The Search for a Professional Lunch Bag as a Working Woman

In an effort to be healthier AND save some money, in recent months I've cut back on lunches out during the workday in favor of prepped meals eaten at my desk.

The method of transporting such meal-prepped food has varied over the past few months, ranging from loose in my bag (bad idea), in a lululemon or other similarly sized shopping bag (not secure), this PackIt lunch box from Amazon (was not over $20 when I ordered it, but actually $16), and eventually this new lunch box I just bought at Target.  My Amazon lunch box (bag?) was working for me for a while, and I bought it despite the reviews saying the velcro on the bag was weak. It eventually drove me nuts, and propelled me on the below journey of finding the perfect work lunch bag for the chic young professional woman...

I should have listened to the reviewers, but I thought a black and white gingham velcro bag was the chic answer to my problems. After a few uses, the velcro indeed stopped working. This is a problem because the top handle of the bag is only connected to the foldover flap, and not to the sides of the bag (like it should be).  Therefore, when the velcro fails, the top handle and flap are loose from the bag.  It's pretty difficult to describe in words, so I sort of see why I ignored the reviewers.

The bag can still be carried by the top handle, albeit slightly more uncomfortably.  The bag has a zipper underneath the top flap, so there isn't actually a worry that any food is going to fall out. It's annoying, and makes me feel like I can't actually carry the lunch bag by hand but instead have to put it into another bag just to transport it around.  Moreover, the PackIt gingham lunch bag was made of some thick gel material that was supposed to help keep the stuff inside cool, or was freezable to prolong cooling, or something like that.  Because I just seem to move the lunch bag from refrigerator to refrigerator, I didn't really need this cooling technique for the 15 minutes of travel time in my car.  It just made the bag bulkier, heavier, and therefore prone to more velcro-failing.

Enter my search for a replacement lunch bag.  I like to walk to work, but because of my annoying lunch bag, I never felt like I could walk to work and bring lunch at the same time.  This is mostly because I only walk to work in a backpack (in an attempt to save my shoulders and back) and my gingham lunch bag wouldn't fit inside.  There was no way I was going to carry that thing by hand with the velcro continuously slipping off.

My requirements for a new lunch bag:
  • Inoffensive print or pattern
  • Preferably black and white
  • Fits a pyrex or glass containers from Daiso, and more
  • Vertically-oriented
  • No velcro-top handle mess
  • Not made of thick gel material
  • Easy to transport
  • Fits in my tote bags
  • Cross-body strap preferred
  • Looks as little like a lunch bag as possible
  • Less than $20

I had been doing some browsing online for a new lunch bag, mostly on Amazon, and also googled "best work lunch bags" which essentially listed every type of lunch bag that didn't have children's characters on them.  On my Amazon search, I came across the Kipling Kichirou Lunch Bag.  They are perfect, aside from their price tag.  Available in solid colors, crossbody straps, and definitely could pass as a purse.  Now that I think about them again, I regret not buying one.  Especially as they were on sale at Macy's for almost $20, and because if I got a plain black one I probably could have gotten away with it as a regular purse and not just a lunch bag.  Part of the reason I didn't buy it is because I didn't know how big it would be and it was only available online...

What I settled with instead is another PackIt bag from Target because it was on clearance for $13 and was the same zip-around crossbody style as the Kipling one.  It just happens to be printed.  It's mostly black and white but with little bits of color throughout in a sort of aztec print.  I liked wearing it to work with my simple work uniform of jeans, a white button up, a high bun, and colorful flats to play up the dots on the lunch bag.  I am thoroughly enjoying the crossbody strap as it has made it way easier to carry stuff to and from my car, apartment, and office. A hand that was previously holding a broken lunch bag is now free!

The new PackIt lunch bag from Target has been working out really well for me. It's easy to pick up when I'm trying to gather my things in my car and walk out, and it fits everything I need inside.

All of my lunch friends fit inside!

Here are some other lunch bags I considered:

The bleak options at Marshalls.

Vera Bradley Lunch Bunch

Pros: vertically oriented
Cons: loud print, expensive

BALORAY Lunch bag
Pros: inoffensive pattern, vertically oriented
Cons: looks like it's going to be heavy, won't be easy to carry, brown

Moosoo Reusable Thermal Foldable Lunch Tote Bag
Really came close to buying this one, because I was very into its Japanese vibe.

Pros: no pattern, vertically oriented, thin material, straps not attached to velcro
Cons: no zip closure, just relying on velcro again

Kate Spade Blush Stripe Lunch Tote
Pros: cute, looks expensive, inoffensive pattern, vertically oriented
Cons: is actually expensive, small handle, will probably get sick of it

Kipling Kichirou Lunch Bag
Pros: black, crossbody, thin, vertically oriented, looks as little like a lunch bag as possible
Cons: expensive, haven't seen in person

In sum, the plain black Kipling crossbody lunch bag would be the perfect lunch companion for a young professional woman.  It would look enough like a purse that it wouldn't be too embarrassing to have around outside of work.  The printed PackIt bag I have now is clearly a lunch bag, which is also fine, because really who am I trying to impress? Plus, I just left it in the passenger seat of my car without worry, because who wants to steal a lunch box? If it looked like a purse, maybe I would have a broken car window right now.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.


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