Lunch trays (6-pack) designed to fit this lunch cooler:
Although a soft-sided men’s lunch cooler, the material that makes up the Ice Mule Cooler is anything but delicate. Made from strong, high performance MuleSkin fabric inside and out, it is insulated with layers that are thicker than traditional soft-side coolers. It will keep your food and drinks cold for up to 24 hours.
Leak-proof and waterproof with an air-tight seal, you can also remove from the insulation layer with the cooler’s IM AirValve. Carried like a backpack, the thick straps are made for comfortable travel on the job.
Measuring 17″ x 11″ x 14″, the Ice Mule can hold a lot of food and up to 18 drinks (including ice). For added convenience, this cooler can be stored flat when not in use.
The Yeti Hopper Backflip is described as “part cooler, part backpack.” True to its description, it is durable enough that it can be used as both a lunch box and a backpack, however, for its cost it might be better used as a lunch cooler alone.
It has a 100% leakproof zipper and an extremely durable interior. In fact, the zipper is claimed to be the “toughest, highest-performing waterproof and leakproof cooler zipper in the world,” however, it is unclear how that claim is validated. It has a dry hide exterior which is waterproof and resistant to molds, mildew, punctures and even UV light rays.
This men’s lunch bag can hold up to 20 cans of soda and up to 25 pounds of ice at the same time. It can actually keep your lunch and drinks cold for up to 24-hours at 100+ degree temperature with the recommended 2:1 ice ratio.
This biggest plus of this backpack cooler is its ergonomic design that is extremely comfortable, even when full. This is a great lunch box to use if you walk a long distance to get to your job site with your hands full.
The dimensions inside are 12″ x 6.5″ x 15″. Although pricey for a lunch cooler, it really delivers. If you find this Yeti lunch box backpack on sale be sure to snatch it up as Yeti products hardly ever go on sale.
Runner-up: The Tourit Inulated Cooler Backpack – A durable enough backpack lunch cooler for the money (much cheaper than the Yeti). Keeps food and drinks cool for up to 16 hours and room for up to 16 cans. This backpack lunch box is only water repellent though, not waterproof.
What’s the Best Lunch Box for Meal Prep?
One of the best lunch boxes for meal prep is made by Isolator Fitness, called the Isobag, which resembles your standard gym bag. It’s not necessarily a construction lunch box, but it’s durable enough to take to the construction site. And, it’s the best lunch box for meal prep.
Made in the USA, it comes with 12 meal prep containers (yes, we said 12), three ISOBRICK coolpacks (non-toxic, gel-free ice packs), and a removable padded should strap. It features four fully insulated compartments, one on the top, two on the sides and one in the front. And it’s made using top quality stitching and durable YKK zippers (and the stitching and zippers are covered by a lifetime warranty).
There are special sleeves that are used to hold the three ice packs that come with this lunch box. This ensures your lunch stays ice cold for 12-16 hours (perfect if you plan on taking it to the jobsite). There are also two mesh pockets that you can use for water bottles or smaller coffee thermoses. They’re also great pockets for your keys, wallet or cell phone.
This lunch box measures 18″ x 9.5″ x 8″ and it comes in over 28 different colors so there is a good selection to choose from. If you’re a fitness junkie and looking for a bag that you could use to prep meals and hit the gym after the construction site, this is an excellent lunch box for you.
Food for Thought
You have so many options for bringing your lunch to work. For situations where lighter construction is involved, you can count on Coleman or Zuzuro. For a construction site that is more rugged, Stanley, YETI or Klein have the reinforcement you need. If money is not a problem, the YETI is even designed to last forever.
Keeping Food Safe in Your Lunch Box
No matter what type of lunch box you choose to bring to work at the construction site each day, it is important to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot to be appetizing, healthy and safe. No one wants to get sick from eating food that has been kept at the wrong temperature.
Here are some smart ideas to help guarantee that your food remains cold on sweltering days or when your lunch box is stored in a hot car:
- Frozen water bottles are just right for maintaining a cold interior temperature of your lunch box. As a bonus, your water will be nice and refreshing when it’s time for lunch. With daily cleaning, you can use your water bottle over and over and save money at the same time. Just a reminder: it’s never a good idea to freeze carbonated beverages as they can burst and make a real mess, in addition to being dangerous.
- Ice packs, whether soft or hard-sided, are convenient and easy to use. Having at least one ice pack that is completely frozen added to your lunch box will keep your food and drinks cold. If there is enough room, several ice packs are even better.
- If feasible, it’s a great idea to store your lunch box in the refrigerator before you go to work. This helps the internal temperature remain cold longer.
- Stainless steel lunch containers that have been frozen (if safe to do so) rather than using plastic baggies or boxes will keep food cold much longer.
- Insulated lunch bags and portable insulated coolers are a good idea if you are working overtime and need to keep your food or drink cold for a longer duration than normal. Just pack items in the coolers and then stick the coolers in your lunch box. This will add an extra few hours of cooling.
- If you bring hot food to work it should stay hot. Any time food drops below 140 degrees Fahrenheit you are at greater risk of developing a food-borne illness. By wrapping foods in a thermal tote, you can keep hot foods much hotter for much longer in your lunch box. This tote also works for keeping foods cold as well.
One of the last things you can do to keep the food in your lunch box safe is wash your hands before packing your lunch box. Also, don’t forget to use a really good hand soap for washing your hands before you eat. You never know what type of virus or bug you might ingest.
Lunch Box Materials and Lunch Box Safety
The outside of the most popular lunch boxes for workers are made of vinyl, polyester, nylon, glass, metal and even silicone. This is mainly due to the durability that these materials give a lunch box or lunch bag. The inside of the lunch box is generally made of plastic materials, various foils, aluminum and vinyl.
The insulation inside of your lunch box is usually made out of polyurethane, polyester fibers or a plastic made of polyethylene. Ice packs are typically made from hydroxyethyl cellulose, sodium polyacrylate or silica gel that’s vinyl-coated.
If your lunch box is made of recycled plastics numbers 1, 2 and 4, it’s generally a safe plastic. If it’s made out of 7, it’s generally not as safe. You can read more about these plastic types here. As for the other materials, stainless steel and glass are generally the safest lunch box materials. Other metals can potentially leech into your food. Though many lunch box manufacturers try to take steps to make some of these other materials safe as well, so check with each vendor before just dismissing a lunch box altogether just based on the material used.
Most freezer packs are generally safe and made of non-toxic materials. Gel ice packs sometimes get a bad rep but they’re found to be safe as well. If for some reason an ice pack breaks and the gel or liquid comes out, it carries minimal risk. However, in this case, discard and food, clean the lunch box, and get a new ice pack.
Having the best lunch box, in part, means having the best lunch box materials. Make sure the materials that make up your lunch box is safe. We’ve tried to find the best lunch boxes without compromising on safety and think we did a pretty good job, but it always pays to do your own research.
How to Properly Clean Your Lunch Box or Lunch Bag
Cleaning your lunch box or lunch bag regularly is a good idea to keep your food safe from harmful bacteria and viruses. Although it may not be super practical, a lunch box should be cleaned daily to ensure proper sanitization. To properly clean your lunch box follow the following steps:
- Clean any visible debris from the surface or your lunch box or lunch bag.
- Make a sanitizing solution by mixing 1 teaspoon of bleach with 5 cups of cold water.
- Fill a spray bottle or wet a clean washcloth with the sanitizing solution.
- Spray or wipe the solution on all surfaces of your lunch box.
- Allow the solution to sit for at least 2 minutes.
- Dry the lunch bag with a soft clean cloth or paper towel.
There is a difference between sanitizing and disinfecting. In order to disinfect something, a much stronger ratio of bleach to water would be used. However, this is not recommended for surfaces that come into contact with food, so it is important to stick to the ratio of 1 teaspoon to 5 cups of water.
Also, remember to wash your hands before eating. It doesn’t do any good to have a clean lunch box and safe food if you’re going to eat with dirty hands. Bring along a hand sanitizer if you don’t have the time or access to a facility to wash your hands. The CDC recommends a hand sanitizer with greater than 60% alcohol to properly kill germs.
Benefits of Bringing Your Lunch to Work
Bringing your own lunch to work has many advantages. Not only will you eat healthier, it saves time and money. Packing a lunch box also has the added benefit of allowing your to customize exactly what types of food you bring to work each day.
There are four main reasons to bring your lunch to work in a lunch box:
- Save money. One of the biggest benefits to “brown bagging it” is that it can save you a lot of money over the course of a year. It is not out of the question to save $20-$50 each week if you bring your own meal.
- Lose weight. Some of you may not be trying lower your weight, but pre-making your lunch can help you lose weight anyways. By overseeing what you consume you will most likely take in fewer calories. How? By taking control of your portion sizes while still eating the foods you enjoy. (PopSugar, Dec. 2017)
- Save time. Since you won’t have to leave the job site to go purchase your lunch, you will have more time to eat, socialize, take a nap, walk or read the paper.
- Be healthy. According to registered dietician Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, your lunchtime meal will be fresher and have more nutrients than fast food. It will also easier to make better choices when you are not rushed to get back to the job site.
What To Pack in Your Lunch Box
Due to the nature of the work, construction workers typically burn more than three times as many calories as an employee working at a desk. A nourishing lunch that is filling and energy-producing, while simple to eat and highly portable is required.
Also keep in mind these following items when putting together your lunch:
Whether you eat high above ground or gather with your coworkers around a picnic table, there are often no appliances or extra utensils nearby. So do not forget to take utensils with you in your lunch box.
Pro Tip: There is nothing more manly than a portable set of black stainless steel utensils.
2. Ice Packs
Your lunch should be packed with the intent to keep it cold for several hours and be able to withstand being crammed with other items in your cooler. Delicate salads, eggs and soft breads will likely not retain their original structure until lunchtime.
3. High Protein Meals
Foods like subs and sandwiches on firm bread like sourdough or wraps can pack a protein punch and still taste good. Items like BLTs, sausage and pepper sandwiches, pasties, chicken, pork and beef all make great sandwiches that are filling and delicious.
4. High Protein Snacks
Snacks like jerky sticks or smoked sausage offer a healthy dose of protein and will last for days in your lunch box. A handful of nuts offers a great option during a break or as part of your meal as it can leave you feeling fuller longer due to the protein content.
5. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Fresh fruit and veggies like apples, celery and carrot sticks offer a little variety while giving you some crunch. You can even include a small container of your favorite dips for these.
6. Stackable Lunch Containers
While plastic bags are certainly all-purpose, inexpensive storage items, if you don’t want your food crushed before you get to eat it, invest in some stainless steel or plastic stackable containers for the goodies in your lunch box. They work great for sealing in the flavor and maintaining the integrity of sandwiches, chips and, of course, that leftover piece of chocolate cake.
7. Miscellaneous Lunch Box Items
Do not forget to include napkins, hand wipes, some toothpicks and some tasty beverages in your lunch box.
Best Men’s Lunch Box for Work: The Takeaway
Choosing the best lunch box should not be as difficult as handling a jackhammer all day. Hopefully after reading this article you were able to choose the one that is rugged enough to withstand harsh environments, insulated enough to keep your food cold all day, and convenient enough to use so you do not feel like you are hauling around a cinder block every day.
Working construction is challenging enough without ruining your day with a smashed sandwich, dripping bag or lukewarm can of soda. We hope these lunch box reviews (and food safety tips) will help ensure that your food is ready to eat when you are.
Lunch Tips for Construction Workers
A poor diet not only affects your health, but it affects your morale, safety and productivity too (GoContractor, 2017). Eating a healthier diet can also life your mood and reduce your stress levels. Construction workers will benefit the most from eating high-energy foods like healthy proteins and good carbohydrates.
Healthy proteins include fish, skinless chicken breast, beans and lentils, low-fat milk and yogurt, egg whites and other lean meats (like bison, flank steak or 95% lean ground beef). Good carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains and potatoes (especially sweet potatoes).
You’ll want to avoid sugary fruits and other high sugar foods, especially soda pop and fruit juices. Also, stay away from fried foods (sorry, no French fries) and any sweets (pastries, cake, cookies).
Making these dietary changes will make you a safer and more productive worker. Not only that but you’ll feel better, have more energy, heal quicker and be less likely to get sick.
We also wrote an article for how to eat healthy as a construction worker with meal tips and recipes.
A Really Short History of the Lunch Box
Lunch boxes have been around for a long time. In fact, the first lunch box was seen as early as the 1880s. These lunch boxes were often fashioned out of old tins (like tobacco tins) or empty cookie jars. By the 1920s, the “lunch pail,” as it was known then, was quickly becoming popular among youngsters across America. By 1935, Mickey Mouse was featured on lunch boxes and lunch boxes were starting to serve as a way to show off your individual character. This really came to a head in 1950 with the advent of television. A company called Aladdin took advantage of this fact and began to popularize lunch boxes with peoples’ favorite TV characters.
Most lunch boxes during this time were made of metal, although by 1960 some vinyl lunch boxes were being produced. By 1980 molded plastic was also starting to come onto the scene. Today, you can find lunch boxes in all three materials but one thing still remains, lunch boxes still remain a way to show off your unique personality and character. So, whether you call it a lunch box, lunch pail, lunch kit, lunch bag, or even a Tiffin box (as it’s known in India), a lunch box will always show more than just whether or not you packed a lunch—it’ll show who you are as well.