BLAMMO! Let's talk about BENTO!

Abbreviated Mr. BentoYou may or not know this about me, but before there was wedding porn on Offbeat Bride, there was Mr. Bento Porn on flickr.

Back in 2005, the Indiebride message boards introduced me to Mr. Bento — a bento lunch jar thinger with four stackable containers. It was love at first sight. I've always been a fan of compartments and containers, and the idea of compartmentalized food made my brain insanely happy. I was so obsessed that I started taking pictures of my lunches in Mr. Bento, and eventually started a group on Flickr dedicated to photos of lunches in Mr. Bento-style lunch jars. My obsession knew no limits — and I wasn't alone. There are over 8,000 photos of Mr. Bento lunches in my old Flickr group.

You see, I don't really cook, but I like arranging food — and bento containers are all about arranging. I also found that bento lunches encouraged me to be more thoughtful about what and how much I was eating. The containers were compact, and so I used the space thoughtfully and was very precise in my meal planning. I wanted my meals full of color, which often meant way more fruits and vegetables. Of course you can pack junk food into a bento box, but somehow… I never did.

As a walk down memory lane, I thought we'd take a look at some lovely bento containers and scheme some lovely lunches. Let's do it!

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Thermos/Jar-style bento

Of course I'm a little biased toward my thermos-style lunch jars like Mr. Bento and his related friends. I love the water-tight containers and insulated thermos to keep food warm:

Laptop lunches

In other pragmatic-style bento containers, there are the Laptop Lunchboxes:


Tiffin-style bentos

These have the advantage of being metal or melamine, for those who like to avoid plastic. The downside is that they're totally not water-tight.

OMG ADORBZ bento containers

If you want to get into super cutesie containers that may not hold liquids, heat, or much other than SQUEE!, then your options get pretty amazing. These kind of bento containers are pretty much just adorable tupperware, but they're much cheaper than the insulated/water-tight bento options, and there's no arguing with the cuteness:


And don't forget the accessories!

This is where bento lunchmaking can get both fun/insaaaane. We're talking little smiling sauce containers the size of your thumb, fake green grass, egg molds, and so much more.

And the books


So, what are YOU having for lunch today?

  1. I totally get the brain ecstasy that comes from compartmentalized food. It is a strange, strange phenomenon that happens in my brain, and I freaking love it.

    I do not–yet–have any bento boxes or anything of the sort. What I do have are small tupperware/ pyrex containers that I puzzle into insulated lunch boxes my mom got for free from some work picnic or other.

    I don't get why, but you're right: I almost never pack junk food when I do it this way. Every so often I'll have made cookies or something, and I'll neatly place one on top of the rest of the puzzle. But I exercise portion control that way, and ration out the cookies so that I get one every day for X days, so that my pseudo-bento is perfect for the week.

    It's so obsessive and meticulous on one hand, but practical and efficient on the other.

    Since I saw it in O! Magazine (guilty and shamed…moving on…) I have been absolutely yearning for the stuff by Black + Blum. It started with this guy:

    http://www.black-blum.com/product_box-appetit-bag_52_0.html

    But I just now saw a combination grill and herb garden disguised as a terra cotta potted plant, and I might die of amaze balls.

    There's the little cup for soups or whatever, there's the smaller compartment one… There's… just… so… much… WANT!

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  2. I've been thinking about bento for while. I like the idea of taking my lunch in a 'grown up' container.

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  3. The Lock Lock brand containers (a South Korean Brand?) are pretty awesome, too. I've been using them for a few years now, and they are sturdy plastic and affordable. They also don't stain from tomato sauce.

    But I still have to venture into Bento-style arrangement, so far I just fill the boxes with food. (Ever since I got rid of my microwave, and only have a microwave at work, I actually do take lunch with me everyday.)

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    • I looove Vegan Lunchbox, so much delicioius inspiration!

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  4. I looove bento's!! So glad you featured these! I've been bentoing and blogging about it since my daughter started school this past September (2010), and always love to see fellow bloggers creations :)

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  5. I adore this idea, and just never take the time to properly make my lunch this way… I wonder if I could convince my husband to do it…

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  6. I love Bento! I need a better container though. I have lock lid tupperware, but I want either a tiffin style one or some variety that has dividers. They're so much fuuuuun!

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  7. So most Tiffin aren't watertight, however I think you should check out HappyTiffin. I've added two for my fiancé and I on our wedding registry – http://www.bestgreenlivingtips.com/latch-tiffin-lunch-box-eco-friendly-stainless-steel-food-containers/ here's their video of the waterproofness.

    The bonus of Tiffin is, like cast iron, it can outlive it's owner. That's vereh cool. And no, I'm not blinded by the fact that it is called Tiffin and my name is Tiffany. <__> <__> *runs away*

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  8. OMG I've been wishing for a bento post! I really need to get back into making bento lunches and post pics.

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  9. Barely related bento question?
    I hate eating IN my office, as any smell anyone else brings in makes my skin crawl. My office doesn't have a break room. There are no parks nearby.

    So, I'm wondering: where do people eat their packed lunches?

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    • A sorta kinda hacktivist suggestion : commandeer a meeting room ?
      If you arrange to meet colleagues, you could sell it as a knowledge sharing event…

      Sometimes cafés allow you to eat at their tables, as long as you buy your drinks there.

      Be extreme like I did : move closer to your office (like two subway stops close) and go home for lunch ;-)

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  10. I used to make bentos all the time (my sisters ordered me an adorable bunny bento for Christmas). I was so into it, when I went to Japan I stocked up on supplies. But I haven't done it in a while. Need to get back into it. I ate so well when I made bentos.

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  11. I love collecting adorable bento boxes & making bento lunches! Thanks for posting this, I sometimes think I'm the only person in the US with this hobby! haha. :)

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  12. After looking through a crap load of your bento pictures, it has occurred to me that you need to share what you eat! It all looks delicious and like nothing that I eat. What am I missing here? hmm

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