Selecting the best bento lunch box for kids can be overwhelming, thanks to the many choices available. Plus, some of these aren’t just for kids. If you’re working from home or looking for ways to stay efficient, it may be easier to prepare lunch before the day starts. Why not put it in a bento lunch box so that it’s ready to go when the kids (and you) break to eat? This way, you’re not spending time on meal prep in the middle of the day when everyone is at home.

Or, even better, let the kids prepare their own bento box lunch first thing in the morning or in the evening prior. My daughter became more interested in assembling her lunches when we used bento lunch boxes. It became a cross between puzzle and art. What colors of fruits, veggies, cheese, and sandwiches look pretty together? How can I make them fit in the compartments? What cute bento accessories can I use?

The result is that she eats a wider variety of healthy food when it’s prepared and presented in this manner. But, selecting the best kids’ bento box is important because children need to be able to open them easily and avoid messes. I’ve created a list of ones we’ve owned or considered buying, along with the pros and cons of each.

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1. PlanetBox Rover

This bento lunch box for kids is my top pick for convenience and sturdiness. I’ve seen adults use it, too, so it can easily last through the teen years.

Pros: My daughter likes the simplicity of the stainless steel lunchbox. It’s an easy bento lunch box for kids to manage because the container is one piece. Flip open the latch and flip the top up to eat. You can zip up a slim ice pack next to the box or slip it into one of the pockets if necessary.

The entire stainless steel unit and its snack containers with lids can be washed in the top rack of the dishwasher. It’s easy to wipe clean, too, because the compartments have rounded corners.

Cons: It is the most expensive bento box on this list, but you get what you pay for. This kids’ bento lunch box can come with decorative magnets. You’re technically supposed to remove the magnets before washing the stainless steel box, which is a little bit of a pain. I’ve accidentally forgotten to remove them several times before running the dishwasher and they’ve been okay, but it’s better to take them off, of course.


2. OmieBox Bento Box

Pros: The Thermos insert keeps food warm, and room-temperature food can be placed in the spaces around it. It has a handle and is designed to be used without a carrying bag, so that’s one less thing to clean.

Cons: It’s a little heavy (1.7 lbs without food) and bulky in the dishwasher. The Thermos section is about 3.5 inches in diameter, which may not be large enough for hungrier kids.


3. Bentology Lunch Boxes

Formerly known as Laptop Lunches, Bentology lunch boxes are a less expensive alternative to a PlanetBox. I also mentioned them as a best bento box for kids option on a recent Fox 5 San Diego news segment.

Pros: This bento lunch box provides a great deal of flexibility. You can leave containers out if you need to create a big space for large sandwiches, leftovers, or anything that’s an awkward shape.

The lunch boxes come in a variety of colors. You can buy extra containers to have on hand if washing them daily isn’t an option. The exterior carry totes also come in a ton of adorable patterns. The kit is also BPA-free.

Cons: The exterior container latch was hard for my daughter to open when she was 3-4 years old. It requires you to push in and up simultaneously, which was a motion that was tough for her to master. Older kids and adults won’t have the same problem. The container lids are not dishwasher safe, and we often misplaced the containers and lids.

If you choose Bentology, you will need to make sure that you pack a leakproof drink container. I don’t view this as a pro or con because leakproof drinks are essential anyway. My daughter’s preschool cubby wasn’t tall enough for her Bentology lunch box to stand up straight. So, she had to lay it horizontally, which meant the drink container wound up on its side (and could spill).


4. Pottery Barn Kids All-in-one Recycled Bento Box (Spencer Bento Box)

The Pottery Barn Kids All-in-One Recycled Bento Box (pictured above) slips neatly into one of their adorable Fairfax Lunch Bags or Mackenzie Classic Lunch Bags. (This container is an updated version of what used to be called the Spencer Bento Box.) They also now have a stainless steel version of the Spencer Bento Box.

Pros: The lunch bags that these bento containers slip into (shop them all) are made in the same patterns as matching backpacks, water bottles, and even luggage. They are by far the cutest lunch bags on the market, in my opinion. The bento boxes are also dishwasher safe, and I appreciate that there aren’t many little pieces to wash.

Now that my daughter is a little older and has outgrown some of the Pottery Barn Kids patterns, she’ll still use the plain-colored Spencer Bento Box for snacks on the go.

Cons: It’s not leakproof, so you wouldn’t want to put yogurt or anything with liquid in the covered section. Otherwise, we’ve used the container for years and my review is definitely positive.


5. EasyLunchboxes

EasyLunchboxes are great for packing a quick beach or road trip lunch that you need to toss in a larger bag. I don’t love them for elementary school lunches, but teens and adults who don’t care about aesthetics may prefer them for practicality.

Pros: These are BPA free, get good reviews, are very lightweight, and are inexpensive. It’s easy to store them while stacked on top of each other.

Cons: They’re not completely leakproof containers, so liquids like berry juice can escape. You’re limited to three compartments, and hungry kids might need more space.


6. Kotobuki Panda

Our Kotobuki Panda Tiered Bento Box was a total impulse buy. We love pandas and have a few of these.

Pros: It’s a very good 2-layer bento box that’s a perfect size for a snack at the park, but not big enough to serve as a lunch box for most kids. It’s big enough for my lunch, however.

Cons: It’s not secure enough to be thrown around in a backpack. The black strap is easy to misplace and not easy to replace (though a rubber band will do in a pinch).


7. Bentgo Kids Lunch Box

The Bentgo Kids lunch box is my top pick for preschoolers. It’s pretty easy to open and the portion sizes are about right.

Pros: This is a fantastic toddler bento box because it’s easy for young children to open and manage. It says that it’s appropriate for ages 3-7, but the lower end of this range is likely most appropriate, depending on appetite. The inner tray can go in the dishwasher. Leakproof technology keeps everything in place. Rubber edges protect the box from drops. It’s made of BPA-free plastic.

Cons: It’s too small for older kids, and the outer shell needs to be hand washed.

8. Bentoheaven Adult Bento Box (Good for Teens)

While it says adult in the title if your kid isn’t into the colorful bentos, this one gets the job done. It’s made from recycled materials and comes in a variety of unisex colors.

Pros: Slick-looking bento that doesn’t really look like a bento box so a teenager may feel better carrying this one. They also make an insulated carry bag that you can purchase as an optional accessory. Purchases support Feeding America.

Cons: Some users would prefer deeper compartments and also say that it’s not really dishwasher safe.

9. Bentgo Salad Bento Box

This is a really great solution for teenagers or adults who want to keep meal components separate. But as its name implies, it is most useful for salad. It is good for assembling after school snacks in advance also.

Pros: Up-end the top part and if you leave a little space to pour in the dressing and shake the sealed bowl until all of the ingredients are covered. I’ve used it to transport appetizers to parties because you can keep sauces and other items you want to assemble separately. So it does have multiple uses.

Cons: It’s not quite as compact as some of the other bento boxes on this list. You still should try to keep it upright to prevent leaking. And it may not be big enough for big eaters.


Best Water Bottles for Kids

Hydro Flask water bottles are all the rage with the tween set at the moment, and they make a 12oz kids’ version. We have several, and, so far, they do not leak.

Truthfully, I find that most other kids’ water bottles leak after a while. We had good luck with a Klean Kanteen for a little while, but it started to leak. However, we also bought a Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug in Tokyo that is amazing and does not leak.

Kids’ Bento Lunch Gadgets

These are some of my favorite tools for preparing kids’ bento lunches that I’ve accumulated over the years.

Vegetable Cutters

If you’re going to pick one tool to help your kids eat a healthy lunch, get the vegetable cutters! You can use them on cheese, deli meat, and any food that you can cut.

Bento Picks

You can use these bento picks as forks or just a cute way to liven up food.

Sandwich Cutters

Regular sandwiches look a lot more fun in a bento box lunch when they are in fun shapes. This sandwich cutter set comes with picks and vegetable cutters, so it is a nice all-in-one.

Silicone Cupcake Liners

I use cupcake liners to separate food, plus they add color to bento lunches.

Do you have a favorite bento lunch box for kids or a water bottle that is not listed here? Let me know in the comments!

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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5 Comments

  1. 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!

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

  2. Thanks for this post! Do you know if any of these lunch containers are safe for the bottom rack of the dishwasher? Our top racks fills up really quickly with four kiddos.