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In the area where I work, to buy a readymade lunch will cost in excess of £5, whereas bringing my own bento and teabags from home costs far less than that. The bonus is I know exactly what I put in my food, too.
I must say, I love your poll topics — and the interesting conversations they produce.
I don’t save money, because my bento have replaced home made sandwiches for lunch. In fact, the items that I put in my bento might actually cost more. I DO use leftovers and I DO try to plan meals with leftovers for bento in mind. But, like one above commenter, I get boored with things and they languish in my refrigerater or freezer. I also buy procuce, intending to cook a certain (overly ambitious) meal, and run out of energy half way thruogh the week. I try to use things up, but sometimes I don’t, and they end up getting tossed. :/ (I must be more disciplined!)
the biggest change that the last three years of bentoing have brought to my life, other than better (meaning healthier and less booring) luches, is a GREAT improvement in my cooking skills and abillities. I’m a much more confident and capable cook than I was in my pre-bento days.
I have more to say about the cooking skills/bento connection, but I’ll save that for your future poll topic, Maki!
Thanks for your great blogs!!
I’ve been meaning to prepare these darling bentos for myself to office but kept putting it off. Need to get me some nice bento boxes. I use to put em in a Tupperware but the food looks so disgusting after shaking around in my bag during the day.
That depends on how you pack the box, not what the box is. I have used a little three cup tupperware box for bento before, and it packed plenty of food very snugly. Check out Maki’s advice on packing, or biggie’s on lunch in a box.
I save a lot of money since I never go to restaurants on lunch time and prefer save this money for familly restaurants + i don’t through to the bin rests.
I make bento for my two kids’ school lunches, and it’s definitely saving on the food money. Our district has moderately priced lunches, but then they also have additional drinks and snacks that the kids can add on, and last year my oldest was frequently spending $5 or more a day on lunches, because he was buying a bunch of additional stuff. With bento, he’s not even going through the line, so even though there’s still the opportunity to buy supplemental food, he’s not. And I think my food costs are also cheaper, and I KNOW they’re eating healthier food because I use whole grains instead of white breads and potatoes, include fresh fruits and veggies that they’ll actually eat (instead of ones they don’t like much and will leave on the side), use lean meats, etc.
The reason I’m not giving an unqualified “yes it’s cheaper” is the bento gear! Since August when I decided to do this, I’ve spent quite a bit on picks and cups and boxes and molds and and and and. So I don’t think I’ve QUITE broken even yet. But I think I probably will before Christmas break, and I’m sure I will long before the end of the school year.
Absolutely! Though initially not as much as I could have since I went a little wild on buying cute boxes and accessories. Plus, I now make a couple of extra shopping trips to the Asian market for food that I didn’t buy before I started making bento. But, even with all of this factored in, I’m still saving money (and eating healthier) compared to when I was bringing frozen dinners to work for lunch.
We have spent a TON on bento goodies. We have so much bento gear that it’s overrunning our dining room! And we’ve always kinda taken lunches so it’s not like we went from spending $100/week eating out for lunch to next to nothing bringing food from home. Now it just looks a whole lot cuter and never includes Hot Pockets!!!!!
well i just started making bento not too long ago but i’ve bought quite a lot of bento boxes (seems to be a trend here) from the local Daiso - which beats buying them online. Daiso is great. i live in Singapore, and we have a few Daisos peppered around the island. (yeah, Singapore is an island :)) there is a huge Daiso near where i live, and i get all my bento + japanese food goodies there. i’ve spent under USD 30 to get myself all well-equipped for the daily lunch battle.
with that amount of money versus the savings that i’m making on turning my leftovers into meals, i reckon that bento will help me save a lot more money in the long run. for now my savings are still minimal, but it’s really helping. and it has helped me to lose a bit of weight too, since i’m packing food with nutrition, balance and presentation in mind. :)
Because so far my emphasis has been on luring my son into taking his lunch every day, I’ve indulged a bit more than I normally would in packing his lunch, and school lunch is $3. On the other hand, even with minimal savings the lunches I pack him are real food instead of the sugar and fat loaded miniature health disasters that pass for school lunch even in a school that’s trying hard.
I’ve just dropped a fairly serious amount of money for one of the Mr. Bento jars for my husband, in the hopes that I can move him from a bag of chips at his desk to an actual lunch… the breakdown there will be we spend more, but the health aspect more than makes up for it.
I find I save money by not eating as much. The size of the container really helps me size portions and keep conscious of what I’m eating.
Learning more recipes involving the same basic ingredients is also helpful, so I can plan for a week’s worth of meals before I even go to the store. That helps save money, since I’m buying staple ingredients instead. Those are always cheaper than buying ready-made things.
My nearly seven year old is fascinated by Chinese and Japanese culture, so we created a Bento box for her to take lunch in this year. Not only does this usually finicky eater now finish her lunch, but everyone in her class tries to sit next to her because she brings “the best stuff”. By not buying convenience food, ziploc bags, etc., I estimate that we’ve saved AT LEAST $100 so far this year AND she’s becoming a more adventurous eater:).
I think the savings come when you cook at home on a regular basis. Like daily, so you can plan to cook a bit more or improvise on existing dishes and create something new out of it for next day’s lunch /dinner.
For me i rarely cook (but love to make bentos) so it’s a bit costly for me as I have to purchase all the raw ingredients just to prepare a couple of lunches. Eating out is definitely way cheaper, but less fun of course!!
While “oh my goodness, of course it’s cheaper” doesn’t hold true for everyone, it certainly did with me. I used to work night shifts in a retail store, and you would never know when your break would be until you were already at work. A nice microwavable bento dinner was heaven compared to worrying over whether the Starbucks next door would have any $5 sandwiches left.
Bento making reinforced the lessons my Mother tried so very hard to teach. Using my leftovers, shopping smart and eating healthy. Bento blogs have taught me even more with tips on freezing rice and getting the most out of… well, everything. Definitely was cheaper than buying whatever was available during dinner break and more filling than most of the other options.
Of course, that being said, my most lavish bento purchases were Lock & Locks and a banana box from Lube Sheep. Not exactly as pricey as a tiffin or nice lacquered box. As for accessories, those have started being bought and shared among friends sending care packages to one another. Certainly creates more variation while being less expensive than ordering adorable sauce bottles from overseas.
I was already a “brown-bagger” before I discovered bento, so I think what little I save by not buying the occasional lunch or snack is offset by my occasional purchases of new boxes, chopsticks, etc.
i am currently in college (which doesn’t have any dining plan), and on a tight budget. making bentos for lunch helps me save a lot of money. at cafes around campus, lunches go for $6-10. So for about 5 days, that will be $30. However, if I make my bento, and also shop at Haymarket, Boston (where produces go for $1+ and a weeks grocery is around $7). I save about $23 a week. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but in the past semester, I have already saved 200+. =)
Being a current resident of Japan, learning to make bento lunches with real, Japanese ingredients is starting to save me TONS of money. I think, for those of us who came to Japan with very little knowledge of Japanese, the Japanese grocery store is an interesting and somewhat terrifying experience. Before I discovered your site — and even despite the Japanese lessons I’m enrolled in — I’d all but resigned to picking what things I did recognize off of the shelves and playing trial and error in the sauce and meat aisles: a dangerous game if you don’t recognize but four kanji on the bottle, and aren’t sure what part of the cow your vaguely red slices of meat came from.
I found your site about a month ago while looking for a recipe for onigiri, and I’ve been perusing it almost daily for new hints ever since. I now make the effort to look up the kanji/kana for the ingredients in your recipes, and have become much more confident in my ability to adapt to this country in general now that I know where mirin and rice wine vinegar are and can make healthy and delicious food to take to work with me instead of relying upon combini sandwiches and pretz.
So…どうもありがとうございます!!! (Apologies for length — I’m wordy. ^__^;;;)
Yes, I definitely save money (well, now that I’ve stocked up on basics like mirin and teriyake sauce). I check the fridge and freezer regularly and use reduced offers to prepare and freeze lots of bits for the boxes, so each night I can plan for the following day - so far my son (aged 15) has returned nothing uneaten, and I’ve lost a stone!I read lots of blogs and they give me ideas for how to use up bits in the fridge.
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