With school only a few weeks away you may have not made your final decision about which lunch box is right for your kid(s).
When I first started my research last year I considered a number of items and the unique challenges our then 3-4 year old would encounter in his first year of full time kindergarten
- How much food will it hold? Would it be enough?
- How easy will it be to open, close and stow?
- How easy will it be to wash daily?
- Would it be durable?
- Was it leak proof?
- Will it work well for cold and hot lunches?
- How much will it cost? Are there accessories?
- Would it fit into a standard lunch bag?
In my last post I wrote an article titled, Top 3 Reasons to Love Bento Boxes for School.
I like Bento Boxes because they make packing lunches easy, they are environmentally friendly and they encourage intake because food it highly visible and easily accessed.
Bento is originally used to describe a Japanese-style packed lunch, where single portions of food are served in a multiple compartment box. In today’s post I want to highlight some of the specific options I have been recommending to the families I work with as well as my friends and family.
Basics: EasyLunchboxes come BPA Free and as a set of four containers with colourful lids that stack together for easy storage. The three (3) compartment tray is dishwasher safe and fits most standard soft sided lunch bags.
What I Like: Low cost, popular and multi use. I love packing these for family lunches at the park or lunches on the go (even in the vehicle). The size works for both adults and kids. For a smaller appetite you can divide the larger section with silicon muffin liners to send more variety in smaller portions.
Downside: EasyLunchboxes are not leak proof so yogurt or applesauce will need to be packed separately.
Cost: $20-$45 CDN
Find At: www.amazon.ca
Basics: There are two main choices from Yumbox; the Original Yumbox that has a six (6) compartment tray and fits five ½ cup portions + 1 oz dip/treat well and the Panino Yumbox that has a four (4) compartment tray that offers more room for larger volumes featuring a single 2 cup well + two ½ cup wells + 1 oz dip/treat well.
Both products are easy to open and designed for children from toddler up to age 8.
They both fit into most standard sized soft-sided lunch bags and weigh only 1lb 1.5oz. For the bigger appetites of pre-teens and adults Yumbox now offers the Tapas which holds just over 4 cups of food and has two tray options.
For snacks Yumbox offers the Mini-Snack that has a three (3) compartment tray that holds ¾ cup in one, 1/3 cup in the second and has a dip/treat well.
What I Like: The original Yumbox has an educational tray option that encourages a balanced lunch with grains, dairy, fruit, vegetables and protein. Ordering an extra tray can make lunch packing easier when you forget to wash it the night before, but this does add to extra costs. All trays are removable and top rack dishwasher safe. This box is easy for little ones to manage and a good choice for your youngest children.
Downside: You may need a small brush (straw brush) to clean the underside of the trays between the walls as they are close together but this allows for more food. Also important to note that while the boxes are leak-proof for thicker fluids (yogurt, applesauce, dips) but not for water or juice (in fruit cups).
Cost: $30 – $90 CDN
Find At: www.amazon.ca
Basics: Bentgo Kids was created for children ages 3 to 7 years of age, is easy to open and has a six (6) compartment tray that includes a dip/treat well. The silicon seal is very dependable for most liquids. The largest compartment is ideal for a half sandwich (a whole sandwich will fit if cut into 4 pieces and lined up sideways). Bentgo Kids weighs 1lb 4oz, fits 2 cups of food on average and fits into a standard soft-sided lunch bag.
For larger appetites Bentgo Fresh has larger dimensions and is designed for older children and adults holding almost 5 cups. The removable tray has three (3) leak proof compartments and comes with an optional divider to create 4 compartments. The divider splits the largest section but does not prevent leaks between them.
What I Like: The removable tray is easy to clean, dries quickly and is top-shelf dishwasher safe. You can also purchase an extra tray that comes with a clear lid to make it easier to pack lunch the night before or a couple days ahead. The outer shell is a durable drop-proof design with rubber coated edges to protect it if dropped. It also aids in preventing the Bentgo from sliding and falling off the table/desk and is more durable for younger age groups. Bentgo also offers a 2 year warranty.
Downside: Bentgo holds a little less food overall then some competitors but has the better seal for liquids but I would still encourage thicker fluids (not meant for water or oil/vinegar dressings as dips)
Cost: $35-$55 CDN
Find At: www.amazon.ca
Basics: Go Green is designed for all ages and is a larger and deeper bento option coming in one size. The tray is leak proof for thick liquids with replaceable silicone seals. Designed with a turn and lock key on top of the box ensures it remains tightly sealed. The tray can be purchased as a set with lunch bag and stainless steel water bottle that fit together. The five (5) compartment tray is much deeper and fits the water bottle in one slot with room for a whole sandwich uncut in the largest slot. The bottom tray stays attached to the top with toggles so the tray doesn’t get lost.
What I Like: For smaller appetites or to pack more variety you can use silicone muffin cups to further divide sections. The ability to replace the silicone seal and an extra tray for long-term use extend the life span as your child’s appetite grows.
Downside: Go Green will be slightly harder to close and open for younger children and the turnkey could be difficult for preschool aged kids. One option would be to practice in the summer months prior to school so your child is more experienced.
Cost: $60 CDN
Find At: www.amazon.ca
Basics: Planet Box is the most durable option with its stainless steel construction and will survive almost all abuse your child can muster. The tray is one piece and is the easiest to hand wash (also dishwasher safe).
For smaller appetites the Rover offers five (5) compartments, holds 5 cups of food and weighs 1lb 4oz. The tray is not leak-proof but the box comes with two leak proof dipper containers.
For bigger appetites the Launch has three (3) deeper compartments, fits 7 cups of food and weighs 1lbs 3oz. It does come with one tall dipper container, but the box is not leak proof.
What I Like: The Planet Box carries a 5 year warranty and as a bonus comes with magnets to decorate the tray. You can also purchase silicone pods designed to further separate the spaces in the Rover or a microwaveable glass dish for the Launch. The latches are very easy to open for little fingers.
Downside: The Planet Box is the most expensive of the bento boxes I am reviewing. Also because of its size it will not fit into standard size lunch bags and requires its own soft sided sleeve or bag.
Cost: $70 – $100 CDN
Find At: www.amazon.com
Basics: The Omiebox is a three (3) compartment bento that stores both hot and cold foods in one keeping soup hot and cheese and fruit/veggies cool. The removable insulated food jar is stainless steel and holds 1 cup of food. The compartments are leak-proof with the food jar inside as long as excess liquid is removed or you pack thicker products (Greek yogurt). The largest compartment (without food jar) holds 3 cups with the second and third holding 1 ¼ cup & 2 cup respectively. The Omiebox weights almost 2lbs with food jar and 1.2lbs without. A divider comes with it that can be used to further separate either of the two smaller compartments.
What I Like: The removable insulated food jar is wide and shallow (instead of deep and narrow) making it easier to eat and clean.
Downside: For bigger appetites the Omiebox may not hold enough food for the entire day and may require an extra snack container.
Cost: $55 – $85 CDN
Find At: www.amazon.ca
Alternative Bento Boxes Available
Disclosures: I was not paid or compensated for the content of this post or to endorse any products listed. My family has self purchased a Bentgo Kids, Go Green and Planetboxes for our school age children. All opinions are my own. This page contains affiliate links at this time.
5 Replies to “Parents Guide to Bento Boxes for School Lunches”
We have Yumboxes and while they have lasted well, they just don’t hold enough food for my monsters appetites. 🙁 And they’re hard to clean if you handwash like we do. We will be upsizing this year.
I was sad that you didn’t review the Tupperware divided containers in the first picture. It’s what I’ve used for the past 2 years and was interested in your take compared to the others.
Thanks for your comment Cassi. I really think all bento boxes are great, there are so many on the market at different price ranges which makes them a great lunch option for everyone. I tried to review more of the leakproof options, or the most popular ones that many families seem to consider and are available in stores. If you love the Tupperware divided containers, that is perfect! They are another great option at an affordable price especially for packing the main (entree+sides) but they don’t appear to be leakproof (sandwich + yogurt in same container). It still offers an accessible lunch by using one container instead of three separate containers. Sounds like you love them and they work for your family and that is the ultimate goal!
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