- Food and Cooking
The Bento Lunchbox Is Amazing!
Packing Your Lunch? Use a Bento Box!
This is simply the best lunchbox EVER!!! I know that may sound extreme, but I am completely serious. Let me tell you some of the reasons why I find the bento box to be so amazing...
A bento-style lunchbox promotes healthy eating because it encourages packing a variety of foods, with a separate section for each item.
Packed in this type of container, the lunch looks appealing, which helps children and adults maintain interest and enjoy the entire meal.
It does require a bit of planning to pack a bento lunch, but it also makes it easy to just add "a little of this and a little of that." Once you get the hang of it, it's really very easy to pack fun and nutritious lunches for school or work.
Why Choose a Bento Lunchbox? - There are lots of great things about a bento box!
- Encourages healthy lunches
- Reduces waste
- Promotes healthy portions
- Connects us with our food choices
- Visually appealing
- Sparks creativity
What Is a Bento Lunchbox?
A bento lunchbox provides several sections for different foods. Most feature 3 or 4 sections, and many include special sections for dips or salad dressing. These sections are either built into the structure of the lunchbox itself or come as separate small containers.
Each section is relatively small, but taken all together, they hold quite a lot. Some bento lunchboxes are specifically designed for younger children, while others are geared for men with large appetites -- and there's something for everyone in between. You should be able to find a design that suits your own personal needs.
Having separate containers or sections allows you to mix and match foods in order to enjoy a wider variety of foods in the lunchbox. It also means that if your child doesn't particularly care for one item, there are others to eat; so there's less worrying about going hungry at school.
For my kids, I use one container for fruits, one for veggies with dip, one as a "main course" (my older son almost always chooses to have a sunflower seed butter and jelly sandwich), and one container for a snack/dessert item. The bento box definitely encourages variety!
Laptop Lunch Bento System
The Laptop Lunch Bento System, pictured here, is the lunchbox I have for myself and my kids.
Honestly, I can't tell you how much I LOVE this lunchbox!!! Seriously, I could go on and on about it, but I'll make an effort to keep it short and simple.
Although they're more expensive than typical lunchboxes, they have served my family well for eight years and appear to be going strong, despite a bit of wear-and-tear on some of the plastic pieces. The lids in particular are just now starting to break a bit, though they're still functioning. When they do break, I can just buy replacement parts rather than having to purchase a whole new lunchbox!
I first saw this lunchbox when reading a blog about what a vegan mom made for her son's school lunches: Vegan Lunch Box.
While the complexity and artistry of the lunches featured on that blog tended to be beyond my capabilities, I found the entries to be extremely inspiring.
The Laptop Lunchbox System
This is the lunchbox we've used since 2006. While they are looking rather "used" after years of steady use, they are still working perfectly well!
I highly recommend getting both the containers and a carrying case. The case has room for a water bottle, napkin, and blue ice. It also makes the lunchbox properly spill-proof and -- obviously -- easy to carry!
Laptop Lunch products are made in the USA.
These containers come in a variety of colors to suit your personal taste.
The inner containers shown here are designed to be housed in a carrying case. The carrying cases also come in a variety of styles.
Here's a different carrier design. The lunchbox is stored on the bottom, with the napkin and other accessories up top.
Some of the Benefits of the Bento Box
As you think about maintaining a healthy diet, it is critical to consider your lunch options. Packing your own lunch is healthier and less expensive than going out for lunch. You can control what goes into your body and your kids' bodies simply by preparing your own food. It doesn't have to be fancy (although it can be!) -- it just has to include real food prepared in a healthy fashion. There are lots of great ideas on the internet and in cookbooks if you need some guidance and ideas.
For the kids, packing a lunch means bypassing the lunch line at the school cafeteria. There are alarmingly few truly healthy options provided by school cafeterias. In addition, by skipping the lunch line, kids have more time to sit and eat, rather than rushing to cram their meals into their mouths in the few minutes they have left in the lunch period. I also think it's important for kids and adults -- those packing their lunches as well as those sitting nearby -- to see what "real food" looks like!
Packing your lunch in a reusable container with reusable utensils is far, far better for the environment than using disposable products. According to Waste-free Lunches, the average school student using disposable packaging generates 67 pounds of trash per year in lunch waste! The implications of this are staggering. We can each do our part to cut down on this senseless waste by simply adopting a waste-free lunch mentality. Don't forget to pack a cloth napkin!
And Now...A Poll!
Do You Pack Lunches for School or Work?
Other Bento-style Luncboxes - There are a lot of choices out there
There are a number of other bento-style lunchboxes that look terrific.
Although I cannot personally vouch for any of them, they do look great, and I'd certainly like to try them out. But the Laptop Lunchboxes I have are working fine, so it's not time for me to get anything new.
I have a friend who uses this "tiffin" style lunchbox for her kids. She says this works perfectly for them!
The price of a good lunchbox is easily recovered within several weeks of use!
When you pack your lunch, you aren't buying expensive meals at a restaurant or cafeteria or wasting money on single-use containers, such as brown paper lunch bags and plastic sandwich or snack bags.
Bento Lunchbox Cookbooks - Ideas for packing your bento lunch
This is the book that arose from the blog that made the Laptop Lunchbox famous!
These bento recipes have a distinctively Japanese look and feel. In Japan, school lunch preparation is serious business!
Bento Lunchboxes Are THE BEST!!!!
I could go on forever about the importance of a healthy lunch and the role a lunchbox like this can play in your daily routine. But I'm going to leave it at this and hope you find these bento boxes to be as incredible as I do!
My "Backup" Bentos
Occasionally, I don't manage to wash the lunchboxes out in time for the next day's use. No problem! I have this set of "semi-disposable" boxes. They are made of very sturdy plastic, though not as strong as the Laptop lunchbox.
These have 3 compartments and fit nicely into the Laptop lunchbox carrying case.
They come in sets of 4 and are a great bargain! I have never had a problem with them breaking, but they are inexpensive enough that I wouldn't be devastated if they did break or got lost. This also makes them a good choice for field trip days at school.
These are great for taking lunch to school or work. I also use these boxes for picnics and other occasions when I don't want too much fuss.
These "backup" lunchboxes are very convenient!