Threads

See more results

Topics

Usernames

Mumsnet Logo
Mumsnet is supported by readers. All our writers obsessively research every product we recommend. When you buy through a link on our site we might earn commission but this never influences our product choices.

10 best bento boxes for lunch on the go

Bento boxes are an environmentally-friendly way of ferrying food to work, school, picnics, camping trips, family days out and everywhere in between. Here's our pick of the best bento boxes for fresh food all day long.

By Laura Cooke | Last updated Jan 13, 2022

three bento lunch boxes

Bento boxes, which keep your lunch neat and tidy by housing food in separate compartments, are all the rage right now.

But the bento box is not a new idea - it’s been popular in Asian countries like Japan and China for many years, and there’s even evidence to suggest that it’s been around since as far back as the 12th century.

But if you’re after a bento box that is suitable for modern day living, then we’ve got you covered.

We’ve consulted expert review sites and trawled the Mumsnet forums to find out which bento boxes our users recommend. These tried and tested bento boxes have been put through their paces by Mumsnetters who use them for taking daily packed lunches to school and work.

Our own in-house experts also considered the boxes’ portion sizes, eco credentials and value for money before we came up with our top 10 recommended buys below.

Here are the best bento boxes to buy in 2022.

1. Best overall bento box: Sistema To Go Bento Box

Sistema To Go bento box

Price: £7 | Buy now from Amazon

“Sistema bento-style box. It's cheap, easy to clean, and means no need for single use wrappers.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user LongDissidence)

“Another vote for the Sistema ones. I take my toddler out to visit family once a week and can stuff it full of things to try and tempt the palate.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user FairfaxAikman)

“We use Sistema too. They wash and wear well and don't seem to taint.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user SpeedofaSloth)

For many a Mumsnetter, the Sistema To Go Bento Box is the go-to when it comes to transporting lunches to work, school or college.

Suitable for adults and kids alike, this two-layer bento box comes with two removable and microwaveable compartments, plus a handy pot for fruit or yoghurt.

As you’d expect from a Sistema product, this box is robust, doesn’t leak and is 100 percent dishwasher-safe so is easy to clean too.

Granted, it's not the prettiest bento box around, but if you’re looking for something reliable for the whole family and at a great price, the Sistema To Go Bento Box really can't be beaten.

Pros

  • Chunky clips make it easy to open and close
  • Affordable
  • Removable dividers
  • The whole thing can be cleaned in the dishwasher

Cons

  • Plain colour
  • Doesn't come with cutlery

Key specs

  • Material: Plastic
  • Capacity: ‎1.65 litres
  • Number of compartments: Five

2. Best budget bento box: BOZKAA 2-Layer Bento Box

Bozkaa two-layer bento box

Price: £5.99 | Buy now from Amazon

If you’re looking for a bento box that will keep your lunch neat and tidy but won’t cost the earth, then the BOZKAA two-layered bento box is a great choice.

With a chunky handle for easy transportation, this bento box opens up into two separate trays and includes a spoon and fork, meaning you can enjoy your lunch at any time, wherever you like.

The only downside is that there are no extra dividers included, so if your midday meal consists of more than two different foods, then things are liable to get a bit jumbled.

Pros

  • Has a carry handle for easy transport
  • Comes with cutlery
  • Trays can be put in the microwave

Cons

  • Only two compartments, meaning food can get mixed up

Key specs

  • Material: Plastic
  • Capacity: ‎1 litre
  • Number of compartments: Two

3. Best large bento box: Mepal Bento Large Take A Break Lunchbox

Mepal Bento Large Take A Break Lunchbox

Price: £15.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“We like Mepal bento boxes. They look stylish too.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Ricekrispie22)

Lightweight, spacious and stylish, the Mepal Bento Take A Break Lunchbox is perfect for those who like a hearty lunch.

This roomy box includes two bento inserts, a fork and a smaller box with a lid to accommodate some extra snacks for break times or whenever you're feeling peckish.

The two inserts can be used in the microwave and you can pop the whole thing in the dishwasher for easy cleaning. We like that it comes in some lovely colours too.

Pros

  • Good colour choice
  • Easy to clean
  • Microwave-friendly

Cons

  • Not as compact as other bento boxes

Key specs

  • Material: Plastic
  • Capacity: ‎1.5 litres
  • Number of compartments: Three

4. Best bento box for adults: BIBURY Bento Box

BIBURY Bento Box

Price: £14.99 | Buy now from Amazon

We love the BIBURY bento box for its straightforward, no-fuss approach to lunch.

The leakproof box has one removable tray boasting three generously-sized compartments and comes with its own cutlery, so you can be ready for whenever hunger strikes. The tray can be microwaved and kept in the freezer and the whole kit can be cleaned in the dishwasher after use.

The great price only makes this bento box even more appetising.

Pros

  • Cutlery included
  • Tray can be removed when dividers are not required
  • Available in four different colours

Cons

  • Box isn’t deep enough to accommodate certain foods, i.e. a standard yoghurt

Key specs

  • Material: Plastic
  • Capacity: ‎1.4 litres
  • Number of compartments: Three

5. Best bento box for kids: Yumbox Original Medium Lunch Box

Yumbox Original Medium Lunch Box in pink

Price: £26.95 | Buy now from Amazon

“Yumbox. Ours have been going strong for six years.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user Feminist10101)

“Yumbox here too. Ours are brilliant. There are different layouts available - my kids like to pick at different foods so they have the tapas style ones while DH and I have the sandwich ones.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user Aquicknamechange2019)

“Another vote for Yumbox here. Not cheap, but last for years.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user boccas)

Soggy sandwiches will be a thing of the past thanks to Yumbox’s individually sealed sections which keep food nice and fresh. 

This fun bento box boasts no less than six separate compartments, perfectly sized for children’s portions, and comes in a number of different colours decorated with various cartoons, from unicorns to monsters, depending on your choice. It’s slightly heavier than your average bento box but, if treated with care, your Yumbox will serve you well for years to come.

Pros

  • Each section is separately sealed, so food won't get mixed up
  • Fun design
  • Easy to open

Cons

  • Can't be put in the microwave
  • No flatware included
  • Outer box can’t be put in the dishwasher as this can damage fasteners and seal
  • Pricey

Key specs

  • Material: Plastic
  • Capacity: ‎2.8 cups (as specified by Yumbox)
  • Number of compartments: Six

6. Best bento box for toddlers: Munchkin Bento Toddler Lunch Box

Munchkin Bento Toddler Lunch Box

Price: £21.49 | Buy now from Amazon

“DS has a bento box… It says it's for toddlers but it's big enough for a sandwich and a bunch of snacks.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Throughabushbackwards)

If you’re looking for your little one’s first bento box, then Munchkin has got you covered with this cheery lunchtime companion.

This brightly-coloured bento box features five different compartments for sandwiches, snacks and treats, and it even comes with stainless steel toddler-friendly cutlery which is handily clipped to the inside of the lid.

The box is durable and has a big, chunky plastic handle for toddlers to carry with ease, so it’s perfect for on-the-go munching, whether they’re off to nursery or the park.

Pros

  • Can be put in the dishwasher
  • Comes with cutlery

Cons

  • It’s a bit on the heavy side, so you may find your child won’t want to carry it for long

Key specs

  • Material: Plastic
  • Capacity: ‎Not stated
  • Number of compartments: Five

7. Best bento box for school: Smiggle Glitter Lunchbox

Smiggle Glitter Lunchbox in pink glitter

Price: £27 | Buy now from M&S

“Smiggle is very popular in Y2 here (they're the year group I work with). Also see a lot of bento boxes with little compartments. They all seem to love these!” (Rated by Mumsnet user UndeadSlut)

“She [DD] won’t forget her cool Smiggle lunchbox. Blimey though, they certainly know how to charge!”  (Recommended by Mumsnet user UnitedRoad)

The sparkly and sassy Smiggle Glitter Lunchbox is perfect for primary-aged kids and slips easily into school backpacks. It also comes with an adjustable and removable shoulder strap for easier transportation if your child wants to proudly show their Smiggle bento box off.

The box itself has four different sections and does a great job of keeping food separate and fresh. Unfortunately the box is wipe clean only and the tray isn’t removable, so while hugely popular with kids, for nearly £30 you may still prefer a lunchbox that’s easier to clean.

Pros

  • Comes with removable shoulder strap to carry with ease
  • Fun design that’s characteristic of the popular Smiggle brand

Cons

  • Wipe clean only
  • Pricey

Key specs

  • Material: Plastic
  • Capacity: ‎Not stated
  • Number of compartments: Four

8. Best bento box for weaning: Munchbox Bento Lunch Box

Munchbox Bento Lunch Box

Price: £14.99 | Buy now from Amazon

The Munchbox Bento Lunch Box is divided up into five small compartments, one for each food group, which makes it ideal for ferrying around a balanced lunch and snacks for hungry babies.

Chunky, durable and leakproof, the box even comes with anti-slip, drop-proof rubber bumpers on the top and bottom to minimise any damage if the box falls into clumsy hands.

The inner tray can be removed and put in the microwave or dishwasher, and it even comes with a spork for older children to use.

Pros

  • Easy to clean
  • Double clasps can be easily opened by little hands
  • Spork included

Cons

  • Design not as exciting as other children’s bento boxes

Key specs

  • Material: Plastic
  • Capacity: ‎Not stated
  • Number of compartments: Five

9. Best Japanese bento box: UMAMI Bento Box

UMAMI Bento Box

Price: £34.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“DS now uses a stackable bamboo bento-style lunchbox.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user JollyAndBright)

This sleek Japanese-inspired bento box, complete with bamboo-look lid, will bring a little bit of class to your midday meal.

But the UMAMI Bento Box doesn’t just favour style over substance. The box separates into two trays and two removable dividers to offer you plenty of meal options. It also includes a dinky pot for sauces and cutlery secured in a special holder, meaning you can lunch when and wherever you fancy.

The UMAMI Bento Box is smaller than some of the other boxes on our list, which means it slips nicely into work bags and the office fridge without taking up too much room. But if you have a hearty appetite, you may want to consider one of the larger options in our round-up instead.

Pros

  • Looks stylish
  • Cutlery included
  • Separate sauce pot included
  • Trays can be microwaved and put in the dishwasher

Cons 

  • Expensive
  • A bit on the small side, which may limit your lunch options

Key specs

  • Material: Plastic
  • Capacity: ‎1 litre
  • Number of compartments: Four

10. Best stainless steel bento box: Moonmoon Stainless Steel Lunchbox

Moonmoon Stainless Steel Lunchbox

Price: £19.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“We've got a stainless steel Bento box which has a removable divider. I put a sandwich in one part of either fruit or salad in the other.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user toffeecashews) For the eco-conscious, the Moonmoon Stainless Steel Lunchbox is a great alternative to plastic bento boxes.

The ergonomic metal clips and silicone seal means no leaks or spills, while a removable divider provides different lunchtime possibilities to suit your needs.

It’s ideal for work, school, camping and family days out and, with a little bit of TLC, it will remain the perfect lunchtime companion for many years to come.

Pros

  • Eco-friendly alternative to plastic
  • Oven-, freezer- and dishwasher-safe
  • Long-lasting

Cons

  • Comes with just one divider
  • No cutlery included 
  • Can’t be microwaved

Key specs

  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Capacity: ‎1.2 litres
  • Number of compartments: Two

How do I choose a bento box?

There are a number of things you should consider when buying a bento box.

  • Size: Do you like to cram your bento box full of tasty goodies to last the day? Or are you looking for a smaller box which will fit neatly in your backpack and won’t hog all the space in the fridge at work? It’s also worth bearing in mind the depth of the box as some aren’t deep enough to accommodate certain foods, for example a large apple or a standard size yoghurt. If buying for a child or toddler, consider whether the box is appropriate for child/toddler-sized portions.
  • Care instructions: If you want to prolong the life of your bento box, it’s important that you follow the care instructions, which vary from box to box. Some bento boxes can be bunged in the dishwasher for easy cleaning, others may have dishwasher-safe inner trays only, while others aren’t allowed anywhere near a dishwasher. And if you intend to heat up your lunch, then you must make sure your bento box is safe to use in the microwave. The last thing you want is a melted bento box, a wrecked microwave or both.
  • Material: A chunky plastic bento box able to withstand bumps and scrapes may be a good investment to see children through school. But if you’re saying no to plastic, then you may wish to invest in a more eco-friendly alternative, such as stainless steel or bamboo.
  • Number of sections: Check how many different sections your bento box has to make sure it meets your needs. Some boxes come with moveable dividers to offer more options.
  • Extras: Does your bento box come with a full flatware set, just a spork or is there not a fork or spoon in sight? Is there an extra pot for sauces, fruit, yoghurt or snacks? Decide what extras you want included with your bento box before purchasing.
  • Clips and seals: If you’re buying a bento box for kids to take to school or nursery, chunky, easy-to-open clips are a good idea. Also check that the box has a silicone seal to prevent any delicious lunch leaking in backpacks.

Do bento boxes keep food warm?

Some bento boxes are insulated, but many are not, although these can be transferred into an insulated lunch bag to help you keep your food warm.

Are bento boxes microwavable?

It depends on which bento box you buy. Most bento boxes have a removable tray that can be popped in the microwave to heat up your food. But that doesn’t mean the whole box is microwaveable, so to avoid ruining your day (not to mention your lunch), make sure you check the instructions first.

And just a quick reminder to never, ever put anything metal in the microwave!

How we chose our recommendations

We scoured the Mumsnet forums to find out which bento boxes our users rate highly - and which ones they weren’t impressed by.

We also consulted expert food sites, including BBC Good Food, and took note of what they looked for in bento boxes and which brands they were recommending to their readers.

Finally, we collated all that information and then looked at other online reviews to see which bento boxes had received the best recommendations.

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.

Main image credit: Sistema

;