It's easy to be lured by the charm of the Japanese bento box. The joy of lunch is packed neatly into cute little compartments for a compact meal—but not all bento boxes are the same and not every person packing lunch has the same needs. There are a lot of variables, so we tested a bunch of bentos and put together a list of the best bento boxes to make meal prep and cleanup easy.
Read on for more details on our bento picks along with the honorable mentions.
When you're shopping for a bento box, the most important things to think about are: 1) who will be using it? and 2) what will it be used for? Most people will probably be using a bento-style lunchbox to make an easy-to-carry lunch, but soups and sandwiches are what you might find in an adult lunch box while a toddler might be carrying applesauce and goldfish crackers in theirs. A few other things to consider are if the boxes are BPA-free, if they're made with plastic or stainless steel, the size and if the container is leakproof. We broke down our picks into five categories to make it easy for you to pick the right bento box for yourself or any member of your family.
This box is a bit bigger and designed for laying all your food out to put on display. This Yumbox is the Tapas model— it has five compartments for holding snacks or smaller portions of multiple entrees (hello, portion control!). The lid of the Yumbox is lined with silicone that’s fitted to the tray so it doesn’t leak—it can keep sauces and yogurt from leaking, but don’t try soup with this one. If you want the ultra-fresh Yumbox experience, they also have cute insulated lunch bags and adorable ice packs to match. You can also buy extra trays if you don’t have time to wash it between lunches.
To buy: $32.99, amazon.com
This is a great little bento box. With the two trays and adjustable dividers, it holds quite a bit of food—but it’s surprisingly compact so it doesn’t take up a lot of room in a backpack or work tote. Feel free to pack soup in this one—it has a gasket to keep it sealed. However, that makes it challenging for children to open, so this one is better for adults. It comes with a sauce container, cutlery and an elastic strap to keep it all together.
To buy: $25.99, amazon.com
This is a personal favorite—it has the minimalist style you expect from a bento box, but it's slightly bigger and the internal compartments are not adjustable. It comes with the rubber gasket so anything that leaks from your food won't leak out of the box. It closes tightly and is sturdy in a way that makes you confident that your food is going to be as good at lunch as it was when you packed it. It also comes with a fork and knife that are tucked away neatly underneath the lid. They’re made with non-toxic food grade materials that are BPA-free plastic as well as dishwasher and microwave safe. To buy: $22.99, amazon.com
The Edsty Bento Box is a good one for children (and adults). It fits a feast with three trays stacked on top of each other and keeps things separate, tidy and compact. It comes with a fork and spoon and the spoon doubles as a knife—the kids we tested it on (ages 5 and 7) loved that and to quote their mom, "You can't undervalue lunchroom cred." The clasps on either side are easy to open and close with no spring, and it was easy for the kids to unpack and put it back together. It says it’s leakproof, but it’s not quite 100% leakproof. The bottom compartment can handle things like stew, but not soup because it doesn’t have a gasket to seal the edges, but it does close pretty tightly. It is also BPA-free and microwaveable.
To buy: $15.75, amazon.com
If you want to insert some glee into your kids' lunches, Bentgo is a kid-pleaser. In addition to the cuteness overload from all the adorable designs to choose from, the five-compartment tray is fitted with a lid to seal each compartment to make it leakproof. On the outside, it has rubber-coated edges so it can handle being dropped a few times. It's also BPA-free and microwave- and dishwasher-safe.
To buy: $29.99, amazon.com
The Ecozoi is perfect for snacks or a small child’s lunch. It has three compartments and is good for handling moist food, but not soup. It does have a rubber seal to prevent some leakage from things like juice from fruit or dressing on a salad. Our mom tester could fit a crustless sandwich and a few carrots in it but her daughter routinely needs snacks packed for post-school events and says, "This would be great to stash a squeezie and berries in." It’s also very easy to open and close—and she admits she was afraid the clasps would pinch her kids' fingers but they didn't. One of the best features is that it’s stainless steel so it's eco-friendly, easy to clean and can handle getting beat up in a backpack.
To buy: $26.95, amazon.com
The LunchBots Trio has a very simple design—it's stainless steel with only two parts: the base and the lid. That translates into being easy to clean and kid-friendly—you can just throw it in the dishwasher and there are no clasps or complicated opening procedures, making it great for small hands. The simplicity also makes it easy to pack a healthy lunch for both adults and children; it's big enough to hold a hearty sandwich and two sides. However, it's not leakproof, so make sure the food you're packing is fairly dry.
To buy: $38.99, amazon.com
The PlanetBox Rover is more of a stainless-steel lunch kit than a plain old bento box. It has five compartments and a 7-cup capacity, making it a good choice to satisfy the appetites of older kids and adults. It also comes with two sealable containers (for foods like sauce and fruit salad) that fit inside, as well as an insulated carrying bag. The Planetbox Shuttle is a personal favorite. It’s a bit more compact and the magnets are a cute way to personalize it.
To buy: $84.99, amazon.com
Grub2Go's stainless-steel bento is a great option if you have two big entrees and you don't need to heat anything up in a microwave. It's very much like an Indian tiffin—it's made of stainless steel (an environmentally friendly material) and the containers are stackable and held together with clasps. The design is high quality and is simple, but there are no gaskets to stop salad dressing from flowing into your bag.
To buy: $12.88, amazon.com
Bentology solves the leaking issue by giving you five removable containers to fit into its bento. That means packing foods like sliced peaches or saucy pasta in the airtight containers is not a problem. It also makes it easy to do meal planning and meal prep a day or two in advance. And if you do it right, it can actually save money in the long run.
To buy: $12.99, amazon.com