The Japanese are great at a lot of things, one being organization. If you compare a classic American lunchbox and a traditional bento box, there’s one main thing that will jump out at you; compartmentalization.
Bento boxes do a great job of dividing up your meal into segments, which is perfect if your the type of person that doesn’t like their foods touching each other. Bento boxes are also excellent for portion control since you can only fit so much. A bento box acts as both the lunch box and the food storage container. So, there’s no need to use sandwich bags or try to shove multiple containers into a lunchbox. Over the years lunchboxes have taken a cue from bento boxes and have evolved to incorporate more dividers and compartments.
Organizing your lunch with one of the best meal prep containers may not seem so exciting, but trust us. The first time you open your compartmentalized lunch and gaze upon the glory that is the bento, you’ll be converted.
We’ve chosen the best bento boxes for you based on style, function, and storage. They’re unique but functional and could level-up your lunches for years to come. Let’s take a look.
Lovina’s BPA-free plastic and easy snap lid make it a contender for the best bento around. Whether this is your first bento or you’re a pro, it contains three compartments for a nice, full meal on the go. Plus, a flatware slot ensures you never have to use disposables again. It’s microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe.
If you don’t have access to a fridge or microwave, this insulated bag helps keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Two containers hold about 18 ounces each, and one offers two compartments. The flatware container includes stainless cutlery and chopsticks, and everything is dishwasher, freezer, and microwave safe. The bag is waterproof and provides a smooth zipper.
If you love a salad or pasta dish, this option gives you the chance to keep your greens or noodles fresh and mix all the toppings together just before serving. A large compartment on the bottom houses your main ingredient, while four top compartments give you space for protein, fruits, other toppings, and a dressing. The lid snaps securely on and holds a fork for ease. Wash it on the top rack, and you’re good to go.
For a traditional style bento box with easier materials, this box is a great choice. It uses BPA-free plastic for a dishwasher, microwave, and freezer-safe lunch box. Two compartments with dressing insert ensure plenty of space for different types of foods. The silicon intermediate seal and strap help ensure no leaks.
This two-compartment bowl offers a large bottom container for soup or stews with a top compartment for dry ingredients. It’s leakproof and can maintain food temperature for up to four hours. It’s dishwasher and microwave safe and is BPA-free. Plus, the top holds a foldable utensil for easy access.
If you don’t have much space in your bag or briefcase, this ultra-slim option is a great choice. It offers three compartments with a dishwasher, microwave, and freezer safe insert. Close the top securely and place it into the bag for extra insulation. At just over one inch thick, it fits into even the slimmest bags.
This option offers three compartments with a lockable lid. Stainless steel is an ultra-durable material that helps keep food safe. It’s crack resistant and BPA free. It holds around six cups of food between all the compartments and tucks into a bag for storage.
Here are some critical questions you may have about how to choose the bento box or what to put into it. Let’s take a look.
How Do I Choose a Bento Box?
Your bento option will depend on how you like your meals. If you just want to pack snacks, a simple two or three-compartment option will do. Choose a bowl-style if you’re a big soup or salad fan, and choose multi-layers if you pack large meals.
You also need to consider the material. Ask yourself if you mind hand washing or want to toss it in the dishwasher. If you need to microwave your food, you’ll need microwave-safe materials. Likewise, if you freeze your meals for storage, that material must be freezer safe.
What Size of Bento Box Do I Need?
Bento boxes can run small. Pay attention to compartment number and size, as well as materials. Typical advice is to choose something with 700 ml or around three cups minimum for adult lunches. You’ll be able to pack enough calories to last you through lunch. Simple bento boxes are perfect for snacks or regular lunches, but you can always upgrade to an electric option or a large capacity choice for more options. If you only need snacks, you can stick with something smaller.
What Goes in a Bento Box?
Traditional bento boxes contain rice, protein, and fruits or veggies. The great thing about bento boxes is that you can build any kind of meal you need thanks to the compartments. The best option is to use it to fulfill your daily food groups, even packing it the night before because compartments will prevent things from getting soggy.
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