Getting Started With Kids Bento Lunches: Choosing A Lunch Box

I sometimes have a picky eater on my hands. In order to expand her willingness to allow healthier food into her lunch box, I’ve started making quick kids bento lunches, which also puts my random Japanese dollar store finds above to good use. They take a little bit more effort than the standard PB&J, but I keep it to under 15 minutes, usually less. Buying the right kids bento lunch box helps immensely so here are the ones we either own or considered buying. Most are eco-friendly.

Laptop Lunches

There are many different options when it comes to Laptop Lunches. This set is a little bit more expensive than other options at around $40, however, it’s been worth every penny. It is very easy to use the containers on the inside or leave them out to make room for a big sandwich. La Jolla Girl is almost 5 years old and doesn’t have trouble opening the containers. We did practice opening the main container that fits inside the padded bag and houses the smaller ones. The Laptop Lunches website has more color and pattern choices than Amazon does.

If you choose Laptop Lunches, you will need to make absolutely sure that you pack a leak proof drink container. La Jolla Girl’s cubby isn’t tall enough for her lunch box to stand up straight, so it often lays horizontally.

We had good luck with a Klean Kanteen for a little while but then it started to leak. This is a bit crazy, however, we bought a Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug in Tokyo for about $20 USD. It is amazing and does not leak. It is a little bit expensive on Amazon, but perhaps if you see it at a  Japanese market, nab one.  It fits into the netted pocket on the side of her Laptop Lunchbox. Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle also comes in multiple colors and is also easy to clean, though sometimes she has trouble taking off the protective cap. Klean Kanteen retail price varies between $14.95 – $18.95.

Easy Lunchboxes

EasyLunchboxes is BPA free and gets good reviews. It’s not completely leak-proof, so liquids like berry juice can escape. It’s a more economical option and since kids don’t eat too much, it’s enough space for a lunch. You can even put it in a cute re-usable bag. It’s hard to beat a set of 4 for $13.95.

Kotobuki Panda

I bought the Kotobuki Panda Tiered Bento Box as a total impulse buy. I love pandas and it was almost 50% off on Amazon. I didn’t read the dimensions. It’s a very good 2-layer bento box that’s perfect for a snack at the park, but not big enough to serve as a lunch box for most kids. It’s not durable enough to be thrown around preschool style either. We do still use it. It comes in an adorable frog too which is $22. The panda is on sale for $12.49.

ECO Lunch Box

I don’t own the Eco Lunch Box three-in-one set but I love the idea of stainless steel only. It has 3 containers that nest together to prevent food from touching. It’s dishwasher safe, BPA, PVC, lead and vinyl free. This set retails for $16.49.

Use What You Have

If you don’t feel like buying a lunch box that has pre-made dividers, not to worry. You can create your own dividers using lettuce, by cleverly arranging food or inserting muffin cups. We’ll get into these techniques later.

I Have A Lunch Box: Now What?

Sometimes it just takes seeing a photo of something to jog your memory and get the creative juices flowing. The lunches I make aren’t spectacular. They are made in under 15 minutes and cool enough that my preschooler eats more than just the crackers. So, hopefully you’ll walk away with a few ideas. I’d also love to hear what kind of lunches you are packing too.

And, I’ll walk you through most of the stuff in the cool gadgets above. I bought most in Hong Kong and Tokyo, but shockingly some of it is available on Amazon or at Marukai Value off the 163 freeway. Some are worth seeking out!

*Photo credit: istockphoto/omgimages

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  1. February 16, 2012 at 10:08 pm — Reply

    Neat stuff! I’d love to see some photos of lunches, whether in muffin cups or in cute Bento boxes. These are great ideas that I’ll be ready to start trying next year when my daughter starts preschool!

    • February 16, 2012 at 10:46 pm — Reply

      I’ve been collecting photos and will sort them into themes. Again, not fancy, but she eats more so I consider it a victory!

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