My Son’s Teacher Recommended This Bento Lunch Box — It’s the Only One He Hasn’t Broken

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lunchbox with metal bento box inside
Credit: Laura Wheatman Hill

My son is very powerful and passionate. By this, I mean, he breaks things a lot — usually by accident. He also has a voracious appetite, needing fuel to keep his busy body in motion all day. I struggled for some time to find the perfect lunch set-up for him so that he had enough food at school and didn’t destroy his supplies in the process.

First, I packed food loosely in separate containers into a lunch bag, but after washing yogurt out of them one too many times, I decided I needed a more durable solution. Then we entered the bento box era. I’m not necessarily the type to cut my kids’ food up into shapes to convince them to eat, but the bento boxes my friends sent with their kids to school looked so cute and like they could hold enough food. 

But cute as they were, the plastic boxes I bought didn’t hold up under pressure. The lids, opened with gusto, came off their hinges; the plastic cracked after being thrown to the ground with unbridled excitement in the garage after exiting the car; and they weren’t big enough to hold everything my rapidly growing child needed to keep him satiated all day. 

I switched to separate plastic tubs and had a similar durability problem. Lids came home with sharp, broken corners, and they were too hard for my kid’s little hands to open on his own. I switched to plastic baggies, but felt bad about the waste. Plus, my child wouldn’t eat “squished” sandwiches anyway. 

What’s So Great About the Pottery Barn Kids Spencer Stainless Bento Box?

After handing me a soggy lunch bag, filled with spilled applesauce, my son’s preschool teacher recommended this Pottery Barn Kids Spencer Stainless Bento Box. The base is stainless steel, but has a clear plastic lid so you can see what treasures await you inside. The lid is easy for a little hand to open on their own without everything exploding and spilling, but it still stays on securely enough to keep food contained. 

At 2.75 inches, it was deeper than the other bento boxes I’d purchased yet still fit nicely in the Pottery Barn insulated lunch box we had as well as our backup neoprene lunch bag. It holds 53 ounces, which is, it turns out, the right amount for my child. 

Pottery Barn also sells smaller add-on containers if you need to pack a separate snack or extra lunch item. A typical lunch for my son might be a full-sized sandwich, cut fruit, a handful of crackers, and either another piece of fruit, a small applesauce or yogurt, or dry cereal. Even though he still isn’t eating vegetables at lunch (or ever, if he can help it), the bento box would also fit a good deal of sliced peppers or carrot sticks. 

Because of the food-safe stainless steel material, the box is FDA-approved, BPA-free, and, most importantly, dishwasher-safe. Not only is it easy to clean in the dishwasher, but unlike other boxes I’ve owned which have a washable tray inside a larger box, the whole box can go into the dishwasher and no water or food debris gets trapped between the tray and the box. 

Perhaps the most important feature for me is durability. We’re going on year three of this box and it not only looks the same, but also has (somehow) maintained its structural integrity — despite being thrown around nearly every day during the school year.