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The Art of the Bento Box

08.29.13 The Art of the Bento Box

quad bento box

The bento box is a fairly simple idea - it's really the equivalent of a single portion takeout meal or a home-packed meal. Compartmental by nature, the bento box is the perfect box to pack lunch in, especially for those who love variety. The bento has long inspired packing aesthetically pleasing lunches - in fact there are traditions of packing bento in elaborately arranged styles like "Kyaraben," (character bento) and "Oekakiben" (picture bentos - animals, flowers, etc.).

The name "bento" originated from the slang term "convenient," as packing healthy foods like rice, vegetables and fish were convenient to have packed to eat while away from home. A traditional Japanese bento box was thoughtfully prepared for both adults and children, usually in a lacquered box. Eventually this box was made into aluminum and then modern day plastic versions became available too.

Luckily, the same convenience and inspired containers are now available in healthy options like the following in 18/8 stainless steel. Why the upgrade in materials? 

  • Safe: Food-grade 18/8 stainless steel (an alloy made of naturally occuring elements) is the safest material other than glass to store food. There is no need to have a lining which means there is no chance of toxins leaching into the healthy food you've packed.
  • Durable: Made to last a lifetime with the highest quality stainless steel. Unable to rust or stain and virtually unbreakable. Always easy to clean.
  • Reusable/Recyclable: Save yourself some money while you use over and over to pack waste-free lunches. Save the landfills some space too.

Don't be thrown off by the "baby" in ThinkBaby's bento box. Yes, you could store and serve food to babies in this fabulous bento, but also pack perfectly portioned meals and snacks in these for older kids. We particularly like the ease of cleaning these perfectly-portioned boxes. The stainless insert pops apart from the base for easy cleaning by hand or in the dishwasher. And a great reminder to "think!"

Lunchbots makes various divided containers that allow the bento style packing with multiple foods that don't necessarily have to touch. There are plenty of kids who greatly appreciate this seperation and would rather skip lunch than eat foods that have co-mingled in their lunch container.

Lunchbots containers: all are 18/8 stainless steel. Handwash the tops (unless non painted styles) and bottoms can go through the dishwasher. The lids fit on well but these are not leakproof so you can't packed soupy, liquidy foods in here. Pack those in the clicks (see below).

  • UNO: single container. Available in blue, purple and stainless steel.
  • DUO: divided container down the middle. Available in orange, pink and stainless.
  • TRIO: 3-sectioned container, 2 squares and one long channel. Available in red, blue and stainless.
  • QUAD: 4-sectioned squares. Available in lime, blue, stainless steel.
  • PICO: smaller version of the duo, available in yellow and green
Lunchbots clicks are yet another option. As mentioned above, the clicks (available in 3 different sizes: small, medium and large) are perfect for foods that require a leakproof click-on lid. The bases of the clicks are made from 18/8 stainless steel and the see-through lids are made from BPA-Free polypropylene with a silicone seal.
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