Do you want your child to have a fun, balanced, healthy lunch? Are they tired of carrying many containers? A Japanese bento box may just be the thing you need to ensure your child gets the most out of lunchtime! Unlike typical lunch boxes, Japanese bento boxes provide a more efficient way of packing food by using a single compartmentalized box instead of needing to use multiple containers. They also keep different foods separated and can help you balance portions.
We carefully put together this list of the 10 best Japanese bento boxes for kids to help your child enjoy lunchtime even more. Our favorite is the Waon Bento Box Set for its traditional beauty, convenient drawstring bag, and onigiri box that allows you to make your own rice balls from scratch. Read on to find out about our other favorite picks, and be sure to check out our buying guide to help you decide which bento box is right for you!
To find the 10 best Japanese bento boxes, we considered the following factors:
For more detailed information on choosing a Japanese bento box, please check out our buying guide below!
Japanese Traditional Rabbit Blossom Bento Box Set
Magewappa Koban-Style Bento
Hello Kitty Die-Cut Bento Box
Soft Plush Aluminum Bento Box
Demon Slayer Bento Box
Nokorimono Bento Box
Jumbo Two-Tier Bento Box With Cooler Bag
Waon Bento Box Set With Onigiri Box
Fully Freezable Bento Box
Food Man Mini Bento Box
Best for Customizing Compartments
Best for Keeping Rice Fresh
Best for Toddlers or Snacks
Best Sanitary and Secure Bento Box
Best for Children Who Love Anime
Best for Large Capacities of Food
Best for Those Who Need a Bigger Meal
Best Bento With a Traditional Design and Onigiri Box
Best for Frozen Foods
Best for Preventing Leaks
|Material||BPA-free plastic||Lacquered wood||BPA-free plastic||Aluminum||BPA-free plastic||BPA-free plastic||BPA-free plastic||BPA-free plastic||BPA-free plastic||BPA-free plastic|
|Dimensions||6.5 x 3.3 x 3.11 in.||6.8 x 5.1 x 2.4 in.||5.1 x 4.3 x 1.9 in.||2.3 x 7.2 x 4.9 in.||6.6 x 4.09 x 2.2 in.||7.1 × 3.8 × 3.7 in.||9.64 x 5.11 x 4.7 in.||7.24 x 3.5 x 3.3 in.||7.16 x 5.43 x 2.2 in.||4.06 x 8.27 x 1.38 in.|
|Capacity||640ml (21.64 fl oz.)||470ml (15.9 fl oz.)||300ml (10.1 fl oz.)||600ml (20.2 fl oz.)||500ml (16.9 fl oz.)||1,000ml (33.8 fl oz.)||1,300ml (43.9 fl oz.)||640ml (21.6 fl oz.)||650ml (20.2 fl oz.)||400ml (13.5 fl oz.)|
|Accessories||T-shaped divider, I-shaped divider, rice ball press, elastic band||T-shaped divider, I-shaped divider||Removable compartment, elastic band||Plastic divider||Plastic divider||Divider, leak-resistant inner lid, elastic band||Cooler bag, chopsticks and housing lid, removable divider||Drawstring bag, onigiri box, chopsticks, elastic band||None||None|
Here are our picks for the best Japanese bento boxes that we could find online. We chose these products based on our buying guide as well as customer reviews.
|Dimensions||6.5 x 3.3 x 3.11 in.|
|Capacity||640ml (21.64 fl oz.)|
|Accessories||T-shaped divider, I-shaped divider, rice ball press, elastic band|
|Dimensions||6.8 x 5.1 x 2.4 in.|
|Capacity||470ml (15.9 fl oz.)|
|Accessories||T-shaped divider, I-shaped divider|
|Dimensions||5.1 x 4.3 x 1.9 in.|
|Capacity||300ml (10.1 fl oz.)|
|Accessories||Removable compartment, elastic band|
|Dimensions||2.3 x 7.2 x 4.9 in.|
|Capacity||600ml (20.2 fl oz.)|
|Dimensions||6.6 x 4.09 x 2.2 in.|
|Capacity||500ml (16.9 fl oz.)|
|Dimensions||4.06 x 8.27 x 1.38 in.|
|Capacity||400ml (13.5 fl oz.)|
|Dimensions||9.64 x 5.11 x 4.7 in.|
|Capacity||1,300ml (43.9 fl oz.)|
|Accessories||Cooler bag, chopsticks and housing lid, removable divider|
|Dimensions||7.24 x 3.5 x 3.3 in.|
|Capacity||640ml (21.6 fl oz.)|
|Accessories||Drawstring bag, onigiri box, chopsticks, elastic band|
|Dimensions||7.1 × 3.8 × 3.7 in.|
|Capacity||1,000ml (33.8 fl oz.)|
|Accessories||Divider, leak-resistant inner lid, elastic band|
|Dimensions||7.16 x 5.43 x 2.2 in.|
|Capacity||650ml (20.2 fl oz.)|
When choosing a Japanese bento box, there are several factors to take into consideration. These include size, material, the foods you plan to pack, and design.
It's important to think about what types of meals you typically pack for your child. For example, do you want a large bento box for sandwiches, snack packs, or whole fruit? Traditional bento boxes are often geared toward Japanese meals, so you may need to double-check that the size will meet your needs.
Size also determines portability. You may want to ensure that the bento box is small enough to fit inside a school bag. If you child doesn't mind having something to carry, some options come with carrying bags, but this might make it easier to forget their bento boxes at school or on the bus.
If you're buying a Japanese bento box for a child, make sure that it's small enough for them to comfortably carry and use. Most options will state if they are intended for child or adult use, but generally, bento boxes for children are often smaller.
If you are watching your child's calorie intake, consider choosing a bento box based on its capacity. While it varies based on what food is packed, you can estimate the approximate nutritional value by corresponding each milliliter with one calorie. However, this will differ depending on what foods you use.
For Americans unfamiliar with the metric system, you can determine the volume of your bento box by filling it with water and calculating it with a milliliter measuring cup. For reference, though, 100 milliliters is roughly 3.3 fluid ounces, and 1000 milliliters is 33.8 fluid ounces.
Japanese bento boxes are most commonly made from plastic, wood, or metal. All three materials have their pros and cons, specifically in regard to care and maintenance.
Plastic is the most widely used material for modern bento boxes because it is the cheapest to produce. Plastic options are also the easiest to care for as they are usually microwave- and dishwasher-safe, but check to be sure. Plastic bento boxes usually include a rubber or silicone seal, so they are less likely to leak, making them safer for children who carry their lunches in school bags.
On the other hand, plastic bento boxes can stain more easily than other materials. They are also not environmentally friendly like other materials, so avoid them if that is a concern for you. Longevity may also be an issue since plastic may become warped or scratched over time.
Bento boxes are historically made from wood, making wood the most authentic choice. Wooden bento boxes are considered more beautiful than plastic ones. Unlike plastic, wooden bento boxes are more eco-friendly for environmentally conscious consumers. Wood can also improve the taste of plain rice by absorbing its moisture.
On the flip side, wooden bento boxes require more care. A wooden bento box is more prone to warping and staining if it is not coated or lacquered. The inside must be wet with a cloth before packing, and excess water must be removed to prevent warping.
If you're not able to wash it immediately after using, oils and sauces must be wiped out with a paper towel. Since they usually cannot be used in a microwave or dishwasher, they should only be used with foods that do not need to be heated.
Metal bento boxes are made with aluminum or stainless steel. Metal is durable and is much less likely to warp or stain. A metal bento box is usually safe to use in a dishwasher, and metal's smooth surface makes them easier to hand wash.
While it will not affect its usability, a metal bento box can become dented over time. Moreover, aluminum is susceptible to corrosion by acidic foods or certain types of fruit if the bento box is not coated. Stainless steel can become smudged by fingerprints, but they can be wiped off with a cloth. Metal bento boxes may also leak unless properly sealed.
Finally, while this may be common knowledge, metal bento boxes cannot be microwaved, and it is dangerous to attempt to do so.
The material is not the only thing you should consider when choosing a bento box. Meals and food temperature are also key concerns.
The food kept inside bento boxes is most often kept at room temperature. If you wish to eat hot food, choose a bento box material that can be microwaved like plastic.
Insulated bento boxes can both enhance and diminish the quality of the food depending on what is packed. For foods where the texture will not be affected, such as with soups, the steam lingering inside an insulated bento box will keep the food enjoyable for longer.
Some foods, like crispy fried items, will become soggy by sitting inside a steamy bento box for several hours. In this case, it may be best to avoid an insulated bento box.
Compartments in bento boxes prevent foods from touching, which is especially helpful if the box is going to get jostled around in transit. Compartmentalized bento boxes are also a great way to ensure a more balanced meal of varying foods.
Non-compartmentalized bento boxes are best for packing foods such as salads or any other meal that consists of a single large portion. Or, consider options with stacking tiers to help keep larger portions of food separated.
Some options allow you to customize the compartments using removable dividers. These give you the most flexibility! They are also great if you or your child tends to eat a variety of foods.
A leak-free bento box is vital if you're often packing liquidy foods. You should look for boxes with a seal around the entire rim, which is most common in plastic models. We also highly recommend lid locks to prevent the box from popping open in your bag. However, some locks might be too difficult for small children to open, so consider your child's strength when choosing a bento box with locks.
Another pro tip is to wrap some rubber bands around the box to make sure the lid stays tightly closed. Often, reading customer reviews will help you confirm if a Japanese bento box is leak-proof. To test if yours will leak, fill it with water and shake it vigorously!
Many bento boxes come with useful accessories. Some include utensils like a spoon, fork, spork, or chopsticks. There might even be a place to store them on or in the box. However, make sure that they are the right size! Some options might be too small to use comfortably. To confirm this, check the customer reviews.
A bento box may also have an elastic band to help keep it shut, especially if it has tiers. Some also come with a carrying bag. If you want to go the traditional route, consider carrying your bento in a furoshiki or wrapped in a large bandana!
Finally, you may also find options with an ice pack to keep your meal cold. These are often designed to fit neatly next to the box, making them more practical than a generic ice pack. Some bento boxes may even have a small compartment or area specifically for the ice pack!
A bento box can act as a reflection of your child's personality and interests. A great design can also make a meal even better by building up your child's anticipation for the food inside!
Look for designs that will make them excited to eat. Consider bento boxes with their favorite characters, animals, or colors. Keep in mind that options made in Japan are more likely to feature characters from anime or other Japanese media rather than Western shows. Still, more popular characters, like Hello Kitty or Disney characters, may be easier to find.
A Japanese bento box is typically smaller than conventional lunchboxes. To ensure your child gets enough nutrients at lunch, don't hesitate to pack your food as tightly as possible to ensure you do not go hungry.
Since the bento will likely sit for several hours at room temperature before being used, it is best to pack cold foods or foods meant to be eaten at room temperature. This will prevent steam from building up inside the bento box and warping it over time. You should also avoid packing moist foods inside the bento box and pack them inside a separate container instead!
If your child wants to eat warm food, consider a microwave-safe option. Alternatively, consider insulated models made specifically for keeping food warm.
The traditional Japanese method of balancing meals is a 1:1 ratio of rice to protein, vegetables, and sides. However, most nutritionists recommend sticking to a 3:2:1 ratio of starches, vegetables, and proteins. This is ultimately up to you, and the most important thing to remember is balance.
Consider preparing your food the day before to streamline the process of packing your bento box in the morning. Rice should be made in the morning, though, as it is best eaten fresh. A rice cooker offers an easy way to prepare a lot of rice quickly. Check the link below for more info on rice cookers!
When it comes to packing your lunch, there are many options to consider. Take a look at our buying guides for more great lunch boxes available online!
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