Authentic Japanese bento box container. Vacuum-insulated stainless steel construction keeps hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Offers 4 separate food bowls from 6.8 to 15 oz. Bowls are microwaveable and BPA-free. Durable and long-lasting. Comes with carrying bag.
A bit pricey. Hot and cold foods are best if stacked in specific manner. Bowls are not subdivided.
Top tray offers 2 compartments that are 3/4 cup each. Lower tray offers 1 large, 2-cup compartment. Included cutlery stores neatly under lid. Strap can be used for one or both trays. Top tray can nest in lower tray for storage. Odor- and stain-resistant and top-shelf dishwasher-safe.
Included food divider is not microwave-safe and does not fully seal the 2 upper compartments.
Attractive, professional look. Offers 2 large, 20-oz stacking compartments with adjustable divider, plus separate 3.25-oz tray for dressing or sauce. Powerful seal with air venting design intended to be leakproof. Includes cutlery. Top-shelf dishwasher-safe.
Not as leakproof as promoted. Some warping in microwave reported. Carrying bag not included.
Affordable, reusable, and brightly colored containers in sets of 4. Three compartments of 2.5-cup, 3/4-cup, and half-cup sizes help portion control. BPA-free polypropylene is microwave, dishwasher, and freezer-safe for convenience. Easy-open lids are ideal for kids.
Lids are not leakproof. Some durability issues.
Designed for packing salads. Large, 4-cup lower container keeps good amount of salad greens fresh and loose. Bento tray boasts 10-oz compartment and two 5-oz compartments for toppings, plus a sealed 3-oz compartment sized for dressing. Top-shelf dishwasher-safe. Includes fork.
Some find dressing and residue can leak despite the design.
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Brown-bagging might be okay if you’re packing a sandwich and a bag of chips, but more adventurous lunches need a more suitable container. Bento boxes are ideal for all kinds of packed meals, from stews to salads to rice. Some can even hold soup without leaking.
However, there’s more to bento boxes than meets the eye, so picking out your first one can seem daunting. With so many of these handy lunch solutions on the market, how do you find the right bento box for your on-the-go food?
Originating in Japan, a bento box is essentially a lunch box. However, because it’s common in Japan to pack meals consisting of rice or noodles and meat or fish (plus usually some added extras, such as cooked and pickled veggies), bento boxes are compartmentalized to keep the different food items separate. Some bento boxes have dividers inside, whereas others have multiple tiers.
Stackable bento boxes feature a number of separate boxes that stack together. They’re traditionally fastened with an elastic strap, but some models clip together or stack inside an outer shell. Stackable bento boxes are ideal if you like to keep your sweet and savory dishes in different boxes or you want to make certain that runny foods won’t seep into the other compartments.
As the name suggests, single-tier bento boxes are single boxes. They have compartments or come with dividers to keep different foods separate. Depending on the model you choose, these compartments may or may not be leakproof, so single-tier bento boxes aren’t always ideal for packing wet foods like soup.
Though wood is the traditional material for bento boxes, the most common materials today are plastic and stainless steel.
Lightweight, durable, and easy to clean, plastic is probably the most popular material for modern bento boxes. It’s generally easy to get a good seal on plastic food containers, so plastic bento boxes tend to be the best at preventing leaks. Some people, however, prefer to avoid buying plastic items for environmental reasons.
One of the main benefits of stainless steel is that, unlike plastic, it doesn’t absorb flavors, odors, or colors, so it’s ideal for anyone who often packs strong-smelling or well-spiced dishes. However, stainless steel bento boxes usually aren’t leakproof.
Although uncommon in today’s market, you can still find traditional wood bento boxes for sale. These look great, but they’re not the most practical option as they leak and can be hard to clean.
One of the main considerations for choosing the right bento box is making sure it’s the correct size to fit your needs. Some bento boxes are so compact that each compartment will only fit about a quarter of a sandwich, a couple of apple slices, or three or four grapes. This might be fine for a preschooler but isn’t going to cut it for an adult.
Look at the total dimensions of the bento box, and try to find out the size of each compartment, too. If you generally pack salads or fruit- and vegetable-heavy lunches, you’ll probably need a larger bento box than if you usually eat smaller amounts of more calorie-dense foods.
Bento boxes range from strictly utilitarian to highly decorative. You can find many bento boxes featuring kawaii designs, including popular Japanese anime or cartoon characters, such as Hello Kitty or Totoro. These fun bento boxes are ideal for kids’ lunches.
You can also buy a wide range of basic or minimalist bento boxes that are better suited for adults. Many bento boxes come in a range of colors, so you’re sure to find one that appeals to you.
How much should you spend to get the perfect bento box? You can find bento boxes in a range of prices, so you should be able to find one that fits your budget.
Basic plastic bento boxes start at around $5 for very small models, though these usually aren’t the best quality. For $10 to $15, you will get a basic but functional bento box.
Mid-range bento boxes cost around $15 to $30. At this price point, you can find some excellent, completely leakproof models and plenty of generously sized options.
Consider whether you need a leakproof bento box. If you’ll be packing dry items, such as sandwiches, fruit, and baked goods, you don’t need a completely leakproof bento box. But you will need a leakproof option for wet foods, such as salads with dressing, noodles with sauce, stews, and soup.
Decide if you want a traditional bento box. Some modern bento boxes have interesting features, such as interchangeable food containers or gasket-style lids to avoid leaks. But traditionalists might prefer to do without these kinds of modern features in favor of a more authentic bento box.
Choose a bento box that’s resistant to staining. If you don’t choose a stain-resistant option, you’ll waste time scrubbing your bento box. This is especially important if you plan to pack curries, tomato sauces, sweet and sour dishes, or other foods that are prone to staining plastic.
A. Bento boxes are not only suitable for packing kids’ lunches, they are ideal. The divided design gives you plenty of slots to pack sandwiches, crackers, fruits, veggies, and other favorites. Many children enjoy having their lunches packed into separate compartments, and the fun layout can encourage them to enjoy healthy, balanced meals. What’s more, you can find a number of kid-friendly designs, such as panda-shaped bento boxes or bento boxes featuring familiar cartoon characters.
A. Most plastic bento boxes are microwave-safe, though always double-check first. Never attempt to microwave metal or wood bento boxes.
A. You’ll need to clean your bento box after each use, but the good news is, it’s not hard. Unless you go for an uncoated wood model, bento boxes tend to be made from materials that are easy to wash and wipe down. Many bento boxes are even dishwasher-safe. Just check the manufacturer’s specifications to confirm. If your bento box can’t go in the dishwasher, you can wash it by hand in hot, soapy water.
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