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Bento boxes for children’s lunches

I’m really loving the current flurry of bento boxes in the shops – they’re such a lovely idea for kids’ lunchboxes.

Brilliant for picnics and packed lunches, they come with in-built containers for small servings of foods like veggies, cheese, fruit or nuts. Having given some a whirl for the purposes of review, I can vouch that they don’t just look good. They also offer help in serving up healthy meals for your kids too.

Why bento boxes work for picky eaters and toddlers

1. They help you stay in control of portion sizes for your child

2. The meal looks more beautiful so can tempt fussy eaters

Of course you can prettify food on a plate too, but there’s something about filling little boxes with food….

3. You can monitor at a glance how much your child has eaten

4. The boxes encourage you to serve up a range of food groups at one meal

Another bonus is that you’ll save money on cling film and kitchen foil – the small sections make it easy to serve up a few Brazil nuts or a couple of pieces of cucumber and carrot, with no need to bother wrapping food individually.

 

With the help of my three kids, I put three bento boxes through their paces:

 Yumbox

Yumbox inside.jpg

This one has taken Australia and the US by storm and recently arrived on these shores.

It’s sturdy – actually quite heavy for a lunchbox – and each of the little portion containers is marked with an illustration for guidance on a balanced meal. There are five slots – dairy, grains, protein, fruit, vegetables – and if packed according to the drawings, the makers claim it will offer a nutritionally balanced meal for a child aged between three and eight years.

My five-year-old and three-year-old tried this, and it was a huge hit. Regular readers will know that my toddler can be a fussy eater, but at a picnic lunch, he chomped his way through most of the box.

I think the portion sizes were perfect for him and the variety of food makes it fun. For my five-year-old, I filled two of the compartments with her wraps and the rest with a variety of food, so she was satisfied too.

Yumbox lunchbox.jpg

Pros
1. I absolutely love how there’s only one lid. It means it’s easier to wash up and nothing can break off. I wasn’t sure if each section would be secure but I put the box through its paces, turning it upside down and giving it a shake but when I opened it, everything was still in its proper place. Most impressive. I also later tried putting yoghurt in one of the containers and that was fine too.

2.  I found the portion size guide surprisingly helpful. I was quite astonished at how little pasta you need to fill the grains box, for example.

3. It reminds you to serve up lots of different food groups at one meal.

4. The container is dishwasher-proof.

Cons
1.    The price.  At £24.95, it’s a hefty cost, particularly if you have more than one child and want them to have the same lunchboxes to avoid squabbles. Apparently, it’s more expensive because of the silicone lining in the lid, preventing the food from leaking between compartments.

2.    Lots of chopping. You’ll have to chop things so they’re small enough to squeeze the lid on.

3.    The exterior is not dishwasher-proof. You can’t put the outer box in the dishwasher as it can affect the seals.

 

Munchkin’s Click Lock Bento Mealtime Set 

 

This box contains a large section – for sandwiches or salad – and then two small compartments, each 125ml in size and with a detachable lid, which I used for fruit and vegetables.

There’s also a big lid for the main section too so it would be good for a salad. But you don’t need the lids to attach the main Click Lock lid.

This was my five-year-old’s favourite container. She loved it because of all the lids, and the fork and spoon.

Munchkin Click Lock bento box.jpg

Pros
1. It’s great for a salad as there’s lots of space. I think grown-ups do use it because of this too.

2. It’s versatile as you can remove the little containers. This means they can become snack boxes for other outings.

3. Microwave, dishwasher and freezer-proof.

Cons
1.  The detachable lids. They’ll be easily lost and they’re an extra fiddly thing to wash up.

2. Only three different food slots. It doesn’t encourage you to go for variety.

 

Polar Gear Bento Lunch Box


This is a double decker of a bento box. It has a bottom layer to put your salad or sandwich in, topped with a white tray with a fork and spoon resting in it. Then there’s a container to slot on top with two compartments, one smaller than the other.

This bento box was my eight-year-old’s favourite. She loved the style and the purple colour – it comes in black, turquoise and pink too – and it would be perfect for her couscous salad.

Polar Gear Bento Box.png

Pros
1. It’s not specifically a kids’ box, so it would be perfect for me at work too.

2. Dishwasher and microwave-proof. 

3. Perfect for a salad

Cons
1. It doesn’t fit into a standard square lunchbox container

2. It only has a few slots so you’ve got to remember to add variety to the lunch yourself

3. Keep tabs on the cutlery. They can get lost easily as they just slosh around in the white tray.

 

DISCLOSURE: I received these bento boxes free for review purposes.

Read more:

Ten ways to get your child to eat vegetables 

How to make a healthy picnic for kids

‘My child doesn’t eat enough’: 8 tips for fussy eating

 


Comments (22)

  • Avatar

    Mummy of Two

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    These are a great idea, although I love the first box I’m not sure I could justify the price! I need to start getting more creative with my son’s lunches!

  • Avatar

    Polly

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    we have the polar gear boxes and really love them… i do like the looks of the yumbox but wouldn’t spend that much on a lunch box tbh

  • Avatar

    lisa prince

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    i spotted these before and i really want some for my lot but having 7 it would be costly x

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      I agree. It would cost a fortune!

  • Avatar

    Kate Thompson

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    Great post – I’m curious though, don’t the liquid contents leak out of these boxes when they are upright/moved about? I always see people putting yoghurt etc in, making it pretty on top and then I wonder what happens when it goes upright?

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      I tested it for the Yumbox and it definitely didn’t budge. You couldn’t put yoghurt in the Polar Gear one as no lid for the little section but will give the Munchkin box a try at home and update the post. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Avatar

    laura redburn

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    i love the idea, encourages versatility in the diet and good for those who want their food seperate, but would def get a bit pricey if you have a few kids!

  • Avatar

    You Baby Me Mummy

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    I love these lunch boxes but not sure if I would ever spend £24.95 on one x

  • Avatar

    Jen aka Muminthemadhouse

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    I would love a yum box for each of the boys, but the cost does put me off

  • Avatar

    Nell@PigeonPairandMe.com

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    What a fantastic post. Although it’s costly, I do like the first one best – it’s so handy to see exactly how much to give the children of each food group. I’m sure that’s something I never get right!

  • Avatar

    kara

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    I really need to get these lunch boxes for mine…..it might encourage them to eat more fruit and veg

  • Avatar

    Michelle

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    I’m in love with bento boxes, and should make my lunch every day like this… if we ever have another child, I’m so getting into this craze. I’ve been following a friend in the US who has been doing this for years now and love what she comes up with!

    A great review of various boxes, thanks for your honesty with them all xx

  • Avatar

    suzanne3childrenandit

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    I like the purple box. I’ve always been put off by these thinking that my kids are too old and it would never fit the amount of food they pack away! However, I do think it’s a good idea to have compartments so will def check out the website :)

  • Avatar

    Kirsty Hijacked By Twins

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    Great post, thank you for sharing. I been looking at different boxes for next years pack up box. I’ve looked at YumBox but was wondering if it would be worth buying as it is expensive x

  • Avatar

    Rachel (@Parenthoodhighs)

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    I do love the idea of benti, and I’ve heard amazing things about the yum box, I just don’t think I could justify that amount of money on a lunch box that could easily get misplaced at school!

  • Avatar

    Lori

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    I love the idea of a bento box and will most definitely start using on when f goes into school next year. x

  • Avatar

    Donna Navarro @lexiconlane

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    I’ve not spotted these in the shops, they look great, although a little pricey perhaps. I bet the kids love all the different compartments.

  • Avatar

    Shell Louise

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    I really love the first one but they’re far too expensive for me, especially as I’d have to buy 2. We have some cheap ones from Asda that have three compartments, a large one on one side and the other side is split into 2 compartments. They’ve lasted three school years now so I’ve definitely had my money’s worth!

  • Avatar

    wendy

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    What a clever idea, these would be perfect for our camping trip. We could make a picnic lunch each day thanks for sharing

  • Avatar

    agatapokutycka

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    I really like the first one. Being not dishwasher safe is not a problem for me but the price is on a high side

  • Avatar

    Bek

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    Thank you for the fab comparison. These type of lunches always look very appealing. I don’t think that I’d spend that much on a lunchbox, even though it looks like a great one!

  • Avatar

    Bek

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    These lunches always look very appealing. I’m not sure that I would spend that much on a lunch box, even though it looks great! Thank you for the fab comparison.

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