In my 2 1/2 years (and counting) of mama-hood, I’ve tested, tried, and trashed a whole lot of food containers. Glass, Silicone, Stainless Steel, Plastic. Mini cubes, Thermoses, Bento Boxes, Tupperware. You’d think it’d get easier as our littles get bigger, but it only gets trickier.
Since T has been off the milk only meal train, and as his catalogue of foods multiplies, finding the ideal food container(s) for his daily school lunch has been the ultimate challenge. T needs something that’s roomy for his mega main entree (he literally eats like a teenage boy), and enough sections/small containers for the rest of his lunch (veggies, fruit, crackers, or yogurt/applesauce/cheese).
T’s lunch: Butternut Squash Ravioli & Spinach, Anjou Pears, Cucumber Spears, Boiled Egg
The party of mini containers had a good run, but was a pain to clean every night. (So. Many. Parts) But then T moved up to the bigger kid classroom, where they make a push for toddler independence, and suddenly the mini containers started to vanish. Puzzled, I asked T’s teachers about it. “Ah,” they said, “the kids have to put away their lunch containers (in their cubbies) at the end of the meal. Kids that have a bunch of little containers sometimes throw the containers in the trash, along with their garbage.” WHAT? “This is why we encourage lunch containers with multiple compartments – easy to put away and even easier to clean for parents.”
So we entered the Bento Box Era. But in my extensive research and testing of bento boxes, I came across a few hurdles:
Size: Why are Bento Boxes usually so small? I needed 2 to include all of T’s lunch foods.
Insulated/Leakproof: Many bentos fail the insulation and leakproof test. So, for any foods that have any liquid, I’d use a thermos instead.
Compartments: Most bentos I found had 2-3 sections. I needed 5. I added extra sections using these in the early bento days, but wished I could find something that had more compartments.
After a year of test trials, here are my best bento box picks:
Bentgo: Our everyday go to (that I scored from an epic Groupon deal) is the Bentgo Kids Lunch Box. Leakproof, compartments galore, significantly larger size, and cute design, Bentgo is an awesome brand that has simplified my toddler lunch prep and clean up. I’m not a huge fan that it’s plastic, but with it’s leakproof lining, I’ll deal with it.
LunchBots: My stainless steel bento box dream. I was hell bent on finding the perfect, non-plastic lunch container for T, but i quickly released most failed the leakproof test or (if they were leakproof) were too small. LunchBots is all kinds of wonderful and when T’s lunch is liquid-free, this model is our top pick.
Takeya: This was T’s first bento lunch box when he graduated to toddler foods. Made in Japan (the Bento Box grandmasters), the Takeya Bento Box comes in 2 great sizes and a cute drawstring cotton bag.
Thinkbaby: I love this bento box. Stainless Steel main body AND vacuum sealed, leakproof cover – the only hangup is its petite size. When T has soup (in a thermos) for lunch, we use this as our bento sidekick for the rest of his lunch goodies.
Innobaby Double-Lined Stainless Bento Snack Box in Blue
Foogo by Thermos Vacuum Insulated Straw Bottle – Blue – 10 oz
Sugarbooger® by o.r.e Flatware Set in Outerspace
Thinkbaby Bento Box – Orange
OXO Tot Divided Plate – Aqua
BabyBjorn Spoon 2 Pack
Wean Green Garden Pack Lunch Cubes Glass Food Containers
OXO Tot Roll Up Bib
LunchBots Clicks Stainless Leak Proof Food Containers (Set of 2), Small
SKIP*HOP® Zoo 11 oz. Insulated Food Jar in Giraffe
Skip Hop Zoo Utensils – Giraffe
Zojirushi SM-KHE48NL Stainless Steel Mug, 16oz
I threw in a few of our other mealtime favorites in this roundup, too – bibs, utensils, thermoses, plates. We’ve used all of these at one point in time, so if you have any questions about them, drop me a message!
The world of kid lunches is an endless universe of options, and hopefully my experiences will help my fellow mamas just beginning this journey.
Now it’s time to share your little’s lunch box favorites – what are the ones on your “best ever” list?