Picky eaters and lunch-stressed parents rejoice!
From pleasing picky eaters to cutting back on single-use plastics and eliminating cabinets full of mismatched containers, bento boxes are a lunch-packing parents' BFF. These all-in-one lunchboxes are a genius way to offer up a nutritious and perfectly portioned lunch for kids of all ages all while keeping foods separate and safe from leaking. (And as a bonus, can even help kids visualize what a healthy lunch should look like!)
The best kids' bento boxes should offer a leak-proof design that's easy to clean and easy for little ones to operate. (Seriously, who has time for a backpack full of yogurt?) Because there are tons on the market today, we've done the research so you don't have to. We've rounded up the best BPA-free, durable and kid-friendly bento boxes that are guaranteed to last at least a couple of school years. (And certainly longer than whatever "favorite food" they'll soon blacklist for reasons undetermined.)
Most are compatible with our favorite lunchboxes but they can also do the work solo. And to be clear, you're not obligated to go all SuperMom and cut fruit and sandwiches into flowers or sculpt rice and fish into scenes from their favorite Disney movie. (Unless you want to, of course.) No one ever needed therapy for being sent to school with bread-shaped sandwiches and pre-packaged yogurt. Promise.
If you're sending your littles off to camp, school or daycare, these are the best bento boxes for kids you can buy! (Throw in a stainless steel water bottle and you're all set.)
Bentgo bento boxes check all the boxes. (It's Amazon's top-selling Bento box for a reason.) They're perfectly sized for kid lunches, easy-to-clean (the insert is top-rack dishwasher safe), blessedly leak-proof and manage to keep all food from touching even when banged around in their backpack. This style is best suited for the younger set since the latches are easy to open and it doesn't hold as much food as some competitors. As a bonus, it comes in a variety of bright, fun colors and prints.
Reviewers say: "I recommend this box to everyone. The portion sizes are just right, and it allows you to send your kids with a variety to their lunch with no bag waste. The Bentgo brights colors are cute too—exact same size and dimension as the original purple box we bought. We have never had a problem with leaks in the 1+ years my kindergartner/first grader has used this. Fits well (a bit of a squeeze, but works fine) in her pottery barn kids lunch bag. What is more, we had an issue with wear on one of the latches (it was cracking) and I called the company. Not only did they replace the box for free, but they sent me some free inserts with covers (intended for making multiple lunches at a time). I will continue to buy Bentgo kids and recommend their product."—Janjumps
This durable stainless steel beauty has multiple compartments for those kiddos who love variety. It also comes with two leak-proof containers for any liquid or wet food (ketchup! yogurt!) you may want to include. It is the priciest on our list, but unless your kiddo loses it, chances are it will last through elementary school and beyond. (Note: The dimensions make it tricky to fit in standard carry bags, so it's recommended to snag one from Planetbox.) The best part is that the design is fully customizable with magnets you put right on the box. Makes it so easy to swap when your kid is done with dinosaurs and wants to move onto emojis. 😝
Reviewers say: "This is the third Rover we've purchased. Each one of our children love them. It makes lunch packing easy, less waste, easy cleanup. Kids have had no trouble managing them on their own at school. A great lunchbox and very durable, our eldest child has been using his since kindergarten and is now finishing fourth-grade, and the lunchbox is as good as it was on day 1!"–Evan B.
For tiny tots who are headed to daycare or preschool, we love the mix-and-match option of Miniware's GrowBento. The 3-piece set includes two leak-proof silicone silipods which are perfect for baby + toddler portions of applesauce or berries and a stainless steel box to nest them in alongside a half sandwich. And since the pieces are all separate, you can easily use it for things like salad and salad dressing or pita and hummus for your own lunches! The only downside is that little ones may need a bit of assistance getting the lid off.
If you're in the market for something designed specifically for kids (and their lunch-stressed parents), Yumbox is an ideal solution. It's sized for younger kiddos with easy-to-operate latches and features six perfectly portioned sections labeled with food groups to easily craft a nutritious meal. Made from BPA-free materials, it's equipped with a leak-proof silicone seal to keep food separate and safely inside. Like the Bentgo, the insert is top-rack dishwasher safe. It's also a bit bigger than your standard lunchbox carriers, so be sure to check measurements! (It is too big for the ever-popular Pottery Barn lunchbox.)
Reviewers say: "This is working out great. I clean it out right after school. Leave it open to let it completely dry out and have had no problems or complaints with it. I put it in an insulated lunchbox and place two freezer packs flat underneath it and zip it up. My daughter's lunch is still fresh by noon. I put random fruit and cute tiny sandwiches. I use the small circle part for hummus. She LOVES her YUMBOX. I would definitely buy it again.
Tips: Take it apart and wash it. Let it dry completely (best if over night.) Never close it up wet or it will get gross. This is a great lunch box. For me much better than looking for a thousand separate containers every morning.
Update: I bought this lunch box September 3, 2018 and it is still going strong on January 13, 2020. We are still very happy with it. It was an excellent purchase choice. It has some natural wear and tear (from being used every day) on the insert, but nothing major, the outside is as good as new. This lunchbox is still keeping everything as fresh for my daughter's lunch now, as the day I bought it. I'll eventually get a new insert, but purely for aesthetic reasons. I might even look for a second one in another color, to change it up for fun. If you are considering buying, I highly recommend this Yumbox."–Holly
Like its younger sibling, the Yumbox Original, the Yumbox Panino is a leak-proof design made from BPA-free materials. It's great for older kiddos with bigger appetites but still lightweight and compact for easy transport.
Reviewers say: "This is my third box for two kids. The ONLY reason I had to buy another is because my husband somehow set my son's other one of TWO YEARS on a hot stove burner and MELTED it. My six-year-old son also melted soon after. I followed with a super heavy sigh and clicked buy now without hesitation.
THESE ARE THE BEST lunch boxes. We home school. We go everywhere. ALL. THE. TIME. I've been using these boxes for two years and never had a single leak. Kids can easily operate them, from ages 2 and 5, I can pack lunches the night before and grab and go. I tend to hand wash the cover, which takes all of 1 minute with a brush, but I do put the insert in the dishwasher.
My ONLY wish is that they had covers for the tops so I could meal prep for the week in advance, but I just do it in pryex for now and grab and fill. I would buy more inserts for that." –A Troia
If your little one is anti-sandwich, preferring hot lunches like soup or pasta, look no further than the Omiebox. The super cool design integrates a removable cold/hot thermos right into the tray and keeps lunch at just the right temp through lunchtime and beyond. (When left out, the thermos section can easily accommodate a sandwich or larger snacks.) It's one of the most versatile bentos on the market, BPA-free and made from high-quality impact-resistant materials that can withstand the inevitable drops and bumps. And because they thought of everything, the long compartment is designed to fit any brand of box drinks. (Be advised, this one is best for daycare through kindergarten as the portions are quite small.)
Reviewers say: "Since we all struggle with lunches for school and how to send hot food, Let me tell you, this is a perfect lunch box. Well, today I used the Omie box I bought my son for the 1st time and sent him to school with a hot lunch of fusili with tomato sauce, a tomato salad, cookies and fruit. Turns out this lunch box is a Godsend. Somehow, this thing keeps the hot food hot, it doesn't leak, and the cold food doesn't get hot. When he came home, the pasta leftovers were still hot. I'm now in love with this thing! Lol! By the way, I wasn't paid to do this. 🤣I'm just literally in awe of it and wanted to share. I put the hot pasta in at 7:20 (after having hot water in the thermos for a few minutes) and at 2:30 it was still hot. I'm utterly shocked it worked so well!"—Izzy
When it comes to bang for your buck, Kinsho delivers. At less than half the price of most leak-proof bento boxes on our list, the six-compartment design hits all the required marks. (And since it's designed by a mom and award-winning mindful cooking author, are we surprised?) Super-tight seals keep foods where they should be, portions are just right for kids and it even comes with utensils that nest right inside. It is recommended that you hand wash to maintain the integrity of the seals, but it's a small price to pay to keep applesauce out of their backpack, right?
Reviewers say: "I bought 2 of these: lilac and navy. My kids both pack lunch every day, and with the rare occasion that they take soup or other warm food, they use these containers exclusively. No leaks, EVER. Yes, they're tough to close, but both kids (6 and 11) bring home their containers closed, so obviously they're able to handle it themselves. I wash the containers by hand - fill with hot soapy water, close the lid, shake for 15-20 seconds, open and rinse. Good to go!
Pros - no leaks, good compartment sizes (except for large sandwiches). The height inside the compartments is enough that I can pack small condiment-size containers if needed. The utensil compartment is great for sending little notes to your kids (it's a great size for mini candy bars too!). Also, customer service is awesome - the first time my daughter used this, she lost the fork. I contacted the company, and for minimal cost, I replaced the fork, and ordered an additional set. The representative, Heather, replied promptly, and I had the new utensils within days.
Cons - almost none, except that sandwiches on full-size/thickness bread can be hard to fit. I make all our bread, so I just slice it thinly. But sturdier, thicker slices might be an issue. If your kid only takes half a sandwich (like my 6-year-old), it's not an issue. I also can't fit a water bottle in the lunchbox with this container - I have to pack it in the outside mesh pocket (the kids have LL Bean soft-sided lunch boxes)."–CookinginOH
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