Best food containers and bento boxes for the road

One of the best ways to save money and stay healthier on road trips is to pack your own food. Almost every road trip we take, we pack lunches and drinks, whether we’ll be on the road a few hours or a few weeks. Since we banned plastic baggies and disposable plastic containers in our house years ago, the best food containers for our car include the following. Bonus: For a list of road trip friendly snacks, check here.


Bento boxes for the road:

Seal Cup Trio: This trio of round stainless steel containers come with soft rubber lids and are made by ECOLunchBox. We love that they nest together when not in use, so they take up less room in the cupboard, and that they’re not very heavy. If you’ve toted around glass containers, you know what I mean (see below). The Seal Cup Trio are perfect for snacks like pretzels, cut fruit, and granola. You can put wet items in, but not liquids. They’re $29, which is a good deal for three pieces.

ECOLunch Pod: These little 5 ounce rectangular containers are complete stainless steel, with stainless steel lids. We love them because they’re very versatile: you can use them for snacks, or as accessories to your lunch, storing wet wipes or even crayons or other crafty games for the car. They’re only around $8 each.

PlanetBox food tray: No doubt about it, PlanetBox food systems are expensive. However, we use one every day for our son’s lunch for school, then again on the road. What I love: it’s all one unit, so it’s easy to transport and not lose pieces, and the included dip containers never leak. For what it’s worth, we never use the included cover…just one more thing to lose in the car! Pick one up for $64.

Life Factory: For bigger food items, such as prepared salads and sandwich rolls, we use Life Factory 2-cup and 4-cup containers. Beware: these glass containers are heavy to lug around (so they’re best for road tripping where food transport is at a minimum). However, we love them because they’re encased in rubber to prevent breakage and seal very well. Pick up the 2-cup version for $17.

HydroFlask growler: We love everything HydroFlask (hey, it’s an Oregon company, and we’re Oregonians!) but many families don’t think of buying a growler for road trips. Usually used for beer, growlers are ideal for keeping drinks cold on the road: we fill our growler with water, tea, and fruit juices to dole out along the way. Plus, if the adults in the family come across local brews, they can easily fill up! They’re under $50 on Amazon. We also use HydroFlask water bottles and food containers, but note: in our experience, the food containers do not keep liquids like soup hot for more than five hours.


What to carry road trip snacks in:

For short term road trips and outdoor pit stops, we love to use our bulga basket. We picked ours up for under $25. I use bulga baskets more than soft-sided coolers because I can easily access everything and see all the items I’ve packed, which I find very convenient. However, I cannot keep foods very cold in a basket. When we need to transport foods longer than a few hours, I turn to my Yeti cooler. No, buying a Yeti isn’t overkill: this high end cooler may have been designed for hunters and explorers out in the wilderness for days and weeks at a time, but trust me, after using one, you’ll never go back to a regular plastic cooler again. Our Yeti Tundra keeps our food cold and fresh for days!