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Packing school lunches often involves using several plastic bags or many pieces of aluminum foil, which is wasteful and time consuming. A solution is the bento box, which is definitely a worthwhile purchase if your kids like their food stored separately.
These cute lunch boxes stand out thanks to their numerous compartments, which are sized for all types of foods, from sandwiches to fruit to chips. Many bento boxes are even leakproof, allowing you to pack liquids alongside your child's snacks—ideal for, say, carrots and ranch dip.
Our product test team helped find the best bento boxes for kids you can buy, from budget-friendly to most versatile.
Best Overall: Bentgo Kids Lunch Box
Rubber sides are extra durable
Made with BPA-free plastic
Easy to clean
Slightly heavier than other models
Exterior scratches pretty easily
If you’re looking for the best bento box for toddlers, there are a few extra things to consider. First of all, you want a more durable product that can stand to take a few tumbles if it slips out of their little hands. Second, it’s important that the box is easy to open and close, otherwise you might find yourself cleaning up spilled lunches.
The Bentgo Kids Lunch Box meets all these criteria, making it an ideal lunch box for children ages 3 to 7. The BPA-free plastic bento box has five compartments and can safely be used in the microwave and dishwasher. It boasts a tight seal to keep the various sections from leaking, and you open and shut the box with two secure, kid-friendly latches.
As a bonus, the edges of the box are lined with rubber to minimize impact in case of drops, making it perfect for young children. But just because it is made for toddlers doesn't mean big kids and adults can't use it as well. Our tester noted that the extra protection of the lunchbox made it a touch heavier than others, but it was easily manageable and worth the security. It was also easy to clean by hand since there are no small crevices on the smooth surface of the box.
Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.5 x 2 inches | Weight: 1.4 pounds | Material: BPA-free plastic and rubber
"We particularly loved that nothing leaked out into our son’s backpack the entire week he used it."–Linnea Covington, Product Tester
Best Design: Yumbox Original Leakproof Bento Lunch Box
Easy to clean
Made with BPA-free plastic
Shows wear and tear easily
Not the best value
For a kid-friendly bento box that’s free from harmful chemicals like BPA, you can’t go wrong with the Yumbox Original. This leakproof bento box is designed especially for kids, and careful attention was given to every detail, from the cute colors and illustrations to the easy-open latch.
The Yumbox is made for toddlers and young children and is more expensive than many other options, but it makes up for the cost with great functionality. There are six unique containers in the BPA-free lunch box, each labeled with a food group to help kids learn and help parents figure out what to pack. You can include foods like applesauce without worrying about them spilling out, thanks to the leakproof silicone seal. Plus, the inner shell is top-rack dishwasher-safe. This box also has a small dip container to fill with sauces like hummus or salad dressing.
Our testers liked that this bento box is durable and that its compartments are perfect for various snacks. Most agree that the high-quality design is worth the higher price tag, but a few do note that the surface shows some wear and tear the more you use it, and you may want to hand-wash the box to increase its longevity.
Dimensions: 8.5 x 6 x 1.8 inches | Weight: 1.09 pounds | Material: ABS, BPA-free plastic, and silicone
"We never experienced any leaks or spills, even when turning this container on its side." –Linnea Covington, Product Tester
Best Budget: EasyLunchboxes Bento Lunch Boxes 4 Pack
Comes in set of four
If you want to have multiple lunch boxes on hand, these bento-style containers from EasyLunchboxes are an affordable choice. The plastic containers come in a set of four, each with a colorful, kid-friendly lid, and they feature three portioned compartments that are ideal for carrying a main dish and side snacks.
These lunch boxes are made from food-safe, BPA-free plastic, and they're microwave-, freezer-, and dishwasher-safe. They're easy to stack in your cupboards for compact storage, and since there are four bento boxes in a pack, you won't have to worry about cleaning it out every night.
Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.1 x 2 inches | Weight: 15.5 ounces | Material: BPA-free polypropylene (PP)
Best for Warm Foods: Omie Bento Box
Insulated thermos keeps food warm
Large compartment can hold a sandwich
Made with BPA-free plastic
Thermos is fairly small
Expensive compared to other options
If you have a picky eater, you might benefit from a bento box that can keep food warm, and OmieLife's OmieBox is one of your best options. This unique bento box is more expensive, but it's worth the investment thanks to its vacuum-insulated thermos, which includes an easy screw-off top and holds up to 8.5 ounces of warm food or just over one cup.
The OmieBox allows you to pack both hot and cold foods together, allowing for more variety in the kids' lunches. The box features four compartments, including the large main section, which is big enough to hold a sandwich when the thermos insert is removed. The long compartment is designed to accommodate any brand of box drinks like juice or milk cartons. The lunch box is BPA-free and made of impact-resistant materials for durability.
Buyers say the OmieBox is ideal for children who don’t like sandwiches, and many note the lunch box is well-made and extremely versatile. Plus, parents confirm that the hot food container is sealed tight to prevent leaking, allowing you to pack soup or other liquid foods.
Dimensions: 8.5 x 7.5 x 3 inches | Weight: 1.7 pounds | Material: Stainless steel, BPA-free plastic, and silicone
Best for Salads: Oxo Prep & Go Salad Container
Keeps ingredients separate
Special container for salad dressing
Fairly bulky design
If your child likes to bring salads for lunch, this leakproof container from OXO is a great choice. It helps keep wet and dry ingredients separate and has a handy 2-ounce container with a tight lid for dressings. What we love is that it nestles all in together tightly so little ones can transport it to school easily.
The lid is clear and made out of BPA-free plastic and won't get discolored after washings; after a busy day, you'll be happy to know this container can be cleaned in the dishwasher.
Dimensions: 8.5 x 8.4 x 3.3 inches | Weight: 1.1 pounds | Material: BPA-free plastic and silicone
Most Versatile: PackIt Mod Lunch Bento Food Storage Container
Ability to adjust and remove dividers
BPA-free and shatter-resistant
Compartments are leakproof
Grooves make it harder to clean
The PackIt Mod Lunch Bento Container is ideal for anyone who’s ever struggled to fit food into too-small bento box compartments. Unlike other lunch boxes, which have fixed inner compartments, this food storage container allows you to remove and adjust the dividers for more space.
The container comes with three leak-resistant dividers that you snap into the various channels to separate food, and the leak-free lid snaps on to prevent spills inside the lunch box. Safe for the microwave, freezer, and top-rack of the dishwasher, this container is the perfect size to fit into the popular PackIt lunch bags. The versatility of these bento boxes is especially great, with many people saying they’re ideal for packing snacks. However, several point out that the compartments themselves are not leakproof, so you can’t pack a liquid in one section without risking it seeping into the other foods.
Dimensions: 7.2 x 2.8 x 5 inches | Weight: 9.52 ounces | Material: BPA-free plastic
Best Colorful: Munchkin Bento Box Toddler Lunch Box
Bright, vibrant colors
Includes kid-friendly utensils
Compartments are larger than other boxes
Fairly heavy, especially for young children
If brighter is better in your kid's mind, then they'll love the Munchkin Lunch Bento Box, which has an extremely bold tricolor design—there's no way you'll lose this lunch box in your cupboard. In addition to its kid-friendly appearance, this bento box also excels in the performance department. It has five inner compartments that are deep and spacious, accommodating larger items like sandwiches, and it even comes with stainless steel utensils that store right in the lid.
The Munchkin Bento Box has a silicone seal that helps to keep its compartments from leaking into each other, and the whole thing is BPA-free and dishwasher-safe (which you may want to take advantage of since some parents say the deep sections are tricky to clean). Plus, it has a big handle that makes it easy for children to carry.
Dimensions: 9.25 x 8.9 x 3.25 inches | Weight: 1.3 pounds | Material: BPA-free plastic and stainless steel utensils
Best Stainless Steel : LunchBots Small Protein Packer Toddler Bento Box
Extremely compact and lightweight
Dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning
Too small for full lunch
If you're looking for a compact bento box to hold your child's daily snacks, the LunchBots Small Bento Box is a perfect choice. This simple lunch box is made from extremely durable 18/8 food-grade stainless steel, so it will hold up just fine even if it gets banged around. However, keep in mind that it's truly small—measuring just 5.5 x 4 x 1.5 inches—which means it's perfect for snacks, not full meals.
This lunch box has four inner compartments: two with a 2-ounce capacity and two with a 1-ounce capacity. It's perfect for transporting finger foods, nuts, fruit, and veggies, and the whole container can be popped in the dishwasher at the end of the day for hands-off cleaning.
Dimensions: 5.5 x 4 x 1.5 inches | Weight: 7.4 ounces | Material: Stainless steel
Best Tray Style: Bentgo Kids Tray
Great for portioning foods
Easy to pack inside a larger lunchbox
Lid is not leakproof
Certain bento boxes can be pretty pricey, but you don’t have to shell out a ton of cash to get a quality kids’ bento box. The Bentgo Kids Tray is a great budget solution for young children, as it’s designed to be the perfect size for kids’ portions.
This bento box is recommended for kids ages 3 to 7, comes in three cute colors, and each box has five built-in compartments. The product is made from BPA-free plastic, and it’s both dishwasher and freezer safe. The transparent plastic cover snaps on tightly to keep food fresh, but it’s important to note the lid isn’t leakproof, especially if you put liquids in the tray.
Parents love these affordable bento boxes, writing that they’re the perfect size for a toddler’s daily snacks. Many echo the note that the box is not leakproof, so it’s not ideal if you want to store wet foods. However, the product is great for creating little snack packs for your kids.
Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.1 x 1.5 inches | Weight: 8.8 ounces | Material: BPA-free plastic
The Bentgo Kids Lunch Box is a tried-and-true favorite—it has five compartments that don't leak into each other, even when jostled around in a backpack, and its rubber sides make it extra durable. However, if your kids like to bring soup or other warm meals to school, OmieLife's OmieBox (view at Amazon) is a better bet, with its removable vacuum-insulated thermos.
What to Look for in a Bento Box for Kids
Bento boxes are made from different materials, each with pros and cons. Plastic is lightweight and easy for kids to handle since it won’t shatter if dropped. Metal is more durable and can withstand high heat in a dishwasher. Glass is both dishwasher and microwave-safe, but it’s heavy and breakable.
Consider how much food you need to pack. It's not necessary to send your kids to school with a bulky, adult-sized bento box that’s half-full, but there should be enough space for everything they like to fit comfortably. If green salads are often on the menu, you’ll need more space than if you pack smaller amounts of denser foods.
Number of compartments
If the bento box has a large number of compartments, you can keep many different foods separate from each other, and you’ll have space for sauces and condiments as well. But if your kids prefer larger portions of fewer foods, you won’t need as many sections. While it might look cute to keep carrots separate from celery, having larger spaces will make it easier to pack lunch.
What is a bento box?
Bento boxes are a type of lunch box that originated in Japan. They're designed to hold a single serving of food, and they're segmented into several compartments, typically to hold the main entree, along with one or multiple snacks.
Are bento boxes insulated?
Certain bento boxes, such as the OmieBox Bento Box, offer insulation that will keep your food warm until lunchtime, but the majority do not. Bento boxes are most commonly used to transport cold dishes such as sandwiches, and if you're packing a dish that must be warmed up, it's generally a good idea to pack it separately—otherwise, you'll have to take it out of the bento box to microwave it.
Can bento boxes be microwaved?
Some bento boxes are microwave-safe, but it's not a given, so you'll want to carefully review the product description before heating the container. Bento boxes made from metal or certain types of plastic should not be put in the microwave.
How do you keep food cold in a bento box?
For safety purposes, it's recommended that you keep lunch foods cold until you're ready to eat them, but this can be tricky with a bento box, as they're generally not large enough to hold an ice pack and rarely come with a space for one. The most common way to keep food in a bento box cold is to place the whole bento box into a larger lunch box along with an ice pack (or two).
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Camryn Rabideau is a freelance writer and product tester who specializes in all things home. She regularly tests all types of kitchen gadgets, finding new gems to add to her collection of small appliances.