A bento is a boxed meal that consists of fish, meat, noodles, and veggies. The portability of this type of nutritionally balanced meal is perfect for meals at the office. The convenience of this style of box is also a big deal since you can keep your food protected, well-insulated, and fresh until mealtime. The best bento boxes will allow you to enjoy your favorite meals on the go, but considering the rise in popularity of these meal boxes, there are dozens of models to choose from, which can make finding a model that works for you and your meal needs a challenging task.
If you’re not familiar with bento boxes and how convenient they are, as well as the benefits they offer, especially when compared to a traditional lunch box, I’ll go over the features these boxes have to offer, how to find the perfect model, and why using a bento box can totally change the way you pack a lunch.
I’ve also included a few product recommendations. These are the top-rated models on the market and come loaded with all the features you need to keep your lunch protected, tasting fresh, and ready to go.
Below, you’ll find a comparison chart for the top three products I’ve chosen. Each of these models earned high marks in a number of areas. The comparison chart will show you the differences and similarities between each of these products, how they rated, and whether or not they can work with your meal needs in terms of size, material type, and the number of compartments.
Bento Boxes Comparison Chart
|Grub2Go THE ORIGINAL||Plastic||2||Yes||Our Rating:|
|Lovina-Bento Boxes||Plastic||3||Yes||Our Rating:|
|Bentgo Kids Childrens Box||Plastic||5||No||Our Rating:|
Now, you’re ready to check out the top three models on the market. Below, you’ll learn more about each product how they rated, and their pros and cons, in addition to what you can expect concerning durability and overall quality.
Grub2Go THE ORIGINAL Japanese Bento Box
This traditional style bento box by Grub2Go features the popular minimalist style and is a very versatile, functional model that you’ll find yourself using every day of the week. This model is equipped with a couple of large, deep compartments and includes large utensils, a dual-layer airtight design, and is airtight and leakproof. The lid is made out of silicone and features a ventilation system that will keep your food smelling and tasting fresh.
- Silicone lid
- Two compartments
- Minimalist design
- Only has two compartments
This model is dishwasher safe, microwave safe, and is made out of plastic that’s BPA-free. While it only comes with a couple of compartments, which can limit you in terms of how many dishes you package, the compartments are very deep, so you can bring along bigger portion sizes. Overall, this is the perfect box for daily use thanks to its durable, versatile design.
Lovina-Bento Boxes for Adults
This model by Lovina is perfect for lunch on the go. This box comes equipped with a total of three compartments, so you can bring along one entrée and two side dishes. The box itself is made out of a durable plastic and features a space-saving design that will allow it to fit inside most purses, messenger bags, and backpacks. The box is also dishwasher, freezer, and microwave safe, adding to its versatility. It’s a great buy if you’re looking for a leakproof box that’s designed with withstand heavy-duty use.
- Dishwasher safe
- Freezer and microwave safe
- Made out of durable plastic
- Compartments are somewhat shallow
This box comes with a total of three compartments, so you can bring up to three different dishes for a convenient and easy lunch on the go. The compartments may be too shallow for some, while it will work perfectly for people who are practicing portion control. This durable model is made out of thick plastic and can be stored in the freezer, which means you can also use several for meal prepping throughout the week. This is a great buy for the professional on a budget.
Bentgo Kids Children’s Lunch Box
This box is specifically designed for kids, so it features smaller compartments and comes with a total of five. The ability to separate each food type will be a big plus for those picky eaters. This model is made out of durable plastic that comes complete with rubber-coated edges for increased durability. It’s also both microwave and dishwasher safe, however, it’s not freezer safe.
- Rubber coated edges
- Dishwasher safe
- Microwave safe
- Five compartments
- Not freezer safe
This is a great buy if you want to pack a healthier meal for the kids and include fresh fruits, veggies, and leftovers. The durable design that’s been reinforced with rubber along the edges ensures this box won’t break, crack, or chip if dropped.
Bento Box Buyer’s Guide
The bento box is an easy and convenient way to pack a healthy meal for on the go. Unlike a traditional lunchbox or lunch bag, these compact boxes are insulated and feature a number of compartments that will keep your entrée and side dishes separated and tasting fresh. They’ve been around for centuries, but have recently become more popular in the western world and a better storage alternative for on the go meals. When you’re shopping around, you’ll find a variety of styles to choose from ranging from plain, basic plastic boxes, to models made out of aluminum, wood, and others that are heavily decorated with vivid graphics. The choices are endless, but if you’re serious about eating right and you want a box that will protect your lunch, then there are some factors you should consider before you buy.
During the start of the twentieth century, instead of being made of wood, these boxes were designed out of aluminum. Over the years, many manufacturers made the switch to plastic materials that were microwave safe, further adding to the convenience of these boxes.
While these days, these boxes are not often referred to by their traditional Japanese names, in the past, and in Japan today, many boxes produced are categorized by how many compartments they have and the traditional style they’re based after. Below you’ll find a few examples of how the traditional bento box is categorized.
- The most popular style of bento is called the makunouchi, which consists of two sections. This type can be found in most department stores and markets. Typically, one side is filled with rice, while the other will hold the meat and/or veggies.
- The picnic bento, also referred to as the koraku, is the largest style and it’s often used for sharing a large meal. It can be filled with a variety of dishes, due to its larger size, so, like the name, it’s perfect for a picnic with the family.
- The love or aisai box is usually reserved for the avid snacker and features much smaller compartments compared to the other styles of boxes.
These are just a few of the basic styles that you’ll find shopping around online. The type of box you choose should depend on what types of meals you prepare, how many dishes are included, and how much you can eat per meal.
These days, many boxes feature the same traditional design of the boxes that were used hundreds of years ago, but today, they’re made out of modern materials.
Aside from multi-compartment models, you’ll also come across stackable boxes, which will allow you to bring along more side dishes. This style can be a better option if you’re short on space in your bag, or you want to keep each type of dish completely separate, especially if you’re bringing along dishes that are both cold and hot, such as a baked potato and a side salad. Other models will stick to the traditional design and come with a variety of compartments and an airtight lid.
As I mentioned earlier, the first thing you’ll want to take into consideration is the size of the box. Look on the product’s spec sheet to learn more about the dimensions to determine if it will work for the portion size you have in mind.
Number of Items
The number of items you want to store will be the next thing to consider. Some models will only have two compartments, while others can have four to six. However, you should also pay close attention to the depth of these compartments, not just the number. Some models will come equipped with several compartments, but if they’re shallow, then you’ll only be able to store half the serving size you want. The two-compartment style box is the most common and the most affordable, but if you prefer to bring along leftovers that consist of two side dishes or more, then you’ll want to find a box that offers more compartments in order to keep each of the dishes from mixing with each other.
Material Type and Durability
Most models these days are made out of a thick, well-insulated plastic, however, there are some models still produced that are made out of aluminum. Additionally, you will need to learn about a product’s durability rating, since lower-priced models may not retain heat well, and others can leak. If you plan on bringing leftovers from home, then make sure the model you choose is microwave safe.
Freezer and Dishwasher Safe
If you want to bring a frozen lunch to work, make sure the box you buy is designed to protect your food from freezing temperatures to prevent freezer burn.
Additionally, if you’re looking for a low maintenance model, then make sure the box you buy is dishwasher safe.
There are many low priced models of these boxes on the market that all claim they can protect your food, prevent spoilage, and will work to keep your food tasting fresh until lunchtime. But that’s not always the case. In fact, aside from poor insulation, one of the biggest issues with low-quality boxes is that many leak. So, if you plan on bringing a dish that contains sauces, gravies, or even a thick hearty stew, then make sure the box you buy earned a high rating for its leak-proof design.
- Many people use bento boxes because they can be a simple way to keep dishes separated, protected, and fresh until mealtime. But using one can also save you money during the week since bringing meals from home is often cheaper than purchasing lunch every day at the office.
- They also promote healthier eating habits, especially when you compare the nutritional value of a home-cooked meal to fast food.
- If you want to cut down on waste, using a bento is a great idea. Instead of tossing out your leftovers once a week, bring them to the office in a bento, which will keep it tasting fresher for longer.
- The boxes feature a sleek, compact design, compared to a mini cooler, which works comparably well to keep food insulated and protected. However, unlike a mini cooler, these boxes are highly portable since they can easily fit in your purse, messenger bag, or backpack.
- These boxes are more affordable compared to some of these latest models of coolers and lunchboxes on the market. Since they’re so affordable, you can purchase several and use them to meal prep for the week, which just adds to their convenience, saving you plenty of time in the morning.
- Since most models are dishwasher safe, you can simply toss them in the dishwasher at the end of the day.
As you can see, these boxes are more than just a convenient way to bring your lunch to the office. They encourage healthier eating habits, are reasonably priced, low maintenance, and they can save you both time and money.
This buyer’s guide and product recommendations are designed to help you find the best bento boxes, to store your lunch or meals on the go and keep them insulated and tasting fresh until meal or snack time. While there are many models on the market to choose from, now that you know what features to look for and which types of boxes to avoid, I’m confident that you’ll find the perfect model in my top three lineup, and a box that will meet your meal prep needs and your budget.