When you’re throwing together last night’s leftovers, it’s tempting to nestle a rice dish next to some lightly dressed greens and call it a trendy bowl. But unlike a bowl, which is generally served fresh at the table, your lunch will likely be jostled together on the route to work or school. Japanese bento boxes offer a sophisticated solution that ensures that spicy salad dressing will stay out of your main dish, and that pickle juice cannot contaminate your peanut butter sandwich.
These lovely bento-style boxes help give you something to look forward to when you take a work break, and might even inspire you to eat more veggies because they look so cute tucked into a tiny compartment.
Divide and conquer. Amazon
This deceptively simple classic-looking bento set packs a lot of features into one. The two main containers are made of BPA-free food safe plastic, hold up to 20 ounces of food each, and come with a divider to turn the two compartments into three as needed. Each compartment has a lid with silicone components that seal to prevent leaks, and beneath the bamboo-grain top is a third compartment that holds reusable utensils, including a set of chopsticks. You can’t cook food in these, but you can take advantage of the ventilation caps to reheat your food in the microwave. An attractive black strap holds your mini-feast together, and the set even comes with a drawstring bag for easy transport.
Turn your food into a delightful work of art. Amazon
The four distinct compartments in this bright candy-colored bento box (also available in black and grey) offer plenty of space to work with if you view each item on the menu as an opportunity for culinary art. The set comes with utensils with kid-friendly edges, and is made of BPA-free plastic. Use the main latch to hold everything together, or use the set of smaller latches to seal individual compartments. This is an extra-convenient feature if you want to take snacks with you as you run errands throughout the day.
Great for picky eaters. Amazon
Sure, this small lunch box is made especially for kids ages 3-7, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also covet the unicorn or shark print to make your zoodles, nuts, seeds, and legumes more appealing. The five compartments in this box aren’t stackable like many bento boxes, but they do provide a place for dipping sauce or dressing for kids who need their healthy foods to have a little extra taste. The drop-proof design and sturdy latch don’t prevent kids from sending the box flying to the floor, but do minimize messes and help the box withstand repeated heavy use.
Generously-sized alternative. Amazon
Two main objections to many bento boxes are their relative small size and the fact that most are made of plastic. This set of three compartments provides a good amount of space and is made entirely of stainless steel. Store up to 6.25 cups of food between two main compartments and a shallower tray perfect for trail mix or thin carrot sticks. Without any plastic components these containers do not seal, and you can’t put metal in the microwave, so it’s best for drier foods that can be consumed cold. All compartments clamp together for transport and can be easily cleaned.