To make food look even more appetising than it already is, the best thing to use is a bento lunch box as you can arrange food into sections with separators or compartments. These type of lunch boxes are not your standard one compartment container, they usually consist of at least 2 compartments to maximise the amount of food space you have or so you can have a compartment to store snacks.
Having a bento box is a good way for you to control your portion sizes which is ideal if you’re on a diet or enjoy a variety. It also reduces the need to bring extra containers for snacks or packets of snacks. You could have all your foods stored in one box making it easier to carry and takes up less space too. Here are our top 7 best bento lunch boxes for 2017 to make lunch time more fun and organised.
What is a Bento Box?
A bento box is basically a meal served in a box which makes it more or less the same as a lunch box. The term originates from Japan and traditionally it should be a home cooked meal that’s been prepared for work or school. Some Japanese see a bento box as a meal that’s been lovingly prepared to give to someone such as their children, partner or for yourself.
If you was to google ‘bento box’, you’ll come across a variety of images of the different ways that bento box lunches are prepared from cute characters to a simple lunch. They all look healthy and full of nutrition which is the idea. Other things they all have in common in preparing a delicious lunch are:
- Making the food look delicious, appealing and fun to eat.
- Choosing a few foods of different textures, tastes and food categories that complement each other.
- Stuffing as much food in as you can to keep it all tightly packed in so it doesn’t move about when you’re on the move (some of the best bento box lunches can stay in its perfect positions even after a sprint to catch the bus or train!).
- Packing foods that will keep well at room temperature if there’s no fridge available which is often the case with schools.
- Keeping thin liquids such as juice or milk out of bento boxes (it’s just a spillage accident waiting to happen which will ruin your food).
For each person, the contents of a bento box lunch will vary but these ideas remain the same in Japanese culture.
Our 7 Best Bento Lunch Boxes Reviewed 2017
7. Polar Gear Bento Lunch Box
- 2 Stackable Compartments – Allows you to store different types of food separately to keep it fresh for longer.
- Cutlery Included – A plastic knife and fork is included within its own compartment.
- Microwave Safe – Enables you to heat up food in the lunch box.
- Secure Clips prevents food from leakage and secures the compartments together.
With a simple colour design, the Polar Gear Bento Lunch Box features 2 compartments that stack on top of each other to give you lots of room for food without taking up much space in your bag. Between each compartment, you’ll notice there’s a white rim separating them and when it’s taken apart, it’s actually a slim plate that holds the included knife and fork. Quite a smart design as it doesn’t take up much space or add that much extra bulk to the bento box.
Securing the compartments together are latch clips that are attached to the lid. They’re quite secure but you wouldn’t be able to use it for just one compartment or if you wanted to take away one compartment. Inside one of the compartments, there’s a section to one side that’s been sectioned off which is pretty small making it ideal for storing sauces or a handful of snacks.
This lunch box can hold quite a lot of food but being quite slim, you won’t be able to fit a whole sandwich in unless you split it up and put one in each compartment. Even that would be a tight squeeze though. Its slim size means it’s most suited for meals like salads with some snacks or some sort of food with rice, couscous etc.
6. Modern+ Shokado Standard Bento Lunch Box
- 2 Compartments – Has a total of 900 ml capacity and both compartments can be stacked to make the box more compact.
- Removable Compartment Tray allows you to take out the partitioned tray within the compartment to store bigger food items.
- Free Chopsticks – Includes a pair of chopsticks that’s stored within the lid.
Featuring a sleek and modern design, the Modern+ Shokado Standard is a Japanese bento box that has 2 stackable compartments with a removable partition tray designed for storing bitesize pieces of food. Both compartments aren’t the exact same size, the top one is slightly smaller than the bottom one so the lid would fit in just the top one. There’s a slim cover for the bottom compartment to enable you to stack the top compartment on.
Within the lid, there’s a slot to store chopsticks and there’s a free pair already in there. However, it’s a bit too small to store any other type of cutlery. Made with a silicone resin material, food items such as rice is prevented from sticking to the lunch box which makes washing up less of a hassle.
Despite the different sized compartments, this lunch box is pretty airtight and secures together quite well with the latch clips. The size is quite small at only 900 ml storage capacity so it’s probably not for someone who tends to have big lunches.
5. Zojirushi Thermal Stainless Bento Lunch Box
- Vacuum Insulation keeps food hot or cold for hours.
- Tote Bag Included – Enables you to easily carry the bento lunch box.
- BPA Free – No nasty chemical plastic materials.
Looking like a massive and oversized thermos flask, the Zojirushi Thermal Stainless Steel Bento Lunch Box is designed with vacuum insulation that retains the heat or cold in your food for a longer period of time. On average, it’s about 6 hours which is a pretty long time even if you start early for work or school, your food will be the perfect eating temperature by the time it’s lunch.
There are 3 separate containers that are stored in the lunch box by stacking. Each of the containers are round but they all stack in a specific order. The biggest container is designed to hold dry cooked food such as rice, pasta, noodles etc and the next size down is the soup container to store liquid or saucy food. The smallest container is the snack box. All the containers are microwaveable as well.
The overall capacity isn’t very big as it’s designed as a Japanese bento box after all but the size is good for kids to bring to school or if you’re trying to control your portion sizes. It’s quite compact and you don’t need to worry about fitting it into your bag or finding a suitable one since this lunch box comes with an easy carry tote bag with zip. There’s enough space in the bag to fit a small drink and the free pair of chopsticks too.
4. Better Bento Ultra Thin Lunch Box
- 100% Leakproof – The rubber seal prevents sauces from leaking out no matter how much it’s tossed around in your bag.
- Carefully Sized Compartments ideal for diets and controlling your portion sizes.
- Easy to Clean – Can be washed in the dishwasher.
- Microwaveable – For reheating foods but the lid will need to be removed.
- BPA Free
Designed to help adults control their portion sizes, the Better Bento Ultra Thin Lunch Box will make sure you don’t overeat with its carefully separated compartments in this one of a kind slim lunch box. Being just over an inch high, you can fill one of the smaller compartments with enough fruit such as a handful of blueberries to fulfil your 1 a day quota and the main compartment can fit in a healthy wrap or salad.
You could fill the lunch box with sauces or dips without worrying about leakage as the lid is made with a rubber sealant encasing it so it secures onto the bento box tightly to prevent your food from leaking out or into the next compartment. You can even store it in your bag upright and it still doesn’t leak. However, it can be quite hard to open the lid which probably isn’t ideal to use for your younger kids.
Although this lunch box is pricey, the quality of this is quite high and is strongly built too. It’s one of the best bento lunch boxes for controlling your portion sizes without being ridiculously small or looking like it should be a child’s lunch box.
3. Modern+ Standard Japanese Bento Lunch Box
- 2 Separate Removable Compartment Trays gives you more options to play around with portion sizes and what foods to separate.
- Dishwasher Safe for ease of cleaning.
- Leakproof – The lid secures on with latches to prevent spillage.
- Free Chopsticks are included in its own compartment within the lid.
The Modern+ Standard Japanese Bento Lunch Box is a smaller and flatter version of the Modern+ Shokado Lunch Box but with this one, it only has one compartment. However, there are 2 trays that have been compartmentalised so you can easily separate foods. The trays are removable so you can use the bento box as one big compartment but the capacity is quite small at 870 ml.
This Japanese bento box is compact but it’s versatile and can handle most types of food as it doesn’t leak. It’s quite sturdy with the tough plastic material used so it should last quite a long time. The chopsticks are pretty small though so you might want to use your own cutlery.
2. monbento MB Square Bento Lunch Box
- Large Capacity – Enough room to pack a large lunch or a picnic for 2.
- Airtight – Tightly sealed with a silicone hinge on its internal lid.
- Easy Clean – No need to waste time washing up in the sink as it can be cleaned in the dishwasher.
- Versatile – Allows you to use just one container on its own as each one has its own lid.
- Varied Colour Range – Choose a colour to suit your style.
- 3 Year Guarantee
Featuring a large storage capacity of 1.7 L, the monbento MB Square Bento Lunch Box is ideal for big eaters. There’s plenty of room to arrange food to where you want it in the 2 stacked containers with 1 extra compartment that fits in either container easily. Or you could choose not to use it and take it out. Each of the containers are quite deep at 7 cm and both have their own lid with a silicone seal to prevent leakage.
To ensure the entire bento box is even more airtight, there’s an elastic band included to wrap around the box. There’s also a shorter elastic band which can be wrapped around the one container if you chose to use just the one. Everything is made from BPA free materials and the lunch box can be safely used in the microwave, freezer or dishwasher without risk of warping.
With so much room for food, this bento lunch box is one of the best to store a meal and snack or 2 meals which is great for anyone who works long shifts. It’s well designed and lives up to all its characteristics without any problems so it’s very durable for everyday use.
1. monbento MB Original Bento Lunch Box
- Leakproof – Each container seals in tightly with its own lid to keep food at its best and prevent it from leaking out.
- Sustainable – Made from a high quality BPT plastic that’s BPA free and very durable.
- 2 Tiered Container stacks on top of each other and ideal for separating foods.
- Colour Choice – Available in a variety of colours and patterns for you to choose from.
Similar to the previous monbento lunch box, this one is actually a remake of the first design from the monbento brand. It features the same 2 tier design with its own sealed lids to prevent leakages but the capacity is a bit smaller at 1 L. However, you can still fit a sandwich in and it’s enough to keep liquid foods from dry foods but you won’t be able to get 2 meals in this unless you’re on a portion controlled diet.
Inside, there’s a small removable tub ideal for a handful of snacks or dressing. There’s only 1 elastic band included with this one but it’s versatile as it can be used on the width of the lunch box to hold in both containers or longways to secure the one container. The lunch box is microwaveable but if you’re keeping the lid on, it would be a good idea to twist the valve to let steam out to prevent damage to the airtight lid.
Finished with a soft touch to its exterior, the monbento MB Original Bento Lunch Box looks expensive with the price tag attached. However, it’s worth every penny spent as the quality is high and the materials used are tough. It’s one of the best bento lunch boxes that will surely see you through many years.
Buyer’s Guide For Bento Lunch Boxes
Most containers will be fine to use as a bento lunch box even if it’s one large single container as you can stuff everything in. To ensure your lunch box is suitable, here’s some things you should look out for:
- Airtight – Keeps food fresh and prevent leakage. Some of the best bento or lunch boxes will use a rubber rim or something similar to act as a seal so it’s a good idea to look for this. You can test out how leakproof a lunch box is by filling it with water and swishing it about.
- Capacity – The bigger the bento box is, the more food you can store in it. However, this means it can take up more space in your bag and it will be harder to control your portion size.
- Insulation – Keeps your food hot or cold for a bit longer. However, some insulated bento boxes tend to be pretty bulky due to the layer of insulation. It’s ideal if you don’t have access to a microwave to heat food up or if you’re out and about but it can affect the texture of your food.
- Sections/Compartments – The amount of separated sections there are for you to store food separately. It’s ideal if you want to keep sauces from mixing in with other foods, to keep strong flavoured food apart or if you want to bring snacks such as nuts or fruit.
- Design – Bento boxes can come in a stacked or flat design. Having a stacked lunch box can give more compartments and compact shape with lots of room to store a few different foods without needing a wide bag to store it in. A flat design lunch box means it will be larger in size so it will take up more space in your bag but it’s ideal for big food portions.
- Microwave Safe – Can heat your food up in the microwave without damaging the lunch box. This is something to consider if you usually bring hot food to work or school, it saves you from having to pour it into a plate for reheating and giving you more stuff to wash up.
- Freezer Safe – Ideal if you plan on freezing a week or month’s worth of lunch or dinner.
- Dishwasher Safe – Enables you to clean your bento box in the dishwasher. It’s ideal if you just don’t have time to wash up after lunch.
- BPA Free – The product contains no harmful plastic chemicals that can be damaging to your body. For more information, read this article.
- Included Cutlery – Free cutlery! It could be a knife, fork, spoon, chopsticks or a combination of these. Having cutlery included usually means the bento box has been designed to store the included cutlery in its own compartment whether it’s inside the lid or in between the main compartments.
Best Bento Box Lunch Ideas
If you’re stuck on food ideas to fill up a bento box, then check out this video by Mind Over Munch, which provides receipes for quick and affordable snacks.
Our list of best bento lunch boxes are ideal for anyone who enjoys a variety of food for lunch, and they’re especially fun for kids. If you haven’t already, then give a bento box a try and change the way you enjoy lunch!