The first day of school is right around the corner, and your offspring needs a new lunch box. In case you missed it, bento boxes are an increasingly popular style for adults and kids alike. With their neat, tidy compartments and sleek, leak-proof designs, these nifty lunch boxes put a brown bag to shame. And our roundup of the best bento boxes for kids includes everything, from indestructible stainless steel tanks that can handle whatever your offspring throws at ’em to dual-temperature boxes that will keep mac and cheese hot and fruit salad cold. Read on and take your pick.
The 10 Best Bento Boxes for Kids to Buy Now Before School Starts
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What to look for in a kid’s bento box
When choosing a bento box for your child, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the choices. Before we move on to our top picks, let’s take a look at the basic things you should consider when buying one of these handy lunch containers.
- Weight and durability. Plastic, stainless steel and silicone are the most common bento box materials, and there are pros and cons to each. Needless to say, kids can be a little careless, so it’s important to look for a lunch box that can hit the pavement a few times without going to pieces. Stainless steel and silicone are good options when it comes to durability, whereas plastic is more likely to crack or become damaged. That said, plastic and silicone are lighter weight than stainless steel and easier for kids to carry around, though silicone doesn’t do as good a job at protecting food as compared to stainless steel and plastic.
- Size and compartments. When selecting a lunch box, be sure to consider the size of the product and the size of your kid’s appetite. Older kids will likely need a larger lunch box, while preschoolers can maybe get by with something that’s just big enough for half a sandwich and a handful of goldfish. It’s also wise to take a look at the dimensions, so you can determine whether or not the lunch box is a good fit for your kid’s backpack (or lunch bag, if you use one). Finally, the number of compartments might influence your decision: Does your kid like to graze on a little bit of everything, or will he only give the time of day to a PB&J? Obviously, compartments are what set bento boxes apart from, say, a regular brown paper bag, so the specific design is worth evaluating.
- Leak-proof. This one is non-negotiable, friends. Arguably the most important feature of a bento box is that it keeps foods separate from one another (that’s kind of the whole point of having compartments in the first place) and contained within the box. Make sure that whatever bento box you buy does a bang-up job of preventing gross spills and unwanted mingling of lunch components.
The best bento boxes for kids at a glance
- Best overall: BentGo Kids 5-Compartment Lunch Box
- Best for hot lunch: OmieBox Insulated Bento Box for Kids
- Best design: Yumbox Leakproof Bento Box
- Best for older kids: Kinsho La Boite a Bento Box
- Best stainless steel: LunchBots Large Cinco Stainless Steel Lunch Container
- Best budget pick: PackIt Mod Bento Lunch Box
- Best lunch set: PlanetBox Rover Eco-friendly Bento Box Lunch Set
- Best for snacks: Miniware GrowBento Box
- Best for younger kids: Munchkin Bento Box Toddler Lunch Box
- Best plastic-free box: Austin Baby Silicone Bento Box
This Parent Tested, Parent Approved (PTPA) award-winner features five generously sized compartments and a durable, BPA-free shell with rubber-coated edges that further protect the lunch box from accidental drops. This container also earns high marks for having a leak-proof design, as well as kid-friendly latches for easy access to the contents. The removable trays are both microwave- and dishwasher-safe, and easy to clean by hand, too. Rigorously tested and a popular choice among parents, this one checks all the (bento) boxes.
Best for hot lunch
This innovative container boasts a vacuum-insulated thermos for hot food that fits snugly inside the lunch box and doesn’t affect the two neighboring compartments—you know, so your kid can have hot soup and cold fruit at lunchtime. Better still, you can remove the thermos to reveal a sandwich-sized third compartment for the days when only cold food is on the menu. Both the individual compartments and the box itself have highly effective silicone seals, so food doesn’t leak on the inside or out.
A winner of the Good Design Award for best children’s product, this lunch box boasts a removable, five-compartment tray with cute illustrations to boot. Each compartment of the tray is portioned and labeled with a specific food group to help parents provide their kids with balanced lunches. The durable and lightweight exterior also has a place to put an ice pack, and the whole kit is easy to clean. This one is also a favorite among parents of younger children as it is easy to open (and downright adorable).
Best for older kids
Aside from the fact that the Kinsho bento box is an absolute steal, parents will also be pleased to know that it features four thoroughly sealed food compartments for a total storage capacity of four cups. The double-walled design is sturdy and the seal on the lid is no joke. Indeed, this gem is 100 percent leak-proof…but it’s best for older kids who have the strength to open it. Bonus: This high-rated lunch box comes with a handy cutlery duo and a cookbook that serves up bento-style inspiration for your budding chef.
Best stainless steel
The price tag might be hefty, but if you’re looking for something that’s both food-safe and basically indestructible, this pick from LunchBots is well worth the cost. This box is also incredibly effective when it comes to keeping food separate without the need for additional storage containers (i.e., more things to wash). That said, it’s worth noting that this only applies to dry foods—the compartments on this box are not watertight, so you will need a separate sealed container for things like salad dressing and dip. On the plus side, the lunch box is dishwasher-safe, and happy customers report that its generous size and user-friendly design make it an appealing choice for kids of all ages.
Best budget pick
Here, a lightweight, BPA-free bento box with a clever design that allows you to customize the different compartments according to your needs, while accommodating up to four and a half cups of food (i.e., enough for older kids). Most importantly, the lid is 100 percent leak-proof, and the compartments do a good job at keeping different foods separate for picky eaters. (Note: Liquid foods will leak between the compartments, so keep that in mind.) Oh, and the whole thing is dishwasher-safe, so cleaning it is a breeze. Yep, there are very few drawbacks to this budget-friendly lunch box—but don’t take our word for it, just check out the thousands of five star reviews.
Best lunch set
OK, the price is steep but before you keep scrolling, keep in mind that you get quite a lot for your buck with this bad boy. Let’s begin with the lunch box—a five-compartment stainless steel beauty that’s exceedingly easy to clean and won’t pick up odors or develop mold like many plastic lunch boxes do. Happy customers also report that food stays put in each compartment (i.e., no seepage) and leaking from the lid of the lunch box is a non-issue. Plus, the set comes with two handy dipper containers that can be used for salad dressings and (you guessed it) dips. Next, there’s the insulated lunch bag—a perfect fit for the stainless steel lunch box, with additional pockets to hold the dipper containers, utensils and a water bottle. Last but not least, is the cute and kid-friendly magnet set, which we’re guessing might be a very good feature for restless kids who find it hard to sit still and eat their lunch.
Best for snacks
This stainless steel number is on the smaller side (5.91 x 5.91 x 2.36 inches), but fans of the product say that it boasts plenty of room for snacks and small lunches, too. (Think: half a sandwich and two small snacks, or a full portion of pasta salad.) The bento box comes with two GrowBento leak-proof and food-grade silipod containers, but can accommodate up to four, and customers rave about the quality construction and durability of the set. If you’re looking for something compact, durable and easy to clean, this one fits the bill.
Best for younger kids
Toddlers and preschool kids will love the bright, cheerful colors of this BPA-free lunch box. It’s roomy enough to hold a full packed lunch, the compartments are smartly designed, and the box comes with two stainless steel, toddler-safe utensils that snap into the lid. That said, this lunch box is not leak-proof, so it’s really only a good choice for sandwiches and dry snacks, and it is not insulated, which means you’ll need to buy an insulated lunch bag to put it in if you’re planning on sending your kid to school with food that needs to stay cold.
Best plastic-free box
Lightweight and completely plastic-free, this silicone bento box has a loyal fan base. Per the reviews, it is easy for even the youngest kids to open and yet, remarkably, completely leak-proof—even with liquid items like purees and yogurt. The box is also roomier than it looks, with four smaller compartments and one larger one that is big enough to fit a standard sandwich. Oh, and did we mention that it’s totally adorable, too?