cool school stuff

The 7 Best Bento Boxes for Packing a School Lunch

As days get shorter and temperatures cool, it’s also time (eek) to start thinking about going back to school. To help you get a jump on the best school (and school-related) supplies to buy for fall, we’re running a series called Cool School Stuff, in which we’ll sniff out the best backpacksbest dorm décor, and best bento boxes, among many, many other things.

Have you ever wondered: “Is there an item that sits perfectly at the corner of our collective obsession with all things Japanese and all things wellness?” The answer is yes, of course, and the item is a bento box. For the non-Japanophile: Bento boxes are compartmentalized Japanese lunch boxes — traditionally packed with rice, pickled vegetables, and fish — that are quickly becoming very popular in America.

To find the best Japanese 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
$26, Amazon

Stylish, affordable, easy to clean (and from the same brand of high-quality bento boxes that we’ve raved about before). I can’t imagine a person not wanting to buy this bento box.

Note: These are currently unavailable, but a larger peach version is available here.

Muji Bento Box
From $38 Amazon

A simple aluminum option from Muji.

BentoHeaven Leakproof Bento Box
$23, Amazon

An airtight, double-stacked bento with ventilation locks for hot food. And it comes with a pair of chopsticks.

Unichart Stainless Steel Lunchbox
$29, Amazon

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
$160, Natala Natala

This traditional bento box is made of Japanese cypress Thujopsis wood, known for its antimicrobial properties and water-resistance.

Spencer Bento Box
$17, 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
$135, 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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The 7 Best Bento Boxes for Packing a School Lunch