We’ve been deep in the food niche of TikTok lately, and we can’t help but notice bento lunch boxes have been making the rounds in Australia. Viewed over 1.3 billion times, the hashtag #bentobox alone is a rabbit hole of users sharing the likes of their favourite bento box combos and step-by-step guides to “what [they] put in [their] bento box for work” and more.
One mum makes her two daughters bento lunch boxes for school every day and goes all out making their rice balls look like characters or their salami look like roses. The combos are honestly endless, which is part of its appeal.
What actually is a bento lunch box?
A bento box is a reusable Japanese-style lunch box with several tiers or compartments that typically hold a single-portioned meal containing a main dish and some sides. Unlike regular lunch boxes, where you often still have to wrap your food or put them in containers, these bento containers allow you to reduce your impact on the environment by replacing single-use plastic and paper products by allowing you to just chuck your snacks straight into the individual compartments.
They’re designed in a way that makes them quite compact, on-the-go friendly and leakproof, too. This means you can bring all the salad dressing you want, and it’ll stay put until you’re ready to eat it. Most of these boxes are also dishwasher and microwave safe.
What do you put in one?
The general rule when it comes to assembling a bento box is that it should offer a balanced meal. For example, this often includes having some sort of carb — think rice, bread, noodles, or a wrap. This should then be paired with some sort of protein like beef, chicken, pork, tofu, beans or eggs. The remaining compartments can then be filled with side dishes like fermented vegetables, fruits or a little sweet treat. If you need some more tangible inspiration for bento box lunch box ideas, head here.
Where to buy a bento lunch box in Australia?
The unique, differentiated design on this baby is a modern take on the traditional bento lunch box. Fitted with two separate compartments, a removable divider, a leakproof sauce/dressing container, and a bamboo lid that can be used as a plate or tray, it’s the perfect choice for packing picnic, work or school lunches.
This stackable bento box is designed to take up less space in your bag while still offering you the beauty of multiple compartments. This means you can keep your sweets and savouries or wet and dry foods separate. What’s better? This bento box is also conveniently microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe for optimal efficiency.
If you’re like us and love taking a good old salad or last night’s leftovers to work or school but hate going without dressing and juices (or worse, having it spill all over your bag), then this bento container is the perfect solution to your woes. Fitted with an elastic sealing ring and snap lid — the materials work together to form an airtight and leakproof seal. The high-density nature of the wheat fibre even makes it sturdy and shock-proof, so you don’t need to worry about it being damaged somewhere deep in your bag.
Available in a range of minimalist colours — black, bamboo, white, grey and two-toned hybrids — this bento box offers the same stackable features as some of its predecessors and one divider to separate your lunch accordingly. Like a few others, it also comes with cutlery, including a spoon, fork and chopsticks. How’s that for an all-rounder?
Recommended for kids aged three through seven, this child-friendly box offers five practical compartments portioned perfectly for a child’s appetite, encouraging a healthy and balanced meal. Its print themes — mermaid, unicorn, rainbow butterflies, safari and more — also put a novelty spin on eating for little ones. This is especially beneficial to parents of picky eaters.
Unlike the double-decker bentos above, this baby takes it up a notch with three-tiers for optimal snacking. This is great if you’re someone who loves variety throughout the day.
Hot tip: we like to divide them into morning, lunch and late afternoon snacks, especially if you’ve got zero self-control and tend to crack into your packed lunch before the work or school day starts.
That’s our list of the best bento lunch boxes in Australia, but if you’ve already got a killer lunch box and want to give it a bento refresh, try adding cupcake liners as dividers!