The bento box is a great way to encourage healthy eating habits away from home, make lunch exciting and reduce waste. We use them in our house to bring our own food for outings, teach our toddler independence, and give him a sense of control. They’re also perfect for school lunches!
What’s a bento box?
A typical bento box is used for Japanese cuisine, nowadays especially for Japanese school children. These school lunch bento boxes will often contain a very elaborate presentation of their contents. In the U.S. many people have taken an interest to these sorts of details, but we have also elevated the container itself.
Bento box containers are made from stainless steel, glass, plastic, and even plastic with silicone to prevent leakage. I feel like preventing leaking is every lunch container manufacturer’s priority.
Why should you use them?
As I mentioned before, using a bento box is a great way to reduce waste. And yes, you can do that with any reusable container…so why buy a divided one?
Divided trays help us develop healthy eating habits at any age. I don’t like to use the term “portion control” when it comes to kids, but it does help prevent “uncontrolled or blind” eating. The same reason it is better to put our chips in a bowl rather than eat them straight out of the bag. With the over sized and super-size portions that exist today, bento boxes can be a great tool to teach more realistic portions. A small tool like this can help manage blood sugar and promote weight loss. It can help picky eaters segue in to new foods easier and help kids learn about healthy eating habits.
So what kind of bento box is out there? Here are the most popular brands:
Bentgo offer designs for both kids and adults. They come apart for easy cleaning which is key for a container multiple compartments.
The “kid” size container comes with 5 spaces for food: 1 large, 2 medium, 1 small square, and 1 small round. It is available in 6 fun prints and 6 bright colored solids. You can even order a replacement compartment trays (with a lid), which is helpful if you want to meal prep for the week.
The “adult” size containers have 3-4 compartments. The number of compartments is adjustable via a divider that comes out. It’s available in 6 attractive colors and they have a meal prep pack available for purchase. This meal prep pack contains 3 replacement compartments with lids so you can ditch the toxic meal prep containers but still stay on track.
Bentgo lids are lined with silicone and add a seal to each compartment to prevent leakage.
Made from stainless steel, the PlanetBox comes in 3 different sizes: The Launch, The Rover, and The Shuttle. The Shuttle is meant for snacking with 2 compartments and The Launch is made for a more traditional meal with 3 compartments while The Rover is the most versatile with 5 compartments.
None are leak-proof but they do come with at least one little stainless container with a lid as well as several accessories that can be used in the PlanetBox to keep liquids in and separate. My favorite accessory is the glass dish that can be used in The Launch container. It comes with a lid and opens up the ability to reheat food.
LunchBots claims to be the original stainless steel bento box. They come in multiple small, medium, and large options, and lots of leak-proof accessories and removable containers. The options are a little overwhelming but their website has a size guide to help you figure our which container best fits your needs.
These are my boxes of choice! Yumbox comes in 3 different sizes: a MiniSnack box with 3 compartments (3/4 cup, 1/3 cup, and tiny dip cup) and the larger one, Tapas, comes with 4.2 cups of space divided in to 4 or 5 compartments. The medium sized ones, Original and Panino, come in 2 different layouts accommodating 4, 5 or 6 compartments.
A side note for my JuJuBe moms, you can fit 2 of the medium boxes in a Be Ready or Fuel Cell.
The tray comes out for easy cleaning on the top rack of the dishwasher. Speaking of the trays, they are beautifully decorated with fun designs that make lunch fun for even the pickiest adult. You cannot mix and match trays that aren’t of the same size because the silicone has paths that match up with the tray to allow for that leak-proof seal.
There are many other options out there, these are just the most popular, or my personal favorite. Do you have a favorite bento box that I missed?