Back to school is rapidly approaching! Bento boxes have become VERY popular for school lunches of all sizes. We are often asked which are the best bento lunch boxes. In our opinion, there is no best of the best. It really depends on your child and what they eat. Here are our picks for the best bento lunch boxes, the pros and cons of each and a clear visual of exactly what you can fit into each one.
First to level set. For each of the boxes we are featuring, we are using a uniform amount of food. One sandwich, 1/2 cup of blueberries, 1/4 cup of grapes, and silicone cupcake liners of crackers, ham flowers and cheese animals. Mom hack: cutting meats and vegetables in to fun animals and flowers somehow makes them more appealing. Give it a shot with this set of animal cutters. The flower cutters I use are here. For each of the boxes, there is a photo of the food that will fit and the leftover, if any. In some cases, there is extra room. We did not add additional food to fill the box. Here are our favorite boxes from smallest to largest. For sales and promos on lunch boxes, be sure to follow our Kids Steals & Deals Facebook page and join our private Facebook Group Kidz Steals and Deals.
As the name suggests, the smallest of the Yumbox models is meant for snacks, BUT it is also a great box if you are packing a lunch for a baby, toddler, or a preschooler that doesn’t eat a ton. Without the cupcake liner, you could definitely fit a bit more in, but I like to put crackers in the liner so they don’t get soggy. From a size perspective, the box is smaller, but deeper than other boxes. It will easily fit in a Pottery Barn Kids Classic Lunch Box with room for a drink. It will also fit into the adorable Skip Hop Lunch Boxes. My children are older and we use these boxes for snacks at the beach or for camp. The only drawback is the compartment size is a bit tight, but it works out just fine for bite size items.
Bentgo is a traditionally sized bento box. This box is leak proof and features a removable tray that can be frozen overnight to keep food extra cold. This is the most used box in our home (this one is over 3 years old). My daughter does not eat sandwiches, so I pack her little buffets every day. I usually fill the center compartment with hummus or ranch dressing depending on what she has to go with it. I almost always put popcorn in the larger empty compartment. She is 5.5 and there are almost always some leftovers when the box comes home. Bentgo fits into Pottery Barn Classic, Hanna Andersson and Lands End Lunch Boxes with room for an ice pack (we use these). In my opinion, Bentgo is best suited for younger gradeschoolers or kids with small appetites. To fit a sandwich, the sandwich must be cut in half and stacked, it gets a little smooshed, but it’s not a big deal. If you do grab one, I recommend an extra tray or two – they come in handy when you forget to run the dishwasher (please note – only the removable tray should be put in the dishwasher. Bentgo is available on Amazon (they are on lightning deal periodically for around $20 – follow our Facebook Group for updates).Groupon also offers from time to time and Target just started carrying them about a month ago.
Yumbox is another one of the best bento lunch boxes. They have 3 styles: Panino (fits a sandwich, shown left), 6 compartment & the new Tapas (larger size for bigger kids). From a dimension standpoint, Yumbox is essentially the same size as Bentgo, so it fits in all the same lunch bags, but the tray dividers are thinner, so it can fit a bit more. When my son takes his lunch, he always takes a sandwich, so he brings the Panino. Typically I will offer pita chips or tortilla chips instead of grapes, but either way it is plenty for him. From a price perspective, there are not as many deals on Yumbox, they do usually offer a back to school deal, but since you need $75 to get to free shipping on their site, Amazon is usually a bit cheaper, unless you are buying more than 2. The new Tapas lunch box is both longer and wider than the other models. While it is great for bigger kids, it will NOT fit in the lunch boxes mentioned earlier. A lunch bag like this should easily fit the box with an ice pack and drink.
The largest of our favorite lunch boxes is the PlanetBox Rover. As you can see, nearly the entire plate of food fits into the Rover. While the crackers did not fit, the Rover does come with it’s own bag and it has pockets for additional food. For those who don’t like plastic, Planet Box is a great option (they also make smaller boxes here). It is important to note that it is not leak proof, but it does come with two stainless leak proof containers. From a price perspective, PlanetBox is the priciest (the Rover is priced at $79.95), but it does come with a custom fit bag and the additional containers. Since it is stainless, it is sure to last for year. The box can be a bit heavy and challenging to open and close for smaller kids. Given the size and capacity, we recommend this box for slightly older children and bigger eaters.