On bento box and accessories collecting

The results and comments so far for the most recent poll question: Do bentos help you save money? are very interesting. (The poll will be open for another week or so, so if you haven’t already cast your vote and tell us what you think!) While the majority of you say you either save a lot (39%) or a little (31%) by making bentos, the rest of you are not sure, or think you might be spending more money.

When it comes to bentos, it’s not the food that racks up the expenses usually - it’s the boxes and accessories. Now, I have said here several times already over the past few months that it’s not necessary to buy all those cute accessories and bento boxes in order to bring bento lunches to work or school. But I know how irresistible those things can be too. I fall victim to the ‘ooh, I want that’ urge more than I want to myself.

My thinking has changed a bit on the subject of bento-accesory buying. To be very pragmatic and strict, you can ‘do bento’ with inexpensive food containers and the most utalitarian of accessories. But on the other hand, having your lunch in a box that you love, with little colorful sauce holders and so on, makes lunchtime so much more colorful and fun. Recently i’ve mostly been using one of two stainless steel bento boxes instead of plastic ones, and I love their smoothly engineered quality, and the way the lids click on so precisely. I’m also thinking of using a lacquered wood one that my mother sent me - so far I’ve just been using it at home, but I keep imagining how nice it would be to open up that in the middle of the day.

The reasons why we buy pretty, beautiful bento boxes and accessories are the same as the reasons we want to spends lots of money on nice china. We could eat just as well off of paper plates, but having your meals off dinnerware that we love makes meals just a bit special.

My bento-accessory buying has slowed down a lot recently though. One reason of course is because I already have a lot of stuff. But the main reason is that too much cheap and cheerful stuff just becomes clutter after a while. I’m gradually upgrading my supplies, as I can afford them. By having fewer but nicer things, I feel I can appreciate what I have a lot more, while stopping my bento supply storage area from becoming a disaster zone*.

In any case, if you have been captivated by the world of bento accessories, don’t feel too bad about accumulating them. Just buy cafefully, select what you love, and treat your collection well. They’ll repay you many times over by making everyday lunches - for yourself or your family - just a little special.

(* My bento storage area used to take up a whole tall kitchen cabinet, but through a lot of weeding out I’ve pared it down to just 2 drawers worth. It’s so much easier to take care of!)

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I think the steel and wood

I think the steel and wood ones would last longer, so they may pay off despite the higher initial cost. I only have two plastic bento boxes, and the plastic has absorbed enough food odors to the point where I’ll probably have to toss them soon.

i use regular tupperware for myselft

those 5 for $2.00 kinda tupperware along with saved plastic ware from to go orders. some places give you very nice tupperware where other’s give you the styrofoam that, of course, i just throw out. i was one of those that answered yes and no about saving money. i have a son that is a very picky eater and all the cute boxes, accessories, molds for rice and eggs, etc etc, has encouraged him to eat more. it may cost more, but if it get’s him to eat, i’m all for the cutesy stuff. i did have to reorganize my kitchen cubbards though. i have a very small kitchen and so i ended up buying a stand alone cubbard that i’ve moved the big bulky items too and now i can reach any bento box or gadget quite easily. it may be going a little over the top but when you’re barely 5 feet tall, those top shelves might as well not exist. LOL

I agree

that bento accessories are where costs can get out of hand. I find that once I have exactly what I like my spending slows to a trickle.
However, the process of discovering what I like [in terms of materials, features, etc] takes me a while. For instance, I bought a laptop lunchbox — I think they are a great idea and help encourage food variety because of all the containers — and found I hardly ever used it. I think the size was more bulky than I like and washing all the little containers was a drag [and you have to wash the plastic case as well because most of the inner containers don’t have lids — again, great for kids who like to see all the food at once] and I prefer non-plastic if possible. I have some stainless steel tiffins that I like a lot but of course they can’t be microwaved so I’ve been trying to be more thoughtful about what I bring that is yummy at room temp. I also find I’m more likely to bring a bento meal if I enjoy the whole process — a cute bag, cute food containers, cloth napkin, etc.

I am home full time and

I am home full time and disabled. So often I can’t tolerate the thought of eating but doing bentos has made a great improvement in that area.

At this point I indulge myself re gear and boxes - with an eye toward sharing and giving away some as I introduce the idea to others.

I recently picked up some of the metal boxes and a tiffin with the plan to use them for camping with the Boy Scouts. So far one tin is dedicated to coffee and hot chocolate items.

If the tools help you do more (like they do for me - whether it is inspiration or actually working better for me to compensate for problems due to MS) then they are worth the cost. If they don’t have you then even getting them for free is too much of an expense.

Hi. U are my Bento Mentor.

Hi. U are my Bento Mentor. =)

I have just recently started to Bento and have learnt so much from your site.

After reading through your write-ups, I opened my kitchen cupboards and found that I already have containers that I can use as Bentos. I’ve since used them for my Hubby and his office co-league. (I decided to make one for his co-league too as they are lunch buddies…)

I went shopping for actual Japanese bento boxes with my Kids though, and got them to choose one they liked to encourage them to eat out of. (I have a picky eater..)

I’m happy to report that the Bentos I made were a hit with both the Men and the Kids! =)

Lucky Me

I get my Boxes from an friend in Japan - she’s studying there and craves comfort food from home, every once in a while so I send her that and get Bento stuff in return.

But I started out bentoing in Tupperware, and I felt that, just as you say… It’s nicer to have nice dishes to eat out of. I feel better about it.

I’m goinbg to get a Box for my boyfriend soon since he has at last succumbed: Daily Pizzas are not what he wants to be eating after all…

Cheers for your wonderful explanations of all things bento!

The cute stuff

Yes, I think that if you’re buying lots of cute stuff it can get expensive quickly. I have two boys and the oldest in particular would be embarrassed if I started to add cute stuff to the lunches. He already gets enough ribbing for not bringing “kid food” to school, although he still wants what I send and thinks his classmates are being stupid. (His words, not mine.)

We have the laptop lunch boxes and DO use them — they’re our only lunch boxes. Washing the containers is a pain, but OTOH I’ve just made it part of the routine and I’m happy that my kids come home having eaten all their food.

I’m thinking of getting myself a lunch jar. I miss soup.

Re: On bento box and accessories collecting

Where do you get those cute little plastic, colorful containers that look like thick cupcake liners?

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