If you pack a lunch every day for work or your kids’ school lunches, you know how much waste can be involved when using harmful plastic baggies and pre-packaged foods. Make the change this year to a bento box lunch system and eliminate the need for packaging!
What is a bento box lunch system?
Inspired by Japanese bento boxes, America bento box systems make it easy to pack non-packaged foods such as salads, left-overs, fruits, sandwiches, and snacks, as well as liquids such as yogurts and soups. Eco-friendly bento lunches can be easily made with a bento box lunch system ranging from simple tupperware-style BPA-free plastic containers paired with your own lunch box or tote to expensive stainless steel bento containers with multiple compartments and levels. To help you find the right one for you or your kids (or yourself), we’re rounded up our favorite bento box lunch brands and listed their pros and cons. Don’t be afraid to mix and match to suit your family’s needs!
Laptop Lunches are kid- and budget-friendly: you can buy the BPA-free plastic ‘Bento Buddies’ containers separately in sets of four, or can opt for the full system that includes a soft-sided lunchbox tote. We found that the Bento Buddies boxes fit perfectly in the lunch boxes my kids already owned, saving us money (and allowing us to buy an extra few sets of Bento Buddies as back ups). At $12.99 a set, they’re cheap enough that you won’t panic if you child loses one or two, and they come in plenty of fun colors to keep kids happy.
EasyLunchBoxes are currently so popular, they’re sold out until late September. What makes them special? First, they’re affordable at only $13.95 for a set of four. Second, they are all one piece, making it easy for small kids to manage on their own (they even have easy-to-open lids for small hands). Like Laptop Lunches, EasyLunchBoxes are available in just the bento containers or an entire system with lunch tote. Since they’re self-contained, it’s easy to store EasyLunchBoxes, too. Basically, they’re just… easy! (And like all the other bento systems listed here, they’re BPA-free.)
The Light My Fire Outdoor Meal Kit is designed for outdoor meals, but works well at home, too. We took ours on our backpacking adventures during the summer (each child had his own, and was responsible for cleaning his own), and now that we’re home for school, our oldest likes to use his for school snacks. The kit includes a triangular main compartment with an extra covered bowl and cup, and includes utensils. (The pieces all fit together for storage.) It’s is a little small for complete lunches, but does close securely to be loaded up and placed in a backpack without a tote. They retail for as low as $19.99.
Perfect for young kids, the Goodbyn system is another all-in-one unit of BPA-free plastic with molded sections. This one is shaped like a monster or fantastical animal, and comes with fun stickers for kids to personalize. The Goodbyn doesn’t come with a tote, but rather is self-contained with a handle and lid. It may be too childish for older kids, but preschoolers and kindergarteners will love it. It has three large sections, and can be picked up for under $16.00.
5. Mr. Bento
Lastly, the grown-up Mr. Bento, perfect for adults and older kids. Mr. Bento is more expensive than the other options in our round-up at $46.00, but is made of stainless steel that won’t leech any chemicals or flavors into your food, and has a sophisticated look of stacked containers. You won’t want to send small kids to school with this one — just too easy to lose — but your co-workers will probably notice and ask you where you got it. Mr. Bento comes in a more feminine version as well, though I think the classic stainless steel works for everyone.
Do you have a favorite bento box system? What works for you?
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