Two separate compartments for non-soggy-lunch packing.
Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
The Goal: Find a bento box that’ll satisfy both second-graders going back to school with PB&Js and grown-ups who want to bring last night’s leftovers to the office.
The Verdict: The Red Dot Design Award–winning Monbento Original bento box was created by a French physical therapist who couldn’t find a suitable model in all of Europe. So she left her job in 2009 and made her own. It comes with two stackable layers to keep dressings separate from sandwiches and holds about four cups of food (far more than most boxes, which average two cups). Internal lids are fitted with a silicone hinge to keep them extra-snug, and the whole thing is wrapped with an elastic band, making it leakproof (though we don’t recommend it for soup). It’s made of highly durable, BPA-free plastic that’s soft to the touch, and unlike others, the Monbento is dishwasher-, freezer-, and microwave-safe.
Monbento Original Bento Box
It comes in a variety of colors, too.
To find the best Japanese-style lunch boxes for students, we spoke with Angelique Chmielewski, owner of Japanese home-goods store Nalata Nalata. According to Chmielewski, the best portable bento container is airtight, with a rubber gasket that is leak-resistant, and easy to wash. Below, options that’ll render Tupperware containers (let alone brown paper bags) obsolete. A tip: To avoid stealing your kid’s lunch box, we’d advise ordering two upfront.
Takenaka Rectangle Bento Box
Muji Bento Box
A simple aluminum option from Muji.
BentoHeaven Leakproof Bento Box
An airtight, double-stacked bento with ventilation locks for hot food. And it comes with a pair of chopsticks.
Unichart Stainless Steel Lunchbox
While not technically a compartmentalized bento box, this is a very functional and handsome stack of containers that includes its own lunch bag, stainless-steel bowls, and utensils.
Shiraki Bento Box
at Natala Natala
This traditional bento box is made of Japanese cypress Thujopsis wood, known for its antimicrobial properties and water-resistance.
Spencer Bento Box
at Pottery Barn Kids
Bento boxes have even infiltrated Pottery Barn — these compartmentalized versions are like the plastic lunch boxes you toted as a child, only with sensible portion separators.
Kaico Canister Set
at Natala Natala
Not exactly a bento box in the traditional sense, but these are Chmielewski’s favorite containers for lunches on the go — the three size options, she says, help with portion control.
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