Last week I went back to bento basics with a new series here on the blog called 'How to Make a Bento'. In my first post for the series I covered the all important question - what is bento? and this week I'm sharing my recommendations for the best lunch boxes to buy if you want to pack bento style lunches.
Hopefully this will be a good starting point to help you get packing, after all, you can't make a bento without a box to put it in!
There are many, many lunch boxes out there, and I've tried a LOT of them over the years, so my bento box recommendations are based on lunch boxes that I personally use regularly, and have found to be ideal for bento lunches. As I'm based in the UK, I've only recommended boxes that are easy to find here, but most of them are also available elsewhere in the world too.
I've split my recommendations into four categories;
- Sectioned bento boxes for school children
- Sectioned bento boxes for toddlers and preschoolers
- Japanese style bento boxes
- One compartment lunch boxes suitable for bento lunches
Hopefully you'll find something in this post to fit your needs!
Sectioned Bento Boxes for School Children
Divided or sectioned lunch boxes are ideal for packing bento lunches. They make it easy to pack a variety of different foods which can help you pack a balanced lunch that covers all of the main food groups. I love them for packing everything from mini sandwiches to leftovers and odds and ends from the fridge or cupboards. I can always find something to fill all the different sections, even when I'm in need of a food shop!
Yumbox Classic RRP: £24.95 - My all time favourite lunch box is the Yumbox. It is compact but fits a surprising amount of food in its various sections and it's leak proof so you can pack yogurt next to crackers - amazing! The easy to open hinged lid means that there are no small lids or pieces to get lost and children can access their whole lunch in one go without having to deal with separate lids or containers. The Yumbox features a removable divided tray and is perfect for a range of ages from toddlers right up to KS2 - my 8 year old is still using his regularly.
Yumbox Panino RRP: £24.95 - The Yumbox Panino is the Yumbox Classic's more flexible sibling! It's ideal for those that like to pack a sandwich or roll or even a salad. The design is almost identical to the Yumbox Classic, it just has 1 larger section and 3 smaller ones instead of 6 small sections. I'm often asked how to choose between the Panino and the Classic and I say that if you're just going to buy one, go for the Panino because it gives you extra flexibility - you can pack a whole sandwich or divide the large section up with silicone cups if you want to pack bits and pieces. The Yumbox Panino is perfect for a range of ages from preschoolers to adults.
Boon Trunk RRP: £9.99 - The boon trunk is fun and quirky divided lunch box that holds a surprising amount of food. It isn't leakproof, so you can't pack any wet foods like yogurt or hummus directly into the box, but it's great for holding a good amount of food for all ages, though older children might shy away from it as it's a little cutesey. My 8 year old still loves using his though.
Sectioned Bento Boxes for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Sectioned bento boxes are perfect for younger children as they're great for packing bite-sized food - ideal for easily distracted little ones! Though the boxes I recommended above all work brilliantly for younger children as well as older children, the following boxes are slightly smaller so make the perfect first lunch box for toddlers or preschoolers.
Munchkin Bento Mealtime Set RRP: £8 - This is a great little lunch box that's perfect for packing a sandwich and a couple of small sides. I still use it occasionally for my 8 year old, but its size makes it more suitable for younger children.
Lock & Lock Square Divided Lunch Box RRP £7.79 - This square divided lunch box from Lock & Lock is another great little lunch box for younger children. This box comes with two removeable dividers so you can divide it into one, three or four compartments – great for added flexibility!
You can buy this lunch box over on Amazon UK.
TUM TUM Children's Lunch Set RRP £10 - The fun shaped TUMTUM Trainee Lunch Set is perfect for younger children. The shallow proportions of this lunch box make it great for bento style lunches, and it has a handy removable lidded container that sits neatly in the middle as a divider and holder for food, treats or dips.
Japanese Style Tiered Bento Boxes
Tiered Japanese boxes are designed specifically for bento, usually with two or three tiers which stack neatly on top of each other, perfect for holding a main dish and sides, or savoury and sweet courses. As well as Japanese designed boxes which are particularly suitable for traditional bento foods such as rice or noodles with vegetables and fruit on the side, there are also modern boxes available that are a bit bigger, with more room for a western style lunch of sandwiches and other bread products.
Monbento Tresor Bento Box RRP £18 - The Monbento Tresor is a gorgeous little Japanese style lunch box designed especially for kids. Despite its compact size, it can hold a surprising amount of food, so is perfect for a range of ages.
Polar Gear Bento Box RRP: £8.99 - The Japanese style tiered Polar Gear Bento Box is another favourite of ours, and great for a range of ages from preschoolers to adults. I sometimes use silicone cupcake cases to divide it up into smaller compartments.
Strawberry Bento Box RRP: £4.95 - This cute strawberry shaped Japanese bento box is another favourite of ours and its quirky design makes it a hit with the kids! It's perfect for packing lots of nibbly bits and pieces or a Japanese style meal of rice and vegetables. It is on the smaller side so great for younger children, or pack it tightly to fit more food in - I still use it occasionally for my 8 year old.
You can buy the strawberry bento box over in the Eats Amazing Shop.
Tiered Japanese Bento Boxes RRP: £4.50 - These little Japanese boxes are designed specifically for bento lunches so hold just the right amount of food, especially if you pack traditional bento foods such as rice and vegetables. They are compact, but if they are well packed so as to be completely full then they are perfect for a small meal. They're also great for carrying snacks! I'd particularly recommend these boxes for toddlers, preschoolers or younger children.
One Compartment Lunch Boxes for Bento
A bento lunch box doesn't have to have different sections - it's perfectly possible to pack a bento lunch in any one compartment lunch box. Look for smaller, shallow boxes, then tightly pack food in so that it doesn't move around or use silicone cups to divide up the box. The following lunch boxes are my favourite one compartment boxes for packing bento.
Lego Lunch Box RRP: £9.99 - The Lego Lunch Box is a big favourite with my sons and is a really great size for bento style lunches. It comes in a whole range of colours and you can also get matching mini snack boxes that fit inside perfectly to divide it up and hold small portions of food. It’s the perfect lunch box for Lego lovers of any age.
Happy Jackson Lunch Box RRP: £5.95 - This fun lunch box is chunky and sturdy and comes in a range of colours and designs; the box we have has a very happy 'YAY LUNCH!' printed on the front. It's a great size to hold a sandwich or bagel (cut in half) along with some well packed sides - I like to use our Jumbo Silicone Muffin Cups to help divide up this lunch box.
Great for all ages, you can buy this lunch box from Amazon UK.
I hope this post has helped you to choose the right bento box for your needs! Next week I’ll be sharing ideas for the kinds of foods that you can pack in a bento box, so if you’re keen to learn more be sure to come back next Monday. In the meantime you can read more about bento in last week's post 'What is bento?' or pop over and bookmark the How to Make a Bento home page so that you can stay up to date on the whole series. Don't forget to save or pin this post for future reference too!
If you're already packing lunches, what is your favourite lunch box?
Disclosure: This post contains some Amazon affiliate links; I may receive commission on items purchased through the links.
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