If you haven’t jumped on the bento box train, now’s the time. These single-portion meal organizers, originally from Japan, are a handy way to keep your child’s lunch neat and fresh, all while encouraging portion control and a rich, varied diet. But the standard school lunch box has been getting an upgrade in other ways, too. That means whether you go bento or brown bag, Walmart has your child’s back-to-school lunch options covered.
Bentology’s Lunch Bag and Box Set ($19.99; walmart.com) from Walmart is a great way to jump into the bento craze. You get plenty of bang for your buck on this one: An insulated bag with handle, an ice pack with a matching chic design th at fits perfectly into an inner mesh pocket, a large outer bento container and five leak-resistant inner containers plus lids that can be mixed and matched in any combination you like. The overall effect is decidedly matryoshka doll-ish, with each individual piece perfectly happy to function on its own but also fitting crisply together with every other piece, too. That means leak-free, spill-free, beautifully organized and attractively presented lunches, with minimum fuss.
That fuss-free approach extends to clean up, too, as the food safe, lead-free, BPA-free, phthalate-free, and PVC-free container materials are not only reusable and durable, they’re easy to wipe down and wash.
We love that the five interior containers encourage a diverse, well-rounded grouping of different foods, encouraging kids (and parents!) to reimagine the standalone, soggy peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich of yore.
And with a variety of fun and fabulous designs to choose from, even the most discerning child is bound to find one that suits them. The convenient handles make the classic morning grab-and-dash-out-the-door routine a breeze for families on the go.
We’re big fans—and we think you will be, too.
A great alternative is the Fit & Fresh Bento Lunch Set ($22.43; walmart.com), which takes a more streamlined approach. You get one large compartment and two small ones, which is perfect for packing one big main entree and two sides. One feature we found useful were the container lids that hold reusable ice packs, which can be frozen to help insulate your child’s meal. It’s a thoughtful, space-saving design that works well as intended.
Still, if for whatever reason bento boxes aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other options in the organized-lunchbox world. One of our other favorites is the Rubbermaid Lunchblox system, which takes a modular approach to food containers so each piece in the set fits with any other piece.
A good place to start is the Rubbermaid LunchBlox Insulated Lunch Bag ($22.61; walmart.com). As evidenced by our bento love above, we’re big fans of the modular approach to staying organized. And Rubbermaid’s LunchBlox system, unsurprisingly, is music to our ears.
Pairing this lunch bag with the Rubbermaid LunchBlox Entrée Kit ($19.95; walmart.com) opens up a world of neat and tidy lunch container mixing and matching that would make Marie Kondo proud. The bag itself has an integrated mesh bottle holder and accessory compartment offer a convenient place to store a beverage and utensils. Insulation keeps your hot food hot and your cold food cold. The bag unzips to reveal a vertical cavity specifically designed for the LunchBlox system, swallowing any Tetris-like configuration of the containers your imagination can produce.
That modular approach encourages a varied diet and portion control, too.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the standard insulated rectangle you grew up with, either. These lunchbox types have been around for ages, and it’s easy to see why. They’re spacious, easy to clean and just plain work. A good example of the type is the Wildkin Zigzag Lucite Lunch Box ($10.79-24.95; walmart.com), which jazzes things up with some fresh kid-friendly designs and a food safe fabric construction that’s PVC-, BPA- and phthalate-free. The inner tabs and mesh pouch work great for keeping water bottles and ice packs in place, too.